Summary: Importunity "UNTIL..."
A CITY NOT FORSAKEN
I reside just outside the walls of a quaint old English city - so quaint, that there is still a civil servant who holds the office of City-crier. This is a man with a bell and a loud booming bellowing voice, who makes public announcements in public places. Thankfully, his office does not usually encroach upon the night time - but imagine the watchmen in our text who are instructed by God to “hold not their peace day nor night” - these that “make mention of the LORD” who are commanded to, “keep not silence” (Isaiah 62:6)!
It is the LORD who sets the watchmen, raising up a people of prayer to watch over Jerusalem. Importunity is the order of the day, every day: “give Him no rest UNTIL He establish, and UNTIL He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (Isaiah 62:7). We are drawn back to the words of David - ‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee’ (Psalm 122:6).
We too should pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but we should also pray for the peace which flows from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:3) - ‘peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 5:1). We should pray for the salvation of Israel, but also that ‘the full number of the Gentiles be gathered in’ (Romans 11:25). We are drawn beyond the walled city of Jerusalem itself towards that which Jesus began to establish there, proclaiming His kingdom to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
For the watchmen first envisaged by Isaiah, this call to holy boldness is confirmed by an oath (Isaiah 62:8-9). The watchmen are to declare that which the LORD shall surely accomplish (Isaiah 45:23). Our prayers should be based in truth, and in the promises of God (Hebrews 6:16-18).
There are aspects of our salvation still to be worked out, but the promises of God are sure: and ‘yea and Amen in Christ Jesus’ (2 Corinthians 1:20). That which God has begun in us will not fail (Philippians 1:6). We can take courage from the parable of the importunate widow (Luke 18:1-8), and draw strength from the conclusion which Jesus draws from her example: ‘Shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?’ (Luke 18:7).
There is a level of fulfilment for those Jews who lived in the days of Cyrus king of Persia (Ezra 1:1-4). At the raising of God’s banner (Isaiah 62:10), they were able to leave behind the gates of Babylon (cf. Isaiah 52:11), cross the desert as if on a highway, and return to rebuild Jerusalem (Isaiah 62:10). Yet this is not all: the proclamation which follows (‘Hear ye, hear ye!’ bellows the City-crier) announces, in words not dissimilar to Isaiah 40:10, the coming of salvation - in the Person of our Saviour, no less (Isaiah 62:11).
In the gospel, a banner has been raised to the nations (Isaiah 49:22-23). This was doubtless anticipated in the return from exile, but reaches its fullest fulfilment as the nations look to the LORD (Isaiah 60:6; Isaiah 60:9-10; Psalm 68:31). The ‘wise men from the east’ who came to worship the One ‘born King of the Jews’ (Matthew 2:1-2) were the first fruits of the on-going Gentile mission.