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WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, November 10, 2013

“The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come” (Isaiah 21:11, 12).


The word “Dumah” is a form of Edom. The people of Edom were burdened with fears and troubles. They cried out to the prophet Isaiah, “Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?” W. E. Vine said that “The watchman is one who stands in God’s counsels, knows what is coming and looks out for the event...He stands upon the watch-tower in fellowship with God” (Isaiah: Prophecies, Promises, Warnings, page 14).

One of the problems we have is that there are few “watchmen” today. I saw a famous “prophecy expert,” Hal Lindsey, on television a few nights ago. A guest on his show said we need to study the Book of Revelation instead of Romans to understand our problems today. Hal Lindsey agreed with him. To me that was a very shallow and untrue evaluation of the problems in our churches, and in our culture. The exact opposite is true. While Revelation is a very important book, the Book of Romans should be the main book of the Bible for this hour! With untold thousands, even millions, of unsaved people in our churches – we should focus on Romans, or we will never understand how to help them find true salvation! Many “prophecy experts” are really disqualified from being “watchmen” – disqualified because they are unaware of the ruin and desolation brought into our churches by the Satanic doctrines of “decisionism.”

But the leaders of Edom were wiser than many Christians today. They were “burdened” with the weight of their sin.  They felt that judgment was about to fall. So they called out to the true prophet and watchman, Isaiah. They cried out,

“Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?” (Isaiah 21:11).

They cried out like a person who is hurting and sick. In the long drawn out hours of the night, the suffering patient calls out, “What is left of the night? What is left of the night?” (NIV). The prophet-watchman answered, “The morning cometh, and also the night.”

Why did they come to Isaiah? Weren’t there fortune-tellers, astrologers and sorcerers in Edom? Why did they come to Jerusalem with their agonizing cry? People go to fortune-tellers when things are going well. But when agony and death come to us, who wants a fortune-teller, astrologer or sorcerer? In the face of death, we do not want worldly wisdom. We want to know what God says! Fortune-tellers and astrologers may have interesting things to say when things are going well. But in a time of fear and agony, people often look for a man of God. And they call out,

“Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?” (Isaiah 21:11).

Think how that speaks to us this morning!

I. First, the text applies to the nations.

In 1914, as World War I began, Lord Edward Grey came out of an all-night Cabinet meeting. He was the Foreign Minister of Great Britain. In the early hours of the morning, Lord Edward walked out of that meeting with another Cabinet member. They had spent the whole night discussing the war. There were still no electric street lights then, just gas lamps. As Lord Edward walked out of the building a lamplighter was going from one street lamp to another turning off the gas. Lord Edward Grey turned to his friend and said, “The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.” How right he was! In the coming years Russia fell to Communism, Germany went into a crippling depression and fell to Hitler, Italy fell to Mussolini, France and England were so weakened by World War II, that they could never again rise to their former glory. The old world of Europe was dying, never to rise again to their ancient splendor. 

The lamps are being snuffed out completely now that Muslim hordes are in the ascendancy. America is dying, too. That wicked man in the White House seems to have totally lost direction. So have the Republicans. My wife and I heard Ann Coulter speak at the Nixon Library and Birthplace last week. The crowd that came to hear her looked more like Hippie veterans of Woodstock than Nixon’s “Silent Majority.” I told my wife, “If these are the conservatives, God help us!”

Do you think America will live and prosper? After what I saw at the Democratic National Convention in 2012, I don’t see any hope for us! After seeing the confused and impotent message of Billy Graham, on his “My Hope” broadcast last week, I don’t see any hope for us. It wasn’t because he was old. It was because his message was too jumbled to help bring a dying nation out of spiritual confusion. Several years ago his sermons were more focused. Back then Mr. Graham said, “If God does not judge America He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.” The Bible says,

“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17).

A man phoned me from Kansas last week to order a copy of my book, Preaching to a Dying Nation. He said, “You are right. Our nation is dying.” He told me that he lives in a tiny Kansas town of only 250 people. He said they don’t even have a police force, it’s so small. But he said until ten years ago the police came from a larger nearby town 2 or 3 times a year. “Now,” he said, “they come 2 or 3 times a day!” And he told me how many of the church members in that town get drunk and take drugs. He said he told one of them that he needed to be saved. He said the man looked at him and growled, “I am saved!” He said it seemed like a demon was glaring at him through the eyes of this drug-using member of an evangelical church! With evangelicals like that filling our churches from coast to coast, America’s days are numbered! As it was in the days of Daniel,

“God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting” (Daniel 5:26, 27).

How does it feel to live in a nation that is about to be judged by the wrath of God? It feels like this! This is the way it feels to live in a doomed nation! It feels like you are watching the people drinking and dancing – on the Titanic, just before it hit that iceberg! That’s how it feels in the abomination of the Obama-nation!

No one has time for church each Sunday. No one is convicted of sin. No one wholeheartedly seeks Christ. No one fears God. The Bible says, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). The Bible says, “There is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11).

“Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?” (Isaiah 21:11).

“When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them...and they shall not escape” (I Thessalonians 5:3).

America is doomed, and many of you here this morning will see it in ruins and in squalor! The poet James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) said,

Once to every man and nation
   Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood
   For the good or evil side.
(“Once to Every Man and Nation” by James Russell Lowell, 1819-1891).

America once chose the evil side and banned prayer from our schools. America once chose the evil side and banned the Bible in our schools. America once chose the evil side and permitted X-rated films in our theaters. America once chose the evil side and permitted millions upon countless millions of babies to be torn to shreds and boiled to death in salt water into the ninth month of pregnancy. It could have been stopped in one or two years – but America chose to let the killing go on. Now this nation is soaked in blood – soaked in baby blood. Did you ever wonder why TV is loaded with vampires and mutilated corpses? Did you ever wonder why these mass killings go on? It’s not guns that do the killing! No! It’s people – the American people – soaked in drugs and booze, numbed with video games and slasher movies. That’s why they worship Halloween and miss church on Sunday! The French philosopher Blaise Pascal said, “The silence of the universe frightens me.” How much more should we be frightened when God turns away His face, and a nation and a people die?

“Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?” (Isaiah 21:11).

II. Second, the text applies to death and Hell - the eternal night of lost souls.

The night of death and Hell is coming. The Bible says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). The Bible says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 10:31; 12:29).

The night of death and Hell awaits every man and woman that turns away from God, and the church, and the Saviour! Without the Saviour Jesus Christ you are lost in your sins, and He will say to you, “Depart from me...I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23). And they shall be “cast out into outer darkness” (Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 25:30).

I say this to you with a heavy heart. I pray for you to be saved. But I know if you do not repent, and turn wholeheartedly to Jesus Christ, there is no hope for you – only outer darkness in the eternal night of Hell.

You say, “Pastor, doesn’t God love me?” Yes, of course He does. But how can He help you, how can He pardon your sin, how can He save your soul – if you go on as you are – without repenting, without throwing yourself on the mercy of Christ? The Bible says,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

That is the answer! Believe in Jesus with all your heart! And get into church every time the door is open! 

Throw yourself on His mercy! Turn to Christ with all that is within you! That is the way of salvation – and that is the only way!

Think one last time about the text. Consider especially the last two words, “return, come.”

“The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come” (Isaiah 21:11, 12).

The text ends with the words, “return, come” (Isaiah 21:12). Return to Christ! Come to Christ! Be washed clean by the Blood He shed on the Cross! As an old hymn puts it,

What can wash away my sin?
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
   That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
(“Nothing But the Blood” by Robert Lowry, 1826-1899).

I must not close this sermon without saying that the basic thesis of it is loosely based on one given by the legendary pastor, Dr. W. A. Criswell. (W. A. Criswell, Ph.D., Isaiah: An Exposition, Zondervan Publishing House, 1977, pp. 129-134).

In another sermon, Dr. Criswell said this:

Dr. George W. Truett, my predecessor at First Baptist Church, Dallas, in a little passage on one of his sermons [told] of his conversion: “I sat in the audience one night and listened to the preacher as he pleaded that Christ might have His own way and save a soul. I said, ‘Lord Jesus, it is all dark; I cannot understand, but dark or light, live or die, come what may, I surrender now to Thee.’ [And Dr. Truett said] He saved me then.” (Criswell, ibid., p. 217).

That was the way the far-famed preacher Dr. Truett was saved. And that is the way you must be saved. You must come to Jesus and say in your heart, “dark or light, live or die, come what may, I surrender now to Thee.” Confess your sin and throw yourself on the mercy of Jesus. Be washed clean from your sin by the Holy Blood He shed on Calvary’s cross!

What can wash away my sin?
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

If you would like to speak with us about being washed clean from your sin by the Blood of Jesus, please leave your seat and walk to the back of this auditorium. Dr. Cagan will take you to another room where we can talk and pray. Go now. Dr. Chan, please pray that someone will trust Jesus now. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Isaiah 21:11-12.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Jesus, Only Jesus” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).


THE OUTLINE OF

WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come” (Isaiah 21:11, 12).

I.   First, the text applies to the nations, Psalm 9:17; Daniel 5:26, 27;
Romans 3:18, 11; I Thessalonians 5:3.

II.  Second, the text applies to death and Hell – the eternal night of lost
souls, Galatians 6:7; Hebrews 10:31; Hebrews 12:29;
Matthew 7:23; 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; John 3:16.