Making Sure God Won't Forget

How can an omniscient God, a God who knows everything, forget anything? Israel indeed was warned by Moses: "Beware lest you forget the LORD . . . Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God which he made with you" (Deuteronomy 6:12; 4:23).

But of Israel's God Moses said: "For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers, which he swore to them" (Deuteronomy 6:31).

How can we suggest then that there is anything we need do to ensure God does not forget? The reason is completely satisfactory: God Himself has told us to make sure He won't forget! Here are His instructions via Isaiah the prophet:

"I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem, who shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give him no rest, till he establishes and till he makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth" (62:6-7).

Strange and remarkable-men are not to give God any rest till His purposes of grace concerning Jerusalem are accomplished. They are to make sure He doesn't forget to fulfil His promises to the Holy City and the Nation it represents.

As we place these words in context we find some of the sweetest and kindest words in Tenach, the Old Testament. "The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor; he has sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

"to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort those who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for the spirit of heaviness . . . " (61:1-3).

What comfort is found here! Who is the one who speaks such assurances? Who is here claiming: "The Spirit of the LORD is upon me" and "the LORD has anointed me" to perform this ministry of tender compassion?

Two thousand years ago, on a Sabbath day in the Nazareth synagogue, Yeshua stood up to read this Isaiah Scripture, then began His discourse with the claim: "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." And the hearers "bore witness to him, and marvelled at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth" (Luke 4:16ff).

Every Jewish person who heard Him speak that day would know that this Scripture from Isaiah referred to Israel's Messiah. So, in claiming that the prophecy was fulfilled in Himself, Yeshua was claiming that He was the long-awaited Messiah.

And did He not indeed bring good tidings? Did He not bind up the broken-hearted; proclaim liberty to those in captivity to Satan and sin; open blind eyes and comfort mourners? There were many of the people of those days who believed in Him and said: "When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than these which this man has done?" (John 7:31)

Yet there was one significant omission which Yeshua made when He read Isaiah's prophecy. The Messiah would be sent by the Lord God to proclaim not only the year of the Lord's good pleasure, but also "the day of vengeance of our God" , and He omitted this phrase.

The explanation surely lies in the truth that He came once in grace and mercy to provide salvation: "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:17). And of a world that has had no appreciation of His so great salvation, does not the prophet say: "He is despised and rejected by men" (Isaiah 53:3)?

So a world which prefers sin to salvation, Satan to God, wickedness to righteousness must be visited by Divine vengeance "the day of vengeance of our God." This will be the second coming of the Messiah. Isaiah fills in the horrifying details of this judgement, and speaks of His crimsoned garments, His apparel red with the life-blood of those with whom God's mercy, love and grace have pleaded in vain, and who are now trodden in His anger; and trampled in His fury (Isaiah 63).

We are to look beyond the "day of vengeance" when the garments of the Messiah are stained with the blood of His enemies, because He says, "the year of my redeemed has come" (63:4), when His righteous rule over His covenant nation and all nations will follow. The prophet details the future blessedness of a redeemed Israel:

"The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings of the earth your glory. You shall be called by a new name which the mouth of the LORD will name. You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

"You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land be termed Desolate; but you shall be called Hephzibah (My delight is in her), and your land Beulah

"Indeed the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the world: 'Say to the daughter of Zion, "Surely your salvation is coming; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him." And they shall call them the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD; you shall be called Sought Out, a City Not Forsaken'" (Isaiah 62:2-4, 11-12).

The present restoration of the nation Israel to Israel the land is an added assurance of the ultimate and complete fulfilment of these sure promises. It may well be that God's "year of my redeemed" is near.

Meanwhile the Lord says through His prophet: "I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jersualem, who shall never hold their peace day or night." Watchmen in ancient times kept watch over, perhaps a caravan at rest, or as in this case, a sleeping city.

Ezekiel was twice told that God had appointed him as a spiritual watchman to his nation: "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from my mouth, and give them warning from me . . . So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from my mouth and warn them for me" (3:17; 33:7).

Indeed a complaint which the Lord brought against those in responsible positions was their unfaithfulness in this task: "His watchmen are blind, they are all ignorant; they are all dumb dogs; they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber . . . " (Isaiah 56:10).

So who are the watchmen who the Lord has specifically set upon the walls of Jerusalem as His present provision for Israel's welfare? Surely they are all those on whose hearts the Lord has laid the burden of concern for His ancient people and His city, "the city of the great King" (Psalm 48:2).

They are the ones who watch and pray fervently and faithfully for the blessing of God on Jerusalem and her children, and who delight to see the fulfilment of the prophecies in the Word. These watchmen have a solemn responsibility; it is stated very plainly in these same Scriptures from the prophet Isaiah that are presently before us.

"You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give him no rest till he establishes and till he makes Jersualem a praise in the earth."

"Make sure God won't forget," says the title of this study. "Give him no rest," says the prophet. And "Never hold your peace day or night," you who are the Lord's remembrancers. It is not that He is as the gods of the heathen who as Elijah mockingly told the priests of Baal might be "meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened" (1 Kings 18:27).

No indeed! The Psalmist reminds us: "Behold, he who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep" (Psalm 121:4). But God is pleased to take us into His confidence, granting us the privilege of intercessory prayer.

He calls His watchmen to share in the burden of His own interests for the nation whom He chose, and His own city. "For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his habitation: 'This is my resting place for ever; here will I dwell, for I have desired it'" (Psalm 132:13-14).

Then surely the watchmen's response will be: "For Zion's sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns" (Isaiah 62:1).