Hebrew Highlights 64 – FOR THE SAKE OF ZION
Shalom. This is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.
ISA 62:1-7, “For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, And for Jerusalem's sake I will not keep quiet, Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, And her salvation like a torch that is burning. And the nations will see your righteousness, And all kings your glory; And you will be called by a new name, Which the mouth of the Lord will designate. You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, And a royal diadem in the hand of your God. It will no longer be said to you, "Forsaken," Nor to your land will it any longer be said, "Desolate"; But you will be called, "My delight is in her," And your land, Married"; For the Lord delights in you, And to Him your land will be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, So your sons will marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you. On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; All day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; And give Him no rest until He establishes And makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
In the first verse in Hebrew we read, “Lema’an Tsion lo echeshe, ulema’an Yerushalayim lo eshkot”. A paraphrase might be, “For the sake of Zion, I will not allow myself any peace, and for the sake of Jerusalem I will never shut up”. These are strong words, a proclamation, a stand, and a promise. The question is, who exactly is saying them? Is it God, or Isaiah, or someone else. Well, although it is a little unclear in the context, it seems obvious that each and every reader, or in fact singer of verses 1-5 is praying and renewing this oath in every generation. Starting in verse 6, it is God speaking, first in the form of a decree, when He says, “On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; All day and all night they will never keep silent”, and then in the form of a plea, when we ourselves are reminded, “You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; And give Him no rest until He establishes And makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”
It is an odd sort of statement. In street language we could translate it like this, “You guys who talk to the Lord, don’t take a break, and keep bugging Him until He has finished His work with Jerusalem.”
So what does all this have to do with you or me? Well, all of us who care about Israel might see ourselves as watchmen on Jerusalem’s walls. In this case, the word for watchmen is actually “shomrim”, or guards.
An interesting cross reference is EZE 3:17-19, "Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. "When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die'; and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. "Yet if you have warned the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself.”
Although there are differences, both passages hold us partially responsible for helping Israel repent from her sins, and become the righteous nation which God intends. Here God calls Ezekiel a “tsofei”, or observer. Any of us who stand by and watch sin are in a position to bring help to the sinner. Whether it is to Jerusalem, or our next-door neighbor, we are called upon to bring warning, and offer grace.
The third scripture about watchmen is, from a standpoint of Hebrew studies, the most interesting of all. JER 31:6-7 says, "For there shall be a day when watchmen On the hills of Ephraim shall call out, 'Arise, and let us go up to Zion, To the Lord our God.'" For thus says the Lord, "Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, And shout among the chiefs of the nations; Proclaim, give praise, and say, 'O Lord, save Thy people, The remnant of Israel.'
Here, the word translated as watchmen is “notsrim”. Now hang on to your hats. The word “notsrim” is what is used in modern Hebrew for, believe it or not, “Christians”. Couple this with the fact that the “hills of Ephraim” are a symbol of the Diaspora of the ten lost tribes, and you have quite an interesting little investigation on your hands. We will not go into this right now, but will go back to our original premise.
The biggest sin of the Christian church during World War II, was in keeping quiet. Many believers who saw what was happening to the Jewish people simply turned away, not wanting to face a horrible truth.
If we are to obey Isaiah 62, we need to be vocal allies of Israel, whether in speaking casually to our hairdresser, or in writing letters to our congressmen. God still has good intentions for Zion. The media has tried to make Zion a dirty word. Zion, is in fact, at the very heart of God. His continued patience and mercy towards the people of Israel, are in truth, a constant reminder of God’s grace towards each and every one of us.
Those of you who remind the Lord, thank Him every single day for your salvation. Then, pray for Zion.
Shalom shalom, from Jerusalem.