Should We Rest When God Cannot?

1For 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. 2The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD will name…7And give Him no rest till He establishes And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (Isaiah 62:1-2, 7 NKJV)

In Isaiah 62, God uses strong language to assure us that He will fulfill all His promises. He is a righteous God and He is faithful. His Word will not return void, but it will accomplish everything He sent it for (Isaiah 55:11). God gives specific, strategic objectives that are reinforced in other passages of Scripture. He is so committed to these objectives that He “has sword by His right hand” to bring these things to pass (Isaiah 62:8) and He “will not rest” until they are achieved (Isaiah 62:1).

God begins the chapter by saying He will not be silent about Zion nor will He rest for the sake of Jerusalem. This is intentional language and God intends us to hear the resolve in His voice and the strength of His determination. Give how specific His language is, it focuses us to ask a question: how much do we understand His purposes for Zion and Jerusalem and, furthermore, how much of our ministry effort are we directing towards those goals? Are we silent on those issues or are we vocal as our God is? Are we committed to not rest – to not be comfortable or at ease – until Zion and Jerusalem become what God intends them to be?

If He will not be silent or rest about the condition of Zion and Jerusalem and we are His people on the earth, it means we cannot be silent or rest either if we are cooperating with His plan and purposes. Therefore, Isaiah 62 gives the church a very clear objective to focus our activity on. It is not the only objective, but it is an important enough objective that God declares that He is focused on it. This is why Isaiah 62 is more than a prophetic passage describing things that will some day come to pass – it is a missions mandate for the church. God is giving us His ultimate strategic objectives and He expects that we will read them, understand them, and that they will become our ultimate objectives.

Isaiah 62 gives us God’s finish line for this age and therefore we must build the global church towards this finish line and that means that ultimately the activity of the global church must be evaluated by Isaiah 62. There are specific assignments given to the church in Scripture not mentioned in Isaiah 62, but Isaiah is telling us precisely where the assignments God has given to the church must ultimately end. This is why Isaiah 62 is not just inspirational; it is intensely practical. God is giving us a very clear target for our labors in the church and a finish line for world missions.

Understanding God’s Objectives

God’s resolve regarding the mission of Isaiah 62 means that we must understand all that is implied in God’s commitment to Zion and Jerusalem. We must understand what it means for Jerusalem to be “a praise in the earth” and how He wants us to partner with Him to see this come to pass. We need to understand, from Scripture, what it means for the nations see Jerusalem’s righteousness and kings see the glory of that city. If God will not be silent until this objective is achieved then we should understand all the details of His plan to secure His objective and commit to labor with Him until we see it come to pass.

We must pour over the Scriptures and see exactly what will make Jerusalem a praise in all the earth and then we should labor ceaselessly until it comes to pass. We must train and deploy men and women with a clear mission – labor so that God can have His rest. We must train them to hear what He is refusing to be silent about and raise their voice with His on this issue. We must partner with Him to see the desire of His heart fulfilled.

Why is He focused on the city of Jerusalem and what leads to it being a praise? We must understand this. He also says He wants it to be a praise “in all the earth.” In other words, He agenda has global implications. It affects how we build the global church and what goals we build towards. Have we understood this? He wants the kings of the earth to see the righteousness of Jerusalem. In other words, He expects the leaders of the earth to submit to what He wants to do in Jerusalem. Do we press this on the nations of the earth?

We know that God’s agenda at the end of the age is the exaltation of His Son Jesus (Revelation 1:1), therefore how does the exaltation of Jerusalem relate to the exaltation of His Son? How does His purpose for Jerusalem affect the return of His Son? Do we understand how deeply connected God’s plan for Jerusalem and His plan for His Son are? Do we understand that it is ultimately one plan?

How Can We Rest When God Cannot?

If we are at rest when God is not, then we are out of sync with His priorities. It is to our great shame if we “rest” in the atonement of the cross thinking only of the salvation it has secured for us, but do not share in God’s own restlessness until the cross accomplishes all that He has intended it to. There is a rest in our souls in receiving the atonement of Jesus, but receiving that atonement sets us up to labor with Him. We are saved so that we can labor with God for His purposes in all the earth. If the rest the cross brings to our soul translates to inactivity in His mission then we are using God for our own purposes when we should be joining Him in His.

If we are so willing to have Him bear our burden so that it may be removed from our shoulders, how is it that we are not equally willing to bear His burden with Him until it is removed from His shoulders? When we were crushed by a burden, God was not content. He personally intervened to bear our burden for us – can we not express our love to Him in the same way?

Is Jerusalem presently a praise in all the earth? Do the nations all adore Jesus? If not, how can we rest when He cannot? Do we even take the time to search out and understand all that is required to make Jerusalem a praise in all the earth? Does it affect our plans for our ministries? These are the things that should dominate our thoughts and emotions as much as they dominate His.

The Invitation to Partnership in Isaiah 62

The whole of Scripture tells us that God always accomplishes His purposes through His people. It is His great joy is to partner with weak and broken people to accomplish His purposes. Understanding that alone is enough to cause us to engage with God’s purpose in Isaiah 62. If God says that He will not rest and not be silent, then that should be enough for us to know that He intends us to engage in His mission with Him.

God assumes that we will engage in the mission simply based on what He says in Isaiah 62:1-2. He assumes that, as His people, we are in agreement with what is important to Him and that we will labor with Him to see it come to pass. However, this mission is so important to God that He also gives very specific instructions on how we should partner with Him. His specific instructions in Isaiah 62:6-7 are not the sum total of how we partner with God, but they are very specific instructions for how we participate with Him.

6I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, 7And give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (Isaiah 62:6–7 NKJV)

God indicates that He will set watchmen in place who will not hold their peace day or night. In other words, He will set people in place that are in full agreement with Him and will not be silent concerning God’s plan for Jerusalem. They are in such agreement that the will not be silent. These “watchmen” actually address two different issues. First they address the nations concerning God’s purpose for Jerusalem. They will keep the issue of God’s eternal purposes before the nations both inviting them to join with God in His purposes and warning the nations of the consequences of resisting God’s purposes. Secondly, the watchmen address the city of Jerusalem concerning God’s purposes for her. The resistance of the nations to God’s purpose for Jerusalem is only one threat to the future of that great city. The sin and unrighteousness of the city itself is a threat to God’s plan for it. The city needs to be reminded of her covenant purposes and warned of God’s discipline that will lead her into those promises.

These watchmen will not be silent. They will consistently declare God’s plan to remind the nations that, because there is such a clear witness of His purposes and such focused evil against them, God counts inactivity or ambivalence towards His purposes as resistance to them.

Notice that God address all those who “make mention of the Lord” (“remind the Lord” – NASB, “call on the Lord” – NIV, “pray to the Lord” – NET), in other words all those who remind Him of His promises day and night. The immediate application is the watchmen He has put in place, but there is an invitation in the verse. Do you make mention of the Lord in prayer? Then He is inviting you to labor with Him for His mission. He gives us three very clear instructions:

Do Not Keep Silent – God already said that watchmen will not keep silent, but He also specifically commands them to not keep silent. He gave this instruction because of how important it is to Him that there is not silence concerning this issue on the earth. He also knows we will be tempted to be silent. As we wait for His promises we will become tired and discouraged and wonder if unceasing prayer is really worth it. We will also face opposition from within and without. There will be strong opposition against unceasing prayer from enemies as well as well reasoned arguments to rest and be silent.

Give Him No Rest – God wants us to trouble Him about His plan for Jerusalem. He wants us to be so near to His heart that we hurt for what He hurts for. We are to be restless and to refuse to let Him rest until He accomplishes His Word. He is asking us to trouble Him until He accomplishes His word, and this is the same exhortation that Jesus gives us in Luke 18:1-8. His restlessness is to become our restlessness.

Until He Make Jerusalem a Praise in the Earth – God sets a very clear finish line – we are not to stop until Jerusalem is a praise in all the earth. There should be a loud, unceasing cry about God’s purposes both to the nations in the form of proclamation and to God Himself in the form of prayer.

Verses 6-7 gives a clear summary of the nature and mission of night and day prayer:

  • “They shall never hold their peace” and “Do not be silent” – This is the mandate for night and day prayer.
  • “You who make mention of the Lord” – This is the invitation to night and day prayer.
  • “Until Jerusalem is a praise in the earth” – This is the finish line for night and day prayer.

God assumes that we will search out the Scripture and partner with Him in the activity of the church towards His goal for Jerusalem, but we have to notice how specifically He highlights the role of the church in day and night prayer for His purposes for Jerusalem. He specifically wants intercession towards that goal. He reveals that He will accomplish His plan in response to our intercession.

Our deepest partnership with Him in making Jerusalem a praise in all the earth will be in extravagant, unceasing prayer directed towards that purpose. Once unceasing prayer for God’s purposes is in place, it will cause our other ministry activity to follow His purposes as well. This is the wisdom of God – He invites us into communion with Him first knowing that it will ultimately set the focus and priority of our activity.

Conclusion

In the thousands of years since Isaiah gave this revelation of God’s heart, there has not yet been a people who were able to keep unceasing prayer going until Jerusalem was a praise in the earth, and it is a holy thing for us to turn our hearts towards fulfilling this yearning in God’s heart. There have been noteworthy prayer movements throughout history, but not yet one that was able to maintain restlessness until God has the desire of His heart. However, At some point a generation will read these verses, take them literally, and fulfill the yearning of God’s heart by troubling Him night and day until He can rest. These verses are a prediction, a mission, and an invitation.

Isaiah 62 is a passage that demands a response. God wants a specific response – unceasing prayer – that He highlights in verses 6-7, but He is also looking for a people that share His heart for His purposes for Jerusalem and all that entails. This is what God is ultimately wants. He wants intimate union around His purposes. He wants people who will not rest until He can and will not be silent until He can. This is why Isaiah 62:1-2 is ultimately a missions mandate. If we are as restless as God is on this issue, that we will intentionally understand His goals and direct the activity of the church towards those goals.

1 thought on “Should We Rest When God Cannot?”

  1. Such a timely article! I love this chapter and pray it ofton. I also just started memorizing it Sunday! This passage has been burning in my heart and only growing stronger! This is our great hope, that Jerusalem would be the pride of the earth! Thank you Samuel for posting this, it has really been an encouragement !

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