“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.” – Isaiah 62:1-7
The prophet Isaiah urged his countrymen to pray ceaselessly, reminding God of His promise to restore Jerusalem after its destruction by the hand of the Babylonians. When the destruction of the Temple and exile of Judah that Isaiah and many other prophets had foretold finally came to pass, it led the survivors to go back to the record of their prophecies and here they found such encouragements as the words quoted above. This no doubt brought a revival of prayer and intercession for the fulfillment of God’s promise of restoration. Daniel was one of those who were inspired by these prophecies to pray, as you may read in Daniel, chapter 9.
Jerusalem is a type or symbol of the kingdom of God and the prophets foretold of a time when that kingdom will spread over all the earth so that “the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills and all the nations will stream to it.” (Isaiah 2:2) In a prophecy given to Daniel, the Lord also compared His kingdom to a stone, cut out of a mountain without the aid of human hands that crushed the last of the four great empires (the Roman Empire) and grew until it “became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” (Daniel 2:34, 35) God promised that to the Messiah would be given “dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him.” (Daniel 7:13, 14). In those days, “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9; see also Habakkuk 2:14.)
We, the followers of Christ, like the Israelites of the Exile, are called by God to pray ceaselessly until God brings about the fulfillment of this promise to establish and “make Jerusalem a praise in the earth”, that is, to establish the kingdom of God on earth. (Matthew 6:10) This is that wonderful time when the nations will be converted to Christ and peace will envelope the planet. Not all problems will be solved, nor will sin, suffering and death be abolished. That awaits the glorious second coming of Christ and the resurrection, but because of this preceding time of spiritual revival the benefits provided by Christ’s first coming, namely justification by Christ’s blood and sanctification by His Spirit will be overwhelmingly displayed throughout human society as a final witness before He returns in glory. Yes, a time of spiritual declension and delusion will precede that coming so as to separate the truly regenerate from the hypocrites (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 2 Peter 3:3-10; Revelation 20:7-10) but before then so many will have been saved and gathered to the Lord that it can truly be said that the promise to Abraham has been fulfilled, namely, that His descendents shall be so numerous as to be past counting (Genesis 15:5; 22:17-18; Romans 11:25-26; Revelation 7:9-17). So, in the end, the kingdom of heaven shall contain far more than hell.
We must pray for the fulfillment, here and now, of these prophecies, for every soul saved and every life transformed by the power of God marks the progress of its fulfillment. Why does God make the fulfillment of His promise contingent upon our prayers? God’s purpose is that we become like Him, in our own finite measure. He is compassionate, that is, He is passionate in His love of lost sinners (Matthew 9:36-38; 23: 37; Luke 15; 19:41-43; 1 Timothy 2:1-6). We must enter into His feelings and take on His burden for the salvation of souls and the transformation of society. Christ is “the firstborn of many brethren.” (Romans 8:29) We are to become like Him and how shall this happen unless we live in this world as He lived (1 John 4:17)? The Gospel writer, Luke, tells us that as the crowds grew larger who came to hear Him and be healed, He used to often slip away into the wilderness to pray (Luke 5:16). Even though He was the Son of God, He needed to pray in order to replenish His soul and win the spiritual battle before He went among men, doing good. How much more do we need this priority of prayer?!
Let us therefore confess and repent of our prayerlessness and consequent spiritual powerlessness. We need to repent of wasting our time on things that will not count for eternity and matter little, even in this world. Prayer for the lost and for the spread of God’s kingdom on earth should become our very breath. Not until then will we see the victories we now vainly dream of. Despite this, God has been most merciful to us, granting even our few and feeble prayers singular instances of transformed lives as an encouragement to us to give ourselves more to the ministry of prayer. Let us therefore advance to the next level and there see even greater victories!