The tension of present and future, already but not yet, is central to the Judaeo-Christian understanding of salvation. Yes we are saved, but not yet. Come Lord and save your people.
Isaiah’s sentinels on the wall and Luke’s shepherds are watchmen. Watching can become a passive waiting to respond, but Isaiah adds an active dimension. Listen: Isaiah says, “I have posted sentinels; all day and night they shall never be silent. You who remind the Lord, take no rest, and give Him no rest until He establishes Jerusalem and makes it renowned through all the earth.”
The Hebrew Zakar (zach hair)= REMEMBER is vital for understanding the salvation. When God remembers He saves, beginning with Genesis. 8:1 God remembers Noah and saves the inhabitants of the ark. 9:15-16 God says He will remember His covenant with the earth when He sees the rainbow. 19:29 God remembers Abraham and saves Lot. 30:22 He remembers Rachel and opens her womb to have a child. In the great salvation event of Israel’s history, Exodus 2:24 God hears the groaning of Israel and remembers His promises Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In 6:5 He tells Moses. I remember my covenant, tell the people I come to set them free.
Leviticus 26 spells out the tragic relationship of God and His people. If you are faithful, God says, I will bless you with health and abundance, my shalom will be with you. But if you reject me, and disobey me, you will suffer the consequences. Exile and oppression. YHWH says, there will be some who repent and return to the Lord. I will never reject or spurn them, I will never destroy them and annul my covenant. I will remember my covenant and remember the land, says the Lord.
The Words of Isaiah are spoken after the exile God warned them about, as the return to the land. But the promise of salvation is not fully realized. Israel’s salvation is incomplete.
This is the context for understanding the birth of Jesus. The Father remembers His promise and sends the Son is Jesus! “Glory to God in High Heaven and shalom upon those who belong to God on the earth,’’ sing the angels. But violence and conflict continues in our world, in families, and within our hearts. It is fair to ask, “What did the birth of that baby change?” Even the church is imperfect and sinful, right?
What if the Christian vocation is to be a watchman who reminds God, day and night, to complete the salvation? Is the church too comfortable in the world? Are we satisfied pursuing our desires and distracting ourselves from the state of the world and the state of our own souls? Have we forgotten God’s promise to save the whole world and contenting ourselves with the hope of going to heave when I die?
Jesus said that our prophetic vocation is to remind God. When He was born, He was laid in a manger because there is no guest room; but the night before He died there will finally be a guest room. He will bless bread and wine and call it the covenant of His body and blood. He will command us to do it as a MEMORIAL to Him. “Remind the Father,” Jesus says, “that I die to save the world.” “Remind the Father,” Jesus says, “salvation is not complete.” Pray for God’s rule to come.
So tonight we remember. Tonight we pray. We remind the Father:
Father make your name holy.
Father your kingdom come.
Father your will be done on earth.
WE remind the Father of the meaning of Jesus in the bread and cup.
And, finally, when enough people truly want God to live among us, He will remember His promise and come. HE will remember and make salvation complete!