When Morning Dawns
What? The picture? Just be patient. I’ll get to it…
During the past week I have tried to paint an accurate picture of Jerusalem in OT times. We discussed the lack of any viable water source. The nearest river is 120 miles away. We looked at the city’s geographical surroundings. Most specifically we noted the fact that the city had been built upon a series of hills. These factors combined to make Jerusalem a city that was very easy to defend. The ancient Roman historian Tacitus described Jerusalem as being inaccessible, with walls and mountains, rocks and towers, surrounding it. Enemy armies could only approach from one direction, the north. The absence of a dependable source of water made prolonged campaigns very difficult. And yet, in spite of all those factors, the city has been attacked some 50 plus times in its long and glorious history.
One of the more common military actions in those days was the siege. The enemy army would set up camp on the perimeter of the city, completely surrounding it. All roads leading to and from the city were completely closed off. Neither supplies nor outside support were able to enter. Sometimes this action would be sustained over a period of months or even years (the siege of Candia in the mid 1600s lasted almost 21 years). Eventually the inhabitants were forced into surrender through the threat of starvation.
In addition, the enemy would also seek to breach the walls that surrounded the city. Most often their attacks came in the early morning when the sun was first rising. Makes sense. Electricity hadn’t been invented. It is hard to attack when you can’t see. Without any light you could be fighting your best buddy and not even realize it. But imagine for a moment that you are one of the people living in the city. Your army is too small to confront the enemy. Food and fresh water have become increasingly scarce. The threat of starvation has become very real. The nights offer little peace. No matter how hard you try to rest you are very conscious that morning is coming. The breaking of the dawn means another attack, another enemy advance. And with each passing day you slowly come to the realization that your days are numbered. Tomorrow morning may very well be the day they breach the wall. Tomorrow morning may very well be the final chapter. The rising of the sun may very well mark the end of all you once knew.
As I thought about this verse the battle of the Hornburg immediately came to my mind. If you have ever seen the movie “The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers,” I’m sure you will remember the scene. The forces of evil have banded together for one singular purpose… the destruction of all humanity. In this particular scene the enemy army has besieged the last human stronghold. Locked up within their stone fortress the army of men realize that their defeat is imminent. Rather than surrender to despair, Aragorn gathers the few remaining troops together for one last charge at the enemy. They fight valiantly. They fight boldly. But in spite of all their heroic efforts they are simply outnumbered and outmatched. Defeat is certain. Their doom only a matter of time.
But then in that final moment Aragorn looks to the east as the rising sun begins to crest the nearby surrounding mountains. There on the ridge of the nearest hill he sees the impossible. The remnant of fallen men has gathered together to form an army. And as the rising dawn dispels the shadows in the valley below this great army pours down the mountain side to engage the enemy. I simply love that closing scene (hence, the picture)when the sun in all its brilliance breaks the horizon and blinds the enemy army just as the forces of good descend upon them. Defeat gives way to victory. Despair gives way to triumph. Death gives way to life. Evil is undone. Humanity survives to see another day.
That’s the image that comes to my mind when I read that last portion of verse 5. When defeat seemed certain. At the moment when the enemy had gathered together for one final assault. As night gave way to the dawn the people of God prepared themselves for what they thought would be the end. But then… God came to their help. At the moment when all hope seemed lost God showed Himself to be their Savior. The dawn marked not the end but the beginning. The plans and purposes of the enemy would not prevail. The forces of darkness would not triumph. Evil would be defeated. God would help his people.
Take heart today. The night has been long for some of you. The enemy has besieged your life in some cases for years. But in the end God will prove Himself faithful. He will not fail you. God will usher in victory where you have only known defeat. God will bring hope where you have only known despair. And God will bring life where you have only known death. Be encouraged. I know. It seems hopeless. It seems impossible. But God WILL help you. That is His promise. And He never fails His Word. The dawn of a new day is coming. Believe it. Expect it. And just like Aragorn, look for it. God’s help is coming.