An old Jewish story tells of a young man who had been appointed to take his turn as a watchman on the wall of his city. His shift was the third watch and although it had been uneventful, it was finally coming to an end. Suddenly, he caught a glimpse of what appeared to be the flicker of a flame just over the nearest hill to the north. He shifted his position in an attempt to get a better look, but the flash was now gone. As he pondered the possibility that it could have been a torch carried by an approaching enemy, he soon chose to sound the alarm.
Raising the trumpet to his lips, he blew the three short blasts that would bring his superiors to the wall. Within minutes, the quiet sentry post was filled with soldiers. An armed scouting party was sent to the general area of the sighting and they soon returned. To everyone’s relief, they had discovered that a shepherd’s hut had ignited when a gust of wind blew across the coals of his campfire. Though the fire was not a danger to the city, the watchman was commended by his commanding officer for his attentiveness. It could easily have been a threat endangering the entire city and its inhabitants. This was the very reason why the watchmen were in place.
In Ezekiel 33, God gives a charge to Israel laying down the consequences of failing to both watch and faithfully sound the alarm when danger is near. Over the years, I have learned that those who handle the Word of God have a responsibility to warn their field of influence of impending peril. In the following scripture, we see that the watchman is only responsible for warning, not the choices made by those warned.
“Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’
For eight long and seemingly hopeless years, we have endured a slow and calculated chipping away of many of our nation’s hard earned and fought for accomplishments. To make matters worse, many of our fellow citizens seemed disengaged from what was happening or worse yet, complicit to it. When it appeared that our country would collapse financially or politically, something wonderful happened. A changing of the guard came and evil was ushered out of power while hope began to break through the dark clouds. Almost overnight, much of the damage that had been done, was reversed and it seemed that our country was set on a new course.
Unfortunately, an ominous infrastructure had been deeply imbedded and would very soon begin to rise up in an attempt to devour the renewed hope. What is the evidence of this, you ask? Charlottesville, VA! What has happened there was evil to the core. It was also a mass gathering of “useful idiots.” Some of these showed up with their emotions and passion all worked up by their professional handlers. Others were simply doing what they had been hired to do, create chaos and manage the minions that although were there, they knew not why. One thing for sure, you would not find any of these at a march for life demonstration to fight abortion. They are ardently passionate about removing a Confederate statue as a protest against slavery, but they do nothing to fight our current blight of human trafficking and child rape.
It is clear that the job of a watchman is a continual commitment. It is not sporadic or dependent upon our feelings. Because of the life or death nature and constancy of the watchman’s task, it is an assignment for the many, not just the one. Believers working in tandem, sharing shifts of prayer, will be the most effective in this perilous time we are living in. Isaiah 62:6-7 describes an intensity that must be shared…day and night…never silent…give yourself no rest. Only groups of committed believers who band together in watchful prayer will be able to stay at their post. That scripture says, “I 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,”
As you reflect on what you have seen and heard in recent days, I must also advise that you brace yourself for much worse. God has not promised us a world of magnificent peace and serenity in this life. That will come later for those who are true followers of Christ. Jesus said in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” There will be a happy ending for those of us who “love His appearing.” But that time is not yet come. Meanwhile, do not be surprised when you are hated for loving our Lord. “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” 1 John 3:13
So, we should be watching, praying, and doing what God has called us to do … faithfully!