Ezekiel 33:8-9 gets us right into the thick of what a watchman had better be about: “When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die fora their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.”
Ouch! Ouch for the wicked man, and ouch for the watchman, if either does not heed the warning. That understood, we need to look seriously at what could be so evil in this country that it would cause God to bring his sword of discipline against us. It doesn’t take a hypersensitive conscience to make a short list of evils in our country that would sicken our Heavenly Father. Wouldn’t it be appropriate to admit, before an all-knowing God, that the following trespasses are cultural addictions?
- Rampant sex and sexuality
- Inordinate seeking after pleasure, fun, and entertainment
- Disregard for authority
If this list seems a little too mundane, let’s read it straight from Scripture: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV)
Fellow watchmen, this is reality. This is America, and yes this litany of evil has become prevalent, even in the American church. A dozen years ago, African friends of ours sent two of their children to Midwestern American universities for their higher education. On a visit to our home for Christmas, my wife asked Jolla (an 18 year old sister), “What has been the hardest adjustment for you in coming to America?” Without hesitation, she said, “I cannot tell the Christians from non-Christians.” Sadly, Jolla was blatantly honest, and she was right. Jolla is still right. For some reason we think it’s cool to be precisely like the world.
In a nutshell, Americans, whether inside and outside the church, are absolutely self-focused, and in an audacious, shameless manner, we have turned our backs on God. Is there any wonder why our Almighty Heavenly Father is coming with a sword of discipline and destruction?
Do you sense a serious difference here between my perceived, earlier understanding and the actual watchman assignment as it is spoken through Ezekiel? If we are simply called to stand on the wall, scan the distant hills, and warn our friends and family, the repeated message will eventually fall on deaf ears, and the assignment will cause us to tire.
However, that weariness is nothing like the reality of the Almighty God, in anger, advancing on us with drawn sword. There is no defense for prideful, self-centered, and disbelieving mankind in the reality of Who God is.
Let’s double-check this point with another scripture that’s often used to call God’s people to prayer for our nation: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV) Here’s how we most often read this passage:
- Christians, humble yourselves and pray.
- Evil inhabitants of the world out there, turn from your wicked ways.
- God responds by saying, “I will hear your plea, forgive your sins, and heal your land.”
Wrong! These are our wicked ways!
God opens this section with “if my people”. He is addressing us– His people, His chosen ones, Christians, believers. He says we must “turn from our wicked ways” if we want to be forgiven and see our land healed. Yes, there is wickedness amongst us, and we must own it. To deny this fact, in the face of the all-knowing God, is to invite His sword of discipline to come upon us and to come without mercy.
Is God not telling us very clearly:
- I am on my throne, and don’t you even think about treating me with contempt. Galatians 6:7
- You (my people) must turn from your wicked ways. 2 Chron. 7:14
- I am always ready to forgive the one who turns from his/her evil ways. 1 John 1:9
- As with Nehemiah, prior to the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, we must fall on our face and confess our sin before man and God. * Nehemiah 1:4-11
- Instruct your children in the ways of the Lord, and learn to recognize God’s voice. Proverbs 22:6, Mt 28:20
- Study God’s ways, and practice immediate and complete obedience. John 14:23
(These steps are gleaned from the experience of a number of God-fearing watchmen.)
- From the start, it will be a tough job. Go before the Lord, stay long in His presence, and be fully convinced that He is giving you the assignment.
- There are watchmen needed at many levels and in various circumstances. The basic levels are the church, the cell or life group, and within the family. If it’s obvious that a church is without a watchman, humbly bring the issue and need before the elders.
- Study the church in Laodicea (as referenced in Revelation 3:14-22), because this church is sadly mistaken. They are neither hot nor cold, and because of this God will spit them out. They say they are rich, but God says they are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. God says obtain real riches, which are refined by fire, with which to cover your nakedness. God says, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.”
- Stand resolutely against all wickedness, being firm, gentle when called for, and without compromise.
- Disciple the individual or group that determines to repent. Teach the truth, and walk them into the Light of Christ.
- Be vigilant, and prepare for persecution.
- Prepare to take refuge when God gives you the directive. Proverbs 27:12
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9). My wife and I are very close to a young family man. I watch this man, who rejects the ideas of personal felt needs and worldly rewards, and in doing so invests all energy and resources in building a godly family. Such a reality humbles me, especially when I think back to my meager efforts as a young dad and husband. I even misunderstood the assignment of a watchman at one time. However, I am reminded that it’s not the looking back that counts, but it is the promises of a loving God who we can know and obey now.
Fellow watchmen, we must avoid any pride in our preparations or in the warnings we bring from God himself. He is willing to forgive the changed heart and pull back his sword. Let us draw in tight with God’s people, turn from all evil, and stand against the schemes of the enemy.
Blessings on your call to duty,