Updated: May 23, 2021
During the first coronavirus lockdown in March 2020, probably during the first week I had been praying and listening to God to see what He was wanting to say to me as I prayed a video popped up on my Facebook feed. It was of a man in Indonesia, he was standing on the balcony of a building looking out to sea, there was a road below and then shops, cafes, bars, a beach and then the sea. The man was shouting to the people below because He could see something that they could not see, He was looking out and could see a big wave coming in, he could see a tsunami, he was shouting and screaming at the people trying to warn them but either they didn't hear him, they didn't understand him or they ignored him because they didnt seem to move until it was too late and the water came crashing in.
As I watched this video I was reminded in that moment that we are called to be Watchmen, we have a job to do in these last days, we have a responsibility as Christians, the Lord was reminding me about the responsibilities I have as a Watchman and I would like to share some of those thoughts in this blog.
So what is a Watchman?
In todays society we would probably call them security guards or we use the term night watchmen for someone who watches over and protects property, assets, or people. In biblical times a watchman would normally be found on the city walls and it was their job to blow the shofar when danger was approaching. They would also be able to see the daily comings and goings of the people, the activities on the streets and in the market, they would recognise the people, and would have an understanding of their lifestyles and their habits. If they were near the city gates they would observe the business of the city and see transactions taking place, as this is where official transactions were made. They would also be able to see the King returning when he had been away, and they would tell the people so they would be able to prepare for the Kings return.
Who are the Watchmen of today?
I believe that we as Christians are called to be watchmen and this is a great responsibility. I don't believe it is solely the responsibility of leaders, but of all Christians.
In Marks gospel (Mark 13:1-37) Jesus is teaching his disciples concerning the signs that will precede His return, He warns them against spiritual sleepiness, He concludes that teaching in v 37 by saying "What I say to you, I say to everyone Watch".
This says to me that we are part of everyone, He wasn't just speaking to those with Him, He was also speaking to us who are reading His word today.
As Christians we firstly have a responsibility to watch over our own lives making sure that we are walking in daily repentance and dealing with any issues the Holy spirit reveals to us, living in obedience to God. Ephesians 4:27 says "Do NOT give the devil a foothold" (some translations say opportunity). The imagery used here by Paul is one of a steep rock face which is difficult to climb. If we are walking in obedience to God and living righteous lives our lives are like this smooth rock face and there is no place for the devil to get in, but as soon as we start to entertain any kind of iniquity and we start to waiver of the right path it gives footholds for the devil to gain access, the devil will use every opportunity. This is why it is so important to keep watch over our own lives first. We should then watch over our families and then we have a responsibility to be watching continually over those whom the Lord places before us.
What are we watching for?
As watchmen there are a number of things that we are watching for as we look out and watch from our vantage point. As Christians we can see things from a different viewpoint from a different position, we are in a position to see things that others cannot see. Just like in Bible times they stood in their tower to watch, we are in Christ who is our strong tower. Proverbs 18:10 - “The name of the LORD is a strong tower, the righteous run into it, and are safe.” as well as being safe in this tower we are raised up and so can see from a different vantage point. We see from a elevated position in Christ Jesus, so what are we looking for? There are at least four things we are to watch for.
"Watch" - is mentioned in 26 books of the Bible and occurs at least 57 times, so it is quite a big subject, it is pretty important.
1. Watching to see if there is anyone in need.
Just as the Watchmen of old, on the wall of the city could often see human need and be able to send someone to help, we can see from our position in Christ those who may be in need and this gives us an opportunity to help those people. As we seek Gods face, as we watch and pray He will show us those who need help. We should always have our hearts open and be looking to see what the Lord is seeing. As we see as God sees we can do as God does. As we see need we then do our best to help in any way we can whether that be practically, financially or spiritually. It may not be a physical need, we may recognise loneliness in someone's heart, we may see grief or pain, we may see a physical need for healing or it may be a practical or financial need. It may be all we can do is pray but whatever need we see we should always do something. We should not ignore it, we should respond in some way. If we are not watching we will not see. We should not shut our eyes to these things, as Christians we are called to help orphans, widows, those in poverty, those hurting and broken, this is part of our mandate so we must keep our eyes open and watch.
2. Watching to see what God is doing
We are in a position where we can see things from Gods perspective, which is often different from the perspective of the world. But we have to watch and pray in order to gain Gods perspective and see what He is doing. If we ask questions like "Lord, what are you doing in our church, or our town, or our country this day? He will tell us.
We have the awesome privilege as Christians to be able to have a relationship with God, that means we can talk to him and He responds, part of all relationships is watching, we watch to see a persons behaviour, or body language as we watch a person we get to know them, we learn things about them and it is no different with God, we seek His face to see his expressions, his mood and feelings in any given situation, we might not see with our eyes but we will see in our spirit. Remember we are one with Christ Jesus and as we watch and we pray in to the things He is revealing to us, we will see things clearly from His perspective.
We need to keep watching and praying so as we don't miss anything. When we do start to see something of what God is doing in any given situation, in our church, in a certain geographical location, in someone’s life or even in our own life we should then respond in an appropriate way.
In Proverbs 8: 34 there is a lovely scripture that captures a little of what I am trying to say, "Joyful are those who listen to me, watching for me daily at my gates, waiting for me outside my home! We sit and watch and wait until He reveals the things that are stirring His heart and then we can get involved, in whatever way He asks us to.
3. Watching for danger from enemy attack
Certainly, in Old Testament times, defensive watchfulness was at the heart of the task of a watchman. The watchmen on the wall was always on the alert for any attempt of an enemy to attack or infiltrate the city. Too many times, the walls of the Church are open to attack because of a lack of watchfulness. Unless praying watchmen are on duty, we too often find ourselves painfully unaware of the attempts of the enemy to disrupt and destroy the great work God is doing.
We read in Ezekiel 33 how Ezekiel was called by God to be a watchman over the nation of Israel, his responsibility was to blow the shofar when danger was approaching. Ezekiel 33, talks of two kinds of people the righteous and the wicked.
The Righteous. (Christians) Ezekiel 33:12 “Therefore, son of man, say to your people, ‘If someone who is righteous disobeys, that person’s former righteousness will count for nothing".
We have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters in Christ to tell them if we see that they are in danger. I am not saying here that we have the right to go around the church and start to criticise and drag people down. Over the years I have heard so many sad stories of people who are no longer walking with God because other Christians, Pastors, Church leaders have hurt them so badly that they have left the church and never returned. These things need to be dealt with in love and with lots of wisdom and only if we are sure that God has shown us something very clearly and only if we have examined ourselves first. Just a note here, we should all be open to listen if a brother or sister in Christ who we know and respect, comes to us and tells us something about what they may have observed regarding us or our life. We should not be defensive, we should go away and as a mature Christian take it to the Lord and test it and if it is shown to be true then we need to deal with it, if not then we need to lay it down. This takes a much deeper level of spiritual maturity.
Let us look at Matthew 7:1-6 where this is dealt with.
1 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
The Message, paraphrases it like this, "Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults -- unless, of course, you want the same treatment."
This is to me much clearer. Unless we are prepared to undergo the same treatment and unless we are open for others to point out to us our weaknesses or failures then we should not be doing it. Like I said before this takes a deep level of Christian spiritual maturity.
Matthew 7 v3-5 "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
From our raised vantage point we can watch for danger, just like Ezekiel did on the walls, as we see danger drawing near we can blow the horn and warn those who are in danger. We are not prohibited from discerning sin or problems in our Christian brother or sister, but we must first examine ourselves to make sure nothing in us prevents us from seeing clearly in that situation. Then, and only then, says Jesus, you can "see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye"
We need to be real, authentic watchmen with a much deeper level of Christian maturity as we watch over those inside the walls.
As Christians we have a responsibility to watch over those who are unsaved, we need to warn them of the coming judgement of God and that unless they repent and turn back to God they are in a dangerous place. We all as Christians have a responsibility to share the way of Jesus with those the Lord places before us. It is our responsibility to tell them the truth, to tell them about Jesus who died for them, to tell them that there is another way, a way of righteousness, and that they need to turn away from their life of sin and turn towards God before it is too late. They need to know that there is a way to eternity with God, how will they know if we do not tell them? So as we watch and God shows us these people we need to tell them the truth. God loves the world so much He sent Jesus to die, how can we keep this good news to ourselves.
4. Watching for the groom
Jesus is coming back for His church very soon, and we need to watch for Him. We can do this by being aware of the signs of the times we are living in.
1 Chronicles 12:32 NLT - “From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives. All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take.”
Amos 3:7 NIV – “Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.”
In Luke 12:54-56 - Luke records how Jesus rebuked the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it turns out. 55“And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, ‘It will be a hot day,’ and it turns out that way. 56“You hypocrites! You know how to analyse the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyse this present time?
He says a similar thing to the religious leaders in Matthews account, they of all people should have known the season of Messiah coming, but they were spiritually blind to who Jesus was.
In Matthew 24 and Luke 21 you can read detailed teaching concerning the end times, I would encourage you to read these passages and see what Jesus says about the signs of the end days and compare it to today.
We need to be aware of the signs of the times we are living in and we need to be watching for the groom. We need to be like the men of Issachar who understood the signs of the times and remember that the sovereign Lord does nothing without first revealing His plans to His servants the prophets. We need to be watching and listening and preparing for the return of Jesus for His bride, the church. If we are not watching and praying how can God reveal these things to us, how will we see, how will we be ready.
Remember the warning Jesus gave when he told the story of the 10 virgins, 5 were ready and 5 were not, you can read this in Luke 12:35-40.
Joel 2:1 says, "Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand--"
We the watchmen are to be those who sound the trumpet from our raised vantage point in Jesus Christ so let the sound go out and give the warning so that people will be ready and not be taken unaware.
Let me finish with Mark 13:37 "What I say to you, I say to everyone Watch".