Wanted: Watchmen and Watchwomen. Immediate openings are available. Constantly hiring. Low pay in comparison to requirements, but excellent health insurance. Out of this world retirement package. No extra experience needed. You already have all you’ll ever need. You’ve been a Watchman most of your life.
We’re all Watchmen. We watch our bank accounts to make sure no unauthorized users have access. We watch the check engine light on the car. We don’t always respond properly to it, but we watch it. We watch with wonder and thankfulness our children peacefully sleep in their Winnie the Pooh beds. Sometimes we have to anxiously watch them in the hospital bed to make sure they are still breathing.
Technology has increased our capacity to watch. With a simple tap of the phone, we can watch our homes while we’re on vacation (which takes away the point of the vacation). It also gives us the power to undo the mistake our wives warned us about and lock the house doors from several hundred miles away. That way, we can relieve our anxiety over the potential thief and the angry wife so that we can enjoy our vacation.
Watchers watch for various reasons. We watch for danger. You’re alive because others watched for you when you weren’t watching. They slammed on the brakes as they saw you running into the street to chase a stray ball. If they had not, family and friends would have watched your body as it was lowered into the ground.
At this moment, we’re watching for opportunities. We’re watching for sales and the lowest price on gas and restaurant signs along the interstate. You may be watching in anticipation of the birth of your first child or an upward trend in the stock you own. A word of advice. Wise husbands don’t show the same level of excitement about both events!
We’re watching, not because we’re scared, but because we want to be ready. We know the rewards – a great deal on the gadget whose price we’ve been tracking. We know the pain – the girl we’ve been eyeing goes out with the other guy because we were watching for the perfect opportunity that never came.
People can take watching to extremes. Helicopter parents are an example. They watch their children too much. Their goal is good. They want to protect their children from hidden dangers. By doing so, they prevent their children from developing decision-making skills. Their children don’t have to evaluate or face risks. They don’t have to take responsibility for their actions either.
Stalkers are a negative example of watchers. They watch for their pleasure and their benefit. They’re not out to protect anyone. Their only interest is themselves.
God calls us to be wise and good Watchmen and Watchwomen.
“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.” (Matt. 24:42-43)
With the help of some biblical watchers, we’re going to examine the mission God has entrusted to us. You need to know the requirements before you choose to commit. Are you Watchman material, or not? Think of it as a job description. In the end, you will have to decide. Will you take this skill you already possess and use it for Kingdom purposes?
Watchmen Are Motivated
They don’t need anyone to push them into action.
Most job postings indicate a desire for applicants who are “highly motivated.” The reason people are searching those job postings is because they are highly motivated; motivated to leave their current job, motivated to have an income, motivated to move up the corporate ladder. Usually, though, the company is seeking applicants who are motivated by the company’s interests not their own.
As Watchmen, we’re not asking you to take a temporary job at a company. We’re asking you to make a life-long commitment to the Kingdom. You won’t be reporting to the CEO; you’ll be reporting to the King.
Jesus calls you to leave behind your motivations and take His as your own.
Jesus is motivated to warn His people of impending danger. This was the most obvious job of the Watchman. He was positioned on the city wall so that he could see an approaching enemy in time for the people to make preparations for the city’s defense. The enemies he faced were physical. Ours are spiritual. They can be harder to identify.
Usually, our enemies approach by much more subtle means than a frontal assault, lulling the city’s citizens into a false sense of security. They come in the form of false teaching and compromising practice. They employ guerilla warfare and terroristic practices. They conceal danger in seemingly innocent cargo that is allowed entrance through the city gate by an unsuspecting Watchman. There are even times when the attack comes from within. The enemy brainwashes some of the city’s inhabitants, and they become homegrown terrorists (Acts 20:29-31). The city’s protection requires constant vigilance (Isaiah 62:6; Neh. 4:9).
A second, potentially more pleasant responsibility of the Watchman was to announce the arrival of news. Absalom, David’s son, had stolen the throne from his dad. In one of the ensuing battles, David’s forces were victorious. The Watchman saw runners coming with the news and announced their arrival to the king (1 Kings 18:24-27). Though the news was not well received, the Watchman answered his calling.
As spiritual Watchmen, we have good news to report: Salvation has arrived!
“How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ Listen! Your Watchmen lift up their voices, They shout joyfully together; for they will see with their own eyes when the LORD restores Zion.” (Isaiah 52:7-8)
Think of the excitement! The enemy has besieged the city. No one has any hope of rescue. At the last moment, the Watchman sees something in the distance. He can’t make it out at first, but then he realizes reinforcements have arrived! He has the privilege of announcing hope to the hopeless, deliverance to the oppressed, and light to those living in darkness. Before the victory is even complete, he puts smiles on previously grimacing faces. Rescue has arrived. They are saved.
Jesus rescues people from sin. It is His primary motivation (Luke 19:10). The Watchman will be motivated by this as well.
The highest motivation though for any Watchman is to please his King. The Watchman joins with his brothers, and with a unified voice, they lead people to focus on Jesus and worship Him.
“For there will be a day when Watchmen on the hills of Ephraim call out, ‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God.’” (Jeremiah 31:6)
The Watchman loves Jesus and is motivated to see others fall in love with Him too. He doesn’t just warn people about the enemy. In fact, he spends the largest portion of his time directing people to the Savior. Everything he does serves the purpose of lifting up Jesus and bringing Him glory.
“Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; …so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11)
He knows the battle is won through worship (1 Sam. 7:7-11). Worship is the prize Satan is seeking. He wants it for himself. It’s the reason he’s doing battle. So if we lead people to worship Jesus, if we start there, then the enemy will be defeated before he has a chance to establish a foothold.
Watchmen Are Vigilant
A Watchman is always watching because danger is always nearby.
An absent watcher is not the worst scenario. At least then, the city’s citizens would be on their guard. It is far worse to have a watcher who isn’t motivated to accomplish his responsibility and is, therefore, not watching. You think he will protect you, but he will not. Either he’s sleeping and willfully ignorant of the enemy’s approach, or he’s blind and incapable of recognizing the signs (Is. 56:10).
A concerned Watchman realizes the gravity of his responsibility and the strength of his weakness (1 Thes. 5:6). He calls out to God (Neh. 4:9) because He knows he cannot succeed without God’s help.
“…Unless the LORD guards the city, The Watchman keeps awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)
Does what you see on the news each night concern you? Oh, it may drive you to lock your doors and put your kids in private school in hopes of keeping the darkness out. You might even scream at the darkness and curse the people who participate in it. But does the darkness offend you because it is an offense against the holiness of God?
Does it concern you that people are dying without ever hearing the name Jesus? Does it concern you enough to do something about it? There’s nothing unusual about inviting your neighbor to come over and watch the game with you. But a Watchman is concerned enough to invite his neighbor to a home Bible study. A Watchman is concerned enough to evaluate his finances to find a way to give more to missions instead of finding a way to buy the boat of his dreams.
Watchmen Are Trustworthy
You can count on Watchmen to watch and communicate what they see.
When we were in early elementary, the teacher often allowed us to bring something from home to describe to the class. It was “show and tell” time. The Watchman has a similar job. He is to see and tell. He sees what is coming, good or bad, and tells the people in the city about it. The city’s citizens bear the responsibility for their reaction to his message.
But what if the Watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t warn the people? What if the Watchman sees an opportunity and hoards it for himself?
Four lepers outside the city discovered the enemy had fled leaving behind enough resources to end the famine happening inside the city. Their rejoicing ended when they realized that they would be held accountable for keeping this good news to themselves (2 Kings 7:9). The famine ended because they went to the city and risked rejection of their message.
God made it clear to Ezekiel that he, like those lepers, had a responsibility as a Watchman to tell what he saw. If he did his job, and the people did not respond, they would bear their own guilt. If he failed to do his job, and they died, God would hold Ezekiel accountable for their blood (Ezek. 3:15-21). Each of us as Watchmen will have to give an account for the people we were enlisted to protect (Mark 13:34-37). But they will have to give account for how they responded to the message.
The people we guard can make our job difficult (Heb. 13:17). Think about the frustration and anxiety of the security team that has to guard an official who will not listen to their instructions (Jer. 6:17)! Paul said, the closer we get to the return of Jesus, the fewer people will want to hear uncomfortable, confining messages (2 Tim. 4:1-5). The Watchman’s message is rarely a comfortable one (Is. 21:11-12). But it is a message that brings safety when people are willing to follow it.
Watchmen Are Obedient
They follow instructions even when they do not agree or understand.
The Watchman has a mission, but he does not have permission to use whatever means necessary to accomplish that mission. There are rules of engagement – proper procedures to achieve the mission. Not following those rules might enable him to win a skirmish, but cause him to lose his integrity. What good does it do to bury your opponent with your oratory? Your job is to rescue him from the enemy’s camp. Are you comfortable losing the person to win the argument? If you are, then you are not qualified to be a Watchman.
Doctors have a privilege that Watchmen do not. They get to maintain some distance between themselves and their patients. They get to be detached. If their patient chooses not to follow their counsel, they rarely even know because the patient does not come back. “I’m not responsible if they don’t take the medicine I prescribe.” We don’t get off that easy. God commands that Watchmen care.
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt. 5:44)
Jonah was a detached Watchman. He did not care if the people of Nineveh died. He wanted them dead. So when God called him to go to Nineveh, he ran. He even got angry when God refused to destroy them. Jonah had an agenda. He wanted to use the wrath of God to accomplish it. God chided Jonah because he did not have the same concern for people that God had (Jonah 4:11). Jesus’ disciples showed a similarly cavalier attitude toward judgment when they suggested that Jesus call down fire on a Samaritan city for rejecting Him. He instead dismissed their attitude of judgment in favor of an attitude of love and forgiveness (Luke 9:51-56).
Jeremiah was different from Jonah. He forcefully told the people what they needed to do. He pronounced God’s judgment on them if they failed to repent. But he was brokenhearted by their refusal.
God’s Watchman can’t afford to be detached. He cares. His great desire is to rescue through repentance not destruction through judgment (Ezek. 33:11-12; Jer. 31:28). Because he is God’s representative and possesses God’s character, love is his weapon of choice.
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Cor. 16:13-14)
It hurts to be a Watchman. Not all the people you warn are going to respond properly. You wish they would, but you know they won’t. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to stop what’s coming. Just ask the men who guarded Jesus’ tomb.
The Watchman is also to do his task with thanksgiving, not complaint (Col. 4:2). He is thankful to God for his rescue from judgment and for the opportunity to serve. A spirit of thankfulness keeps him from getting bitter when results are lacking in his ministry and keeps him in a love relationship with Jesus. It protects him from the temptations that would draw him away from his post. The more thankfulness he possesses, the less power temptation has over him.
The Watchman works with a team. He speaks God’s words. He does not claim to be the author of his message, nor does he substitute a new message for the one God gives him. Whatever glory results from his mission, he directs back toward God. And he accepts the support of others while offering support in return (1 Peter 4:7-11).
Watchmen Are Equipped
He does not do battle with the enemy without the proper preparation.
The Watchman has the most crucial position in the city. He is the point man. If he fails, the city is in jeopardy. There will be no one else to give the call to action. He needs to equip himself for the challenges of his task. Because we are talking about being spiritual Watchmen, the preparations that we make are primarily spiritual.
Habakkuk was one of Israel’s Watchmen. He understood that he had issues in his life, which, if left uncorrected would prevent him from doing his job. So he purposed to accept God’s correction.
“I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved.” (Hab. 2:1)
God’s ministry of correction equips us. Personal sin blinds us to the enemy and our own deficiencies. We can’t protect others from external enemies if we don’t acknowledge and defeat our internal ones. Attempting to do so would make us hypocritical Pharisees. God’s message must penetrate our hearts before it can penetrate their ears (Ezek. 3:10).
The exercise of prayer is part of our equipment. We are weak. Jesus is not surprised by this. What does “surprise” Him is when we try to do this job without His help. Jesus challenged His first disciples to watch and pray so that they would not enter into temptation (Matt. 26:38, 40-41). He sees what we cannot see. He sees what we refuse to see. And He enables us to discern between what is dangerous and what is just different. So we must see prayer as part of our equipping. Jesus said it (Luke 21:36). Paul (Col. 4:2) and Peter (1 Pet. 4:7) echoed it. Preparation without prayer is pride. Prayer without preparation is presumption. But prayer plus preparation equals peace.
The Watchman needs self-control to maintain focus. Because the Watchman was on the wall, he had an excellent vantage point. He could see all the activity around him – merchants arriving, business being conducted, farmers working their fields. It enabled him to watch for problems. But it could also be distracting. He can’t afford to have his attention diverted long enough for the enemy to slip in (Luke 21:34).
The Watchman needs a heart that is full of compassion. The Watchman delivers his message with urgency. Sadly, people don’t immediately and enthusiastically respond. “It aggravates me that people don’t listen. Why don’t they see what I see? It’s so frustrating!” Frustration can lead to anger. His audience may perceive him as harsh. Compassion tempers the Watchman’s anger at sin so that he can focus on the plight of the sinner.
“And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.” (Jude 1:22-23)
It is difficult to feel compassion for someone unless you have been in their situation. To give Ezekiel compassion, God put him among the exiles at the beginning of his ministry (Ezek. 3:15). It was only after he sat where they sat that God made him a Watchman.
Are you willing to identify with people and help rescue them in the same way someone else helped rescue you?
Watchmen Are Submissive
Not to the enemy, but to their Commander’s orders.
It would be easier to be a Watchman if we got to choose the circumstances of our service. We do not. Space separates Watchmen because their commander assigns them to different positions. Loneliness is a hazard of the job, but it also helps a Watchman focus on his most important task.
Nehemiah faced the daunting task of rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. Limited resources and intimidating opponents threatened to halt the work. Nehemiah refused to quit. He stationed his limited number of people around the circumference of the wall (Neh. 4:13 cf. 2 Kings 11:4-8). He knew that attack could come from any direction, so he told the people to rally to the spot where they heard the trumpet blast and be ready to defend (Neh. 4:19-20). They were scared, and they sometimes felt lonely. But they stood.
Nehemiah placed Malchiah, the son of Rechab, at the dung gate (Neh. 3:14). That doesn’t sound like a prime position. It is tempting to believe your position is insignificant. God has gifted you individually for whatever assignment you have (1 Peter 4:7-11). Don’t debase the place of your ministry. Imagine the reaction of the guards when they were told to guard Jesus’ tomb (Matt. 27:65-66)! “Really? You want us to watch a dead guy? I’m insulted!” Or think about the shepherds. Their job was to guard sheep. Low pay, no benefits, cold nights. No amount of washing could get the sheep stench out of their clothing. Both the soldiers and the shepherds got to experience majesty because they were willing to accept their lowly assignment (Luke 2:8).
Nehemiah gave these Watchmen an added motivation. He positioned them near their homes. A Watchman’s job always starts at home (Neh. 7:3; Matt. 22:42-43). If you can’t watch over your family, then how can you expect to be entrusted with other assignments (1 Tim. 3:4-5)?
They took turns being a Watchman. One person cannot protect constantly. There has to be a changing of the guard. As each person covers his shift, they protect the city through the different watches of the night (Matt. 14:25). Some watches are more dangerous than others. Some require greater sacrifice.
Time separates Watchmen. People watched in the past. People watch today. There will be Watchmen in the future. There will be watchers who get to experience the return of Jesus. Each generation must fulfill its job of protection until danger no longer exists. Right now, it is our time to be the watchers. We dare not fail.
Watchman Need Protection
Being a Watchman is dangerous. The King will put you on the wall. The enemy will see you. You will be the first line of defense.
You’ve probably seen portrayed in movies the attack on an ancient city. Archers stealthily approach in the dark. Their first target is the watchers on the wall. If they can take out the Watchmen, the city and its leadership become defenseless. So you need protection as a Watchman.
2 Chronicles 23 tells the story of Jehoiada’s revolt against evil queen Athaliah. He presented young but good Joash as the rightful heir to the throne. He knew Athaliah would want to kill Joash, so he stationed three groups of Watchmen to guard every possible point of access to the king. There is a fourth group in the story – “the people” (vvs. 6-7). Jehoiada reminded them they did not have access to the Temple or the king, but they would serve as a buffer between possible attackers and the Watchmen.
The scene is reminiscent of the day that Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, entered the Temple. He served as a buffer between God and the people. They served as a buffer between God and him. While Zechariah was inside praying for the people, the people were outside praying for him (Luke 1:10).
You need people praying for you; we all do. If you choose to become a Watchman, you will need more.
Paul understood the danger he was in, the opportunities that lay before him, and the need for boldness. So he secured a group of people who would consistently pray for him (Eph. 6:19). A Watchman must do the same.
Not all of the danger comes from outside sources. Some of it comes from people in the city, even the people in the place of worship. They don’t like being woken up from their comfort, especially when they can’t see what the Watchman sees. So they clamor for him to be quiet and set traps for him when he refuses.
“The prophet is a Watchman over Israel for my God, yet traps are laid for him wherever he goes. He faces hostility even in the house of God.” (Hosea 9:8)
The danger can go even deeper. Because the job is difficult, often unappreciated, and temporarily unrewarded, the Watchman can get a bad attitude. The Watchman can become the enemy. We can begin to attack each other or attack the people we were commissioned to protect. So we need God’s help to be The Watchman over us and prevent us from attacking each other by setting perpetual boundaries we will not cross (Gen. 31:49). That includes the words we say. Words are the primary weapon of the spiritual Watchman, but words can do so much damage when they come from untamed lips.
“Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3)
Watchmen Recruit Watchmen
There’s one last Watchman responsibility. You will have to recruit your help and your replacement.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians to encourage them with an understanding of what was coming in the future. He told them their Christian brothers and sisters who had died before Jesus’ return were with Jesus and would one day return with Him. But Paul’s mission reached beyond comfort. He challenged them to join him in his Watchman ministry.
“You, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.” (1 Thes. 5:4-6)
Near the end of his ministry, Paul encouraged Timothy, the young protégé whom he had trained to be a Watchman. Paul wrote these words:
“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim. 2:22)
No Watchman lives forever. Unfortunately, some Watchmen fall away. To the churches in Revelation, Jesus warned he would remove them from the wall if they did not start functioning as the Watchman they were called to be (Rev. 2:5; 3:3). There is constant turnover, so there must be continuous replenishment.
The Offer To Become A Watchman
This is where you come in. By now, you have a pretty good idea of what will be required of you if you choose to become a Watchman – if you choose to go “ALL IN” as we like to say. You don’t know the battles you will face, but you know the enemy who will bring them. Let me remind you – choosing to get up on the wall will make you a tempting target. Choose carefully. It’s a life-long commitment, but know this: I’m not the one calling you to commit. Jesus is.
The day will come when the Watchman can retire and relax. Once a security guard has delivered the valuable items in his care, he can lay down his gun, and take off his bullet-proof vest (Ezra 8:29). The dad who walks his daughter down the aisle and places her hand in the hand of another man has finished his job. He has watched over his daughter and kept her safe. Her husband has that responsibility now (Eph. 5:25-27).
Jesus, the Groom, is coming for His Bride. The Watchman doesn’t just watch for danger. He watches for the return of Jesus (Matt. 25:13). The Watchman’s job is to keep the Bride Jesus has entrusted to him safe until the day that Jesus returns to claim His Bride.
“For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.” (2 Cor. 11:2)
Retirement with its rest and rewards is coming. When the danger is over, and we have successfully placed the hand of the Bride in the hand of her Savior, we can rest. She will be safe then. No evil will be able to reach her (Rev. 22:15). Today is not that day, but that day is coming.
It’s time to make a decision. Will you answer Jesus’ call and join the long, glorious chain of Watchmen throughout history? The dangers are great. The rewards are greater. No application required. Join us now, say I’m ALL IN!
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (1 Tim. 4:7-8)
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