Sunday, October 21, 2012

What Does a Watchman Really Do?

Thoughts of an old graduate school friend have consumed me of late.  He is the "one that got away," but not in the way you might think.

Of all my friends from that part of my life, he is the only one whom I spent hours with, having  serious, consistent conversations about God.  I stumbled over myself at every turn, and I knew it, but I never gave up hope, never stopped praying that one day, God would move his heart, help him get past the intellectual stonewall of rationalism and accept Christ and the Bible by faith.

It never happened.  

That was thirteen years ago.  And the state of his soul still haunts me like my shadow tall beside me each morning.

The last time my friend and I met for coffee, I was newly married, teaching, and putting my husband through law school.  I learned he had moved back from Chicago after a failed stint in film school and a failed long-term relationship.  His brother had recently died.  Suicide.  His sister was still absorbed in dance.

I cried after we parted that day.  All the old defenses, all the intellectual banter to keep me at a distance were still there.  Visiting with him was just so...sad

Wherever he is, he is in his early forties, closer each day to meeting his maker.  Every now and then, I still awake from a dream of rounding a corner and bumping into him again, of trying once more to share the love of Christ with him.  But it's only just a dream.

What do you do, then, when someone from your past burdens your heart? When you want more than anything to share Christ with them, but time, distance, or the unknown separate you?

And what of the Great Commission in Matthew 28 that tells us to "go and make disciples of all nations" (v. 19)?  Sometimes, the going is made impossible by responsibilities that keep us firmly planted here at our specific latitude and longitude.  What then!?

Are we still called to be God's watchmen who stand upon the wall?

In the book of Ezekiel, God reveals a great deal about being God's watchman, not "to the remotest part of the earth" where I tend to think is most important but "both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria" (Acts 1:8).

I'm speaking of being God's messenger at home

When God appointed Ezekiel as a watchman, He described one part of the prophet's job description: just speak: "Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me" (Ez. 3:17).

This doesn't sound anything out of the ordinary--to speak the Word of God, all the Word of God, leaving nothing out.  The prophet Jeremiah was admonished in the same way.

But then God goes further, explaining, "Moreover, I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be mute and cannot be a man who rebukes them, for they are a rebellious house.  But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you will say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD'" (Ez. 3:26-27).

Some scholars believe Ezekiel literally became a mute, unable to speak unless God placed words within his mouth.  If true, it's a poignant lesson for us about what we should say and not say--God's Word and His Word alone.

A few verses earlier, God gives a second job description: "He spoke with me and said to me, 'Go, shut yourself up in your house'" (Ez. 3:24).  GO HOME.

What?  Weren't watchmen to go out, stand on the highest wall, maybe wait for an audience, and then spill forth God's Word?  How else was Ezekiel to warn others if he was sitting at home!?

Yet, go home, Ezekiel went.  And the people began coming to him.  In chapter 8, Scripture records, "I was sitting in my house with the elders of Judah sitting beside me" (v. 1).  In chapter 14, Scripture says, "Then some elders of Israel came to me..." (v. 1).  And again, in chapter 20, "certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the Lord, and sat before me" (v. 1).

Again and again, God brings to Ezekiel those who need to hear the message.  God gives the Words. God opens Ezekiel's mouth.  All Ezekiel has to do is then speak.

Please understand that I'm not saying God doesn't expect us to share the gospel with the entire world.  Yet, sometimes, I think we get so caught up in the belief that we are only serving as good little watchmen for the Lord if we are spreading salt and light on foreign soil.  I think we get caught up in the belief that if we don't see thousands saved, we're doing a poor job.

Being a watchman means one thing--being God's messenger, sharing all the Word of God, both in and out of season, period.

Yes, it's antithetical to our American mentality of numbers, statistical analyses, and success at all costs, but if others won't listen, it matters not.  We cannot simply change the message to give it mass appeal.  A watchman is a messenger, not a savior. 

And if we are prohibited from going to those who need to hear, that fact does not inhibit God in the least.  God can and will bring them to us.

You and I who are in Christ must believe that.  We must start perceiving ourselves as important watchmen in our own Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria--our city, our state, our country.

Considering the reach of the Internet, radio, and television in our present time, being a watchman at home may be more important than ever before.

There's no telling what God can accomplish through you...all from your own doorstep.

1 comment:

  1. This is precisely what I listened to this morning. Joseph Prince was talking about their church in Singapore didn't have lots of outreaches to Singapore. Of course he believes in the Great Commission and they support missions around the globe. But in Singapore, he explained, God did not call them to go out into the streets. People came to THEM. He talked about how much he hates to see people shoving the Gospel down throats. "As if Jesus isn't beautiful," he says.

    He talked about how when Moses had to veil his face, it was because of the people running away. An example of condemnation; Moses brought the law.

    But when Jesus was on the Mount of Transfiguration, the glory of God upon Him, people RAN TO HIM! Jesus brought grace. People run to Him. When we shine forth Jesus, people will come.

    Very timely post.