A message to Pastors
A PASTOR’S MESSAGE TO PREACH
On November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, shots rang out as President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. At just 43 years of age, the youngest President ever elected also became the youngest to die, after barely serving 1,000 days. Kennedy was on his way to the Dallas Trade Mart to deliver a speech, in which he had prepared to say: “We in this country, in this generation, are – by destiny rather than choice – the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of peace on earth, goodwill toward men…” Kennedy’s remarks continued: “That must always be our goal – and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago, ‘except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.’”
Watchman, What of the Night? Isaiah 21:6–12
The year is 689 BC, and the world is in turmoil. The Babylonian Empire is under attack by the Assyrian Empire. All the nations in the region hope against hope that Babylon will be able to defeat the Assyrian aggressors to their north. It is not to be, however! Babylon falls to the Assyrians, who are determined to press on until they conquer the entire region. The nations are in terror at the prospect. It is against this backdrop of war, as Israel faces an imminent attack, that God commands the prophet Isaiah to assume the role of a watchman. Isaiah is to look to the prophetic future and tell the people what he sees approaching. The message he delivers might have been given nearly 2,700 years ago, but it is as timely as today’s headlines. War rages in our world today. People are losing their lives by the thousands to terrorist attacks, freak natural disasters and the horrors of war.
On another level, a tsunami of sin is rising in our world. Old convictions and standards are being swept away right before our very eyes. Behavior that was once considered immoral is now openly flaunted and widely accepted. The winds of change are blowing all around us, and alarming things lie just over the horizon. Today, just as in the prophet Isaiah’s day, there is a need for the people of God to assume the role of
We are living in the days when the enemies of the Lord and the Enemy of our soul—Satan himself—would love nothing more than to overrun our lives and churches. The enemy’s desire is to see ministries, families, and churches dashed upon the rocks of failure. If we are to avoid that end, we must consider the work of the ancient watchman, understanding that his ministry is needed today, more than ever before. Isaiah 21:6-12 gives us further insight into the role of the watchman and his functions:
The Watchman and His Mission
This is what the Lord says to us: “Go, post a lookout and have him report what he sees.” (Isaiah 21:6)
In ancient times, those who lived in walled cities were considered blessed individuals. By being inside a city with walls, they had two forms of protection; first, was the wall itself, standing as a barrier between the citizens and their enemies. It also stood as a barrier between that which was acceptable and that which was not— a formidable discouragement to those who would wish to cause trouble.
The story of
“He [Asa] built fortified cities in Judah, for the land
Isaiah 21:6 speaks of the two-fold duty of the ancient watchman who would stand upon the walls of these cities.
He Was to Watch
The watchman who patrolled the city walls was as essential to the city’s security and survival as the walls themselves. His most important duty was to be a lookout! He was stationed in a high tower, where he could keep watch over the surrounding countryside, looking for invading armies or other dangers. The second he spied the glistening of armor, sword
This tradition has carried throughout history, and over time watchmen evolved into sentinels, walking the ramparts of their city. On most days, their cry was, “All is well.” But in times of peril, their cry became, “To arms!” Without the watchman, those inside the wall are “blind” to threats, and without the wall, the watchman would have been unnecessary.
He Was to Warn
Whether he saw anything approaching or not, the watchman was to report to his people the conditions outside the city whenever they enquired. When trouble arose, he was to sound the warning loudly and clearly, so that those living outside the city walls could run inside to seek refuge. In the same way, if we are to be spiritual watchmen today we must clearly warn humanity of the perils of sin, that they may have time to run to the sanctuary of God’s grace and forgiveness. We are instructed, as Isaiah was,
We Need Watchmen Today Who will Watch and Warn
If there was ever a time when watchmen are needed in the church, the home, the family, the schoolhouse and in the community, it’s today. We need people of discernment who know the Word of God. We also desperately need people who know are well acquainted with the enemy’s strategies and movements— people who will watch and warn others of what they see coming.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 ESV).
Whether we see it or not, every
The enemy is doing everything he can to destroy the home, marriages
The enemy is also doing everything he can to subvert the schoolhouse! The Bible has become
The enemy is doing everything he can to destroy our community! People outside the walls do not want to be bothered with thoughts of God, His will and His Word. The first time President George W. Bush won the presidency, there was a concerted effort by atheists and civil libertarians to prevent the newly-elected president from placing his hand on a Bible when being sworn in. Some wanted inaugural prayers banned as well. The cry from the lost world is rising ever louder, as it demands freedom from God’s laws and from God Himself— “Away with the Ten Commandments! Away with right and wrong! Away with morality! Away with Jesus, the Bible, God, Christianity
Characteristics of the Watchman
“When he sees riders, horsemen in pairs, riders on donkeys, riders on camels, let him listen diligently, very diligently.” Then he who saw cried out: “Upon a
- He Was Vigilant in His Watching (verses 7-8)
Isaiah 21:7 tells us that the watchman not only
Interestingly, lions have very short eyelids. Even when they are asleep, they have the appearance that their eyes are open and watching. The vigilant watchman is like a lion that watches both day and night. He does not leave his
The watchman Isaiah sets a great example for those who would be watchmen in our day. In 1 Peter 5:8, we are told to “Be sober, be vigilant;
- He Was Vigorous in His Warnings
When this watchman saw trouble approaching, he did not keep the message to himself. Instead, he opened his mouth and shouted a warning as loudly as he could. He sounded the alarm with all his might, that everyone in earshot would hear.
We Need Watchmen Who are Vigilant in Their Watching and Vigorous in Their Warnings
Again, there is a lesson here for the watchmen of our day. As we see the enemy approaching ever nearer the walls of our churches, our homes, our families and our communities, we have a responsibility to sound the warning. Some would say, “What’s the use? No one is listening to us!” Remember, one day we are going to face our Savior at The Judgment Seat of Christ. On that day, we will give an account of how well we sounded the alarm. This truth is illustrated well in our Lord’s words to the prophet Ezekiel, “The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among
Let us diligently warn those who have rejected God, that their souls might be delivered from sin and death— that is our responsibility and duty!
The Watchman and His Message (verses 11-12)
“The oracle concerning Dumah. One is calling to me from Seir, ‘Watchman, what time of the night? Watchman, what time of the night?’ The watchman says, ‘Morning comes, and also the night. If you will inquire, inquire; come back again’” (Isaiah 21:11–12 ESV). These words are a prophecy declared against the people of Edom. They are pictured as one who approaches the wall at night, crying out to the watchman, “What of the night?” This
Some say it is the question of a careless heart, asked in a sarcastic tone— the enquirer indifferent to whether he receives
Some believe it may be a question born out of contempt—the inquirer has asked “What time of the night?” multiple times (as implied in verse 12) but defies the warning each time because of their unbelief.
Others say it may be the question of a concerned heart— the inquirer in effect asking, “Watchman, tell me, is everything alright? When will the morning come? Is there hope?”
Regardless of the condition of the heart that birthed the question, the watchman has a three-fold answer. It is the same three-fold answer the watchmen of our day need to have ready for those we are to warn.
He Speaks of Coming Dawn
The watchman cries, “The morning comes!” His voice rings out, declaring the good news that the night is nearly spent and that dawn is about to break. The night was the most frightening time for the inhabitants of the city. The watchman could not see as well in the dark, and the enemy had a better chance of launching a surprise attack. During the
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;
“For the Lord himself, will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17 ESV)
“For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5 ESV)
He Speaks of Doom
The watchman informs the people that after the morning is
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36 ESV).
“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31 ESV).
He Speaks of Decisions
The watchman exhorts those who hear him
Where are the watchmen who are gazing out over the horizon? Where are the watchmen who see the danger of approaching judgment? Where are the watchmen who see the enemy attempting to breach the walls of our churches, our families, our homes and our communities? Where are the watchmen who will set the trumpet to their lips and sound the warning?
Will you be a faithful watchman?
In the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, the nation of Israel rallied together in a grassroots movement to help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and thus restore stability, safety, and a promising future to the great city. We have chosen the historical concept of “rebuilding the walls” as an allegory for rebuilding our nation’s foundations; sounding the call for citizens to become involved. As Psalm 11:3 challenges us, “If the foundations