“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.” Ezekiel 3:17 NASB
This message came to Ezekiel shortly after he had been called into service by God. He was to be a prophet and an example for the exiled Israelites in Babylon. Here, God appointed him to be a watchman for Israel. This call can be seen in all the prophecies that are recorded in the book of Ezekiel.
Below, I want to show you the role of watchmen because God still calls people into this ministry. My goals is to sensitize you to the importance of finding, listening to and being watchmen in our day and age.
What Is The Role Of Watchmen?
The above verse shows that the primary role of watchmen was to warn people. The Hebrew word that was translated to “you a watchman” is צֹפֶ֥ה (ṣō·p̄eh). It means “to peer into the distance”. “to observe” or “await” (see biblehub.com). Thus, a watchman is someone who observes the situation around him to warn the people of a coming danger.
There are two types of watchmen in the bible: those who keep an eye on physical threats and those who watch out for spiritual things.
Watchmen In The Physical World
The first type of watchmen was often found at city gates or on watch-towers. Their role was to observe the fields and streets around the city and to sound the alarm when an enemy approaches. This task was very important, because the king didn’t have the time to look out for enemies all day long. One example of a watchman in the physical world can be seen in the life of David. He was told about the plot of his son Absalom but
Meanwhile Absalom escaped.
Then the watchman on the Jerusalem wall saw a great crowd coming down the hill on the road from the west. He ran to tell the king, “I see a crowd of people coming from the Horonaim road along the side of the hill.” 2 Samuel 13:34 NLT
In this case, the people were David’s sons but they could have also been enemies. In the latter case, the chances of success highly depend on the swiftness of the watchmen. When they are fast, the king will have enough time to prepare and send out his army to meet the attackers. If they fail to warn the people on time though, the city will be an easy target for the hostile army.
However, we should not forget that if we abandon God, the city will fall no matter how swift the watchmen are because
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain. Psalm 127:1 ESV
This shows us Why It Is Important To Trust God.
Watchmen In The Spiritual World
While the first type of watchmen keeps watch with their physical eyes, the second type uses their spiritual eyes. This means that they are looking out for instructions and warnings from God which could be revealed in visions, signs or prophetic words. Such a spiritual vision was given to the Elisha to comfort him when an enemy army surrounded Dotham. The prophet wanted his servant to see them to,
And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:17 NIV
The above vision was a comforting one. Nevertheless, they can also be very disturbing for Jesus said,
“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” Luke 12:4-5 ESV
Thus, listening and reacting to God’s warnings is more important than listening to the warnings of men. Consequently, the role of watchmen in the spiritual world is greater than the role of watchmen in the physical world. This is also emphasized in the call of those spiritual watchmen.
Who Calls Someone Into The Role Of Watchmen?
Watchmen in the physical world were hired by the city. To be a watchman in the spiritual world though, you had to be appointed by God himself. And it is good that way! Just like the role of spiritual watchmen is more important than the role of earthly ones, so is their responsibility. This can be seen in Ezekiel’s call where God declared,
“Son of man, speak to your people and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head. Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.’” Ezekiel 33:2-6 NIV
In other words, if a spiritual watchman fails to warn the people about the destruction to come, it will be as if he killed them himself! Therefore, only those with sincere hearts who faithfully serve their God qualify for this call. And since
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 NIV
God has chosen only those whose hearts were after his will. This can be seen in the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and those of the other prophets in the Bible.
Who Has The Role Of Watchmen In Our Day And Age?
Well, some of the warnings from the Old and New Testament are yet to be fulfilled. Hence, the Bible itself is like the awakening call of a watchman for
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward. Psalm 19:7-11 NKJV
It further contains the testimonies of the greatest watchman of all times: Jesus of Nazareth. He is the one who spoke about hell more than anyone else and who urged everyone to repent. But since He physically left the earth, Jesus appointed others to follow in his steps as watchmen. Those are the church leaders for Paul commands,
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. Hebrews 13:17 NIV
So, next to the Bible, the church leaders are the ones to warn us about our sins and the future. And since God is far more dangerous than humans, I want to encourage you to really listen to them! Find yourself a church which is in line with the Bible so that you may be prepared for what is to come.
Am I Called Into The Role Of Watchmen?
The short answer is: yes you are! In the New Covenant, God calls each one of us into the role of watchmen. This means that we must all be aware of the responsibility we have. However, we should not fear this responsibility and be weighed down by it,
“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30 NIV
God gives us only what we can carry. And to help us further, He told us exactly which areas we are to be on watch for and how we can do this.
Be On Watch For Your Heart
The first area which we are to be on watch for is our own heart. We must be alert to the lies of the enemy who is constantly trying to pull us away from God. The good news is that there is a way for us to subdue those temptations because Jesus said,
“Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38 NASB
Thus, through knowing the truth and the threat of the enemy, we are able to recognize lies and temptations. And once we realize that we are being attacked, we can mobilize our unshakeable spiritual defense line which is prayer.
Be On Watch For Jesus’ Return
The second area which we should be watching is the world around us because
“There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:25-28 NASB
Jesus calls us to look forward to his return and told us what would happen beforehand. That way, we can understand the signs and be prepared for the time of the end. And when you read through the Bible and compare the prophetic words with the current world affairs, you will see that most of them are already present! This means that Jesus is about to come back to judge the world.
Knowing this, we should all use the time we have left to warn the people around us! You can do this through telling them about The Perfection of God’s Justice and that We Are Forgiven Through the Blood of Christ! Another way is by sharing end-time prophecies like the stunning one from a woman in Norway in 1968. Only then will they learn Why We Should Fear God, repent, turn from their sins and be saved!
What Should I Do If The People Don’t Listen To My Warnings?
Sadly, not everyone will respond with repentance when you preach the gospel to them. Nevertheless, I want to encourage you to not give up! I have experienced this myself and know how discuraging it can be. Frankly, most people I talk to reject or don’t respond to my message. However, God has foretold this long ago when He declared through Jeremiah,
“And I set watchmen over you, saying,
‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’
But they said, ‘We will not listen.’ Jeremiah 6:17 NASB
With this, God tells us that it’s not our fault when people don’t respond, so don’t blame yourself! Satan uses such situations to throw us into doubts but the truth is that the Holy Spirit doesn’t depend on your words.
And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. John 16:8-11 ESV
He convinces people of their sin and their need for a Savior (if they will listen). And just because someone rejected you once doesn’t mean that they’ll never come to faith. Just keep on loving them for
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 NASB
Your love will confront them with God and testify against their sins every single day. And even when you face people who won’t repent, know that you’re not alone! God sees all you do, so
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 NIV