Paul Revere, A Watchman
As historically inaccurate as it may actually be, many of us learned the story of the colonial watchman, Paul Revere and his ride in the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, written in the 1800s. One lesson we can take from this story is how the fate of the farmers rested squarely on the midnight ride and the warning of impending danger by someone that watched for the signs and cared for the safety of their souls. The story of Paul Revere reminds me of a holy appointment we read in words penned by Ezekiel.
The Biblical Watchman, Ezekiel
17 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.
In ancient Israel, the watchman walked the walls of the city. Their job was to spot hostile action against the city and report what they see coming.
18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
“Die” is referring to the death penalty for sin. A sinner must repent escaping the penalty of death. The scripture alerts the reader. Thus, not warning the wicked causes their sin to be required of us.
19 Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.
“deliver thy soul” means the eternal judgment of the minister is not dependent on the response to the warning given.
20 Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling-block before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
This scripture warns us that not only do we reach for the wicked but also the “righteous” that have stumbled and fallen. We must reach for those that are not in the right place in their walk with God.
21 Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.
Here we must also continually allow iron to sharpen iron.
Duty of the Watchman
According to Finis Jennings Dake, a watchman (in verse 17) is one who looks out or sees from a height, with the view to warning of impending danger or to give any information, good or bad. The Lord often called priests and prophets to be a watchman. The duties of the watchmen were threefold: to wait and watch for what God would command and give in warning, to watch over the people, and to warn the people forGod. Ezekiel’s prophetic calling was a great weight. Because the responsibility of warning the wicked sinner and the fallen righteous is not to be taken lightly.
If he failed to warn the sinner, he would be responsible for their death, even though they themselves were responsible for their sin. The point here is simple; we cannot escape the calling of being a watchman.
The Biblical Watchman, Ezekiel: Part Two
You’d think Ezekiel would try to escape this appointment, but God later reaffirmed Ezekiel’s calling and the responsibility of warning the sinner.
2 Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman:
3 If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;
Again the responsibility of the watchman is to see and warn.
4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.
5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.
There is an opportunity to accept or reject the warning. It’s just incumbent on the minister to blow a sure sound.
6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take [any] person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.
Here we wrap up two warnings
1) a warning was given to the people by the faithful watchman.
2) a warning was given to the unfaithful watchman.
7 So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.
Interesting, here the phrase “son of man” as a watchman to the house of Israel is prophetic of Jesus’ ministry. Matthew 13:37
37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
8 When I say unto the wicked, O wicked [man], thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked [man] shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
9 Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.
Again we see, “hast delivered thy soul.” This reaffirms that the minister is responsible to ensure the right message is delivered. Ezekiel was called to be the watchman to the house of Israel; to make the midnight ride and warn them of the penalty of their sinful ways. As we read this story of the watchman, we must also hear the call for us to take action; to be the one that shares the message of Jesus Christ, the good seed, to a lost and dying world.
The New Testament Watchman
In the New Testament, Jesus would make clear our appointment as warners of impending danger at least seven times.
7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.
2 Timothy 4:2
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
The reader assumes the scriptures are meant for the Pastor, the preachers, and the evangelists. However, remember, the definition of a watchman is to warn the people of the impending danger they see coming. I may not be a preacher but I am, without a doubt, a watchman with a divine appointment. I am a watchmen that can clearly see the impending danger.
3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
Jesus highlights deception as the first response. Because, deception is Satan’s greatest weapon.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
Here, the “Love of many will wax cold” refers to many Christians who will turn their backs on Christ. Check
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
Today’s Watchman, A Call To Action
There is an impending danger to the lost soul. Furthermore, the end of the world is rapidly approaching. Thus, it is time for us, as the watchman, to take a midnight ride with a warning to the lost world.
~~~Scott’s Recommended Reading: Articles of Faith, The Beginning.