As I was preparing this sermon this week I thought back to the nights that I stood guard duty during my service time. Often we were alone on our stations in the dark of the night while our buddies were sleeping depending on the night watchmen to warn them in time if the enemies showed. I remember the boredom that came with being out in the night without anything to do except stare into the darkness watching for signs that the enemy was near. I think about the struggle to stay awake after a period of time because if you went to sleep that could be devastating to your men. I then turned my thoughts to those ancient watchmen of days gone by who stood guard on the city walls of ancient city prepared to warn the citizens if the enemy approached. Today we live in a civilized society and we no longer have a night watchman who stands guard over us as we sleep warning of approaching enemies. We have lost the ability to hear when the watchman calls out an alarm because we have become relaxed in our civilized society and worldly pursuits that no longer do we feel the need to be alert for the warning of the guard at the gate telling us that doom is heading our way. We no longer feel the need to bow to the authority of the watchman when he does sound the alarm. It has been so long since we have been attacked that we no longer believe that we can be attacked. Today I want to talk about the watchman his duties and responsibilities as well as the responsibilities of the hearer and their duties. I also want to look at the penalties of each for failure to do their duties as well as the rewards for those who do their duties.
One of the most tragic events during the Reagan Presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept. Many of us can still recall the terrible scenes as the dazed survivors worked to dig out their trapped brothers from beneath the rubble.
A few days after the tragedy, I recall coming across an extraordinary story. Marine Corps Commandant Paul X Kelly, visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt, Germany, hospital. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, severely wounded in the incident. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man; yet he survived.
As Kelly neared him, Nashton, struggling to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the Commandant. On the slip of paper were but two words—“Semper Fi” the Latin motto of the Marines meaning “forever faithful.”
With those two simple words Nashton spoke for the millions of Americans who have sacrificed body and limb and their lives for their country—those who have remained faithful.
Eze 33:1 And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying,
Eze 33:2 Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and set him for their watchman;
Eze 33:3 if, when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;
Eze 33:4 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.
Eze 33:5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him; whereas if he had taken warning, he would have delivered his soul.
Eze 33:6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned, and 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.
Eze 33:7 So thou, son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.
I. Who is the Watchman?
Today in our scripture God says that He provides us a watchman. This watchman is to be looking to worn the people that they are straying from God’s word, from the path that He has planned for them. The watchman that God has provided for us is our pastors. God has placed them where they are to watch over the flock and to sound the alarm if the wolf is spotted on the coast or at the door. It is the duty of the pastor to sound the trumpet or to preach the truth to warn the people against the lies that this world offers each and every one of us. It is the responsibility of the pastor to study the word of God and be knowledgeable in God’s truth so that he can recognize the enemy when he draws near. Every Sunday pastors are to warn the people and teach them God’s word so that they have the armor and sword to go out and battle a dark, dark world. The Pastor is to warn so that the people’s lights can shine bright and drive the enemy off from our coasts. The truth makes our lights glow so brightly that the enemy can not stand to be on our coast.
But is the responsibility of the hearers to head the Pastor’s warning. They must be willing to hear what the watchman is saying and take head and prepare for a fight. The world’s siren song is subtle and often times we become ensnared before we realize that we are in danger of being caught. That is what the watchman is looking for that is what he is to be warning about and it is the hearers responsibility to take that warning and avoid those snares that are out there.
A young farmer in North Dakota brought home a fancy barometer for which he paid $24.65. In the following days he watched it avidly as it predicted the weather.
On one of the walls of his home it hung in an honored place. But the day came when for three days it predicted “storm” while the sky was turquoise and clear. So he took it off the wall and back to town where he demanded his money back. Returning home, he and his wife became alarmed when they saw evidence of a storm ten miles out. When they turned in their yard, their home had blown away. The furniture was up in the apple trees, and the bathtub three blocks away in a pasture. But the grandmother had believed the barometer, and when a dark cloud appeared she took the two small children and went to the shelter in the old storm cellar, long unused, and they were saved.
We need to listen when the watchman warns and take heed just like this grandmother and take shelter in the basement and let the storm go over. But often when we come to church we don’t pay attention to the Sunday school lesson or the sermon. What we read and what we hear goes in one ear and right out the other without stopping in between. That is how many people can ignore God’s truth and live their lives as they want and not the way God wants. Many times the watchmen get frustrated that no one is hearing and doing. Some quite preaching because the raised the alarm and the church through them out or ignored the alarm all together. Others give in and follow along with every one else and turn a blind eye on God’s warnings.
A team of paramedics loaded a dazed auto accident victim into the ambulance.
"I don’t understand it," the stunned patient moaned. "I’m sure I had the right-of-way."
"Yes," replied a medic, "but the other driver had the eighteen-wheeler."
Often we are like this accident victim we see the eighteen-wheeler coming but we ignore the danger and pull into its path. We don’t take the time to heed the warning because we have so much more to do in the world.
"I’m only giving you a warning," said the policeman, handing a form to a beautiful young woman he’d stopped for speeding.
"Oh, thank you so much, officer!" she said, folding the warning ticket neatly into her purse. "I collect these."
Or we are like this young woman who have been warned countless times and we continue to ignore the warning. And when the punishment comes we will be confused as to why we were punished because we have always gotten away with it before. Just as this young woman collected speeding tickets many of us ignore the warnings that God sends us and go about our lives as if we are not responsible to anyone. But we can’t do that forever.
II. Price of the Watchman
It is the watchman’s duty to sound the alarm and as long as they do they are not responsible for anyone’s blood. But if they sound not the alarm then they have the people’s blood on their heads. Today in many churches across America there are many preachers who are preaching an inclusive, feel good message instead of sounding the alarm that this nation is moving away from God, its’ people are moving away from God, and that millions of people such as your next door neighbors may be going to Hell because of their failure to believe in Christ’s and accept His salvation.
Yet still there are pastor’s who are sounding the alarm and the congregation is not heeding the call. God says that the watchman is not responsibe for their blood. But their blood be on their own heads. The pastor has done his job and his responsibility has been fulfilled.
III. Price of the Hearers
For those who hear the warnings of the watchman God says that they shall save their souls. They take what they read in Sunday school and what is taught in the sermon and apply it to their lives to begin to develop a character like Jesus so that they can repel the enemy. They are strengthened by God’s Word and are eager to hear it. But then those who hear and don’t apply God says that they shall lose their souls and be taken away and their blood shall be own their own heads because they heard the warnings and heeded not and the watchman is not responsible for them.