Summary: Our spiritual duty is to be a watchman for God. Sin is all around - how can we warn the people of its threat?
I Have Made You a Watchman
1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 "Son of man, speak to your countrymen 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, 3 and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, 4 then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head. 5 Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning, his blood will be on his own head. If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.’
7 "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ’O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 9 But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.
A man got a job as a night watchman at a factory. There had been a lot of thefts by the workers on the night shift and so every morning when the night shift workers passed through his gate it was his job to check their bags and pockets to make sure that nothing was being stolen.
Things were going along very well the first night on the job until a man pushing a wheelbarrow of newspapers came through his gate. Aha, he thought, that man thinks he can cover up what he is stealing with that newspaper. So he removed the paper only to find nothing. Still he felt that the man was acting strangely, so he questioned him about the paper.
"I get a little extra money from newspapers I recycle, so I go into the lunchroom and pick up all the ones people have thrown away." The guard let him pass but decided to keep a close eye on him.
The next night it was the same, and the night after that. Week after week it went on. The same guy would push the wheelbarrow of newspapers past the guard’s checkpoint. The guard would always check and find nothing.
Then one night, about a year later, the guard reported for work only to find a message had been left for him telling him to report to his supervisor. He walked into the supervisor’s office and before he could say a word, the boss said, "You’re fired!"
"Fired?" he asked in total surprise. "Why? What did I do?"
"It was your job to make sure that no one stole anything from this plant and you have failed. So you’re fired."
"Wait a minute, what do you mean failed. Nobody ever stole anything from this place while I was on guard."
"Oh, really," the boss answered. "Then how do you account for the fact that there are 365 missing wheelbarrows?"
The watchman had an important duty. It was their job both day and night to look out on the horizon for trouble. That trouble could be the enemy, an approaching storm, fire, flood, etc. If they fell asleep while on duty or neglected to warn the people it was a very serious offense.
A ships lookout is a watchman of sorts. They stand up high in the crow’s nest and look out over the sea. They would warn of approaching ships, storms and even pirates. They also got to tell some good news – Land ho!
The people in the city and the people on board ship don’t have the vantage point of the watchman or lookout.
God uses the analogy of a city watchman to emphasize a spiritual duty to warn the people of their sin. That same analogy applies to us today as we are to share the gospel message to others.
Unfortunately, we don’t always live up to God’s calling to be a watchman do we? We don’t live up to in by:
The way we speak – We’re afraid we might offend someone…
The way we live – We don’t want to appear to be “Christian fanatics”, blend in at all costs.