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"You Are a Watchman"| June 30, 2024

Updated: 4 days ago

 Scripture:  Ezekiel 33:1-16; Luke 10:25-29; First Timothy 2:1-4  

 

“(1) Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, (2) ‘Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: 'When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, (3) when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, (4) then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. (6) But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand. (7) So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me.”  (Ezekiel 33:1-7)

 

The title of my message this morning is “You Are A Watchman.” If you take the time and look up the definition of watchman, you’d likely find this meaning: “a person who keeps guard over a building at night, to protect it from fire, vandals, or thieves. A person who guards or patrols the streets at night.” In this definition, why do you think a watchman is needed primarily at night? It’s because attacks come when people are not looking for them – when they are resting, sleeping or simply when it is dark and few people are moving about. Spiritually, God will return with His judgment when people are least expecting Him! Jesus says in Matthew 24:42, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”

 

While we are not traditional watchmen by this definition, as a pastor, my responsibility before God is to sound the alarm whenever I believe you are in danger from the temptations of the world, and from what some Christians say about how we are to live as Christians. I will explain this in more detail shortly. But for right now, what I want you to know is that although the responsibility of a watchman is not limited to the pastor or persons in leadership positions, but most of the responsibility of the watchman, as it relates to the Church, falls on the pastor and his leadership team. If you are a leader in any position in this Church, you will want to listen closely to this message. If you are not a leader, please understand that you too are a watchman, but it’s more on a personal level versus what we will see with Church leaders. However, as a child of God, all of us are called to be watchmen, looking out and raising the alarm when someone is living in a way that endangers their eternal destination. So why do I say that we are all called to be watchmen, especially Church leaders?

 

In the past, I have heard teachings about how we are our brother’s keeper. Some take the stance that everyone has the right to live as they choose and this is absolutely true. After all, God has given us free will and we can use it to serve Him or not serve Him. But, even with this being true, a child of God has the responsibility to love others as Jesus does and through that love to do their utmost to sustain, protect and encourage those around them. Do you remember the story of the Good Samaritan? In Luke chapter ten, the following is recorded starting with verse twenty-five: “(25) And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ (26) He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?’ (27) So he answered and said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND,’ and ‘YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ (28) And He said to him, ‘You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.’ (29) But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” (Luke 10:25-29) 

 

When the lawyer answered Jesus correctly, he knew that he had not done everything that he had just quoted in his answer, especially about loving his neighbor. So, to “justify himself” he asked Jesus to clarify who his neighbor was. This is when Jesus told him the story of the Good Samaritan. Let’s continue reading the story. “(30) Then Jesus answered and said: ‘A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. (31) Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. (32) Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. (33) But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. (34) So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (35) On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’”  (Luke 10:30-35) 

 

A Jewish man was traveling and was attacked by thieves, badly injured and left for dead. A priest walked by and saw him and kept on walking. Next a Levite saw him and kept on walking. These two should have stopped immediately and helped one of their own. But the third person, a Samaritan, stopped and helped a man who, under normal circumstances, would not have had anything to do with him. At the close of the story the following is recorded: “(36) So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves? (37) And he said, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” (Luke 10:36-37) The point Jesus made to the lawyer, and to each of us, is that we are our neighbor’s keeper. And in this parable, just as the priest and Levite were the Jew’s neighbor, Jesus is identifying Christians as each other’s neighbor. We are watchmen! And because we are, we have a responsibility first to our brothers and sisters and then to those who are not like us and who are living in sin. The Samaritan in this story was the watchman because he showed compassion to the person that under normal circumstances would not have given him the time of day.

 

We are supposed to be watchmen for our brothers and sisters in Christ and for those who are living in sin and who have not accepted Christ as their personal Savior. But, for the purpose of this message, I am limiting the scope of our being watchmen to that of watching over one another as Christians. We absolutely have a responsibility to do all we can to help those who are lost and be watchmen for those living in sin. However, this message is for the Church. God has instructed me to talk about how we are supposed to be watchmen over one another and when we witness someone living contrary to what the Scripture says, we don’t shy away or back down from calling them out on their sin in an attempt to get them to change.

 

In the parable we just read, the priest and the Levite were neighbors to the Jew who had fallen under attack. In other words, if it were the Church, those two “leaders” saw a fellow Church member who had been beaten and left for dead and did absolutely nothing to help him. Strangers Rest, they were leaders. They were watchmen. But, in this instance, they did not represent God in their actions. Strangers Rest, I want you to remember this story because, as Christians, when we see a brother or a sister living contrary to Scripture and are on a path that will lead them away from God and to hell and we do nothing to try and get them to see that they need to change and repent, then we are no different than the priest or Levite who walked pass their neighbor in serious need of their help.

 

I want to demonstrate for you the actions of a watchman. Galatians 5:19-21 records the following: “(19) Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, (20) idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, (21) envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” As you read what Paul wrote to the Church in Galatia, you will see that he gave them a list of things that would keep someone out of heaven. Now as you read this list, I want you to ask yourself: “Does it say you are exempt from going to hell if you have been baptized? Does it say you are exempt from going to hell if you go to Church each week? Or does it say you are exempt from going to hell if you are a Church leader? Now as a watchman, what is my responsibility as it pertains to my interactions with my brothers and sisters in Christ who are still doing these things? If I choose to ignore their behavior because they are part of my family, or they are a friend and are supposed to be saved, is that so bad?

 

Strangers Rest, I want you to imagine something. If I am your pastor and I am living a sinful life and everyone knows about it, but no one says anything about it, doesn’t that mean that many of you are possibly okay with it? Perhaps my lifestyle is offensive to you, but you choose not to say anything because you are not one of the leaders and you don’t feel it’s your place to say anything. Or perhaps you are waiting for one of the leaders to say something. As you continue to wait, you notice that the leaders of the Church do not seem too bothered by it, so maybe you start thinking it’s just you. But then your friends, who do not go to this Church, start asking you questions about your pastor and his lifestyle and asks you if anyone at the Church is planning to do anything to address his behavior? Finally, in your frustration of not being able to provide an answer as to why no one seems to be concerned with my lifestyle, you leave the Church. Can you see this happening?

 

Paul addressed a similar situation in the fifth chapter of First Corinthians. A man was sleeping with his father’s wife. The Church knew about it but did nothing to address the issue. Paul addressed the issue and told them how to deal with it and why they must deal with it. He said in verse six, “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (First Corinthians 5:6) Paul uses the illustration of leaven in bread to represent sin, teaching that a little bit of immorality can destroy the whole church. It would also be scripturally accurate to say a little sin can corrupt a person or an entire church. When you read the whole passage, Paul tells them to put the person out of the Church in order to protect the Church. This might seem harsh, but if a person refuses to change their lifestyle and their sin is very public, the church will be defined by the public sins of its members. And again, Paul’s concern was that one person’s sin will open the door for others to follow suit. I have witnessed this repeatedly in Churches when the leadership is not living right.

 

I have talked about the word “watchmen” and I gave you the definition at the very beginning. But now I want to talk about the watchman’s role from a Biblical and historical viewpoint so that you will understand, not only the importance of your role as a watchman, but also the consequences of not fulfilling it. We are going to read from Ezekiel chapter thirty-three, and I want you to think about what we see in this chapter in light of what is happening in the world today. We know that we are living in the last days and God’s judgment will be poured out soon. But what are we doing with this knowledge? Who are we talking to and making a last ditch effort to lead to Christ? If we know someone who is living in sin, are we talking to them? What are we doing with our loved ones and fellow Church members who are living in sin, but thinking they will still go to heaven? More importantly, how are we walking before them? All of these questions are answered based on how we are walking and living as watchmen.

 

When you read Ezekiel chapter thirty-three, even though God is talking about the house of Israel, what He says applies to us today. Ezekiel 33:1-2 says, “(1) Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, (2) ‘Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: 'When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman.” The verse says the people, not God, choose their watchman. In other words, when the Church chooses a pastor, deacon, trustee, or anyone else for a leadership position, it is choosing its watchmen. Strangers Rest, God holds the watchman to the highest Biblical standard because of their positions. But, because the Church chooses the watchman, God holds the Church responsible for watchman’s actions. Let that sink in.

 

Now, in this verse, the “sword” represented the judgment that was to come. What “sword” – judgment – has been released upon the land today? Jesus tells us in John 12:46-48. He said, “(46) I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. (47) And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. (48) He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him, the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” Jesus’ word, the Bible, has already been given as the judge. Jesus came to save the world, but that can only happen when we accept, believe and act on His word. And this is especially true for Christians who state publicly that they are believers in Christ! God told Ezekiel that when He brings judgment upon the land, if the people choose a watchman, that watchman will have responsibilities and will be held accountable to do his job. Let’s continue.

 

Ezekiel 33:3-5 says, “(3) When he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, (4) then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life.” God says when the watchman sees the judgment coming and warns the people, if they refuse to listen to his warning then their blood will be on their own heads. However, those who do heed the warning will be saved. The watchman’s job was to warn the people of the danger approaching, and if they did that then they had fulfilled their jobs. We are the watchmen. We are the ones who are supposed to be sounding the alarm of the judgment that is coming to everyone who will hear us – especially to those we know and love.

 

If we have leaders in our Church who are supposed to be watchmen, but are not doing their job because of sin, if we do not address their sin and they die in their sin, then God will hold us responsible for the person missing out on heaven. And let me tell you why with verse six. “But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand.”  (Ezekiel 33:6) God says that if anyone is lost in their iniquity, in their sin, because the watchman did not sound the alarm, then He will hold the watchman responsible for the person dying in their sin. Now, if you believe once saved always saved and the sins you commit after you are saved are covered by God’s grace, then yes, you have no reason to sound the alarm when you see your leaders living in sin. I do not hold that belief because it is not supported by the Bible. So, as long as I am one of your watchmen, if I know someone is in danger of the lake of fire, I am going to sound the alarm! Now, do you understand what is being said here? We are our brother’s keepers and we have a responsibility to those who think they are saved and are not, to share with them what it truly means to be saved and live according to the Word.

 

We are the watchman. Our job is to warn those who are not living according to Scripture that the judgment is coming. Why? Because the Lord wants those living in sin to have an opportunity to repent. The watchman’s job is to warn the people, not judge them and not be condescending towards them. The word “warning” means “to teach.” The watchman is to teach the people – help them understand – what will happen to them if they continue to live in sin and don’t repent. The problem with the body of Christ is that we haven’t learned how to deliver the warning with love and compassion. We stand in judgment of those who are living in sin, and in some cases, ignore the fact that they could die in their sin and go to hell. Strangers Rest that is not how Christians walk in love. The Church has not done a good enough job helping Christians understand why they need to repent. If you want someone to change, you have to help them see why they need to change and then show them how to change. Paul wrote in Galatians 6:1,  “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” Here we are taught to deal tenderly with those who are overtaken in a fault. Our overall goal is restoration if the person is willing to change. Now let’s finish with what God told Ezekiel.

 

Ezekiel 33:7-9, “(7) So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. (8) When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. (9) Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.”  Do you see this? We are the watchman! If we are not teaching those living in sin why they need to change, if they die in their sins God will hold us responsible. Do you see this?

 

Ezekiel’s job as watchman was to the house of Israel. At that time everyone was spiritually lost but they had a covenant with God through Abraham. Look at what God told Ezekiel to tell them in verse eleven, a verse that we read earlier in this message: “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die O house of Israel?’”  (Ezekiel 33:11) Do you see this Strangers Rest? When the wicked repents that brings our Heavenly Father pleasure. Now here’s the good part: verse sixteen says, “None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live.”   (Ezekiel 33:16) Once they repent, the Lord will never mention their sins again! Do you see that, even today, how important it is for us to repent when we sin? Our Father will not hold that sin against us. He forgets it after we come to Him with a repentant and humble heart! We see this beautifully expressed in Psalm 103:11-12, which states, “For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; (12) As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.’ (Psalm 103:11-12)

 

Strangers Rest, the body of Christ needs watchmen – men and women who allow the love of God to develop in them to the point they see things the same way God sees them, hears things the same way God hears them and loves people the same way God loves people. This is what the world needs, and God has given us the honor, the privilege, and the grace to do it. The decision is now on us. For me, I must ask myself, “Do I love my brothers and sisters in Christ enough that I want to be a watchman? Do I want the responsibility of teaching them while they are living in sin that they are walking the wrong path? Do I love them enough not to scream at them or condemn them, but simply tell them what will happen if they continue to live the way they’re living? Do I love them enough to tell them the truth? Do I love them enough to make them angry at me because I am trying to get them to a place of repentance? There will be some who will not want to hear what we have to say and while that is sad Scripture address that also. If a brother or sister is living in sin and refuses to stop Paul wrote “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.” (Second Thessalonians 3:6) You see, the watchman’s job is to sound the warning. That’s our job - three words: SOUND THE ALARM. We are not responsible for the results. We are not responsible for how the person responds. Our responsibility is very simple ladies and gentlemen: deliver the warning – deliver the teaching – as to why they need to make a change.

 

As a watchman, Strangers Rest, you must care enough about people to treat them right and with respect. You can’t be a watchman if you are willing to judge and condemn people. There is only One judge, and He is God. We must never forget about the things we have lain at the Lord’s feet, and He has forgiven. Never forget. You are the watchmen Strangers Rest and some of you have children that you can train up to be watchmen. Train them to love people first. Train them to respect people first. Train them to always treat people with love.

 

Now, as I close, I want to speak to the leaders of this Church. God pushed back the message that I was planning to deliver on mustard seed faith and commanded me to deliver this message this morning. This change happened Thursday morning after I had sent my scheduled message to the media team. You need to ask yourself why did He do that. I will tell you why. This message is really for you, and He is reaching out to you with all His heart. If you hold a position of authority in this Church this message was for you. You are a watchman within Strangers Rest and it is your job to ensure the members of this Church are protected spiritually from the sins of the world as best as you can. If you know a brother or sister is living contrary to what the Word says and you say nothing about it and they die in their sins, God will hold you accountable because you are a watchman. You are a leader. Be the watchman that sounds the alarm. Don’t let people die on your watch!  You might not be popular with people, but you will be able to say what Peter and the other apostles told the religious leaders who were persecuting them: “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

 

Until next time, “The Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up His countenance on you and give you peace.”  (Numbers 6:24-26)

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VISION: 

“Til all the ransomed church of God is saved to sin no more"

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