Monday, May 23, 2011

Spiritual watchmen

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Hosea 9:1-17

TO CHEW ON: "But the watchman of Ephraim is with my God; But the prophet is a fowler's snare in all his ways — Enmity in the house of his God." Hosea 9:8

Continuing on with his denouncement of Israel, Hosea speaks of another means of warning — the watchman. The watchman Tsaphah — was a "Person who peered into the distance, spied, kept watch, scoped something out especially in order to see approaching danger and to warn those endangered" - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1152.

  • Sometimes watchmen were king's guards (1 Samuel 14:16).
  • More often they were men positioned in a place that commanded a view of the surrounding territory of a city, like in a tower or on a city wall. When they saw suspicious or threatening activity it was their job to alert the city's inhabitants of danger (2 Kings 9:17-18).
  • Often in the Bible, watchmen were spiritual, the prophets that God sent to warn the people of things to come unless they changed their ways. Such was the case with Ezekiel. God told him plainly that he was a prophetic spiritual watchman (Ezekiel 3:17).
  • Like their natural counterparts, these spiritual watchmen could be good or bad. Sometimes they did their job well and saw good results (Isaiah 52:8). At other times they refused to do their job. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 6:17) talks about prophet watchmen who refused to listen for the sound of the warning trumpet (shofar — yesterday's devotion) and so didn't warn the people.
  • It was often the watchman's job to actually blow the trumpet (shofar) that sounded the warning. In a probing section of Ezekiel there is an explanation of how this worked. If the watchman saw danger, sounded the trumpet and the people didn't listen, their blood would be on their own hands. But if he saw trouble and didn't blow the trumpet, the blood of the people who perished in the calamity that followed would be on the watchman's hands (Ezekiel 33:2-7).

Hosea was a responsible watchman. Though our verse describes how the people viewed him (as an annoying fowler's snare - a bird trap) he was faithful and consistent in speaking his unpopular message.

What kind of watchmen are we? In this time when there is no appetite to hear about God's objective standard of right and wrong, are we still faithful in talking about sin and God's remedy for it? Or are we guilty of altering the message, saying there really isn't a problem? Or are we altogether silent?

Ezekiel's disturbing warning haunts me as I consider my own action/inaction in this regard:

"But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths" - Ezekiel 33:6 NLT

PRAYER: Dear God, this is a sobering word to me. Help me to be a better watchman on the wall of my family, community, country, unafraid to speak about and explain what You say about our lostness and eventual destination without You. Amen.

MORE: Holy Visitation - Lyrics by Charlie Hall, sung by Rita Springer

Sound the alarm,
gather the people,
gather the elders,
Let the ministers wail...

Sound the alarm
Awaken the watchmen
Open their ears let their voices be loud
We prophesy, You'll come to this nation
Touch this generation with a holy visitation.

Bible Drive-Thru

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