Asleep On The Watch

by Steve Muse
Eastern Regional Watch Ministries

I have been told that in this day and age the role of watchman as understood in the Old Testament has been done away with, that it is not necessary because we are not under the wrath of God but under grace through Jesus Christ. If there are watchmen today, I am told, they cannot be held to the same degree of accountability that God required of Ezekiel. If there are watchmen today as described in Ezekiel, who are these watchmen? And after examining the following from Ezekiel 33, who would ever want to be put in this position?

The Watchman’s Duty: Ezekiel 33

“And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them,

‘If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people, then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life.

“But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’

“Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will 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 from your hand. But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life. ” Ezekiel 33:1-9

If we look closely in chapter 20 in the book of Acts we see that the Apostle Paul understood this mandate even as he warned the overseers in Ephesus concerning his departure after being with them for three years. Here is one example clearly stated:

“I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

“I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert (watch), remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.” Acts 20:26-31 (also see Acts 18:6)

One could say that this was an Apostolic responsibility that was not passed on to us but if we look in Hebrews we see that the overseers were exhorted by its writer to look out for the sheep, to guard and warn them as watching over the flock:

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” Hebrews 13:17

In Mark, chapter 13, we see that Jesus is telling us of the things to come regarding the Last Days. He exhorts us all to be on the alert, to be watchful of the things to come. It seems we have all been called to be in a constant state of watchfulness in some capacity as believers in Christ:

“Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert.

“Therefore, be on the alert — for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning — in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep.
“What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’” Mark 13:33-37

Why am I asking these questions or why am I even concerned that anyone is at watch for the body of Christ?

As Paul states in Acts 20:28-31, there has been through the centuries and still continues to this day, to be many savage wolves coming into the flock and also rising up from within to deceive and steal away disciples after themselves. I would hope this is not a surprise to anyone but sadly, I must report, this is probably the state of many churches everywhere.

Just testifying of my own experience, over the last 10 years, I have visited dozens of churches that have had an ‘open door’ policy, accepting whatever doctrine or new teaching that comes through the door. Unlike the words of Paul in Ephesians 4, about those who should be watching and equipping the saints, to bring us to maturity, not being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, they in fact willingly open their sails to allow any wind to blow them about. I have witnessed many in leadership, whether pastor, elders or overseers who have no clue to what has come through their doors or is about to come upon them as we look to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. No one is guarding the flock as the wolf moves silently about looking for those he can devour.

As I was wondering what has happened to those called to watch over the flocks, in whatever capacity that they serve, I thought of a little Mother Goose nursery rhyme about Little Boy Blue and how appropriate this is for today’s churches:

Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn.
The sheep’s in the meadow, the cow’s in the corn.
Where is the boy that looks after the sheep?
“He’s under the haycock, fast asleep.”
Will you wake him? “No, not I;
For if I do, he’ll be sure to cry.” (Emphasis mine)

Somebody please wake the watchmen! I would rather have sadness and grief with much tears, bringing us to repentance, than to continue to see the churches being infiltrated and assimilated by New Age Occultism, false teaching, heresies, philosophies of men and doctrines of demons as the watchmen sleep.

I have written this before and it has happened again just recently. I was asked which church I would recommend for a new Christian to begin fellowship. As a Christian of more than 30 years, and after visiting dozens of churches locally, I could not think of any church where I would send this person without knowing that they would in some way be caught up in the current trends of deception that are sweeping through the body of Christ. This is related to the lack of discernment being used by the leadership that are asleep.

Steven Mitchell writes in his article “Watchman Arise,”

“Since God mentions this ministry several times throughout the Bible with great clarity, we do well to read, heed, and learn to be men and women with this attitude for the church today. While we may not be under the threat of physical invasion today, or living in literal walled fortresses, Satan and his workers seek to destroy and lay siege to the church today through false teachers and ungodly philosophies. He seeks to lead us into false forms of worship and unbiblical teachings that masquerade as truth. He has engineered and orchestrated a full-out assault on the people of God today, complete with deceptive false ministers and non-prophets who no longer view His Word as the primary basis for true doctrine. The church is definitely under attack and, therefore, definitely and desperately in need of watchmen in this age.”

Most of what I have written addresses those in leadership that are asleep or unaware of the dangers that lie in wait. There are also churches that I have been to that the leadership is knowingly allowing and teaching deception with little concern for the flock thus fitting the example of Scripture from Acts 20.

Pastors, elders, overseers, shepherds and watchmen; please heed this call to awaken and warn the flock of the dangers that face your churches today. You are responsible and accountable if you do not warn them! Their blood will be on your hands! (source)

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