The word “watchmen” is translated from the Hebrew word shamar or shomer. It appears 468 times in the Scripture and is translated “watchman” eight times. Other alternate translations are keep, guard, guardian, keeper, watch, observe, heed, or preserve.
“On Your Walls O Jerusalem I Have Appointed Watchmen; All Day And All Night they Will Never Keep Silent. You Who Remind the Lord Take No Rest For Yourselves.” (Isaiah 62:8).
It was Isaiah who first prophesied that God would raise up watchmen concerning the forthcoming events in the history of the Hebrews. As the events prophetically predicted by Isaiah unfold, we indeed see God calling the Prophet Ezekiel as the most prominent watchman in the scriptural usage of the word “watchman” (Ezekiel 3:17, 33:7), and it is Ezekiel that biblically best demonstrates what a watchman is and what he does.
Watchmen were critical for many reasons. In the Bible, watchmen would pray for repentance in the city (Ezekiel 18:30-32). They were called to wake up the city from its apostasy (Hosea 8:1) and turn from destruction (Amos 3:6). Praying watchmen provided protection from invasion (Jeremiah 4:5) and reported any sign of danger approaching the city (II Samuel 18:24-27).
THE BIBLICAL WATCHMAN, EZEKIEL
In Ezekiel 3:17-21, the underlying spiritual aspect of the watchman is emphasized. In Ezekiel 33: 2-9, the watchman warns of a physical threat.
17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: 18 When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. 20 “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.” 17 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.”
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. 5 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. 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.”
According to Finis Jennings Dake, a watchman is one who looks out or sees from a height, with the view to warning of impending danger or to give any information, good or bad. The Lord often called priests and prophets to be a watchman. The duties of the watchmen were threefold: to wait and watch for what God would command and give in warning, to watch over the people, and to warn the people for God. Ezekiel’s prophetic calling was a great weight. Because the responsibility of warning the wicked sinner and the fallen righteous is not to be taken lightly.
Notice that Ezekiel is primarily concerned with fulfilling his responsibility before God. His primary concern is not whether people take heed, panic or fall back into apathetic slumber, but that he has fulfilled his duty to warn them. Their response remains their own responsibility.
CHRISTIANS ARE TO BE WATCHMEN IN THE END TIMES
With the continual threat of division, darkness, and terrorism presently in the world, watchmen are critical to warn others of the coming of the seven years of tribulation. In fact, it is felt to be a mandate from the throne of God! Any Christian who has a heart for God and a heart for others, and who is willing to humble themselves before God with a pure heart is encouraged to pray about being a part of this call.
Jesus said the End Times would be even crueler and more violent than the time He walked the Earth. He said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:37) And what characterized the times of Noah? We read in Genesis 6, “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” and “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the Earth was filled with violence.”
The role of the watchman is described in scripture in both the Old- and New Testaments. In a key parable, Jesus shows how a Christian may be commissioned by Christ as a dedicated watchmen, while at the same time Christ emphasizes that every believer is to have the attitude of a watchman.
The context of Jesus’ parable in Mark 13 shows there are signs of perilous times related to the close of this age. As we see many of these signs all around us today, we understand the rapture of the Church may be close at hand, though we are shown in scripture not to be “date setters” trying to predict the exact day. Contemporary evangelical pastors, such as Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, are increasingly recognizing the importance of being informed of current events and see the need for taking a stand in society. Hibbs is a regular speaker at the Watchmen on the Wall conferences in Washington, D.C. where critical issues are raised, while at the same time there is a reassurance of our encouragement and hope in Christ and in His coming.
In Jesus’ parable of watchmen in Mark 13, the main event is the anticipated return of the “the Son of Man”, a term Jesus used to describe Himself: “For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.” The King James Version of the Bible uses the word porter to describe this watchman. In some translations, this watchman is called a doorkeeper(NASB) or a gatekeeper(NLT). In one form or another, the porter serves three parties: the master of the house, the inhabitants of the house and the guests who come to visit the house.
In Jesus’ time, the Romans occupied Israel and the main threat to the Jews and the early Church was not an invading army. Information of critical news came by way of word-of-mouth and the door keepers, and those who sat at the gates of the city would be in the know. Today, threats to the community are ascertained instantly by way of the Internet and radio. Christians who consistently review news and events are serving as modern-day watchmen. Because Christians emphasize truth and integrity and are often willing to stand for truth courageously, many non-Christians are interested in the news Christians have to share.
Though the doorkeeper has the main responsibility to watch in the parable, Jesus emphasizes in the conclusion of the parable that all Christians are to have the attitude of watchmen in the End Times, especially as we await an important main event, Christ’s return to rapture the Church: “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”
PRECONCEPTIONS ARE HARD TO OVERCOME
Noah warned the people of a great disastrous flood while people had never even seen rain before. Most people were apathetic. This condition is called the “normalcy bias” and was a reason why so many Jews refused to leave Germany before being killed. When you go against the grain to warn people, most people will be apathetic, some will appreciate it, and others may even become angry. We see all three of these reactions when we warn people. Some Christians believe the Church is supposed to “feed the sheep” and that’s it. But if all we do is feed the sheep and don’t warn them of danger, all we’re really doing is just fattening them up for the kill. We shouldn’t be dogmatic in assuming our role and responsibility before God is the same as another person. Christian attitudes towards End Times prophecy range from disdain to obsession, but there is a healthy medium to be found.
To be a watchman today requires overcoming some serious obstacles, such as the mind-numbing effects of mainstream media and the dumbed-down public education system. Psychologists have also labeled a certain kind of mental inertia and coined “the normalcy bias” that describes people who believe nothing really dangerous is ever going to happen, no matter what kind of facts you may present.
POSITIVE ENCOURAGEMENT IS IMPORTANT
Though we understand the End Times are a time of heightened trials, there are scriptures that emphasize we are to encourage one another with the blessed hope of the rapture of the Church and our ultimate unity with Christ.
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-3)
PRESENTLY, THERE’S A GROWING MOVEMENT
In addition to the blogs and websites sprouting up with a watchmen theme, there are organizations, such as “Watchmen on the Wall” that focus on equipping pastors to be watchmen in their communities. The mission statement of Watchmen on the Wall states:
“Watch what is going on in the culture. Pray for the wisdom to engage biblically, courageously, and winsomely. Sound the Alarm from the pulpit. Take a bold stand with others to defend and advance faith, family, and freedom.”
As Christians, we are all called to be watchmen in attitude, if not in service in these End Times, according to the teachings of Jesus. We should be careful of criticizing believers who have been called by God to focus on research regarding critical information and warning others. There is no sense in living ignorantly. And the desire to stand for truth and to be “valiant for the truth” (Jeremiah 9:3b) still finds common ground among many people of diverse backgrounds.
(Main source: Templestream Blogspot)