The Watchman – part 2

He Declares His Task

The appellation ‘Watchman’ designates his calling. This is no position for the secret disciple, for he makes a sniper’s dream come true. He stands in the forefront of danger for his fellows’ sake, stands in supreme display against the arrows of adversity, and takes the brunt of the first fight. When Christ walked this earth, His Church was but twelve men and since that time a few have enlisted to sickle the harvest. Although the earth is God’s ‘footstool’[1] it is also the place of open rebellion and the catch pit of Christian service. He who stands to tell the sweetness of redeeming grace will find the bitterness of sin a constant source of trial. The Watchman speaks aloud to that vast, heedless throng that hurtles through life from crisis to crisis, missing the vital victory in Christ.

He sounds ‘an alarm to the unconverted.’ Nothing alters his determination to deliver the Word of God.  He bends his soul in delightful acquiescence to God’s perfect will, a powerful purpose reigns singly in his breast. He realises that if he is to be ‘pre-eminent in disaster’ then he must be ‘neglectful of privilege’. Having received the sprinkling of God’s rare blessedness, an eternal stream must be poured upon the barren soil of men’s hearts; this unalloyed joy must be committed to all who hear. Like Paul he says, ‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation.’[2]  Because of this understanding he is what he is. No one would stand where he stands unless a miracle had moved his feet to higher ground.

The Endurance He Shows[3]

The Fervency He Displays
The word to notice in this text is ‘night,’ a word that can cause the heart to fear, a shrouded dimness that speaks of evil. Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.’[4] The legions of hell plot their wicked machinations under cover of darkness. Since Adam fell, the world has entered a night that has plunged many a wayward sinner into abysmal separation from God. When Jesus came it was to those who ‘sat in darkness’.[5]  When He left the cross He went to the domain where fallen spirits are reserved ‘in chains of darkness’ until the judgement.’[6]

This world is plunging deeper into gross darkness as men set themselves in array against God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”[7] Wherever you look there is a growing animosity against the things of God. The mark of Cain is rampant throughout the land as wilful disobedience to God’s laws sweeps through every strata of society. Furious currents sweep against the bulwarks of truth, threatening to smash the very citadel of God.

‘Watchman, what of the night?’ – Aye, he can well say, for a floodtide of sin is approaching.   He stands within splashing distance of sin’s angry spray, but shakes himself before the blazing warmth of God’s Spirit. His voice takes on a passion that is born from a heart concern for trembling saints. He stands among the growing darkness inflamed with divine urgency.   His fervour knows no end. Constantly, against bitter tides of opinion, he points men to God.   He cries a warning, turns men to their stations, and directs them to the precepts of God.  Does he tire? Is he weary? Yes, yes – but not defeated!

The Fearlessness He Discloses

Most people at some time or other have been afraid of the dark; the Watchman is no exception. But with Christ he is more than able to overcome the most spiteful foe. Like Silas, he sings in the prison stocks. Christ is his closest Friend and faithful Brother; He fills his soul with Divine delight. He has become aware that greater is He that is in him than he who is in the world. There is an inner iron, a metal of the soul. Perfect love has cast out all fear. The past is past, the future is safe, and the present is in His hand. He says: “Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver us: in whom we trust that yet He will deliver us;”[8] past experience, current emergency and future expectation are all in His sovereign hand. Every day he feels God’s hand, for every day the Devil speaks his cunning. He calls to mind the words of Job: “He shall deliver you in six troubles, yes; in seven no evil shall touch you.[9]“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”[10] He does not stand alone; the Forerunner has gone on before. The veil has been rent; he is now anchored in that which is within the veil.11 So are we!


 

[1] Matthew 5:35                      7 Romans 1:21

2 Romans 1:16                         8 2 Corinthians 1:10

3 Isaiah 21:11,12                     9 Job 5:19

4 John 3:19                              10Psalm 34:19

5 Matthew 4:16                      11 Hebrews 6:19

6 Jude 1:6

The Watchman

The church is the object of God’s constant watch‘I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment; lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.’[1]  Whatever the peculiar situation of the modern church, whatever the form or nature of its trials, the enemy is one.  Heresies may damage its purity and persecution thin its ranks, but the foe that sows the one and kindles the other is the devil. Visible malice against the sons of God is evident, but though small and often weak, we are refreshed by God’s influence and kept by His power.  He promises that ‘when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against Him.’ 

We can be assured that whatever assault the enemy may encourage, God’s interposition is certain.  The promise is true to those who falter.  “He will keep the feet of His saints.2 To help against this continual opposition, God has set in the church watchmen, men who can see and seek out the mingled seed within the fields of Zion.3   They stand unflinching watching for the devil’s devilry.

The Example He Sets.4

He discerns the truth – There is a flood of error sweeping the present church. Many will be side-tracked to issues mortal and mundane. The real spiritual energy that propels the church to action must be preserved at and in all times. The watchman perceives the darkening around the bright circle of revelation. The cancer spots of false doctrine must be cut out with a knife sharper than any two-edged sword;”5 so many are caught up in a wrangled, tangled web of theological nonsense, putting the cart of mortality before the horse of faith.  One cannot travel far through church history without treading on tares subtly sown alongside the wheat.  All too evident is the painful discovery that an insidious insertion has been made into the simple sanctity of the faith.

The Watchman is called to set before the souls of men a standard built into the living fabric of the soul, a level of attainment based upon lasting dedication. He is the guardian to stand upon the buttresses of life, to safely keep the trust committed to his care.  A sentinel to turn the hosted legions back upon themselves, confusing sin’s disorder by a standard red with blood; to thrust a searching glance through every ordered thing and show the captive sons of love the error of their ways.

When all around is undermined by awful degradation, he takes the lawless rules of men into the code of God and shows the senseless, stubborn heart the perfect way to heaven, seeks for that golden truth that burns sevenfold more brightly as the days grow darker, knowing like old Jacob, who in the eventide of life guided his hands ‘wittingly’6upon the heads of Joseph’s sons.

He Determines the Time – “Watchman, what of the night?” or ‘What time is it?’ It interrogates the Watchman and checks the conception of the situation; for how long has he been waiting?  How long is there until the dawn? Every passing moment has brought him closer to a new eternity. He is aware that in the midst of the watch the progression of it. He counts the passing hours in terms of unwrapping a new era. He assesses the hours past in point of time to those which are to come. Sleep has lain heavy on his lids, but he has not slumbered.

The night is a dark unknown and terror awaits; he must be equal to the task. Not to him does Jesus say, “Could you not watch with me one hour?”7 He knows that the long promises of God are short in heavenly measure, that “they who through faith and patience inherit the promises,”8 clearly he understands that God who can pass 1000 years with the twitching of His eye, can faithfully say “that his salvation is nearer now than when he believed.”9.He is insistent to make every season acceptable that nothing may perish. He cries, “The night is far spent and we are not saved!”10  He has numbered his days that he may apply his heart unto wisdom because man is mortal; only God is “from everlasting to everlasting.”11 He knows that in the gathering gloom it is time to serve the Lord.  Like Noah, who in the morning of his life made a boat for the evening of the world, spends his time timely employed, balancing bare necessities against the demands of a stricken world.  So should we.


 

[1] Isaiah 27:3                            7 Matthew 26:40

2 Isaiah 2:9                              8 Hebrews 6:12

3 Leviticus 19:19                     9 Romans 13:11

4 Isaiah 21:11-12                    10Romans 13:!2

5 Hebrews 4:12                       11 Psalm 41:13

6 Genesis 48:14

 

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

[1 Kings 10:1 – 10]

When the Queen of Sheba saw the “… meat of his [Solomon’s]table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her.” [1 Kings 10:5]. The core statement is the one which says “the sitting of his servants” or his officials. Sheba was stunned, for in New Testament language, likening Jesus to Solomon, we have the following statement: “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” [Ephesians 2:6]

But, you protest, isn’t that a mystical expression, which has little or no reference to my life, for what if I am raised with Him, and do sit in heavenly places, how does that affect me, and change my life? I want a practical kind of Christianity, which relates to living in the twenty-first century, not this New Testament “stuff” which is or seems divorced from reality. What possible link can there be between the Queen of Sheba visiting Solomon and me being raised with Jesus; give me the connection!

Sitting at Top Table – Well, here it is. Her amazement was at the way Solomon treated his officials and servants, they were more than just hired hands, and they obviously meant something to him, for he gave them authority beyond their station. He allowed them to share top table with him, in such a way that suggested equality, and rather than just sit them out in the cold amongst the flotsam and jetsam of society, he brought them up to his level and showed them off for all to see. He dressed them accordingly, and made them look important. He was different from any other king she had met, for he had compassion and favour towards his people.

We have a Similar Favour – We now begin to relate this to our situation as we find  ourselves in the   Courts of God, for we have been drawn into His kingdom, and right into His presence, as an act of favour and acceptance. It all starts in [John 1:12] “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” Notice the word “Gave” them power, it was all of Him, they simply received his bequest – power; power to be and live as sons of God. There is power in being a son of God, simply by being accepted in Christ. Modern teaching tends to diminish such power, and tries to deceive us into thinking that salvation is but the first step towards something yet to come,  and always  tries to get us to look onward for something yet to obtain, but in our sonship we have all things.

It is to be agreed that heaven is yet to be reached and that the whole process of living with Jesus brings about a change and an upward stretch for purity, yet to possess, but in our sonship is the depository of all we need. By sitting at top table we have received acceptance by the king and have been allocated a position of authority in the kingdom. Let us live like it.  Even if the king did not speak to us again, our position proves that we have reached favour and have been given recognition in the eyes of others as to our influence.

Free from Condemnation – Many forget this, and bring themselves into condemnation before others and themselves because they have failed to realise how important their acceptance by Christ is, it is fundamental to our confidence and frees us from condemnation. Many Christians live under perpetual censure and live a negative lifestyle because they constantly feel inferior. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” [Rom 8:1]. It’s a conditional text; they must walk after the Spirit.

Do not be amazed – Yes, we are sons of God, but don’t let that amaze you, let it fill you with a healthy self-image. We carry authority naturally, and sit comfortably with Christ in a position of authority. We reign in life, and have been called to share in the rule of Christ. There are times when we may not think anything of ourselves, but God thinks a lot of us.

Let us consider what God has done for us and in that consideration, shout for joy, and bid black despair depart for with Him we have all things. So many forget so many things that God has done, and being drawn downwards into a pessimistic viewpoint lose their joy and ability to live victoriously. Things are always going wrong in their perception, and they can see nothing except shadow and darkness around them in all that happens. But God!

Seeking God

“They do not return to the Lord their God, nor  seek Him for all this” [Hosea 7:10]

The basis of all religion is to seek God.  Israel was led and so encouraged that their lives through history have been a pageant of God’s unfathomed favour and wonder in a miraculous manifestation of provision and divine grace.  Yet for all that showering of benefaction and overshadowed blessing the word describes their state unflatteringly:  “. . . I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me’ Alas, sinful nation . . . They have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward’ ” [Isa 1:2, 4].

Although we may reproach them for their repeated waywardness, in spite of God’s favour, we must ask ‘are we any better in following God; does our heart stand with them or are we committed in full surrender to God’s purpose and will?’ To examine that conjecture we must consider what following or seeking God really is. It’s not complicated but may prove difficult because of the vagaries of our nature.  Adam left us a legacy of doubt and mistrust in God’s word, which rumbles through our conscious and automatic response to Him.  However we do know that “God is with the generation of the righteous.” [Ps 14:5]. Are we part of that august company?

Our unquestionable duty.

First:  “Remember now thy creator in the days of thy youth.” [Ecc 12:1. The encouragement to mankind starts early in their life, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; . . .  for we are his offspring,” [Acts 17:28].  There is a liability mandate upon us to seek our creator, simply because he is our creator.  We should always seek the highest good and He, our God, is the highest good, and the best of all things.  Our expectation, satisfaction and fulfilment can only be in Him. None other can provide us with those aspects of life that will fill us, thrill us and still us in the storms of life.  But, in reality we are, as Adam’s sons, far from Him, and we have turned to our own ways.  “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD” [Lam 3:40].

Therefore the principal thing is to seek God and find Him; this is to be above all other aims in life. To do this our vision is automatically directed to the Son of His love, the manifestation of the Godhead in the flesh.  “I and my Father are one.” [John 10:30] and Jesus said to him, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father;” [John 14:9]. If we don’t find him in His sacrificial love he will find us as a consuming fire. [Heb 12:29]. Let Jeremiah speak to us: “Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me,”  [Jer. 9:23-24]. Thus we should spend all to know him. The theme of the gospel is to prepare a people for the Lord [Luke 1:17], and that can only be done by seekers finding and knowing God.

Second: We ought to enjoy Him, but we cannot enjoy someone with whom we have a rage. The command “Come boldly to the throne of grace,” [Heb 4:16] is for those who have received responsive forgiveness.  God’s “lovingkindness is better than life, “[Ps 63:3] and how can God shower upon us those blessings of mercy when we fail to walk in his way and acknowledge him as our Saviour?  But, He is more than that, He is our benefactor and preserver and therefore he is our life, and keeper of our ways. The word says “Our father which art in heaven,” [Matt 6:9] but he is nearer than that, for “In Him we live, and move, and have our being.”  [Acts 17: 28]. We walk with him because we agree with him. [Amos 3:3]. For “in his favour is life.”

Thirdly, we seek him to be like Him.  We become like the thing or person we worship, in all aspects of life. The reasonable command is this:  “that you may proclaim [shew forth] the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light;” [1 Pet 2:9]; transformed into His likeness to reveal eternal treasure [2 Cor. 4:7]. We cannot resemble him in his divine attributes, omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence, but certainly in his human qualities; love grace and mercy.