Go, Set A Watchman

Earlier this year, I read “Go Set A Watchman” by Harper Lee. While the book disappointed, the title stirred my curiosity. After a quick search, I discovered the inspiration for the title and went on a bit of a journey into its meaning. What follows here reflects that journey.

Watchmen of Old

Many great cities (Babylon, Jericho & Jerusalem, for example) in Bible times had walls around them for protection. Watchmen stood upon these walls and looked for signs of enemies, travelers, messengers or any unusual activity.

The Hebrew word for watchman (tsaphah) literally means to lean forward & to peer into the distance. The word implies to behold, spy out, wait for & keep the watch. Watchmen held important jobs because spotting danger from a distance gave a king and his army time to implement a plan of action and protection if necessary.

A watchman, in order to do his job well, needs to stay awake and alert. He needs to fight distractions and be very good at discerning the nature of approaching situations. No reading a book or playing games on your phone. Watchmen must pay attention.

God’s Appointed Watchmen

The spiritual truth regarding watchmen plays out in the Old Testament when God set prophets as watchman over His people.

“For thus has the Lord said to me: “Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he sees.” (Isaiah 21:6)

Harper Lee borrowed the phrase “Go Set A Watchman” from Isaiah because Maycomb desperately needed a “moral compass.” Without it, the people followed the ways of culture and of the flesh. The idea of a “moral compass” captures well what God intended for the watchmen He set over his people.

In the Old Testament, a watchman (also used in Ezekiel 3:17) was a “moral compass” for God’s people to help them stay obedient to His will as declared in His word and to help them resist the culture around them.

Watchmen are also identified in the New testament and given tremendous responsibility as moral compasses over God’s people.

“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them — not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” (1 Peter 5:1-4)

However, as with literal watchmen on the walls, what happens with the information a watchmen provides is not up to them. The receiver of the information decides what action to take (Ezekiel 33:1-9). The purpose of watchmen set in place by God is to teach, explain, expound and warn. Those who receive that instruction choose how to respond.

Believers as Watchmen

God gives every believer the task of heeding the warnings and directions given by his appointed watchmen.

“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” (Hebrews 13:17)

God also appoints ever believer as a watchmen too. A variety of Scripture get at the importance of believers as watchmen and aid to further instruct us as to the duty and purpose of the watch we are to keep. Looking at just one — 1 Peter 5:8 — provides a great deal regarding the nature and activity of this responsibility. The first part of this verse in the Amplified says…

“Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times.”

How this command gets carried out looks different from one individual to the next, but the general point is clear: Stay awake and pay attention. The motivation for doing so remains the same for every person and is found in the second part of 1 Peter 5:8.

“That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.”

The enemy sneaks and prowls in an attempt to catch every believer unaware. He looks for the weakest moment to attack. He has restless energy that he can never satiate. We must keep watch, and we must heed the warnings of those God sets to keep watch over his flock. We must always remember the power and cunning of the enemy. We must fulfill our roles as watchmen.

DISCUSSION: How well are you heeding the watchmen (leaders) in your life? How well are you fulfilling your own role as a watchman?

Sunday Reflections – Living a Spectacular Life

What sets you apart? What makes you stand out? Are you different from those around you?

As Christians, we should definitely stand out in the world. But what about as individuals within the church?

Too many Christians stop growing after salvation. Don’t get me wrong – I am certainly not saying that salvation is anything less than the most spectacular event in a Christian’s life. But the spectacular doesn’t have to stop at salvation.

A Christian can – and should – continue down the path of an increasingly spectacular life. For me, life with Jesus keeps getting better and better. Only by the Holy Spirit’s work in my life for growth is this happening.

How can a Christian continue experiencing the spectacular life that begins at salvation? Here’s what I’m discovering to be essential in my own growth as a Christ follower.

  1. Take ownership. You faith. Your sin. They are yours alone, and you alone will stand before God on day. Take responsibility now. (Romans 14:12)
  2. Avoid comparisons. God hates all sin. Comparisons will never negate the need for confession. (James 2:10)
  3. Protect from within. The condition of the heart is everything, because the attitude of the heart directs all that we do and say. Above all, protect your heart. (Proverbs 4:23)
  4. Draw near. The answer to every issue, every problem, every area of stress and worry is always more of Jesus. And as you draw closer to Him, He reciprocates and draws closer to you. (James 4:8)
  5. Fight distractions. A simple life only exists when distractions are continually and deliberately mitigated. And the simple life lived for Christ is nothing less than spectacular. (Hebrews 12:1)

Being a Christian involves far more than being saved. Again, please don’t think I am lessening salvation in any way. That is far from the truth. What I am saying is that as awesome as salvation is, God has even more spectacular things planned for those who not only make Him Savior but also Lord.

 Making Christ Lord means living a spectacular life – one changed by His unending mercy and grace.

“Whatever we do, it is because Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for everyone, we also believe that we have all died to the old life we used to live. He died for everyone so that those who receive this new life will no longer live to please themselves. Instead, they will live to please Christ, who died and was raised for them. We have to stop evaluating others by what the world thinks about them. Once I mistakenly thought of Christ that way, as though he were merely a human being. How differently I think about him now! What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life as begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:14-17)

DISCUSSION: How does your life reflect the spectacular life that Christ died to give us?

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