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The Third Shepherd — Watchful

Be Watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die!

Everyone knows that in the very nature of the case every shepherd is a watchman, although not every watchman is a shep­herd. If a shepherd is without understand­ing. then, as a watchman, he will be blind, with the result that “the righteous perisheth” (Isa. 56:10, 11; 57:1 ). The Lord, therefore, is careful to set in His church special and official watchmen to warn His people, to cry aloud and spare not, to preach, “Thus saith the Lord.” whether men will hear or whether they will forbear. Thankfully, to God, we have such men, with every reason to be­lieve He will increase their number. The Lord commissioned Ezekiel as a watchman and a shepherd (chaps. 33, 34), in the words. “So thou. O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the Word at My mouth, and warn them from Me” (33:7). But since the church is an armed camp, a lone island citadel besieged by all the world, in imminent danger of annihilation, then there is a sense in which every inhabitant of Zion must turn watchman. The shep­herds must keep to their flocks, with sharp eye and eternal vigilance over their wilder­ness pastures. Yet in these days, everyone in the camp of the saints must be on guard, that the watches in the house of Israel may be kept day and night. The enemy does not sleep. We must not sleep. A watchman must always be on sentry duty, walking his post. The Lord has opened your eyes. You were born blind. But now you are a seer. You can see. You should turn watchman, watching for the good of the true church of God.

Should our country be invaded, which God graciously forbid, the regular and drafted armies alone could not handle the national defense. We would expect women, even children, to use every weapon and effort to expel the invader. Or is it more realistic to say that today, as a nation, we have no more will to fight, even to defend ourselves? For a prevailing attitude is that we have no enemies, a wide open immigra­tion, so who might invade us? a communist power? Then we could almost welcome the intrusion, for increasingly we are being gov­erned and controlled by communist prin­ciples and tactics, and are certainly already sunken in practical atheism. Our armed forces are infiltrated and penetrated with spies of “the Dark Lord of Mordor, the Lord of the Black Land.”1 It is probably worse than we know or think. “The world is gnawed by nameless things,”2 “and all that once was strong now proves unsure.”3 “It fills me with great sorrow and great fear: for much shall be destroyed and all may be lost . . . but Black is mightier still.”4 “We must go down to face a peril near despair, yet that deadly peril is removed.” “We have One mightier than they . . . they shall fear him. We shall go where he leads.” 5 All must be watchmen against the forces of “the Great Darkness”6 moving in on the church. No undermining of the Word of God may be tolerated. We must take up the cause of the Lord of Light with the battle cry, “The true Light now shineth!”

The watchman has, really, one task, to warn people, He may warn with clear blast of silver trumpet, if he has talent for it, but perhaps he ought to begin with the humble, even humiliating, ram’s horn, and sound the warning, though Jeriohoans mock. He is no watchman, but we need to be warned against him, who entertains (lulls to sleep) with “Christian movies,” or who mesmerizes the masses with the sensationalism and emo­tionalism of modern evangelism, together with all of its novelties and gadgetry. The watchman’s task is simple: warn! That means “telling it like it is,” straight from the Book. The task must be begun at home. Warn the children. Warn (admonish) each other. You can well warn those of your own age and younger. Warn (admonish) each other. You can well warn any and all who cross your path. Let the watchmen in the Christian Schools warn God’s covenant children. That is loving your neighbor.

The Lord had said to Ezekiel, “I have set thee (preordained thee) a watchman.” In His decree, the Lord has predetermined all His servants, and all His work. Some react to this with, If that is true, then the result will be inaction. If what will be, will be, then I need do nothing. Well, now, no one can imagine that what will be won’t be, for if it were not to be, what would be the point of any effort or zeal? The point is, if we know what will be, what the Lord has appointed to be, then we have all the more reason to work with all labor and confidence for the accomplishment of it. Because we deem many things desirable, we attempt them for the sake of God’s kingdom, even though we know not whether they are to be or not to be. We will it, if God wills

  1. When we do know His will, we work for it, knowing it shall be. That makes working for the Lord so utterly worthwhile! God’s sovereign preordination of all things, properly understood, does not lead to fatal­istic laxity, but to determined, even daring action. Another Christian battle-cry is, “Deus vult!” God wills it. We preach the gospel of irresistible grace and the grace of an irrepressible gospel.

To be any kind of a watchman, one must know the Word of God. The Lord said, “I have set thee a watchman, therefore thou shalt hear the Word at My mouth.” Many go running off to religious seminars and “evangelistic” crusades, doing “soul win­ning” and giving “testimonies,” who have not yet learned Christ nor His Word. They skim through a little “personal workers” handbook to run out and pounce upon some unsuspecting soul, to lead him, inside of twenty minutes of “sharing” Scripture texts, into the kingdom of God. “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel” is a stand­ing commandment, which originally went to men who had the best training in the­ology (the doctrine of God). Or, as Mat­thew put it, “Having gone, disciple all the nations, baptizing them . . . teaching them . . .” (Gk). This requires that disciples first be made by baptizing them, then after baptism, that they should be taught, and that includes taught to see, as in “Walk circumspectly,” i.e., act like alert watchmen and sentries at their posts. He is a poor servant of the Lord who cannot give another person one of our propaganda pamphlets. But he is being silly who goes off like a Roman candle in witness for Christ when he has yet learned from the Word of God next to nothing.

The need of the hour is for more of the same Watchful, patrolling in and around the environs of Zion. What, then, to do? Let us study the Word of God, even with painful diligence. Don’t get away from Bible study. Get to the foundation of truth. Don’t be satisfied with second-hand versions of it. Young men planning to enter our seminary really have the most exciting op­portunity of a lifetime to get to the foun­tain head of Scripture and study the original languages under the best instructors. As you young men prepare to do that, you can be good watchmen by warning others against going down to muddy streams al­ready disturbed with human blundering. We must have the pure Word of God. Why not have it while it is still to be had? Go then to a pure spring where there is no pol­lution of error. Get the inspired Book where it is taught as it is, the infallible Word of God. Determine to know everything it teaches. Learn where even a little error is not tolerated. Blessing is not to be had where errors hinders.

The watchman warns with the Word of Truth. As Spurgeon put it, “Thou must repeat what thou hast received from God’s own mouth, as God’s own Word.” It is not our word, but God’s which has power to make men hear, heed and flee from the wrath to come. The same man also said, “I warrant thee, if thou put God’s Word down among fifty thousand words of men it shall be like a lion among a flock of sheep, tearing them to pieces, and it will prove by its own natural force whence it cometh and whither it goeth.”

Imagine now, and don’t say, It can’t hap­pen here, that more navy yards are closed up, Nike sites abandoned, missile silos emp­ty, bomb testing ceased, DEW (Distant Early Warning) Line, Mid-Canada Line and Pinetree Line forgotten, ICBM’s and anti-ICBM’s and jet interceptors ditched, foreign soil retaliatory bases withdrawn, re­taliatory war gas sunk to sea bottom, new weapon development scuttled, strange atomic subs tolerated in American waters, spies and Reds in the UN, and the UN in the US. What is all this? Some sort of sorcery? Has some great wizard waved his wand and cast a spell over all? Have all gone mad? Have they lost their minds? To cease, or fail, to watch is worse than out­rageous. It is treason. The enemy is subtle. His words “stand on their heads.” Peace means death, “help means ruin, and saving means slaying.”6 He is “an old liar with honey in his forked tongue.”7 We will maintain a forest of watchmen against him. “The Watchwood we will call it.” 8 There was that crowd in Belshazzar’s banqueting hall. They were not watching. Some never watch. They don’t care anymore. Adam and Eve failed to be vigilant. In the Gar­den, they were to dress it and keep it, guard it, for they could lose it. The Garden was threatened. The Dragon had his tail wrapped all around it. One day he whipped it right out of Adam’s grasp, robbed him of it and with a sulphureous belch, turned it into a bleak, black wilderness. Adam and Eve did not keep it, did not keep themselves, did not watch against “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life.” The Town of Mansoul was attacked and invaded by Black Diabolus before the Land of Eden fell. “So shall ye keep the watch of the House, that it be not broken down” (2 K. 11:6). “Nevertheless, we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them” (Neb. 4:9). “Keep the munition, watch the way . . . fortify thy power mightily” (Nah. 2:1). “If

thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee” (Rev. 3:3). “Blessed is he that watcheth” (16:15). “Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord, when He cometh, shall find watching” (Lk. 12:37).

 

  1. The Two Towers, by J. R. R. Tolkien, Ballentine Books, pp. 43, 47. 2. ibid., 134. 3. ibid., 183. 4. ibid., 132.  5. ibid., 133.  6. ibid., 235.  7. ibid., 236.  8. ibid., 245.