|Photo courtesy of grzswe|
In Joel 2:1 the Lord commands the prophet to; Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain because the day of the Lord is coming. That is, God’s judgment is coming upon Israel for their sinfulness. Further along in the chapter, in verse 15, Joel is again commanded to blow a trumpet but this time it is to call the assembly of the people together so that they can, consecrate a fast. This tells us two important things about the role, or the duty, of the prophet of God. First, it tells us that the prophet is to act as an alarm to warn the people of God’s coming judgment. Secondly, the prophet is also to be the mouthpiece of God in preparing the people for His movement. Knowing the role of the prophetic voice, or watchman as I will begin to call them is vitally important. Furthermore, it is also crucial for us to understand some of the characteristics that the Bible gives us of a godly watchman because this is no small calling.
In Habakkuk 2:1 the prophet says this;
I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me.
One of the most important characteristics of a godly watchman is that he, or she, be vigilant and keep watch over God’s people. When I was going through basic training we were required to memorize the three general orders. The first, and perhaps most important, was this;
I believe we can extrapolate much truth about being a godly watchman from this general order. First of all, along with the imagery from Habakkuk 2:1, we get the idea that the watchman is standing guard over their people, over the things that they care about. The watchmen of Israel stood guard on the walls of the city, a clear vantage point, from which they could see the approach of invading armies. Their concern and dedication to their duty came from a love and care for the people inside the walls. That was where their homes may have been, their families and their livelihoods. They would have been keeping a keen eye out for any form of danger that could potentially affect the city. If we are to be godly watchmen over God’s people then we must keep our eyes peeled for any signs of danger or God’s approaching wrath due to the sins and wickedness of His people. Habakkuk was not literally standing on the walls to watch for an approaching army. He was standing on the spiritual ramparts of the nation and trying to see things from a “God’s eye view” so that He could warn the people to turn back to God.
Secondly, and I draw this from the first general order, we are to quit our duty as watchmen only when God has told us that the mission is finished. It may be that our mission is short like Habakkuk, Joel, or Haggai. Alternatively, we could be standing on the walls keeping watch for months, years or decades. Take Daniel for example. He was a watchman over the house of Israel for most of his life and he outlived three kings in the process. There are those who have waited and prayed that God would send revival their entire lives and yet they maintained their station and refused to abandon their post.
Finally, as vigilant watchmen we must not only be on the lookout for signs of God’s judgment but we also need to keep an eye out for His movement. As we saw in Joel, the first trumpet was to sound the alarm while the second was the call the people to preparation for a move of God. As watchmen we must be in-tune with God enough to sense when His Spirit is beginning to move and then call His people to prepare for what He is going to do. That means calling the Church to repentance, prayer, brokenness, reconciliation, fasting, and a host of other things we can do to prepare for a movement of God. This idea of being in-tune with God leads us directly into the next characteristic that we will explore, but you'll have to wait until next time!