HOW DO WE USE OUR OFFENSIVE WEAPONS?
THE WEAPON OF WATCHFULNESS
Ephesians 6:18 (KJV)
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,
and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
If we do not ‘watch’ the rest of our armor becomes ineffectual. We need an alertness, a perseverance, to go with our rhema speaking and supplications for ourselves and others.
Mark 13:33-37 (KJV)
33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
34 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.
35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even,
or at midnight, or at the cock crowing, or in the morning:
36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
Luke 21:34-36 (KJV)
34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting,
and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.
35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always,
that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things
that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
Hebrews 13:17 (KJV)
17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves:
for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy,
and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
We need to have ‘perseverance’ in watching, for we are dressed for battle, and that is what we will find to come. The devil wants us distracted, or apathetic to the battle, but we must watch.
"Perseverance’ is the Greek word, proskarteresis (G4343), meaning ‘to adhere firmly to’. That means we must be close in pursuit of; always intent upon your object in prayer.
Romans 12:10-16 (KJV)
10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love;
in honour preferring one another;
11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation;
continuing instant (prokarteresis, (G4343) in prayer;
13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
16 Be of the same mind one toward another.
Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.
Be not wise in your own conceits.
God has called you to ministry of some sort. He has provided spiritual garments and armor for this walk and service. This walk is serious and we must be ‘watchful’ as we travel life. You were not called to simply fill a pew, but to do real ministry, somewhere, somehow, for the Lord. This calling has brought responsibility. You are responsible for that work the Lord is wanting you to do. You may not be speaking to a stadium full of people, it may be one on one witnessing, it may be visiting the sick in hospitals, it may be a children’s Sunday school class, etc. but there is a work for which you are responsible.
We ‘watch and pray’. The ‘watching’ that we are to do, is to ‘watch’ not just for signs of His coming, but to ‘watch’ for how we minister while those signs are being fulfilled around us. The signs of His coming that we see, are to make us even more ‘watchful’ of how to minister to others, before He does arrive to rapture us.
We are to be ‘WATCHMEN’.
"Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying: Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman:
If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people, then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.
He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.
But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand."
During the war, the city put a heavy responsibility on the watchman. He had to give a warning whenever the enemy approached. If a man disregarded the warning, he was signing his own death warrant, and could not blame the watchman. If a man was outside the wall, and failed to heed the warning, his death would not be the responsibility of the watchman. If the watchman failed to warn the people in the unprotected area, he was held responsible for their lives.
The trumpet (shophar) was a long horn, upturned at the end. It was used for military and religious occasions. It is still used in Jewish synagogues at their New Year. The watchman was to sound it in warning to the ones inside, and to the ones still unprotected outside. When God tells a preacher to warn the people, he must pass on the message. The preacher must warn the righteous as well as the wicked.
"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.
When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand."
Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul."
Then Ezekiel gave a call for repentance. When the people finally admit their guilt, and repent, Ezekiel does not rub their noses in their shame. Instead, he proclaims God's forgiveness. Ezekiel had no delight in judgment, but longed to see the people repent.
The ultimate purpose of judgment warning is repentance.
"Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?
Say unto them, As I live saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth.
When I shall say to the righteous that he shall surely live, if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousness shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.
Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right;
If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.
None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him; he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live."
God does not want to judge or to punish. He only does so as a last resort.
"I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked;
but that the wicked turn from his evil way and live."
This is similar to II Peter 3:9:
"God is not willing that any should perish,
but that all come to repentance."
It is also similar to I Timothy 2:4:
"...Who will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth."
Yet, in order to be saved, the wicked must turn from their wickedness to live.
This is emphasized four times here in this chapter of Ezekiel.
"the wicked turn from his way and live."
"he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness."
"If the wicked restore the... he shall surely live, he shall not die."
"If the wicked turn from his wickedness, ...he shall live thereby."
God is willing to forgive the repentant!
God included in this teaching given through Ezekiel, the truth that many even today refuse to hear or to believe.
This truth is that - the righteousness of the righteous man will not deliver him in the day of his chosen sin. He had free will to choose to serve God, and he still has free will to choose to no longer serve God. No, a sin here and there does not doom a soul to hell. Salvation continues, but when someone chooses sin, prefers to serve sin rather than Jesus, that salvation then can be lost. Repentance is turning from the wrong choices into sin, back to the Lord Who loves us. Repentance is an act of free will that we utilize to come or to remain in fellowship with the Lord.
Four times here, God states that if a righteous man backslides, and when given opportunity and encouragement from God to repent, that he chooses of his own will to not repent, then he will die in sin. (see verses 1-2, 12, 13, and 14). Past righteousness will not save a righteous man when he transgresses and chooses to be an unrepentant sinner again.
Many a saint has rightly claimed the promise that God will never remember our past and forgiven sins again.
"none of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him..."
This is true and wonderful, and yet there is another truth that we must acknowledge, concede, and recognize, and that is that God can forget your good works also!
"righteousness shall not be remembered."
This is taught by our Lord in the gospels, for some shall someday come before the Lord, who were once saved, and who once worked for the Lord, but look what Jesus says will be said to them:
"Many shall in that day say, 'Lord, Lord, we have'... -'I never knew you!'"
"For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth,
there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation,
which shall devour the adversaries."
Ezekiel warned the people of the fall of Jerusalem,
"Son of man, write thee the name of the day, even of this same day;
the king of Babylon set himself against Jerusalem this same day."
and knew from God when it had fallen.
"And it came to pass in the twelfth year of our captivity, in the tenth month, in the fifth day of the month, that one that had escaped out of Jerusalem came unto me, saying, the city is smitten."
Months later, an exhausted fugitive reaches the exiles and tells them of the fall of Jerusalem. Ezekiel was vindicated in his prophecy, and now could speak freely, and the "dumbness" commanded by God so Ezekiel would only speak when told to by God is lifted. Ezekiel could speak his mind now.
Those who were left in the land after the fall of the city began to annex and occupy the land left. Jeremiah (52:16) called them the "poorest of the land". They claimed to be inheritors and blessed by God to be left in the land. Ezekiel says, it is not so, but that their sins were the same as those killed or taken captive. Ezekiel says that their judgment will be: the sword, wild beasts, pestilence, and the land would become desolate.
Notice how the people responded to the prophet at this time:
"Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against Thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak on to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the Lord.... they hear thy words, but they will not do them, for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. ...When this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them."
Who were the best in God's eyes, the ones left in the land or the ones in exile??? Jeremiah answered this with the vision of the two baskets of figs (Jeremiah 24). In this vision it is shown that the Lord's choice is the ones in exile (the good figs). Ezekiel agrees, but Ezekiel says that though everyone was talking about him now, and coming to listen to his sermons, the message that he was preaching was not going too deep.
"their heart is set on their gain..."
Is it not a shame, that the biggest crowds, the most anxious and zealous of congregations, are the ones eager to gain for themselves, the prosperity seekers, the name-it-claim-it congregations!!! These ones have the inner feeling of "What is in it for me?" They listened to Ezekiel as someone listens to a nice song, the music now was moving them, but he move was a fleeting one, and not life changing!
Ezekiel was being treated as public entertainment! He was the topic of conversation (Ezek. 33:30 -"talking" = Hebrew "dabar" meaning "speaking together"). Ezekiel knew that his sudden acceptance and fame was shallow, and only a passing fancy to these sinful people.
He knew that God would soon truly validate him, and this alone was his solace. Between the message and the fulfillment, the people can mock, deride, ridicule, scorn, and taunt the preacher, and usually do. Even family and friends can question and challenge the message of a true preacher. Sometimes, much time is found between the message and the fulfillment. This mocking and doubt of the hearers is very difficult for the one speaking the Word of God. Yet, the true minister knows that the day will come when the message will be validated by God.
"And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come), then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them."
The message is given to us by the Lord. We are made ‘watchmen’ for God, with a message to have, a mission to preach it, and a heart to love those sinners, those rejecters of the Lord we encounter. We are responsible to preach our message from God, despite being amidst many that reject it. The mission stays the same, whether they accept it or not. Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and even Jesus, spoke to many who reject the truth. We are still ‘watchmen’ with a mission, and that mission is given by God. We walk a red carpet, not to draw attention to our fashion, but to do the work of ministry for Jesus. It is vital we have the proper, appropriate, and powerful garments upon us spiritually.
The goal of our watching is to define and to encourage repentance. They have to know that sin is sin, or they will not repent. The Holy Spirit does the convicting, we simply preach the Words of the Spirit of God, and let the conviction bring repentance. We are ‘watchmen’ with that purpose. We will preach, teach, exhort, etc., and often seen few results. But, if we do, when it is all done, ‘they shall know that a prophet hath been among them’ for the Lord will validate the message of all His watchmen.