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By: Robert Berendt (published July 23, 2015)

Our Almighty loving and just heavenly Father has done all He could do within the limits of free moral agency which He has set, to help mankind learn His definitions of good and evil, holy and profane, right and wrong (Ezek. 22:26). He has consistently sent watchmen in the role of prophets and priests to warn His people and all of mankind about His wrath and judgment that must happen, in the hopes that humans would repent and turn back to Him. The warnings were given in different times, places and by different people. Jesus spent a lot of time cautioning the people He encountered during His ministry. Much of what He said was intended to lead people to repentance. In the major message Jesus gave as recorded by Matthew and Luke, He hearkens back as far as Abel to explain that people are to watch (Luke 11:49-51). Jesus spoke about many who would come to deceive the people God had chosen (Matt. 24:4,5). At the first warning, God Himself was the watchman. He cautioned Adam and Eve about the death (Gen. 2:17). Long after the ten tribes of Israel had been removed from the Promised Land and the remaining tribes were in captivity, Ezekiel was inspired by God to write that a watchman would sound the alarm and all who refuse to take warning would be in danger of God's wrath. A watchman who does not sound the alarm would find the wrath of God on his own head because he was given the responsibility to warn people (Ezek. 33:1-9). God goes on to explain that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked but strongly desires them to repent and change (V.11). Ezekiel specifically mentions Israel, but the verses clearly point out the principle of warning at the hands of a watchman. Israel had received many warnings but they consistently failed to heed.

Who is responsible for sounding the warning, what warning is it and who is the warning for? Throughout the ages, there has always been one or more individuals who God has used to warn mankind. Noah was a strong watchman as he prepared the ark when the wrath of God was about to descend on the world. God was about to intervene, but sent a unique watchman to warn human beings. He was about to destroy mankind (Gen. 6:3,7). There are many examples we can find of warnings that were given from God to those He was judging. King David received a warning through Nathan, God's prophet (2 Sam. 12:1,7,13). Thankfully the example of David is one in which the warning was heeded and David repented. Through Isaiah, God expressed His frustration because He had done everything possible and still Israel did not turn (Isa. 5:3,4). Israel has been scattered throughout the nations for hundreds of years now. The whole world has reeled from one catastrophe to another and from one war to another, but still the moral principles that lead to making people holy to their Creator have not been followed.

A watchman will always be set in place by God because He loves this world. He could show His love in no greater way that by sending His Son (John 3:16). His Son was also killed (Acts 5:30-32). So God continues to warn the world in various ways through the written word and through people He has chosen for this task. The people of God have always felt their part in preaching the gospel to the world included a warning that a watchman would give. It seems that after 6000 years of warning, God knows people are still not going to listen, but because He is just and loving, He first will do all He can to cause a change and avert His anger.

The main focus of God's attention has always been with those He has chosen to be holy before Him. We can look back to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - and then on to the nation God planned to develop that would be His holy people, a holy nation (Deut. 7:8-14). Israel failed from the beginning and allowed the influence of Satan was constantly turning them away from God. No warning that was given brought about the changes God hoped for. The work of the watchman fell on deaf ears. People seem to want to hear only positive and good things. That can be said for many others since the time of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel. Nevertheless, the warning has always been given. It will continue to be given until the full force of the wrath of God is unleashed on mankind. That is not what God wants, but it is the just outcome of continual rebellion. The one national exception is found in the book of Jonah. This whole book of the Bible is dedicated to the wonder that happened when the king of Nineveh and all of his people actually heeded the words of the watchman - and God did not destroy the city (Jonah 3:5,6). This sort of change is so rare that it was specially recorded.

There is another group of people who God explains are to Him a holy people (I Pet. 1:16, 2:9). These are people who have been released from the penalty of sin through the full acceptance of the blood of Jesus Christ (I John 1:7). It is to this group that we see so much of the New Testament written. Peter goes on to beg them as temporary dwellers on earth, to abstain from fleshly lusts and develop an honourable way of life - God's way. Paul calls them ambassadors of the Kingdom of God (2 Cor. 5:20). Paul wrote one of the strongest warnings to converted people about wilful sin (Heb. 10:26). Jesus Christ spent a large part of His message of warning to His disciples and then on to us in the Bible. In the midst of telling of the terrible time of God's wrath, Jesus warned about false teachers, suffering, and of remaining steadfast in their walk with Him (Matt. 24 and 25). He encouraged people to be lights to a dark world and salt that gives flavour (Matt. 5:13-15). The warning that the watchman gives has a tremendous importance in the lives of converted people because once they have accepted the precious blood of Christ they must never turn back. Paul explains that if they turn back or fall, there is no second sacrifice available (Heb. 6:4-6). That means the potential loss of their eternal lives and nothing can be a greater loss than that. For all people, watchmen give warnings about financial crises, looming wars, loss of moral values, addiction to drugs, gambling or a host of other flaws. At the very last moment before God unleashes His wrath, He will still send two more watchmen or witnesses to mankind. Every eye will see them but rather than heed the warning, people will kill them (Rev. 11:6-8). Watchmen are needed because God is fair and just. Let us hope and pray the success of the warnings given to the converted saints is fully heeded. Their potential loss is the greatest by far.

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