The Lord spoke to me this morning about watchmen and shepherds. “Show me the difference, Lord. And why is it important for me to meditate on this today?”
What do shepherds do? Shepherds are leaders who go out ahead of their flock. They lead based on what they hear from the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Peter expresses the shepherd’s role like this:
1 Peter 5:1-4 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
And Jesus says:
John 10:3b-5, 12-13 “. . . the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 “When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 “A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers . . . 12 “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 “He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.
Pastors and leaders of the church are shepherds of the church. They oversee them, watching over them and caring for them, diligently looking out for dangers.
They don’t shepherd so they can become rich. They shepherd willingly, not seeking or expecting great rewards in the here and now. They are excited and eager to care for the flock they’ve been given charge over. They don’t dominate them, but go out ahead of the flock, leading according to what the Lord has shown them, teaching them as the Lord teaches the shepherds themselves.
Just as the Good Shepherd goes out before pastors and leaders, and calls to them, pastors and leaders go out before the church, and call to them. The church hears the voice of the Good Shepherd in their shepherds, so they follow. Good pastors and leaders do not flee from danger, but protect the flock when Satan comes to snatch away and scatter the flock.
What do watchmen do? Read Ezekiel’s charge from the Lord, to be a watchman:
Paraphrasing from Ezekiel 33:1-6, a watchman is one who stands on the wall and looks out. He sees the shepherds leading their flocks, but he can see a greater distance because he’s posted on a wall rather than trying to look out for danger from ground-level.
So the watchman sees danger sooner, and immediately sounds a trumpet to warn all the people, including the shepherds who are leading their flocks in the fields. The good shepherd responds to the call by leading his sheep to safety. The hireling shepherd will flee and perish. But each sheep is responsible for hearing the warning of danger. If a sheep ignores the warning, the watchman is not responsible for the outcome.
If the watchman doesn’t do his duty and sound the trumpet to warn, the shepherds and flock are unaware of the danger and perish. And the blood of those who die is on the watchman’s head. He is held responsible for their deaths. He knew there was danger but did not warn. It is as if he himself murdered them.
Ezekiel 33:7-9 “Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me. 8 “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. 9 “But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.”
Watchmen for the church hear a warning from the Lord’s mouth. And they give that warning to the church.
The warning is always to the wicked, those who are His people who are actively bad, who do evil to one another, who disobey Him. When the Lord says to the wicked that they will surely die because of their wickedness, the watchman for the church sounds the trumpet and repeats God’s warning.
If he doesn’t, the Lord holds him responsible for the deaths of the wicked ones. It is as if he himself murdered them. He will perish because he did not warn.
WHY I NEEDED TO SEE THE DIFFERENCE
The Lord gave me a charge in 2010. I am to be a watchman for the church. When the Lord says His people are being wicked, I am to sound the trumpet and repeat what He says.
Though I love the sheep just as the shepherd does and dearly loved my season of shepherding earlier in my ministry, that is no longer my role. The Lord wanted to make that clear to me today. My role is not to pastor a church, but to warn the people when I hear from Him.
So I’ll warn you, people of the church who believe in Jesus Christ, paraphrasing from the rest of Ezekiel 33:
Many of you are behaving wickedly. Turn back from your evil ways. Your sins are upon you and you are rotting away in them. You will surely die if you do not turn from them.
You were obedient to the Lord and have become disobedient. Don’t count on your former obedience to save you. If you turn from your wickedness, you will be saved. Don’t trust that because you began in obedience, you can now disobey. You will die if you continue to be wicked.
John 14:15, 24, “If you love Me you will keep My commandments . . . he who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.”
If you say you love the Lord but you disobey Him, you’re deceiving yourself. You do not love the Lord. If you loved the Lord, you’d obey Him.
If you say, “The way of the Lord is not right — once saved, always saved, no matter what I do after I have asked Jesus to come into my heart,” then the Lord says, “It is your own way that is not right. O church, I will judge you according to your ways.”
I’m blowing the trumpet today, church. This is today’s warning to you, from the Word of God.