by Pastor K.P. Mathew, IPC Kuwait • June, 2004
Christian ministry has many aspects to it when viewed in the Biblical perspective.
Eph. 4:11 lists the various Christ-ordained ministerial offices such as Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors – Teachers instituted for the edification and guidance of the church. In 1Cor. 12:28 Paul writes: ‘God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets …’ In Acts 20:28; “Holy Spirit has made you overseers, be shepherds of the church of God.” So, the Holy Triune God appoints the people in the church for glorious ministries.
Throughout the history of the church, the title Pastor (shepherd) has been used to emphasize the tender, intimate, loving and spiritual care of the Christian ministry. The word Pastor comes from Pastores, the Latin equivalent of the Greek Poi men. Basically it means shepherd. Jesus chose this title for himself and commissioned Simon Peter as a final charge “feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep.” In other words, be a pastor and do a shepherd’s work.
When Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Habakkuk talked about the shepherds, they called them watchmen who are set to warn and safeguard. Paul exhorted the Ephesians church elders to watch the flock (Acts 28:28–31). Watchfulness is a mark of a good Pastor. The writer of Hebrews 13:17 described church officials thus: “they watch in the interest of your souls.” Vigilance is cardinal virtue for the Pastor.
Responsibility and Privilege of a Watchman
Yahweh not only entrusted Ezekiel with a serious responsibility, but also stood by his side. He said, I have made you a watchman. In Ezek.3:17,the prophet was told, “I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel, therefore, hear the word at my mouth and give them warning from me.”
The title ‘watchman’ has lost some of its significance for us today. But about 2500 years ago, there was no such thing as radar or the advanced technology as of today. The most advanced warning system was the watchman. His job was to scan the horizon from the highest point of the city. If he spotted any dangers, approaching armies, wild fires, flash floods, it was his responsibility to sound the alarm. The watchman’s warning alerted the people within his jurisdiction of any immediate danger.
Ezekiel was God’s spiritual watchman. The Jews probably got too used to the life style of the heathen people that surrounded them. This was because the house of Israel was no longer in Israel. The Jews had already been crushed by the Babylonians. Some of these Jews had even begun to participate in the wicked rituals of their heathen neighbors, and it fell upon Ezekiel to warn those people who were living comfortably in their sin. In other words he was to preach the law.
When Ezekiel preached the law he was only obeying God’s command. God commands a Pastor to preach the word to impenitent sinners as long as they do not repent. When we do so, we are acting as God’s representatives.
Some sinful acts are obvious. For example, cheating is wrong, stealing is wrong. Slander is wrong. What about the believer who does not spread gossip, but is more than willing to hear the latest? James writes in his epistle, anyone that knows the good he ought to do and does not do it sins (James 4:17). This passage draws our attention to sins of omission, when people fail to do what God commands. These sins are all too common, but they often go unnoticed because they cannot be seen. They are hard to measure. They may not be as visible as murder or adultery, but that does not make them acceptable. Actually, sins of omission are extremely serious because they have external consequences. God told Ezekiel “If you do not dissuade him from his ways, the wicked man will die for his sin and I will hold you accountable for his blood.” God will hold us personally accountable if we do not stand up for the truth.
When you have to warn someone that their sin is putting them in danger, remember the words of Jesus, “If he listens to you, you have won your brother over” (Mat. 18:15). Whenever we need to condemn people for their sin, remember that we ought to act in love. Our ultimate goal is to save souls from death. God tells us that there is much rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents. When our brother does not repent, it is then our privilege to point him to the Savior.
The responsibility of a Pastor as a watchman is to point out sin and the privilege of a Pastor as a watchman is to point to the Savior. It is our privilege to point people to the Savior and say “He died for me and he died for you too.”
In the prophecies of the Bible, Yahweh warned us of the very dangers we face today. The real danger would be internal, not external.
Psa.74:4 tell us, ‘Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations.’ The enemies of our God and Savior roar out their hatred toward him from positions they have secured even in our churches. They now even deny the virgin birth of Christ and the atonement made on the cross, divine healing, miraculous signs & gifts of the Holy Spirit. They constantly attack spiritual foundations of Christianity.
Robert L David points out seven spiritual characteristics of a watchman:
1. He is set on a high tower of his kingdom.
He must make exceptional sacrifices of personal gains for the sake of the Word of God. This is a high calling and a high station, which others are not asked to assume. Under the guidance of the Pastor other members of the body receive their instructions and ordinations.
2. He is given a trumpet to sound warnings.
The words of warning concerning errors in doctrine and traditions come through the Pastor unto the body of Christ.
3. He must have keen eyesight.
He has vision both of the present and of the future. He must be able to discern what is happening in the world and what is happening in the church.
4. He spends a lonely existence.
To avoid distractions and to devote himself more truly to God, the Pastor must abstain from many worldly associations.
5. He can see ahead of the everyday person.
The position of the watchman allows him to see much farther than the people on the ground. His commitment to God allows him to have insight into things and events that are not available to people.
6. He is the first to be seen and affected by the enemy.
His high post on the tower makes him an easy target to spot. If there are embarrassing sins or weaknesses in the life of the Pastor, the devil seeks to expose them to the people.
7. He must have integrity.
A watchman possesses such a high degree of integrity that the enemy cannot bribe him. A watchman must resist temptations. A Pastor as a watchman must have integrity and loyalty. He must remain faithful and diligent to his calling and avoid comparing himself with others.
God’s designation of the Pastor as a watchman is perfect. It highlights the exceptional commitment and the close relationship with God. The actions of a Pastor as a watchman affect the lives of all the people. Today, there are many doctrines and practices that have strayed from the path that God has set for his people. Therefore, the Pastor must make an extra effort to remain true to God and to the people.
MGM Ministries-Article Source: web.archive.org/web/20040716105806/http://trumpetmagazine.com/read.aspx?lang=1&id=3&mid=20 – (Published in June 2004, Accessed in August 2019)