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Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Watchmen Missing In Action

Sep 3, 2020

Why are so few speaking out and standing up for what is right?

On the social media recently I suggested that concerned individuals write to the three MPs who had helped to pass a terrible bill in Victoria. I urged people to let them know their thoughts about this. One gal wrote back and asked, “Do you think they’ll listen?” I replied: “Probably not – but we must always speak truth even if it is rejected, and we must always hold our MPs to account!”

Whether people want to hear the truths we must share is really beside the point. We are obliged to proclaim that which people need to hear, not what they want to hear. Christians should know this to be the case, but sadly far too many are refusing to act like Christians.

Instead of being salt and light and sharing much-needed truth, they remain silent, and allow great evil to go unchecked. They are just like all the false prophets and false shepherds that the real prophets of God had warned about. They not only refuse to act as watchmen on the wall, but they often will condemn those who do.

I have written often about the need for watchmen. I have spoken frequently about the call of Ezekiel to be a watchman for ancient Israel. We see his calling in Ezekiel 3 and 33. The first may have been his personal call, and the second his public call. Or ch. 33 may just be a renewal of his calling, but either way, these are important chapters indeed that we all need to pay careful attention to.

 In ch. 33:1-20 you can read about his divine commissioning. I especially want to examine verses 7-9 which read:

Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.

He was ordered to speak to God’s people about their sin and disobedience, and he also had to warn them of coming divine judgment if they refused to repent. If Ezekiel failed to carry out this task, he would have blood on his hands. Thankfully he did just what God asked of him.

But how many believers today refuse to warn, refuse to sound the alarm, refuse to confront sin, and refuse to speak out against evil? They will never say a word about great public evils such as the murder of the unborn or the war on marriage and family.

Some of them might try to argue that we have nothing to say to non-believers, and that Ezekiel here was speaking to the Israelites. Um, these folks need to actually read the entire book of Ezekiel. While this chapter is indeed speaking of his responsibilities to Israel, it is surrounded by chapters where he speaks similar sorts of words of rebuke and warning to the pagan nations. Check out Ezekiel 25-32; 35; 38, and 39 to see this ministry to the foreign nations.

So we need to proclaim truth to one and all. Sure, the household of God is especially in need of the prophetic word, but evil and unrighteousness should be challenged wherever they are found. In his commentary on Ezekiel, Chris Wright offers three dimensions to this matter of God and the nations in the prophetic books:

First, they unquestionably affirm the sovereignty of Yahweh as God in the midst of the ebb and flow of international affairs. Secondly, they equally clearly portray the transience of all human power and glory, whether political, military or economic. And thirdly, they repeatedly affirm that the goal of all God’s action is that the nations will know him, Yahweh, to be God. Ezekiel would have endorsed Habakkuk’s famous vision that ‘the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea’.

As to his first point, he says this in part:

Ezekiel, along with all the other prophets, affirms that Yahweh is universally sovereign over the affairs of the nations of the world in general. Yahweh is not a local god whose power extends over his own people. Nor is he merely a local god who happens to be the neighbourhood bully – that is, capable of pushing his weight around among the nations that had dealings with Israel. The prophets declare that the whole world of international history and exchange is actually under the sovereign direction of Yahweh the God of Israel. His reign is universal.

As mentioned, while all peoples are subject to God’s rule and judgment, God’s own people are especially so. Says Wright:

In Ezekiel the sins for which the nations fall under God’s judgment are similar to those frequently listed for Israel – pride, violence, dishonesty, and blasphemous self-aggrandizement (e.g. 28:5, 16-18; 29:3, 9; 31:10). But if anything, the judgment on Israel was all the more severe, and the description of their sin all the more specific, because of the immense privilege they had of being the beneficiaries of Yahweh’s saving power, and of being entrusted with the revelation of Yahweh’s covenant demands.

Image of The Book of Ezekiel, Chapters 25–48 (New International Commentary on the Old Testament)
The Book of Ezekiel, Chapters 25–48 (New International Commentary on the Old Testament) by Array Amazon logo

As to the actual responsibilities and activities of a watchman, Daniel Block says this:

A responsible watchman would blow the trumpet at first sight of danger, calling the warriors to take up defensive positions at strategic points of the wall, while the women and children retreated to refuges within the city. If the citizens failed to respond to his warning and were slaughtered in the attack, the watchman was absolved of responsibility for the lives of the victims. He had fulfilled his duty; their blood would be upon their own hands. But if they heeded the warning, they would escape with their lives. V. 6 reverses the situation. Failure on the part of the watchman to sound the warning renders him liable for the deaths of those who fall to the enemy.

As mentioned, we all can learn some lessons from Ezekiel. While we all may not have been called to a specific watchman on the wall sort of ministry, we all have a biblical obligation to proclaim truth, to offer warnings when needed, and to seek to be the salt and light we are commanded to be.

This will be both within and without the churches. Standing against evil, tyranny and injustice – wherever it is found – is part of the Christian’s calling. We dare not remain silent. And we need to speak up for that which is right in all circumstances.

We are not just to rally around fellow Christians. We should be keen to defend things like freedom of speech for those outside of the Christian community as well. When we see gross government overreach and dictatorial powers being wielded, we should speak up, before it is too late.

As one example of this, earlier today I posted about the arrest of a pregnant mother in her pyjamas here in Victoria. Right in front of her own children she was dragged away by the police. See here: billmuehlenberg.com/2020/09/03/is-this-really-australia/

And yet I have had some ‘Christians’ who were all hot and bothered, saying we should have nothing to do with her. Why? It seems somewhere – maybe on her Facebook page – she had spoken of being a witch. Um, guess what? I am NOT in favour of witchcraft. That should go without saying.

But one can still stand up for freedom and stand against dictatorial police states. One can still see this as a terrible miscarriage of justice and police overkill. In the same way millions of us Christians rightly stood up for Israel Folau, even though he belonged to an anti-trinitarian sect. When I supported Folau, I was NOT supporting his heterodox theology, but his right to free speech and the like. So we need to start thinking clearly here.

In this regard what we have is simply a recent application of the old Martin Niemoller quote: “In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

We all can be watchmen in our own circles of influence. If we do not speak up now when we can and should have, then it will probably soon be too late. And worse yet, we will have blood on our hands.

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18 Responses to Watchmen Missing In Action

  • Am I wrong? it seems to me the worse it gets the sleepier the church gets. The more that happens, the more the church retreats to avoid conflict. The worse it gets the more the church defends the indefensible. The more truth is looked upon as a disease, the more we accommodate lies.

    I for one cannot give my time, money, and expertise to something like that. if I am right.

  • Yes. It completely baffles me too Bill. Why the silence from Christians? and churches. It is deafening.

  • Hi Bill,
    I think this pretty much covers what you are trying to warn sleepy Christians about.
    Rev 3 2:3
    “I know your deeds, that you have the name that you are alive, but you are DEAD, Become WATCHFUL, and STRENGTHEN THE THINGS REMAINING that were ready to die, for I have not FOUND YOUR WORKS FULLY PERFORMED before my God. Therefore, continue mindful of how you have received and how you heard, and go on keeping it, and REPENT. CERTAINLY UNLESS YOU WAKE UP, I will COME AS ARE THIEF, and you will not know at all at what hour I will come upon you”.
    Bill I believe that Trump will get in again for another four years, and when he does all hell will break lose, the anti-Christ will not like it. So the worst is yet to come unfortunately. All the churches that are called by his name will be tested to the fullest. It is the churches that are called unto repentance, not the world. The Lord will use Trump to hold back the tide for are time, enough time for his churches to hopefully get their act together, as he wishes non to perish. Genesis 18 28:32
    The good news is that there are many Christians who do care. so let us all be a Watchman and warn others of what is to come. Fear is the enemy, not the virus, so let us overcome our fears and do what the Lord has called us to do. Thanks Bill, and may God bless you for keeping watch, and I am sure through your informative articles more will come on board.

  • Thank you Bill. Another insightful article. I wish we had many many more watchmen like you, blowing the shofar. We Also wish our hillsongs pm had some spine, like President Donald Trump. Obviously he is in the hotseat, but he and all the Holy Ghost filled, Bible believers need to turn back to Our God, instead of entertaining the sheeple during this wuhan virus. There are still pastors who haven’t got the guts or the humility to call the people to repentance. Only Our God can help us. God’s Word says do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together. We know this is from the enemy of our souls. Like minded believers who are serious about Jesus and His second coming need to join together for prayer on a war footing. We are not battling flesh and blood, but the principalities and powers in heavenly places. Thanks again Bill.

  • Since the mid 1980’s many a media personality and more have remonstrated Christians for bringing their faith into Parliament. Unfortunately, far too many acquiesced to their demands!
    .
    Even today Christians are considered as an hermitic on some levels.
    .
    That left a vacuum which was filled with non-believers who stood for little other than their own professional futures. Then it was media stars and starlets with no political experience but would win votes!
    .
    Not everyone will select being a Politician, but holding Political Representatives to account be that by Speaking Up or by voting in your next election is everybody’s responsibility!

  • Thank you, Bill for all your articles on this topic.
    I’ve always been more concerned about gov’t abuse of power than the virus. Right from the start the statistics etc didn’t line up with the prevailing narrative.
    I wrote to all the cross benchers after you gave us their addresses.
    I also wrote to Daniel Andrews.
    Now he has got what he wants, God is our only source of freedom.

  • Well done Heather – keep standing strong.

  • Welcome to the lockdown state!
    I have watched the video referred to by Chris Kenny and
    I am ashamed of the incredible heavy-handedness of Victoria Police;
    I am ashamed of the Police Hierarchy’s response;
    I am ashamed of Mr Andrew’s lame response;
    I am ashamed of the four non-Labor MLCs who voted for the draconian laws which have made this possible, especially as one of those who gagged debate – even though she represents the Reason Party (how ironic is that?) had previously said she would oppose them – while another one of them cut into her maternity leave to cast her vote in favour of the legislation (how ironic is that?);
    I am ashamed that not one Labor MP would show some gumption;
    I am ashamed that it appears that most Victorians are happy to go along with these excessive limitations;
    I’m ashamed to think that I’ll probably be in trouble and be told that my comments will incite others to be as ashamed as I am…
    Here’s Chris Kenny’s take:
    Sky News host Chris Kenny says under the same Victorian government that “didn’t lift a finger” to stop a BLM protest, we now see police throw the book at even the social media suggestion of a protest against the government’s draconian lockdown.
    Vision has emerged of a pregnant Victorian woman being arrested at her Miners Rest home – near Ballarat – during a police raid for her alleged involvement in organising an anti-lockdown rally for Saturday.
    Her husband live-streamed the arrest where police charged 28-year-old Zoe Buhler for incitement.
    Ms Buhler was listed as an organiser for a rally against Victoria’s stage four lockdown via a Facebook post.
    Mr Kenny said he “can’t believe Australians are accepting what they are getting from many of their state governments at the moment when it comes to coronavirus restrictions”.
    “Just imagine for a moment if John Howard or Tony Abbott were doing this, imagine if Jeff Kennett had tried to lock his whole state down.
    “They’d never have done it of course, but if they’d tried people would have revolted, the unions, the media, the human rights bodies would have been outraged and mobilised,” he said.
    “I mean what dire emergency, what life threatening situation, what horrible crisis for other citizens, would justify police turning up at the house of a pregnant woman, a woman who is unarmed, not aggressive, no threat to herself or anyone else, and the police stick her in handcuffs and arrest her”.
    “For the premier to ignore this case, to wipe his hands of it, is reckless”.
    Mr Kenny said Daniel Andrews is a “socialist Left premier” so one would think he would be concerned about human rights, personal liberty, and heavy-handed policing of government edicts

  • You are right Bill. But I believe we have gone too far down the slippery slide and people are just too apathetic to take action. When our society disintegrates and we are all suffering together, maybe then Christians will start to act like it – just like the ancient Hebrews. I think God will use this crisis to shake us all out of our lethargy by stripping us of our material wealth.

  • Not all watchmen are ‘missing in action’. Last week the Prime Minister of Australia’s nearest neighbour led his nation in crying out to the God of Heaven:

    https://www.thenational.com.pg/pm-leads-nation-in-prayer-on-repentance-day/

    PRIME Minister James Marape yesterday led the nation in prayer “acknowledging God as our strength against our enemies, the source of sustenance and origin of our very existence”.
    “I stand before God and his people with an overarching thought which permeates my spirit that a nation who fears the Lord God of the universe shall be blessed,” Marape said.
    “This marks a day on which our nation invokes the Creator of all things, to intervene in our national affairs.”
    The National Repentance Day, first celebrated on Aug 26, 2011, was held at the Sir John Guise Stadium which Marape and wife Rachel attended with other MPs.

    Marape said the belief in Christian ideology and teaching should shape PNG today and into the future.
    “If there is one task yet to be executed on this national journey, it is to formally declare PNG a Christian nation by an Act of Parliament,” he said.

  • Amen!

    What Victoria is doing is completely analogous to what is happening in communist China and Christians all over the world are not only protesting the treatment of Christians there, where Christians are routinely arrested and imprisoned and prevented from sharing the gospel, especially with the young, with crosses forcibly removed from churches and church buildings demolished, but also the atrocities the Chinese atheists routinely commit on other people who clearly are not Christians. The fact that this woman claims to be a witch has nothing to do with the basic human rights which are clearly being overridden here. Her right to political protest (especially against the clearly wicked regime in Victoria) is fundamental to democracy and the clear and obviously unnecessarily heavy handed nature of the arrest is a very clear indication of the political aspect of this arrest. Clearly when incitement to protest is an offense democracy is unsustainable.

    It was Christian society which set up secularism both here and in the U.S. and places like Israel, because it is fundamental to Christianity that people be allowed freedoms such as free speech and political assembly and it is completely wrong for public organizations, like the ABC, to exclude Christian views on the basis of promoting secularism. Christianity is an obvious part of the Australian secular society and is being deliberately excluded based on some very obvious lies and clear abuse of power.

    Fundamental to secularism is the necessary controls in place to ensure the political, the judicial and the enforcement of the laws by the police are handled separately and in full view of the public without political collaboration between these. Clearly these principles are being repeatedly and profoundly abused by the powers that be in Victoria (and clearly the ABC as well) exactly as we have seen in China and in communist Russia before.

    People really do need to wake up to what is happening here and stop trusting the brainwashing that continually emanates from the ABC and their left-wing, anti-theist cohorts. Living as the underclass of the political elites is what awaits if we don’t.

  • If watchmen self-appoint, how do we avoid holier-than-thou Pharisees spreading falsehoods? Humans are poor judges of the independence and objectivity of their own opinions.

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  • Thanks John. In the OT of course God appointed the watchmen. Things are somewhat different today. But your concerns can be said of everyone and everything. There are always holier-than-thou Pharisees out there, whether in the pulpits, in Bible schools, or commenting on websites! So what should we do? Get rid of Christianity altogether because it can be abused and misused?

    Of course humans can get things wrong. That is obvious. So it goes without saying that everything a Christian does or says must line up with the Word of God. That must be our guardian here. In a fallen world with imperfect people in imperfect churches, that must always be the case. If we expect only infallible perfection from all believers, then we must await the next world. In the meantime, we do the best we can, with God’s help and by remaining humble and on our knees.

  • Sadly some don’t even bother trying to be watchmen but are outright traitors, useful idiots or enemy ‘moles’ all along:
    https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/catholic-schools-preach-polymorphous-perversity

  • For any concerned about her being a witch here is another quote to give:

    “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

    Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail

  • Another couple problems that go along with this many churches seem cliquey and only surround themselves with, and care about, those who think like them. So warning those who are not in there flock isn’t something important to them.

    Also while we are REALLY good at preaching to the choir we mostly don’t seem to preach to the lost. We figure what fellowship should light have with darkness??? So we avoid the unbeliever like the plague. What is going on with them is THEIR problem not ours.

    I have two quotes that seem to describe their attitude: “the problems of others are not our concern” and “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

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