“Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice”
The Thankless Task of a Watchman
(Please read Ezekiel 33:1-9)
At a World War II Army induction center, inductees slept in hundreds of tents, with wood-burning stoves. In cold weather it was necessary to keep the stoves going all night, risking fire from sparks going up the stovepipe and landing on top of a tent. So young inductees were placed on duty to watch for sparks and warn occupants when sparks were observed.
In the early-morning hours watchmen learned the thanklessness of their task. Tent occupants were almost unanimously upset at being awakened. Maybe they were grateful later, when they learned that some tents had actually burned during the night, but not at the moment of being warned. Instead of blaming themselves for their situation, they blamed the watchmen.
There are other watchmen who often get similar reactions from those whom they try to awaken and warn. The difference is that these watchmen are seeing spiritual peril, not physically visible like sparks from a fire, and many whom they warn cannot see the same dangers. So they often take offense and heap abuse on the watchmen.
These watchmen are primarily our elders, preachers and parents. Their job isn’t always easy. As our text indicates, if they don’t warn us, they haven’t done their duty. And if we hear a warning and ignore it, then the responsibility is ours. Unfortunately, jails, hospitals and mortuaries have seen too many people who simply failed to heed the warnings.
So don’t turn a deaf ear to a watchman’s cry, grumble at being shaken from a nap, criticize the watchman or belittle his message.
Or you just might be burning your own tent.