An even better question for Christians may be, ‘Where did the ‘watching’ go?’
Even while on earth, Jesus urged people to be spiritually ready for his impending return by ‘watching’ for end-times signs.
Now we often just watch TV, engage in social media, and surrender ourselves to whatever we deem worthy of capturing our attention.
Morality and ‘the end’ no longer seem that important, or that interesting.
We have more pressing issues now. We need more friends, family, money, better job prospects, and another holiday adventure. We have experiences and dreams to realise, qualifications to improve, investments to make, bodies to improve, and Facebook to check.
All we need to ‘watch’ now is whatever convinces us of its attractiveness. But it better be good! Right? Otherwise we’ll just change the channel. Or worse: switch off.
This trend sweeping modern Christianity is a BIG mistake. Monumental even. The reason is simple: God never changes the channel of His priorities, and never switches off watching the path of salvation.
Without ‘watching’ the right things, our spiritual destiny may not be the only thing we jeopardise. Even now, storm clouds of judgment gather at the door of the church, “For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household…” (1 Peter chapter 4, verse 17a). The same goes for the world, because if it begins with Christians, “…what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter chapter 4, verse 17b).
God never sits back and lets the world go completely AWOL. The same goes for His people. God disciplines those He loves, and never stops pursuing Christians’ transformation into Jesus’ image.
God also desires to save and preserve the world. Exactly what form that takes in any generation is largely up to its respective people.
The Bible shows us that ‘watching’ our spiritual lives’ morality is the best way to save ourselves and preserve the world:
“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
(1 Timothy chapter 4, verse 16)
Jesus shows us that watching is closely tied to the prophetic, because we need to understand the times in order to best improve them:
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”
(Matthew chapter 24, verse 42)
“Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don't know how to interpret this present time?”
(Luke chapter 12, verse 56)
All of God’s people are called to ‘watch’ in this way. Some are even called to do this for others. The Bible calls these people ‘Watchmen’:
“On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; All day and all night they will never keep silent.”
(Isaiah chapter 62, verse 6)
New Testament watchmen were called ‘prophets’. Sadly, such men and women are few and far between today. Pastors often try and minister this role, but too often tip-tow around moral issues which jeopardize congregation and tithing numbers. ‘Watchmen’ prophecy has thus been belittled and ignored.
Grace and prosperity make for far better viewing anyway, right?
The urgent need for Watchmen
If few ‘watch’ now, even fewer want to be watchmen (or watchwomen). This never used to be the case, especially in biblical times. You can hear the Lord ask the obvious question: “Where did all the Watchmen go?”
Maybe they themselves are watching other things now…
Maybe even they have switched off…
So the world’s morality continues to implode, and the church shrugs its shoulders at a growing powerlessness and absence of His presence. But like God once told a discouraged Elijah, He will always have the few that do watch:
“Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me.” And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”
(Romans chapter 11, verses 3-4)
Modern idolatry involves valuing other things more than God or in place of him. Focusing on everything but Him is the deadliest idol, and the reason why watching is so vital. Watching stirs up the encouragement and loving correction we’ll always need to align our attention on Jesus, and fire up our affections for His service.
If you’re someone who does want to watch and understand prophetic signs of the times, yet feel unsupported and lonely, let me encourage you:
Don’t give up! Watching is never in vain because it stands guard over everything truly life-filled and godly. The Lord has already given you the tools for watching and He’ll never let you stand alone at your post.
If you’re looking for a way to begin, I’ve recently started my own ‘Watchmen’s Wall’ on Facebook to provide a place for fellowship with likeminded watchers. If you’d like to take a look and introduce yourself, go to https://www.facebook.com/watchmenswall/.
Tim is a high school teacher in Queensland and just finished a season being a youth pastor in America. He has a passion for the gospel and for seeing lives changed by the power, person and love of Jesus Christ.
Tim Price’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/tim-price.html