Updated: Sep 20, 2021
The proverbial watchmen upon the wall have been entrusted with a unique stewardship. They have been uniquely called to speak to their generation. The prophetic mantel they wear is the same one shouldered by many before them. It is God that equips them with an uncanny sense of discernment and understanding of the times and seasons in which they live. They come to speak inconvenient truths few want to hear. They come with a prophetic unction to sound the alarm, to warn of danger, to watch, to expose, to reprove, to point the way and to speak as the oracles of God. But before the watchmen step forward, God must show each of them, like Paul, what great things they will have to suffer for His names’ sake. Yes, the journey to the wall is a hard one – very hard. It is filled with affliction, betrayal, persecution, rejection and injustice. It means being ostracized, banished, shunned, mocked and misunderstood. Yes, they are men and women who know suffering, testing and betrayal. They are seasoned men and women - never novices, hirelings, wannabes or sensation junkies. The flighty, the fool and the gullible are never called.
They know the solitude of the wilderness and the deep lessons of the barren places. They know what it is to sit in the cave with Elijah. Like Elijah they have known great highs and deep lows. They know seasons of triumph and the seasons of profound despondency. They know self-pity and discouragement and the black dog of depression as well. No, they are not perfect. Some are often deeply flawed. They seldom have honor in their own households. Like King David, they are men and women of contradictions but, like David, they are also men and women “after God’s own heart”. They are men and women of the word and, like Elijah, they know how to pray and they know His “still small voice” when they hear it.
They are those who stand apart because of their message. It’s a thankless job. They wear the label of oddball, wacko and religious nutcase. They’ve been scorned, mocked, ridiculed, dismissed, condemned and rejected. You don't choose to be a watchman; God chooses you to be a watchman. Most have tried at various times and seasons to turn their backs upon the burden but they never succeed. It is a divine summons they can’t cut loose. It is a divine imperative that drives them to speak, to stand, and to write. It is an irresistible force they cannot long abandon. As Martin Luther proclaimed, "I can do no other!" Theirs is an unthankful job. which often ends in banishment, torture and even death. Like the prophets of old they are condemned, ostracized and persecuted. Few want to listen to their incessant ravings. Their message is not appealing to the flesh, convenient or comfortable to hear. They don’t care about popularity, publicity or a following. They don’t lust for fame or fortune. They know how to stand alone. They will never be “yes men”, apple polishers, court toadies, people pleasers or best sellers. They don’t care about ratings, censorship or the praises of men. They call the church to radical change, to repentance, to discipleship, to sacrifice and to devotion. They call for accountability, authenticity and change.
As Tozer stated, “Such a man was likely to be drastic, radical, possibly at times violent, and the curious crowd that gathered to watch him work soon branded him as extreme, fanatical and negative. And in a sense, they were right. He was single‑minded, severe, fearless, and these were the qualities the circumstances demanded. He shocked some, frightened others and alienated not a few, but he knew who had called him and what he was sent to do. His ministry was geared to the emergency, and that fact marked him out as different, a man apart. To such men as this the church owes a debt too heavy to pay." ‑ A.W. Tozer (From Foreword to 'Why Revival Tarries') Whether fellow Christians want to hear their message today or reject them as so many have done in the past, God is raising up watchmen today to once again speak to His people.