I Have Set Thee A Watchman

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By John Thiel, Audio: mp3

Psalm 95:6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. 7 For he [is] our God; and we [are] the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, [and] as [in] the day of temptation in the wilderness:

These are a strange combination of words. It is God that made us, not we ourselves. Bow down and kneel for he is our God. Do you like that? Do you like this humbling principle portrayed here? Is it not like the thought that they are sheep?  Dumb sheep? Followers? There are some people would rather be a goat. They are far more intelligent. Goats have character a frisky fun loving character. They are very self reliant and people like that thought. God knows the dependant condition of his created beings and especially sinful as they are.t

Therefore today if you hear his voice, harden not your heart. Consider you are a sheep and that we are as sheep of his pasture. Don’t harden your heart. Why does he say that? The very reason that humanity does not like to be sheep that’s why. Do you like the idea of being a sheep? A sheep can’t think properly for itself. It’s so demoralising to the human spirit. Harden not your heart as you hear God speaking that we are sheep.

Let all study the character which God accepts, as represented in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew. If this representation does not educate men and women, what can do the work which must be done for the soul? Mark the division made between those represented by the sheep and the goats, and mark the words which decide forever the destiny of the two classes. Listen, you who have ears to hear and intellect to comprehend. Listen to the words of the Master: [Matt. 25:31-40, quoted].–Manuscript 131, 1899.

Matthew 25 31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth [his] sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

Who are they? The sheep.

Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

We don’t want to be a goat do we? The sheep are a representation of the character that God accepts. A character of someone who knows his vulnerability and places himself under the direct leadership of the shepherd. That is a sheep. A goat has a mind of its own. I know goats very well. As a youth I looked after a herd. I even slew them. One thing I learnt was that those goats were so self willed. They were extremely hard to bring into submission. It is a humbling aspect. We cannot look after ourselves, we need a shepherd over us. That is humiliating. This shepherd is the man Christ Jesus.

Jesus the Shepherd

The relation of Christ to His people is compared to a shepherd. He saw, after the Fall, His sheep in a pitiable condition exposed to sure destruction. He left the honours and glory of His Father’s house to become a shepherd, to save the wandering sheep who were ready to perish. His winning voice was heard calling them to His fold, a safe and sure retreat from the hand of robbers; also a shelter from the scorching heat, and a protection from the chilling blasts. His care was continually exercised for the good of His sheep. He strengthened the weak, nourished the suffering, and gathered the lambs of the flock in His arms, and carried them in His bosom. His sheep love Him. He goeth before His sheep, and they hear His voice and follow Him. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. Christ says, I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep. . . . {LHU 196.4}

In the mountains you see wild goats. They can look after themselves very well but sheep need supplies given to them.

Christ is the chief shepherd. He has intrusted the care of His flock to under shepherds. He requires these shepherds to have the same interest for His sheep which He has ever manifested, and to ever feel the responsibility of the charge He has intrusted to them. . . . If they imitate His self-denying example, the flock will prosper under their care. . . . They will be constantly labouring for the welfare of the flock (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, pp. 122-124).

Open your hearts wide to this detailed manifestation of the caring shepherd who is over us. He is somebody who is personally wrapped up in our interests and is leading and nurturing us and gathering the flock in his arms. This endearing representation is very comforting. To the human nature the natural man receives not the things of the kingdom of heaven. The natural man is a goat.  Consider the atoning experience of Jesus Christ. He needs to be my shepherd because look at what he suffered with me. To this shepherd people get a soft response when they look at Jesus.

The Elders among You

Another focus that is hard to accept continues to unfold in the representations of Jesus;

1 Peter 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight [thereof], not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over [God’s] heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Here is an ingredient that apostle Peter was commissioned to convey. It is an ingredient that Jesus placed in him. When Peter denied Jesus three times, after when Jesus was talking to him he said, Peter do you love Me? He repeated it three times. First he said feed my lambs and then he said sheep. He commissioned him to be an under-shepherd;

Under Shepherds

Christ is the chief Shepherd. He has intrusted the care of his flock to under shepherds. He requires these shepherds to have the same interest for his sheep which he has ever manifested, and to ever feel the responsibility of the charge he has intrusted to them. Ministers, who are called of God to labor in word and doctrine, are Christ’s shepherds. He has appointed them under himself to oversee and tend his flock. He has solemnly commanded these to be faithful shepherds, to feed the flock with diligence, to follow his example, to strengthen the weak, nourish the fainting, and to shield them from devouring beasts. He points them to his example of love for his sheep. To secure their deliverance, he laid down his life for them. If they imitate his self-denying example, the flock will prosper under their care. {3SG 123.1}

The word of God tells us that while Jesus is the chief shepherd, he has commanded and commissioned shepherds of the flock in his absence. How is he going to work? Through the under shepherds;

In the ministry of Christ and his apostles, those who were converted to the truth were brought into church relationship; and every stray, lost sheep that was found, was brought to the fold of the church, that under the direction of the Master, through the under shepherds, they might go in and out and find pasture. God has instituted his church and delegated to it his authority and power. He has given it the inspired oracles, provided it with pastors and teachers to carry forward his work on the earth when he should leave it. {ST, October 23, 1879 par. 9}

What were they? The great shepherd we have been reading about. They would be practically and visibly cared for. There comes the question that is often laid out before me among the independents of today that I have met year after year after year. I don’t need any man to look after me! I can look after myself, Jesus is my shepherd. Can’t I see to myself? Do I need another human being to be an overseer of me? We are here to examine Gods methods of caring for his people. We are here reading his method. Why do I need another human to oversee me? Apostle Paul is speaking to the ministry that he was leaving;

Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

Notice the language, take heed to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers to feed the church of God which he has purchased with his own blood. It’s a bit like God creating the planet and now this beautiful planet he has commissioned to Adam. Jesus has commissioned through the Holy Spirit under shepherds to look after the flock. First themselves and then the flock.

Submit Yourself

Hebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of [their] conversation. 17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that [is] unprofitable for you.

Why submit yourselves? They watch for your souls. As they that must give account that they must do it with joy.  Here is the word of God. Here is Gods method of caring for the sheep.  Here are sheep that are called upon. You will recognise Gods voice through my under shepherd as you’ve come along and you’re in the flock. Submit as they must give an account for your souls.

The Watchman

Consider the fact if they don’t do their work properly, how will they end up? Would you like their responsibility? The shepherd is someone who watches carefully for souls. This is see the watchman, the shepherd as a watchman over the sheep.

Ezekiel 33:7 So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. 8 When I say unto the wicked, O wicked [man], thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked [man] shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 9 Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. 10 Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins [be] upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?

Does that not shudder you if you were a under shepherd? Driven by such a reality don’t you feel as though you must say what you have been told to say and if you don’t, you’re lost? Take heed to thyself and unto the flock.

Ezekiel 33:1 Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: 3 If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; 4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. 6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take [any] person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.

Do you observe that this rendition of watchman and the work of the shepherd is one and the same thing?

What is a watchman for, unless it be to watch for evil and give the warning? What is a shepherd for, unless it be to watch for every danger lest the sheep be harmed and destroyed by wolves? What excuse could a shepherd plead for suffering the flock to stray from the true pasture, and be torn and scattered and devoured by wolves? How would an excuse stand made by the shepherd that the sheep led him astray? They left the true pasture, and led him out of the way? Such a plea would tell with force against that shepherd’s ability to watch over the sheep. No more confidence could be placed in him as a faithful shepherd to care for the sheep, and bring them back as they might stray from the right path. {1T 314.1}

You profess to be a watchman on the walls of Zion, a shepherd to the flock, yet you saw the poor sheep torn and scattered, and gave no warning. Vol. 1, p. 313.

The Bible specifies the care of the flock of the under shepherds and what they must do to guard the sheep, feed the flock and also watch for evil. In the three angels messages there is a ministry commissioned to do this.

Isaiah 58:1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.

Here is something that is an alarming call from the chief shepherd to the under shepherd.

Isaiah 58:2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.

The people that God is addressing are a people who really love God. They delight in his way and they delight in approaching to him. Why should there be a loud cry to spare not? To wake people up whom delight themselves in God. Its self evident as God is saying here you’re deceived about yourselves. You need a shepherd to arouse you to cry aloud to lift up the voice like a trumpet. Those who love the experience of the feeding and emotional comfort hate the thought of being aroused.

Joel 2: 2:1 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for [it is] nigh at hand;

What does all that mean? This is what the three angel’s messages are all about so we would be aroused and awakened out of our complacency that Jesus is walking with me when he is not. We feel no one has a right to come to me and say this isn’t right.  I don’t see it, but it’s pointed out to me.

The condition of the people in —– was also presented before me. They have the theory of truth, but are not sanctified through it. I saw that when the messengers enter a new place, their labor is worse than lost unless they bear a plain, pointed testimony. They should keep up the distinction between the church of Christ, and formal, dead professors. There was a failure in this respect in —–. Elder N was fearful of offending, fearful lest the peculiarities of our faith should appear; the standard was lowered to meet the people. It should have been urged upon them that we possess truths of vital importance, and that their eternal interest depended upon the decision they there made; that in order to be sanctified through the truth, their idols would have to be given up, their sins be confessed, and they bring forth fruit meet for repentance. {1T 248.1}

Can you see the detail of the watchman? But there was a watchman called Elder N who didn’t want to offend anybody therefore he didn’t sound the alarm.

Those who engage in the solemn work of bearing the third angel’s message must move out decidedly, and in the Spirit and power of God fearlessly preach the truth and let it cut. They should elevate the standard of truth and urge the people to come up to it. It has too frequently been lowered to meet the people in their condition of darkness and sin. It is the pointed testimony that will bring them up to decide. A peaceful testimony will not do this. The people have the privilege of listening to this kind of teaching from popular pulpits; but those servants to whom God has entrusted the solemn, fearful message which is to bring out and fit up a people for the coming of Christ should bear a plain, pointed testimony. Our truth is as much more solemn than that of nominal professors, as the heavens are higher than the earth. {1T 248.2}

The people are asleep in their sins and need to be alarmed before they can shake off this lethargy. The straight testimony that should have been given to the people in —– was shunned by the ministers; the seed of truth was sown among thorns and has been choked by them. With some, evil besetments have flourished, and the heavenly graces have died out. {1T 249.1} God’s servants must bear a pointed testimony, which will cut the natural heart and develop character. {1T 249.2}

Fearlessly preach the truth and let it cut. Don’t you do the cutting let the truth do the cutting. You can preach ever so peacefully so people are not aroused to their areas of sin.

Jesus the Chief Shepherd

How thorough was his work? What did he do? He strengthened the weak and nourished them. Is that sort of detail the work of the under shepherd?

A true shepherd will care for the sheep and lambs of his flock. The love of Christ, filling his own heart, will flow through him to them. He will watch and guard them carefully. His tender love for his charge is well represented in a picture I have seen representing the true Shepherd. The Shepherd is leading the way, while the flock follow closely behind Him. Carried in His arms, and enfolded with His robe is a helpless lamb, while its mother walks trusting by His side. The prophet Isaiah says of the work of the true Shepherd, He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom [Isa. 40:11]. {20MR 396.4}

The lambs need more than daily food. They look to the shepherd for protection. They need watch care, and are to be as tenderly guarded as the mother guards her child. If one goes astray, it must be faithfully searched for until it is restored to the fold. The figure is a beautiful one, and well represents the faithful, loving service that the under-shepherd of the flock of Christ is to give to those under his protection and care.–Letter 6, 1909.

This is Gods work to us. Some seem to think that to preach is the sum and substance of their work. But there is much more than preaching to do. Personal work must on no account be neglected. The faithful minister will watch for souls with the deep interest that a shepherd [has who] guards his sheep. He will do personal work for those to whom he preaches, talking and praying with them. Such effort will bear fruit to God’s glory. {19MR 290.3}

The translation of Christs work in the under-shepherd must be done exactly the same.

Ministry means more than sermonising; it means earnest, personal labor. The church on earth is composed of erring men and women, who need patient, painstaking effort that they may be trained and disciplined to work with acceptance in this life, and in the future life to be crowned with glory and immortality. Pastors are needed–faithful shepherds–who will not flatter God’s people, nor treat them harshly, but who will feed them with the bread of life–men who in their lives feel daily the converting power of the Holy Spirit and who cherish a strong, unselfish love toward those for whom they labor. {AA 526.1}

There is tactful work for the under shepherd to do as he is called to meet alienation, bitterness, envy, and jealousy in the church, and he will need to labor in the spirit of Christ to set things in order. Faithful warnings are to be given, sins rebuked, wrongs made right, not only by the minister’s work in the pulpit, but by personal labor. The wayward heart may take exception to the message, and the servant of God may be misjudged and criticised. Let him then remember that the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. James 3:17, 18. {AA 526.2}

The minister of Christ is not to present to the people only those truths that are the most pleasing, while he withholds others that might cause them pain. He should watch with deep solicitude the development of character. If he sees that any of his flock are cherishing sin he must as a faithful shepherd give them from God’s word the instruction that is applicable to their case. Should he permit them in their self-confidence to go on unwarned, he would be held responsible for their souls. The pastor who fulfils his high commission must give his people faithful instruction on every point of the Christian faith, showing them what they must be and do in order to stand perfect in the day of God. He only who is a faithful teacher of the truth will at the close of his work be able to say with Paul, I am pure from the blood of all men. {AA 393.4}

False Prophets

There is one thing we need to understand as he warns the church.

Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Sheep’s Clothing

They appear like sheep. How can the sheep identify them? They won’t be able to identify them. The shepherd must identify them.

The Lord tells us if it were possible they would deceive the very elect. The sheep’s clothing seems so real, so genuine, that the wolf can be discerned only as we go to God’s great moral standard and there find that they are transgressors of the law of Jehovah. {FW 45.1}

By the deceptive attitude, which they assume to retain your confidence, they will betray you. They hide the spirit of the wolf under the appearance of the sheep. Their lips may speak words as smooth as oil, but the poison of asps is under their tongues. {RH, May 24, 1898 par. 1}

As these wolves in Sheeps clothing mingle among the sheep and the true shepherd identifies them to the sheep, how will he be identified in contrast to the wolf in Sheeps clothing?

Fellow labourers having an appearance of godliness oppose every advance which God leads him to make, and his precious time must be occupied in travelling from place to place, labouring with distress of mind among the churches to undo what these professed brethren have been doing. Those who have been thrust out to bear a plain, pointed testimony, in the fear of God to reprove wrong, to labor with all their energies to build up God’s people, and to establish them upon important points of present truth, have too often received censure instead of sympathy and help, while those who, like yourself, have taken a noncommittal position, are thought to be devoted, and to have a mild spirit. God does not thus regard them. The forerunner of Christ’s first advent was a very plainspoken man. He rebuked sin, and called things by their right names. He laid the axe at the root of the tree. into the fire. {1T 321.1}

In this fearful time, just before Christ is to come the second time, God’s faithful preachers will have to bear a still more pointed testimony than was borne by John the Baptist. A responsible, important work is before them; and those who speak smooth things, God will not acknowledge as His shepherds. A fearful woe is upon them. {1T 321.2}

We live at the very end of this earth’s history. Jesus is about to close his work in the heavenly sanctuary and in this time, where are the faithful shepherds?

How few can say, with Paul, My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Those whose life is hid with Christ in God will in these last days of peril preach the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. They will manifest devotion, benevolence, and love, and will set the truth forth boldly, faithfully, and uncompromisingly. The angels of heaven will not have to witness in them the painful exhibition of a vain show of intellect bidding for the applause of man. The Lord weighs actions. He is with those who preach the simple truth because the people are in need of truth.  {SSW, December 1, 1895 par. 6}

God help us that we all be the sheep of his pasture submissive to his way.

Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where [is] the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk [therein]. 17 Also I set watchmen over you, [saying], Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken. 18 Therefore hear, ye nations, and know, O congregation, what [is] among them. 19 Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, [even] the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.

May this not be our decision.

Amen.


Posted on August 25, 2009, in Divine Service Sermons, Unity and Trust and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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