The place of watchmen is on the wall, looking out into the direction that he is pointing. The can be lonely, discouraging work. Jesus is pleading with his watchmen to stay on the walls, where he needs them to be.
Many watchmen are down in the city chatting with friends, because they got lonely. Others are on the conference circuit, where the money is better. Some are busy trolling the internet, but that is not the same as listening to the Lord. Others grew tired and have gone to sleep. Others have given up, because they are weary of their warnings being rejected.
The watchman should not be in the city eating and drinking with the town's folk. He should be out on the watchtower looking into the night
Jesus urgently needs his watchmen to get back up on the watchtower where he has appointed them.
I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;
they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest (Is 62:6).
Israel's watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep. They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, each seeks his own gain (Is 56:10,11).
I appointed watchmen over you and said, 'Listen to the sound of the trumpet!' But you said, 'We will not listen.' Therefore hear, O nations; observe, O witnesses, what will happen to them. Hear, O earth: I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their schemes, because they have not listened to my words and have rejected my law (Jer 6:17-19).
God is restoring a watchman anointing to His people. In biblical times, though a city had strong walls and double gates, security was not complete without watchmen in their places, shouting, or heralding, anything they saw that was out of the ordinary. Their job was to warn the people of impending danger. They would pay with their lives if they failed to inform the city of an enemy's approach. If the watchmen were not alert, cities could fall, territories could be lost and many people could be slaughtered or forced into captivity.
A Christian prophet is a watchman. His task upon the walls of the city of God claims him entirely. God acts in and through all that we are. In everything a Prophet is, the Spirit of God lives and moves and acts. The Christian prophet's very life and breath is intercession within the church (Sanfords.).
However, if we are called to this watchman ministry, let us be patient in waiting for our placement. If we have a true gift, and manifest the fruit of the Spirit, our gift will make a place for us. Our goal must always be first to gain the endorsement of God, not men. If we want the endorsement of God we must be devoted to truth, integrity, and submission to His Spirit. If it takes others a while to acknowledge our calling, while we are waiting we can grow in grace and discernment (Rick Joyner - The Ministry of a Watchman).
Watchmen and Sheep
A watchman was standing on a watchtower. He saw trouble coming and told the shepherds to get the sheep into the safety of the fold. The shepherd asked the watchman to get the sheep into the fold. However, when the watchman tried to round up the sheep, they just scattered. They did not know the voice of the watchman. Only when the shepherds heeded the watchman's warning and called the sheep did the sheep come into the fold.
Watchmen stand on the walls of the city of God so that they can see what God is doing and call the people to respond. Watchmen look out into the darkness and the distance to see what evil is coming and what God is doing. Good relationships between pastors and the watchman are essential. The watchman should communicate what they see to the pastors. The pastors can then prepare the sheep for what is going to happen. The sheep know their shepherds and they will respond to them. If they do not know the voice of the watchmen, they will not respond to them.
Leaders must allow the watchmen to function as God intends, and watchmen must learn that it is their job only to transmit information, not to dictate policy (Rick Joyner - The Prophetic Ministry).
The prophet is way ahead of the flock of sheep, perhaps five miles beyond the next hill. He is on the lookout. There he hears God's voice and sees visions, enters the throne-room of God and glimpses something. It may actually be very good that he is often away from the flock, because few really understand him. He is interested not so much in people and what they think of him, but in God's voice for the situation (Wolfgang Simson - Houses That Changed the World, p.113).
The watchmen were not the elders in the gates, nor did they have the authority to open or close the gates of a city. Neither did they have the authority to mobilise the militia against the enemy. Their job was to communicate what they saw to those who did have the authority. Presently, many pastors and elders are trying to do this job for their congregations, which only distracts them from their true calling. We must begin to recognise, train, and position those who have this calling, and establish effective lines of communication with them (Rick Joyner - The Ministry of a Watchman).
Being on the walls of the city would place one in a position of elevated perspective to see both a distance outside and inside of the city. These were trained to recognise both the enemy and their brethren from a great distance. However, they had no authority to confront either. They simply gave their information to the elders who sat in the gates. Only the elders had the authority to either command that the gates be opened or to sound the alarm (Rick Joyner - The Ministry of a Watchman).
The seer represents the prophetic dimension by means of his ability to observe, by his inclination towards watchfulness. He is the watchman, the protector. He walks the narrow paths of the border areas of the Kingdom, drawing strength for this isolated work of defence from the vivid visions and experiences of the heartlands of God's domains. The prophet's home is a Mizpah, a watchtower, a place for proper judgement and discernment, 1 Sam 7:6 (Lars Widerberg - The Seer)
The Church has often lacked in having watchmen. She has had a type of watchman that has watched almost from a position on the floor of the church and not from the wall. The watchman is a prophet and as such is a seer and needs to be up high to see beyond the heights that even the king would see, since the king is not up the wall (Steve Snow - Eagle Watchman Resources).
Though the prophet is one with the church he yet always stands a little apart. The Old Testament prophet would have gone ahead to do all the speaking, or the healing, or whatever was needed. The New Testament prophet bows his spirit to prayer, unbeknownst to the rest of the body, and others find themselves healing or teaching or speaking (John and Paula Sanford - The Elijah Task p. 18,19,20).
Watchman should speak their warnings to the pastors and elders. The latter provide the warning to their sheep. The sheep know their shepherd and they will respond to them. If they do not know the voice of the prophet, they will not respond to them.
The pattern borne out in Scripture shows that a prophet did not go first to the people, but to the king! For it was the king who held the responsibility from God to address and lead the people. The prophet always went directly to the king - not to the people - and God opened the door of access to that realm (John Paul Jackson - Unmasking the Jezebel Spirit p.68).
Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other (1 Cor 12:22-25).
Christians are often embarrassed by God's watchmen, as they can be intense, opinionated or scruffy. Watchmen maybe the eyes of the body, but they are also the bowels that get rid of the "crap". If God's watchmen are not functioning effectively in a church, it will fill up with garbage and become contaminated. So while the watchmen has an unseemly task, they are important for the functioning of the body and deserve equal concern and respect.
When a watchman receives a dream or vision about a cataclysmic event, they should be very careful about how they give warning. Before speaking, they should find out the status and meaning of the events they have seen.
Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? (1 Cor 14:8).
A cataclysmic vision or dream may have any of the following possible meanings.
- a symbolic message with a spiritual interpretation,
- a warning of what Satan is planning, so that we can resist him,
- a warning event, that is a type of something worse coming,
- an event that may happen soon
- an event that is a long way into the future,
- an event that will only happen, if God's people do not repent.
- a final judgment on a people that has rejected God.
The appropriate response is different for each of these different types.
Modern Christians have a tendency to assume the worst. We generally interpret a vision or dream of awful events literally. We also assume that the event is coming soon and that its coming is certain. This is often not the case.
Sounding the trumpet is not sufficient. Sharing a vision is not enough. Watchmen are required to sound the trumpet clearly. When sharing a vision or dream, they should also explain its meaning. If this does not happen, God's people will become confused. Too much confusion could lead to Christians being defeated and God's name being mocked.
During this current season, too many confusing visions are being shared. Many of these visions have come from the Lord, but because their meaning is misunderstood, God's people are being confused. We need a clear sounding of the trumpet to prepare God's people for victory.
We must keep God's perspective in mind when interpreting warning visions. Christians often get so focused on the evil that Satan has planned that they fail to notice God's response. This gives Satan a place he does not deserve. He is a loser and all his schemes and plans will fail. Getting us absorbed in the negative part of a vision is the enemy's favourite trick for causing us to miss what God is saying and doing.
This is the worst feature of many "prophecy sites" on the internet. The bloggers and discussion boards get so absorbed in the evil being warned against, that they miss what God is saying and promising. We should fear God, not the devil and his schemes. We should listen very carefully to what God is saying through a vision.
The watchman's task is not to make Christians afraid, but to show them how they can be victorious, if they get ready. Most visions are not about the people of God being defeated, but are a promise that God's people can be victorious, if the watchmen do their work. We need watchmen who can tell us how to get ready.
In 1982, a visiting English preacher called David Pawson shared a vision of a Commando Army around New Zealand. The vision promised that if New Zealand Christians formed into commando units, they would experience victory when an economic crisis came. Christians immediately focussed on the crash and when it would come. The name of the vision was changed to the Coming Bombshell. The challenge to form commando units was ignored and the promise of victory was lost as Christians became absorbed with the negative aspect of the word.
I believe that the same problem applies to our interpretation of Daniel and Revelation. All the negative passages are applied to the current age. All the promises of victory are pushed to after the second coming. This gives a total distorted view of God's plan and produces Pessimistic Christianity.When interpreting visions from God, we should take off our dark glasses and listen carefully to God's promises of victory and hope in the light of his word.
They do not want to build 'a church', they want the whole city or nation! They live in the future, for the future, from the future, constantly pregnant with future developments, and they can prevent it from becoming a traditional institution only celebrating the past, or a fossilised monument of history long gone (Wolfgang Simson - Houses That Changed the World, p.119).
Tower and Gate
Watchmen are not there to boost the name of the enemy and paralyse God's people with fear. Their purpose is to warn the people of danger, while it is still a long way off. This gives the people living outside the city time to get behind the walls where they will be safe. The watchman's warning also gives the city leaders time to prepare their defences, so they can repel the enemy when he comes.
The safety of a city depends on the watchmen being on the watchtower. It also depends on the leaders at the gate heeding their warning. If the watchmen and the leaders at the gate of the city each do their task, the enemy's plans should be defeated and the city kept safe.
Exposing Evil Plans
Satan generally uses stealth and deception. The success of his plans depends on Christians not waking up to what is happening until it is too late to respond. God counters by revealing Satan's plan's to the watchmen. They can then expose his plans and blow his cover. God reveals the attacks of the enemy in advance, so that he can be exposed and defeated.
God's response to one of Daniel's visions was to send watchers (Dan 4:13-17). The scriptures do not tell us much about them, but they are clearly very powerful angels. They were able to bring down Nebuchadnezzar, one of the most powerful rulers that the world has ever known. Compared to Nebuchadnezzar, Saddam Hussein was a midget, yet the watchers brought Nebuchadnezzar down from his throne. Watchers are capable of foiling the worst plans of the enemy. I think that they might be released by the prayers of the watchmen on the watchtowers.
The role of the watchmen is important. God responds to the attacks of the enemy by exposing his plans, and countering with something even more powerful.
Today's spiritual watchmen are just as important to the kingdom of God. But the Church has become so familiar and comfortable with the world that our watchmen may not notice when adverse conditions enter our boundaries. In this hour God is saying, "Watch the boundaries I have set for you, so that the enemy does not gain access to your inheritance." (Chuck Pierce - The Future War of the Church).
These watchmen were especially trained to be able to distinguish the enemy from their brethren. Only those with the best vision and judgement were given these Posts. They could not be overly prone to sound the alarm, or to request that the gates be opened. They had to be accurate in their discernment. If there were too many false alarms the people would begin to disregard them. If they were careless and let an enemy in the gate, they could jeopardise the entire city. This was an extremely crucial position for which accuracy and dependability were required (Rick Joyner - The Ministry of a Watchman).
Three Types of Vision
Christians with discernment can receive three types of vision.
Some visions show what the people deserve. They show what the wrath of God demands. Eg Amos 7:1.
The Holy Spirit sometimes shows his people what Satan wants to do. When people turn away from God, they give him authority to fulfil his plans. He is a destroyer, so these visions are often destructive. Spiritual people who are not Christians may also receive these visions, but from a different source.
Some visions show what God is going to do to turn his people back to him, as his wrath is tempered by his mercy. The purpose of these visions is refining and purifying (Amos 7:7-9).
They first two types may be the same. Satan has the right to execute the curses of the covenant.
The first type of visions should be prayed against. The mercy of God should be claimed. (Jer 18:20; Jer 14:21; Dan 9:4-19; Ps 106:23).
The first type should not be proclaimed as if were God's will, as this would give the devil permission to do it. If it is announced, it should be conditional. "This is what will happen, if you keep on the way that you are going".
The second type should be prayed against. We resist the enemy by disagreeing with his words and visions and declaring. "That is not God's will" (Eph 6:10-18).
The second type of vision should not be proclaimed as this would give glory to Satan. If Christians agree with this vision, it gives him authority to implement his plans, even if they are contrary to God's will.
- The third type of vision should be prayed into being. It might still be harsh, but because its purpose it mercy, it is right to pray for it. It is part of God's refining process. When we declare these visions, it gives God's authority to do his will on earth.
A prophet who always looks to God's wrath is imitating Satan. A true prophet must centre on God's mercy.
- When a vision is received, we must pray to find what type of vision it is. We must get God's perspective, before we proclaim the vision.
Mercy and Wrath
When the people of a city or nation cast off restraint and reject God, they lose their spiritual protection and leave the powers of evil unrestrained. They have the authority to bring judgment against the city or nation, but they often wait until sin is filled up so they can do more evil. The powers of evil execute judgment in a way that causes the most harm and pain, because they love to rob, destroy and kill.
God will sometimes pre-empt this judgment so that less harm is done, and to ensure that his purposes are accomplished. Because the people have turned away from him, he does not have authority to bless them, but the does have the right to send judgment.
By getting his angels to bring the judgment, rather than waiting for the powers of evil to deliver it, he can turn it for good, and use it to achieve his purposes. The holy angels hate executing judgment, because they love to do good. They will only do it, if they have a clear prophetic word from God's prophets explaining how it will bring glory to God.
God's people sometimes need to choose. Will they wait for the power of evil to execute their plans, or should they ask God to bring a pre-emptive judgment that is more merciful. An example is the judgment after David counted his fighting men (2 Sam 24). When he realised he had done wrong, the prophet Gad came to him with three options:
- Three years of famine in the land.
- Three months of running before his enemies while they pursued with the sword.
- Three days of plague.
When the judgment started, David realised that he had been selfish and cried out,
I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family (2 Sam 24:17).But it was too late, because the decision had been made.
Nevertheless, David had made the right decision, perhaps for the wrong reason. He explained the reason to the prophet when he made his decisions. He said to Gad,
I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man (2 Sam 24:14).There were really only two options. One option was to come under judgment executed by God. The other option was to fall into the hands of man, literally the hands of Adam. David did not fully understand this, but Adam had lost his authority when he sinned, so falling into the hands of Adam literally meant falling into the hands of the powers of evil.
Two of the three judgments, would be executed by the powers of evil. The famine and defeating war were their plans for Israel once David's sin had given them the right to do it. (The powers of evil are often divided and disagree over what they want to do. If David had chosen the plan of one group, the Holy Spirit would have rested the other group, so they would not be able to fulfil their plans.)
Even though David did not realise that he was avoiding falling into the hands of the power of evil, he did realise that it was best to choose the judgment that would be executed by God. God opened David's spiritual eyes and he saw the angel of God with the sword of death outstretched. This was terrible, but it was better than would have happened if the powers of evil had been able to execute evil for three years or three months. Three days was merciful by comparison, and when David repented of his selfishness, God cut it short to less than a day.
When a nation hardens its heart, the power of evil get authority to work their plan in it. The Holy Spirit often shows a prophet what the powers of evil have planned. The prophet must be careful not to prophesy these plans, except as a warning (if you keep doing this, that will happen), because it increases the authority of the powers of evil to do their stuff. Sometimes, the prophets may see several forms of evil, that different factions of the power of evil would like to do (they are seldom united).
The prophets in this situation should ask God if there is a pre-emptive judgment that he can bring that would be better for the nation than what the Holy Spirit has shown them the powers of evil intend to do. It will often not be nice, but it will usually be better than falling into the hands of the powers of evil. The prophets may need to pray for a lesser more merciful evil, so that God has authority to execute it.
David, and through him Gad, had authority in Israel. When Gad prayed and told God their choice, it gave God authority to send his angel to release the plague. It was a terrible plague, but at least it was a good angel bringing it. This was better than releasing evil angels to do their thing.
In the same way, prophets may sometime have to make a similar choice. They might need to choose to give God authority to bring a pre-emptive judgment. That will be hard to do, but it is usually better than waiting for worse evil to come from the hands of the power of evil.
Gad had a relationship with David, so he was able to consult with him. Many prophets will not have a link to the political powers, so they will not be able to consult. They will have to seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and make the decision for their nation.
Many prophets have seen terrible things happening to their nation. They should check before prophesying them, to make sure that God has not shown them what the powers of evil want to do, because their vision might be what will happen if the nation is left to its own devices, but it might not be what God wants to do. The prophets should acknowledge that judgment is inevitable for the nation, but recognise that there is a milder judgement that God could bring, if he were given permission to act in the nation.
Some prophetic people have bitter stomachs, often through frustration and rejection. If they are not careful, they can become hard and slip into enjoying and prophesying what the enemy plans to do. They have the wrong half of the truth. True prophets make sure they know God's purpose, before they prophecy judgment.
In New Zealand, prophetic people have warned of a tsunami that destroys Christchurch, an earthquake that destroys Wellington, and a volcano that destroys Auckland. I suspect that these people have heard what the powers of evil would like to do, if sins are filled up and they get authority in the land. But these events are not God's intent for the nation.