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Ez. 33:7-9

Rev. Andrew Eckert

15th Sunday after Trinity
St. Paul's Lutheran Church  
Wellston, Oklahoma

Sun, Sep 16, 2012 

There have been many watchmen through many centuries.  Today, they are scattered over many lands.

Watchmen are necessary.  The armies of darkness march across the land, seeking to destroy the souls of men, women, and children.  Terrible forces are assembled to attack mankind.  No one has strength to fight these enemies.  The devil and his allies in this sinful world overwhelm all human defenses.  They carry off thousands upon thousands of prisoners, and even try to snatch away citizens of the kingdom of light.  So you need watchmen to warn you of the horrible dangers.

The main weapon of the enemy is to tempt you into iniquity.  That in itself is no great victory, since everyone sins constantly.  But the second phase of the attack is to lead you to be indifferent toward your sins; become used to them, desensitized to the trespasses you commit.  You will be tempted to think, "Everybody does it.  Is it really a sin?  Maybe it was a sin in the days of Jesus.  But surely not today."

In your state of confusion you will hardly know what's going on as your enemy leads you away from repentance, faith, and salvation.  For where there is no sorrow for sin, saving faith cannot continue.  Then the battle is over, and you belong to the kingdom of darkness.

May this never happen to you.

This tragedy of destruction is far worse than a hurricane.  No tornado, fire, drought or terrorist attack compares to the damnation of a living soul.  For a man may suffer troubles and trials in life.  He may lose loved ones.  He may experience agony and death.  Yet if he has faith, all that has happened is for his good, and what was lost will be restored.

But where repentance is lost, there nothing is for good.  There nothing will be restored.  Only death eternal will follow.

Therefore, God has set His watchmen in place.  They look and they listen for the attacks of darkness.  They warn and they call out, "Flee for your lives.  Seek the shelter of the Lord.  Stay behind the protective walls of His mighty fortress."

So the watchmen sound the alarm and blow the trumpet to warn the people.

But a watchman can become annoying.  He is constantly sounding the alarm.  It becomes tiresome.  After all, it is hard to always remain in a state of alert.  The watchman sees ravenous wolves all around.  So it is easy to see him as the boy who cries wolf.  How quickly people can learn to ignore the voice of the watchman!

This is especially so when the voice becomes harsh, as he warns of the enemy among us.  The sinful flesh is an infiltration into the very midst of the people.  So the watchman does not only point the finger outside, but also at you.  You, that is, your sinful nature, is also the enemy.  Therefore you must be accused.

No one likes to be accused.  So the watchman can be seen as the real enemy, the disturber of the peace.  People who are tired of his constant warnings tune him out, although they may remain in the pew for a time.  Those who are offended by his accusations may simply leave, and find a less disturbing watchman to listen to.  Pressure may be applied to a watchman to get him to be more loving, which means to stop warning so much.  Why cause division and hurt people's feelings? they say.

Many watchmen simply give in to this pressure.  To their great relief, they find that their job is much more pleasant when they are less offensive.  They can be nice, all the time, and everyone loves them for it.

But such men do not realize that they have abandoned their post.  They are no longer watchmen at all.  They have become unfaithful to the appointment of their Commander-in-Chief, the Lord of hosts.  He set the watchman in place and called him to this duty.  So if the watchman proves unfaithful, then he must answer to God.

Brothers and sisters, this is war.  A watchman who abandons his post gets people killed.  A watchman asleep at his post is subject to discipline, or even death.

A watchman who loves his people must be ready to be harsh.  He must warn with all sternness.  Sometimes, feelings must be hurt in order to save lives.

The word of warning he speaks is the Word of God.  Truly, it is the warning of God, not a mere man.  The watchman must faithfully speak it, just as those who want to live must listen as if their lives depend on it, because they do.

Therefore, heed this warning: You are sinners.  Your words and deeds are twisted by the wickedness of your sinful nature.  You are weak against the powerful temptations of darkness.  Worse yet, your natural mind has always resisted the Word, and resisted listening to the warnings of the men God called to be your watchmen.  Your Lord does not lightly call and ordain a man.  Yet you have not held sacred the preaching of this word of warning as you should.  Death is the punishment you deserve.

For all this, you should feel great sorrow.  Indeed, cast your heart in sadness in the dust.  Let repentance fill you, and plead only for mercy to God.

When you cry out in sorrow, here is the answer from God: I have taken away your guilt.  All that you have done, I have cast upon My Son.  He took the death penalty that your wickedness deserved.  Christ made Himself accountable for your blood, so that He shed His own precious Blood to pay back your debt.

Christ Jesus, the Son of God, acted as the perfect watchman and guardian for all people.  He set up His Cross as the great sign to all people, so that they may be turned in repentance to Him and saved.  He sacrificed all, even to the tortures of sin and death and hell and the fearsome attacks of that terrible enemy, satan.  But for all that Christ was afflicted, He would not abandon His post.  He would not get down from the Cross.  He stayed until the bitter end.

Christ was faithful where you were not.  He listened obediently to His Father's voice, where you did not.  Yet the great glory is that His obedience and faithfulness count for you.

So you shall not perish in eternal death, but you will be raised on high to perfect life.  You shall not receive punishment, but unlimited reward.  Heaven and resurrection from death are yours, when the archangel will blow the final trumpet.  But that trumpet shall not be a warning.  No, it will be the call to the victory feast, when all danger is ended and all enemies vanquished.  Even death shall disappear, never to be seen.

Although on this earth, danger is still all around, yet in the Cross and the Blood of Christ is perfect safety.  Look to Him, and you shall never be overcome.

In His Name, who alone gives the victory.  Amen.

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