WATCHMEN ON THE WALL

Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, “we will not walk in it.” And I set watchmen over you; listen to the sound of the trumpets.” Jeremiah 6:16-17a

America needs a change in direction; she needs to return to the ancient paths. The watchmen over her have been calling out warnings, and the trumpets have sounded, but America refuses to listen. She pridefully assumes that she will go on forever and does not need God anymore or His hedge of protection. She seeks worldly solutions instead, depending upon her military, her prosperity, other nations, and her false gods to protect her rather than God. We may not worship virtual idols, but we as a nation have not only placed things before God, we have counted on everything else but God.

In ancient Israel, watchmen were to give the warning of invasion. The furthermost border towns had walls around them with a watchtower raised high above the walls. If the watchman saw an invading army, he was to blow his trumpet to alert the people. They then would make a huge bonfire that nearby cities could see, whose watchman would repeat the process until the warning reached Jerusalem.

The Hebrew word for watchman is tsaphah which means “to lean forward; to peer into the distance, to observe.” The ancient prophets, like Ezekiel, commissioned by God and cast in the role of foretelling the future, called for repentance, and encouraged people to follow the ancient paths—found in God’s Word. They were often rejected, and the people of Israel suffered from those civilizations who rose and fell, despite their huge armies and military prowess. Will America live forever?

The United States is at a crossroad. Our founding documents, all the way back to the earliest settlers, centered upon God and His protection—our ancient paths. Those men and women recognized the sovereignty of God, and, while not perfect, could still find their way back to their original covenants with God, and reap the benefit of His protection. He has remained true to His word and America has prospered and remained untouched until 9/11. In a sense, 9/11 was the cry of the watchman calling us back to God and His ancient paths. The sight of our elected officials standing on the Capitol steps singing “God Bless America” after the attack was heartening, but it did not take long for everything to return to paths chosen by men rather than God. America’s leaders’ words were right, but they did not penetrate the heart–except for a remnant.

The ancient prophets God sent to Israel functioned as watchmen in that they called the alarm, urged people to repent and turn back to God, and encouraged them with their foretelling of the future. Today we have God’s written Word and as Christians, the Holy Spirit living in us.

Do you hear the sound of invasion? If so, are you calling out the warning? Will America refuse to listen? God is waiting for Americans to repent from their wicked ways and return to Him. He is looking for those who do justice and seek the truth. His Word is truth. He is compassionate, but He is also just. We must return to the ancient paths to survive.

We live in times of great upheaval. Enemies in the form of ideologies, false assurances, idols, and self-centeredness whisper “Peace, Peace,” but do not shout the warning of judgment. Repentance, agreeing with God’s rules, brings His peace. We can find peace in no one else.

Pursuing Peace

“So then, let us pursue the things which make for peace and building up of one another.” Romans 14:19 NASB

This year’s election season has produced more than its share of animosity, suspicion, and disunity. Families torn apart, neighbor against neighbor, and even violence stalks Americans these days. A car struck someone I know in Prairie Village, Kansas while he defended political signs in his own yard. He previously had several signs stolen, so he was watching them when he spied a man in a car veering onto his lawn to knock down the signs. He struck my friend down. After a stint in the ICU, he is home recovering, realizing he could be dead over a fit of anger at a political sign. Sadly, this is not an unusual occurrence in this election. Tempers flare, lifelong friendships are over because of a Facebook post, and even family members are at odds.

I Want America Back

America is not a perfect country, but I can remember no time in which I have heard so many angry words exchanged by previously well-mannered people. I remember an era when neighbors helped neighbors, when children played outside until dark without supervision, where disagreements were civil, and where name-calling was taboo. These days everyone feels free to express their unsolicited opinion regardless of the social setting. Civility is terminally ill if not dead.

The Solution

The cure for the seething rage in America is simple—love your neighbor as yourself. Do for others what you hope they would do for you. As Paul states in Romans, pursue peace. Make an active decision to be a peacemaker. Look for ways to build the other person up, instead of arguing and tearing them down. Show respect for another’s opinions. Listen and respond with logic, not emotion. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Often, we gain insight into another person by understanding how their life experiences drive their opinions. Know when to walk away. My mother always told me, if you cannot say something nice to someone, then say nothing at all.

Jacob and Esau

Isaac’s twin sons, Jacob and Esau quarreled when Esau felt Jacob had stolen his birthright. Esau was the first-born son, which meant he would inherit the bulk of his father’s estate. Jacob approached Esau when he was hungry and traded him the birthright for a bowl of stew. The enmity between the two brothers simmered throughout their lives, and it exists even today in their descendants. The nomadic tribes, some Esau’s descendants, of the Middle East are still warring against their Jewish brothers. What would be different if the two men had followed a pattern of peace instead of resentment and jealousy?

Be a Peacemaker

Being right does not mean we win. If prevailing in an argument demeans the other person, or results in injury, that is not a victory. Run after peace as a habit of life. A little humility has substantial rewards—a friendship kept, families united, and the absence of angst. Someone will win this election, and someone will lose. Do all in your power to make certain we do not lose peace.

Check out Esau and Jacob’s story in my first book, “The Scarlet Thread: God’s Promises to the Patriarchs.”