In Ezekiel 33:7, God says He made Ezekiel to be a watchman on the wall for Israel. This brings to mind a person on the fort’s wall warning people that the enemy is about to attack. These watchmen were to report any enemy activity aimed against Israel.
In our nation today, the enemy has been attacking us, especially in the area of morals. A couple of generations ago, we never would have considered same-sex marriage or abortion. We have started looking at what is right in our own eyes than what is right in God’s eyes. This happened throughout Israel’s history in the Old Testament, especially in the book of Judges. The outline goes like this:
1…God delivered Israel when she repented of her wicked ways.
2…Then after a while, compromise set in.
3…Then decline happened as Israel turned away from God’s decrees.
4…Then people got busy and stopped caring (apostasy set in).
5…Things started going downhill morality-wise.
6…Even some believers gave in to defeat. They retreated from the public square and became concerned only with their private walk with God.
7…Eventually, believers started repenting. They started calling out to God for deliverance.
8…God would raise up His leaders among His people. Israel would get delivered once again.
9…Then, after a while, a new generation would start to forget God and the whole process would start all over again.
You’d think after a while that Israel would’ve learned, but they didn’t. Before you go judging them, realize that America has traveled the same path several times.
The first time was what I call the laying of a spiritual foundation or a pre-awakening. In the 1600s, the Pilgrims and the Puritans laid a great foundation. They dedicated this land to God. For example, all of the 1st colleges were meant for pastors and missionaries to the Indians. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, etc. were all founded by believers. But these institutions left their Christian roots by the early 1800s. Unfortunately, later generations started falling away from God just like the Israelites did. Judges 2:10,11 says, “…another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” And the evil they did was even worse than those of their ancestors.
The First Great Awakening took place in the 1730s. Great evangelists like George Whitefield, John Wesley, Jonathon Edwards, David Brainerd, etc. became household names. Christian revival broke out everywhere. Thousands upon thousands of people were repenting of their sins. This Great Awakening played a key role in the development of real thoughts of freedom, both spiritual and physical. These theological and social reforms ushered in the American Revolution. One of America’s battle cries was “No King but King Jesus.” But once again, after a while, a new generation arose that didn’t know what God had done in these early Americans’ lives. They forgot God and started to do what was right in their own eyes.
The Second Great Awakening was in the early 1800s. This is where many of the free black churches were founded. This awakening was especially strong in the northeast and the mid-west. Not only were people repenting of their sins but they were living out biblical principles This awakening produced social reform movements like the abolition of slavery, women’s rights, and temperance. Names that stood out were Lyman Beecher, Charles Finney & Theodore Weld. Two-thirds of the abolitionist movement was made up of Christian ministers. Christian ministers were calling slavery for what it was…sin!
This is where the tent revival meetings took place. Thousands upon thousands were converted in these huge meetings. Charles Finney was the leading evangelist in this. Harriet Beecher Stowe was so influenced by Weld that she wrote the seminal book that started the Civil War, according to President Lincoln. That book was “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” This revival shook Kentucky and Tennessee to their core. Many societies were formed during this revival. But once again, new generations grew up that did not know the Lord and what He had done.
The Third Great Awakening started in 1857. This was the Prayer revival. Thousands gathered for prayer in churches throughout America. Between 1-2 million people accepted Christ during this generation. It was characterized by the formation of many new denominations. It also saw the founding of the YMCA, Moody Bible Institute, and missionaries like William Cary and David Livingstone. Great evangelists like Dwight Moody preached to thousands of people who repented of their sins and started to be active in serving the Lord. But again, we lapsed into apathy and then unbelief.
The Fourth Great Awakening started in the early 20th century. The Azusa Street revival on the west coast was a Pentecostal revival. It spread throughout America and the whole world. Many new denominations were started, like the Nazarenes, the Assemblies of God, the Church of God-Tennessee, etc. Then a turning away from God happened again.
The Fith Great Awakening happened in the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. By this point, mainline churches had weakened sharply while conservative churches exploded with new “Jesus People”. These were mostly young people who had been in the drug scene and the protest generation. These things had left them feeling very empty. The Holy Spirit swept across America, converting millions. These young Jesus freaks started turning up everywhere. If there weren’t churches that accepted their love for Jesus and their new Jesus music, they started their own churches. Non-denominational, mega-churches popped up everywhere. My wife and I were part of this explosion. Young Americans tired of the empty drug and protest movements, turned to the one true person who gave meaning to their lives – Jesus! Groups like Jews for Jesus and the Calvary Chapels started here. In the 1980s, these believers started expressing themselves politically. The 1980 ‘Washington for Jesus’ rally had over 200,000 believers march to Washington D.C. But into the late 1980s and 1990s, the new generation forgot what God had done in the previous generation.
The Sixth Great Awakening occurred in the 21st century. While it has by-passed most of the western nations, it exploded in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. It is still going on as of this writing. Over 60% of Christians now live in the global south. This movement is almost all pentecostal, charismatic and evangelical. Read www.conservapedia.com/Christianity_statistics.
So, we’re just as guilty as ancient Israel was in turning from God and His ways. That’s why God has placed watchmen-on-the-walls. They are there for our protection if we’ll listen to them. God will hold us accountable for listening to them. He also holds us accountable for what we do with this watchman’s knowledge (Ezekiel 33:1-9). Are we listening and doing what God wants us to do?
Not everyone is called to be a watchman-on-the-wall. But all of us are called to know the times and seasons in which we live (Matthew 16:2,3). So, we should listen carefully and with discernment to these people who are watchmen, especially the ones who have already proved to be biblical and accurate. Who are these watchmen-on-the-walls? In the recent past, I would say that Chuck Colson & Francis Schaeffer are two of them, in addition to others. In our time now, I would think that Franklin Graham, Albert Mohler, and John Stonestreet of Breakpoint would be on this list
How should we identify these watchmen? Not by personal likability. Think of Samson. Their message often makes us ‘uncomfortable’ because it’s really about persuading us to change our behavior to become more biblical. As such, their words cut like a double-edged sword. They condemn sin and expose error. They call people to make a change in their thinking and behavior. Think of Jeremiah or John the Baptist. Often their message will provoke a strong reaction from people who reject it. They were persecuted and often killed because of their message (Hebrews 11:32-38).
But they present a way to be reconciled to God. True watchmen direct people to live biblically, to come into a relationship with Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:21, 22).
In America, God has given us the privilege of voting for the kind of government that we want. May we be faithful in voting for godly values. And may those faithful watchmen on the walls be listened to.
Proverbs 14:34 says that righteousness exalts a nation but sin condemns any people. May we be faithful to hear and stand up for godly values in our country. Edmund Burke’s statement is still true for us today, that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” But we have to stand up and do what He tells us to do. Will we be willing to obey God rather than man? Will we be willing to look foolish for God? Or will we be like the Israelites and take the easy way out?
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on bsssb-llc