“His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter” (Isaiah 56:10-11).
God’s messengers are given various titles in Scripture: ministers, prophets, apostles, teachers and watchmen to name a few. Those who are spiritually responsible for a group of people are ordained to watch over them. “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” (Acts 20:28). He watches for danger, especially that coming from heretical teachings and practices, but also the danger posed by ungodly people pretending to be believers. It is his duty to sound the alarm and keep out the “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15).
In keeping with the analogy of dogs, we can see that the watchman can be called a watchdog whose duty is to bark loudly to warn off intruders and alert the owner. Thieves are on the lookout for property to steal. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). But what good is the watchdog if he allows himself to be petted by the robbers? Who would use a dog that could not bark? A watchdog must be able to detect the slightest noise rather than sleeping or chasing its tail. Its vision must be perfect, for who would use a blind dog?
The watchmen of God’s people had become lazy, dumb, and sleepy, and as a result the false prophets [wild beasts] had the freedom to roam the land without hindrance and capture the flock. “All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest” (Isaiah 56:9). The same can be said of the situation the church finds itself in this era. The ministers of the Gospel have become so politically correct that they no longer stand for the truth. The church is swamped by false teaching because pastors do not want to appear to be judgemental towards wayward brethren. Immorality and ungodliness have increased in our churches only because the preacher has lost his voice and vision.
A watchdog is only friends with its owner and those it is familiar with, but the enemy is never welcome. If a watchdog lets down its guard because the intruder gives it choice morsels, then he will be silent and the property is easy prey. Preachers have allowed themselves to be petted by the world through social and humanitarian concerns while the truth has been sidelined. The hand that feeds the watchdog tasty food also muzzles and chains it. Now we find ministers in a corner too afraid even to whimper, and how the thief loves that!
There is robbery on a mass scale going on under our noses, but few appear to notice. False doctrines not only come from the obvious sources today, but are delivered to the people via the pulpit of evangelical churches. We need watchmen who will protest against falsehood wherever it is preached. “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Titus 3:10-11). The sad fact is that our churches no longer notice a false prophet because they have not bothered to study God’s word, and the preacher has become a lapdog who stands for nothing instead of a watchdog who guards the flock.
Lapdogs will never be good watchdogs because they are petted instead of trained. Many preachers today want to be poster boys rather than prophets of God. They care not for the truth because they are too concerned about their own comforts. A preacher who does not know the truth cannot effectively guide others in Christ. “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:29-31).
The lapdog preacher will offer countless excuses for the conditions found in the church, but will not have any answer for them. They want to have peace and harmony while they preach inoffensive love-gospel. They find it easier to associate with spiritually destitute teachers than to fellowship with believers who want to live holy and righteously. They will not open their mouths against the carnality and worldliness in the church because they might lose the pastorate and therefore their income. They are truly dumb dogs. Jeremiah 6:12-17 speaks clearly about such men: “for I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD. For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD. 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. Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken.”
Those who are meant to be watchmen [watchdogs] look the other way while the church is being ravaged by enemies of the Gospel. They are too afraid to warn others lest they are beaten back and labelled as judgemental. They think that keeping quiet secures their job, but in truth they are no longer in the pay of God. They have become fearful wrecks that are no use to anyone.
Thank God for those watchmen who are alert to all the dangers. They are awake and active in preaching the word of God without compromise. “For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth” (Isaiah 62:1). It is certain that we need preachers who will not be silent or silenced. Let the world call them fanatics and extremists, but let them always be watchmen for the Lord.