I would like to piggy-back off Bro. Fulton’s message last Sunday night. If you’ll remember it was titled: “How to Watch.” Hopefully I wont be contradicting anything Austin said, but I’d like to take his message a step farther, emphasizing for what things we should be watching. And besides, some of you weren’t here for that service last week, so for you, none of this will be overlapping. I can’t speak for other preachers, but rarely have I considered a single message to have completely covered whatever was the theme of that message. There is always room for more. That is not a criticism. It is a fact.

Beginning completely out in left field, let’s read together Ezekiel 33:1-8. I have heard a few messages from this scripture. Most of them were while I was in Bible school. Some might have been delivered in preacher’s conferences, and it would be appropriate at an ordination. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sermon from this passage in any of the churches of which I’ve been a member. As we read this you might have been thinking that this must be a message for Austin – someone whom the Lord has set on the wall as a watchman. Or here we have a message, not for the choir, but for the soloist – the pastor is preaching to himself.

But this is not the case. My message is for you – for every one of us, putting an exclamation mark on last Sunday’s message. Ezekiel 33 is not my primary text. In a minute I’ll take you to Matthew 24 and 26, citing a few other New Testament scriptures along the way. So why bring Ezekiel to your attention? To show you the seriousness which the Lord places on watching. Here Jehovah said, “When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou doest not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in HIS iniquity; but his blood will I require at THINE hand.” Every watchman has been given a serious responsibility, no matter what it might be for which he is watching. That man might not actually realize its importance, but if is something assigned to him by the Lord, then it is important.

This afternoon, let’s have a brief Bible study. I will not keep you long. Once again, let’s look at the word “watch” as the Lord Jesus used it. The word is employed in some other scriptures, and I’ll refer to them, but it is Jesus’ use of the word that primarily interests me.

Please turn with me to Matthew 26:36-46.

These words were uttered by the Lord on the night in which He was betrayed. Judas had already made a pact with the priests to quietly deliver the Lord Jesus into their hands. The disciples observed the Passover with Jesus, and the Lord’s Supper had been instituted. “And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives” where Jesus brought the eleven remaining disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. Three times in these eleven verses Christ used the word “watch.” Verse 38 – “Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and WATCH with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not WATCH with me one hour? WATCH and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” I am not going to pretend that I understand all that our Lord endured there in the garden. Furthermore, I’m not going to pontificate about Jesus’ exhortation. But I think I can draw a few conclusions and make an application.

But first, what does the word “watch” mean when we find it in the Word of God? The Greek word is translated “watch” twenty-one times and then “wake” and “be “vigilant” one time each. Those two additional translations shed light on what Jesus was saying, if you don’t remember it from last week. “Hey, you disciples, stay awake and pray while I go over yonder where I will pray.” I Thessalonians makes the “staying awake” crystal clear. “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” Paul often uses the word “sleep” allegorically speaking of death: Our Lord Jesus Christ “died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, would live together with him.” If I might be so bold, I will point to those verses and say, “watchfulness should be one of the characteristics of people who are alive in Christ Jesus.” Peter is the apostle whose use of this word is translated “vigilant,” and it comes in the context of the devil. “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

WHY did the Lord Jesus say to his disciples, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; tarry ye here, and watch with me?” Why did He tell His disciples to “watch?” For what were they to watch? Didn’t He leave His command somewhat open ended? Couldn’t it have covered a number of reasons? Weren’t they to “be sober, and vigilant, because the adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, was out walking about, perhaps even seeking Christ Jesus to devour?” A bit later Jesus rebuked them, “Could ye not stay awake and (vigilantly) watch with me for a single hour?” And then finally “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Don’t the second and third references suggest that our watchfulness relates to our personal, spiritual weaknesses? Satan is out there – Satan is in here – in this church building – looking for your weaknesses that he might exploit them. He knows whether or not you are in proper fellowship with all the brethren in his auditorium, and by my mentioning the subject, perhaps he has pushed his wedge a little deeper between you. He knows those few minutes yesterday when you were rehashing those wicked imaginations in your heart. He is aware that the Spirit was leading you to do something for the Lord the other day, but you refused. And now he is trying to tear you away from Christ for a few minutes even a worship service. Satan doesn’t need very much room to work, because our flesh is weak and sinful – prone to temptation.

Think about the poor disciples to whom Jesus was speaking. They had so much for which to be thankful, having spent more than three years with the Son of God. But they also had heard, yet couldn’t believe, that Christ would be leaving them – taken from them by death. Even as disciples, they had more than their share of unbelief lurking away in their hearts. They were ready to disobey God and His will in physically defending the Lord Jesus. Peter had a sword strapped to his side ready to shed other people’s blood to keep the Saviour from shedding His. In another place Christ “turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of“ – Luke 9:55.

Why were the disciple to watch? I don’t think that it was for Jesus’ sake, but theirs. Not only at Gethsemane, but everywhere and at all times, they were in danger of temptation to sin. And in that the Lord’s exhortation applies to us – “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.”

In Matthew 24 and 25 we find the Lord Jesus using the same word in a different context.

Matthew 25 begins with the Lord’s parable of the ten virgins awaiting the coming of the Bridegroom. “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.”

The last verse of the parable contains the words, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” I agree with what was said last week that at least in one regard, it doesn’t really matter what you believe about the rapture – when the translation of the saints will take place in relationship to the Tribulation. Doesn’t the Lord tell us all: “Be vigilant, be alert; be awake, you don’t know when the Lord will return.” It seems to me that we are all to live in the expectation of the Bridegroom’s soon arrival.

In the preceding chapter, Matthew 24, we have the so-called “Olivet Discourse.” Verse 3 – “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be: and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world.” Verse 36 – “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” Again, the Lord wasn’t telling us to look at people getting married, or people getting drunk, as indications of the soon coming of Christ. Such things are not celestial signs telling us that Christ will be here any moment. The point is: Christ will come at a time when life goes on, and when few are watching and waiting.

But that is not supposed to characterize the saint. Spiritual sleepiness, lethargy, and drowsiness are things condemned by the New Testament. We are told to live every day as if it is our last day on earth in one way or another – death or translation. “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” In Revelation 16:15 the glorified Christ says, “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is the that watcheth.” The message isn’t that Christ is a thief, taking things which may or may not belong to Him. The message is that, whether we are in the seven year tribulation, or we are standing at the doorway to that period, we are to be watching for the Lord’s surprise visit.


Now I take you back to Ezekiel. In regard to the New Testament word “watch,” we are all the same – pastor and people. Yes, there are still watchmen in the tower on the wall, whose job it is to warn the lost and the lazy. But the rest of us have a duty to watch as well. We are all commanded to “watch and pray.” And wasn’t the Lord disappointed in the sleepiness of the disciples? He still is.

Paul adds one additional comment to his exhortation in Colossians 4:2 – “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same WITH THANKSGIVING.” When your binoculars get a little foggy, and your eyes start to fail, as you scan across the horizon… When your hope begins to dims a little and your diligence in watching for temptation begins to weaken… Wipe the lense with the micro-fiber tissue of thanksgiving. Praise God when you can’t see temptation in your immediate vicinity. But praise God for the blessings you see coming your way. And thank Him for all that you have received – both good and reinforcing, and bad and faith-strengthening.