“Why are the dogs set to guard the sheep if they cannot bark to waken the shepherd and frighten the wolf?” -A 17th Century minister
I can honestly say I have never paid as much attention to the following passage as I did today:
“Israel’s watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep! They are dogs with mighty appetites, they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding, they all turn to their own way, each seeks his own gain.” -Isaiah 56:10-11
My God, My God, what an eye opener. First God speaks to me through others about discipleship and shepherding, then He begins to drill into me about radical trust, and then… then He speaks to me once again about the watchmen. The first time I heard the prolific call for the watchmen was at a small gathering of worshipers who were invited to a sit down with Don Potter. He spoke about the worshiper’s creed in Micah 3 and what our mandate is as according to Jacob’s house, and in accordance with the duty of worshipers at the foot of the mountain where David’s tabernacle stood. At one point I found myself looking up from my Bible and notes when he spoke about how all of it was derived from being watchmen. Some are classified as lookouts, others… guardians, and even others warriors. But, all in essence were and are one in the same.
What an amazing expectation to hold up to, don’t you think?? But, then I look back at the above passage mentioned, and my eyes still grow wide with the increased understanding and revelation of the passage. To understand the passage, I might need to take a step back and at least give a brief run down of preceeding passages leading up to the one mentioned here.
An instance of restoration for Israel was taking place in the form of a vision. Israel had fallen into a spiritual stupor that had opened the doors to both spiritual and physical attacks. They had turned their backs on God, living their own lives, in their own ways. Forgetting the convenant that had been set forth between the nation and God.
It was kind of like the Revelatory passages where one of the seven churches are acknowledged for their spiritual successes, and then quickly leads to their failures, by it being said… “But, I have this one thing against you…”
God revealed that Israel WOULD be restored and their future glorious, BUT He could not allow their spiritual stupor to go unpunished! This is where the passages started leading to vs. 10-11 of Chapter 56. The watchmen of Israel were described as always dreaming, but forever sleeping. They loved to sleep! There’s a reason why the Word chooses this phrase, I believe. It’s not enough to dream, folks. We have to awake and act on those dreams; otherwise we are nothing but “blind” fools full of “ignorance” and complacency. The watchmen (the leaders) of Israel were described as such. I like this one entry I read after doing a little research, and it was said, “their leaders were depicted as shepherds with no discernment, acting like the very sheep they were supposed to lead.”
It reminds of a curious phrase I heard once… “Never expect God to do for us, what we are not willing to do for ourselves.” The people had become wasteful, and had fallen into severe stupors of spiritual complacency. I imagine that for many, the idea that the convenant was a “get out of free jail card” was their ticket to such a religious spirit and complacency. Reminds you of anyone else we may know? I digress…. My father was Roman Catholic — so trust me when I say, I have the right to say it. But seriously, no offense intended… just simply… putting out the truth.
If you are not willing to live a righteous life, do not expect God to move in you as if you were. If you are not willing to be the watchmen God has called all of us to be (on different levels, and in different ways) then do not expect God to make you anymore effective than you probably already are. God was furious with the watchmen of the nation. They were blind, greedy, religiously prideful, and spiritually, just plain, stupid.
What a dreary depiction made about the watchmen in v10. “…They are all mute dogs, they cannot bark…” I was curious about the meaning of that particular description — mute dogs that cannot bark. Interesting statement! Evenmore, what an interesting answer to the question. One 17th century minister had his own answer, by asking a question himself: Why are the dogs set to guard the sheep if they cannot bark to waken the shepherd and frighten the wolf?
Every light bulb and blinking signs of “Eureeka” came popping up in my head. The blind watchmen wasn’t so much about the leaders, as it was about the people…. the believers that did not stand, cry out, and awaken their shepherds that were watching over the flock against the attacks of the enemy. It’s like the worshipers and watchmen at the bottom of the mountain at David’s tabernacle. Their ONLY job 24/7 was to worship. As worshipers they were their to glorify God, as watchmen, they were there to fight against the enemy with praise. They were guardians, seated at the bottom of the mountain, where David knew they were the front line defense (spiritually) to the tabernacle.
The watchmen, the leaders, had all but miserably failed in their dutiful positions, and it angered God. The enemy (in the case the Babylonians) had been allowed to push forth and conquer Israel because of their complacency.
I personally don’t want to be like the blind watchmen. I don’t want to be a disciple or shepherd with no discernment, acting like the very sheep they are supposed to lead. I’ve seen what that does, and it’s not pretty. I don’t want to be blind, a watchmen with no bark, with no discernment of impending danger. Without the ability to warn my shepherds, and my brothers and sisters in Christ. Been there, done that.
Reformation is a good thing.
I love you, guys!
“This above all to thine self be true.”