Aloha Friday Message – September 4, 2020 – Watching the Watchers

2036AFC090420 – Watching the Watchers

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    Ezekiel 33:7-8 So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, “O wicked ones, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. (NRSVCE)

You, human one, I’ve made you a lookout for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear me speaking, you must give them warning from me. If I pronounce a death sentence on wicked people, and you don’t warn them to turn from their way, they will die in their guilt, but I will hold you responsible for their blood. Common English Bible (CEB)

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. I want to begin by thanking all of you who have offered prayers for my sister-in-law, Paula. This week she was transferred from ICU to Hospice care. We continue to pray for her, for her husband and daughter, and her grandchildren as well as her siblings. We pray that God will be merciful as we watch and wait. We also have family in Lake Charles – my brother John and his wife Dixie and daughter Amanda – and other grandchildren, cousins, and siblings. Lake Charles was decimated by hurricane Laura. All of them suffered many losses. All of them also have health issues in addition to the COVID-19 VIRUS and the hurricane damage. Now, on with our lesson for today.

In today’s topic we have allusions to being on watch. With everything that’s going on across the world, we sometimes wonder who is watching over us and who is watching the watchers. It seems the concept and practice of accountability has been tossed out the window. It is as if no one is in charge despite there being so many people who claim to be in charge. This is happening in every aspect of human life including – but not limited to – religion, politics, government, law, production of every type of consumable (from food to fantasy to fiddle-faddle), family, ethnicity, and even life itself. It’s like the whole world turned into the persecutors and the persecuted worse than Rodney Dangerfield’s constant complaint of “I get no respect.” (← Check it out!) Even if we turn to God, there are those who will say it’s wrong, or try to corrupt our faith, or even oppose us with everything from heresy to hearsay. How are we supposed to know what to do?

Well, if you read these posts, you probably know what’s coming next. We are supposed to have faith, trust in the Lord, do the right thing, love God and neighbor, and keep an eye on the folks around us – especially our fellow Christians. Wha-a-a-a-a-t? Let me give you some examples. We can start with a quote from Sunday’s Gospel from Matthew 18. Jesus is telling the Apostles how to deal with “backsliders,” and folks who misrepresent the values and practice of Christian living. What Jesus tells them is too 1 – privately alert them, 2 – meet with them and 2-3 witnesses, and 3 – if all else fails, take the matter to the Church – the Fellowship of Saints to which you both belong. If the errant member will not accept the rule of the Church, that one is to be treated as “Gentile or a tax collector,” that is, as someone outside the fellowship of the Church. Does that seem inconsistent with our beliefs about “Christian values?” Hmm, maybe it is not only consistent, but also necessary.

Take another look at our Key Verse for today. What has God told Ezekiel? “I’m setting you as a watchman over the House of Israel,” … and he is charged with the responsibility of warning them when they are wrong. If he does warn them and they persist in being wrong, they will die (be denied Life in God) in their own iniquity, and he shall be credited with doing God/s Will. HOWEVER, if he fails to warn them and they persist in sinning, they will still die, but he will be blamed for their death. Doesn’t that sound familiar?

Do you recall the Judgment of the Nations in Matthew 25:31-46? It’s where Jesus talks about the sheep and the goats, the good and the evil, the faithful and the opposers of faith. It contains this stark prophecy: Matthew 25:41 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; and further, in Matthew 25:46 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

We have previously learned (↔ Click Link) what mercy is and how it has a role in our lives. What we learned is that works of mercy – being merciful – affects us body and soul. There are corporal works of mercy, traditionally seven.

  1. Feed the hungry, 2. Give drink to the thirsty, 3. Welcome the stranger, 4. Clothe the naked, 5. Care for the ill, 6. Visit the imprisoned, 7. Bury the dead

There are also seven spiritual works of mercy, six taught to us by Jesus, and the seventh added to affirm respect for human life.

  1. Admonish sinners, 2. Instruct the uninformed, 3. Counsel the doubtful, 4. Comfort the sorrowful, 5. Be patient with those in error, 6. Forgive offenses, 7. Pray for the living and the dead.

In Sunday’s Gospel Jesus is teaching us how to admonish sinners and how to instruct the uninformed (in this day and age we might say misinformed). What Ezekiel was assigned, and what Jesus described, is – in a way – “combined” in James 4:17 17 Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin. As Christians we are charged to love God and neighbor, and in that love we are required to be as sentinels – like a watchman – for the sake of the Gospel. The Word is jam-packed with admonitions about relying on the Lord and helping each other serve him. Here are a few that show up frequently:

Psalm 127:1-2 1 Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, and to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. New American Standard Bible (NASB) [1]

Ephesians 5:29 29 For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church

Hebrews 12:15 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled.

2 Timothy 3:1-8 You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them! For among them are those who make their way into households and captivate silly women, overwhelmed by their sins and swayed by all kinds of desires, who are always being instructed and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these people, of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith, also oppose the truth. (Jannes and Jambres were the sorcerers in Pharaoh’s court who contrived to imitate and confuse Moses’ message.)

Let me recommend a short but very valuable side excursion for you. Please find your Bible and open it to The Letter of Jude. It’s near the end of the New Testament. It’s only about 600 words and will take less than two minutes to read; however in it you will find directions for dealing with nearly every crazy, sinful, and distressing thing that is going in the World today. Pay particular attention to Jude 1:17-22 17 But you, beloved, must remember the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 for they said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, indulging their own ungodly lusts.” 19 It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions. 20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; 21 keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on some who are wavering;

AND WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT WATCHERS? LOOK TO Daniel 4:13 13 I continued looking, in the visions of my head as I lay in bed, and there was a holy watcher, coming down from heaven. These were/are holy angels who watch over every soul and nation. Why are we watching them? Because they do what is right and just. They encourage leaders, and everyone in authority (including judges) to serve with morality, compassion, integrity, wisdom and justice. That is how we must serve.

Beloved, this is the lesson I want you to take from this: We should know our faith, and that we should start by knowing when God is speaking to us. That is why we have the Bible, the inspired Word of God. Next we must learn to discern between false and true teachings, and there again we turn to the Bible in Paul’s letter to the Hebrews 4:12 we read that the Word is like a two-edged sword, so effective that it cuts right into us, differentiating between the soul and the spirit, between the joints and bones of our lives, and judges the content of our hearts. Paul calls the Word the Sword of the Spirit in Ephesians 6:17. Get into the Word, get into your Bible, then get you and your Bible into Church and good, sincere, holy Bible study. Just keep a sharp eye and ear for those lurkers that proffer slander, hatred, lust, and self-serving greed. We are charged to watch for them because …

WE, too, are sentinels, set to watch the Church. Let me reiterate that much of what we read in the New Testament is directed toward believers in Christ Jesus, and not so much to the World. In the World, people all too often fail to perceive the power of the Grace that is already in them and they resist that Grace and refuse to repent. THAT’S WHERE WE COME IN. Do you recall what Jesus himself told us? Luke 17:3 Be on your guard! If another Disciple [ἀδελφός (adelphos) {ad-el-fos’} brother in Christ] sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. “Well, OK but I don’t really think I can call out someone else.” “Why should I warn them? I’m no saint.” “Isn’t that the job of the Pastor or Deacon?” “I wouldn’t know how to do that without causing a big stir!” “Everybody’s entitled to their own beliefs.” Belovéd, we are asked to watch each other in a loving way. Romans 13:10 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. This is our charge as sentinels: Restoration, adjudication, and reconciliation done individually, as a community of believers, and as the Church. We know what is right, so we must do what is right: 1 Peter 3:12 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Let us remember the promise related to us by James in James 5:19-20 19 My brothers and sisters [adelphos], if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, 20 you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. How will we know an adelphos is wandering unless we are watching as we have been told to do? Watch your adelphos through the lens of Love.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

 

 

[1] Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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