Our vehicles have all sorts of warning lights and sounds to let us know of an impending problem with major systems such as electrical, cooling, gas, oil pressure, etc., before we incur serious damage from a system failure. Newer models warn us about many things–seatbelts, doors ajar, tire pressure, and even if your gas cap is not securely fastened. The gas gauge on our car broke several months ago, so we have to make sure we set the trip odometer each time we fill up to give us an idea of when we need to get gas. On our recent return from Oregon, we faced some severe headwinds so our gas mileage dropped considerably and our low gas light and warning bell told us we had best find a station soon. Well, praise the Lord, we located one in just a few miles.
Warning lights and buzzers and bells can be annoying, but they can also save us a lot of grief and expense. They are there for a good reason. Our human nature would like to ignore them, put tape over them, or disarm them. But then we face the consequences of something far more serious than just the little annoyance of the lights and sounds.
When we travel, we depend on road signs to warn us too and help us avoid accidents. We have signs for speed limits, curves, intersections, hills, icy roads, stopping, yielding, etc. If we ignore the warning signs, we put ourselves and others in danger.
A recent guest speaker at our church happened to be going too fast through town (37 mph through a 25 mph zone) and saw those bright red and blue flashing lights in the mirror that always bring a sick feeling to the stomach. He pulled over and waited for the policeman to run his plates. As he waited, he was, of course hoping and praying that he wouldn’t get a speeding ticket. He had respect for the laws and those who enforce them, knew he was in the wrong, and had not intentionally been speeding. After showing the policeman his driver’s license and proof of insurance, he was greatly relieved to receive only a verbal warning.
God made our bodies such that we also have warning signals of something that is not functioning properly. We can determine from blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, temperature, etc, whether or not something is going on that we need to pursue further before we have some major health issues.
I’m reminded of how often in His Word, God gives us warnings, which if we heed, we can avoid some serious problems down the road. He gives them to nations as well as to individuals. He warned Adam to avoid eating the fruit of a certain tree in the Garden, telling him what the consequences would be if he did: “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). We all wish Adam and Eve had heeded the warning, because, unless the rapture happens in our lifetime, we will all die (cf Ro. 5:12,19; Heb. 9:27). God raised up prophets in the Old Testament to warn the nations of Israel and Judah of impending judgment if they didn’t repent and turn back to Him. Jeremiah cried out warnings to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin that God was sending the Babylonians to judge them. He said: “Flee for safety, O sons of Benjamin, from the midst of Jerusalem!…For evil looks down from the north and a great destruction” (Jer. 6:1). But they wouldn’t listen to Jeremiah. We read in verse 10: “To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ears are closed, and they cannot listen.” God chose Ezekiel as the prophet to warn Israel: “Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me” (Ezek. 3:17). He also warned Ezekiel that if he didn’t warn them, He would hold Ezekiel accountable for their blood (vv. 18-21).
In the New Testament, we see the wise men “warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod” (Mt. 2:12). Then an angel appeared to Joseph and warned him to take Jesus and Mary and flee to Egypt, “for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him” (v. 13). Aren’t you glad he heeded the warning!
During His ministry, Jesus too gave numerous warnings. He told His disciples to beware of false prophets (Mt. 7:15), to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Mt. 16:6,11; Lk. 12:1). He said we are to beware of covetousness (Lk. 12:15) and of making public display of our piety (Lk. 20:46). He warned of the consequences of despising children (Mt. 18:10). He said to be on guard against dissipation, drunkenness, and the worries of life (Lk. 21:34).
The Apostle Paul, in his writings, also gives us numerous warnings: Take heed how you build on the foundation (I Cor. 3:10); Take heed that your spiritual liberty isn’t a stumbling block to others (I Cor. 8:9); Watch out for pride, it often precedes a fall (I Cor. 10;2); Be aware of the schemes of the devil (Eph. 6:10,11); Take heed to fulfill your ministry (Col. 4:17); Take heed to continue in correct doctrine (I Tim. 4:16); Take heed lest unbelief causes you to falter in your relationship with God (Heb.; 3:12); Don’t go to bed angry (Eph. 4:26); Beware of the philosophies and traditions of men (Col. 2:8); Don’t sleep–watch and be vigilant (I Thes. 5:16); Watch in all things (II Tim. 4:5). The writer to the Hebrews also warned of covetousness and allowing roots of bitterness to take hold of our lives (Heb. 13:5; 121:15). Peter warned: Beware of the error of the wicked–don’t fall from your steadfastness (II Pet. 3:17), and Watch out for your adversary, the devil, who seeks to devour you (I Pet. 5:8).
Not only do we need to heed God’s warnings, we need to be, as Ezekiel and Jeremiah were, “watchmen” who are warning those around us of coming judgment if people do not repent and turn to Christ. Paul said, “And we proclaim Him, admonishing (warning) every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ. And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me” (Col. 2:28,29).
One of His Watchmen,