Who Knew What When

There is this scripture about the watchman
That says a watchman is set on a wall to look for enemies.
If he sees something and sounds the alarm,
He has done his job.

And if the people respond to that alarm
And prepare for action or defense,
Everyone is saved.
They have done their job.

But two things can go wrong here.
If the watchman dismisses the thing he sees as unimportant,
If he is sleeping or bored or no longer cares,
And fails to sound the alarm, whatever the reason for his failure, all is lost.

The second has to do with the hearers of the alarm.
If they dismiss it as an overzealous watchman strutting his authority,
Or if a birthday party, wedding, work, celebration of promotion, or sleep
Causes them to ignore the alarm, no matter the reason for ignoring it, all is lost.

It brings to mind the long political committee trials
Where it seems the only thing they are trying to find out
Is “who knew what when?”
And the impatient ones listening say ‘they failed, the wrong is done, what does it matter?”

On one level we know it has to do with punishment.
We know if someone is deliberately denied information
That would change their actions and keep the wrong from happening,
We go after the person who withheld the information.

And conspiracy theories are born.
People use this principle to accuse and abuse authority.
They use it for their own ideology, seeking to make us resent authority.
And we get to play the victim saying, “It’s not my fault.”

Yes, The whole withholding information thing cannot be thrust under a rug.
Yes, it happens,
Yes, it IS sometimes necessary,
Yes, it often is used for control of information.

But that’s not the point here.
There will come a time when God will say,
I set you as a watchman to tell people they are in trouble,
They need peace in their lives, and a relationship with me.

And if we smugly withhold that information,
Use it to put people in categories,
Like the media who love demographics,
And just tell people like us,

We have failed as a watchman for God.
And we will have to answer
When did you know that person needed God,
And how long have you known something was wrong in their life?

But wait, all is not lost.
When we act as a good watchman, and sound the alarm,
If we do it in God’s love and with his direction,
There is a fifty-fifty chance.

The hearer will dismiss God as unimportant,
Or accept Him, and that part is up to them and God.
We continue to be an example for God,
But for the time being, our job as a watchman is well done.

Ezekiel 33: 3-7a

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