The Politics of the Watchman

I have posted a reflection on Ezekiel 33:7-11 over on the Political Theology Today blog:

In a society despairing of hope of change, the watchman alerts people to the remaining yet shrinking windows of opportunity and the fact that, even still, the lifeline of God’s grace is extended to us. In a society that takes its life and security for granted and is complacent in its sins, the watchman warns of the potential imminence of judgment, the perils to which we have blinded ourselves, and the imperative of a change of course. In performing this task, watchmen express their own responsibility to and membership of the society to which they are delivering their warnings.

A combination of fatalism and short-termism renders the task of contemporary ‘watchmen’ especially frustrating: either we are presumed to be inescapably caught up in the inexorable flow of a doomed outworking of inevitable disasters, like a slow-motion car crash, or the extreme cluttering of the foreground of our attention obscures any further horizon. Whether people are warning about the necessity of immediate action to mitigate the effects and the degree of anthropogenic climate change, challenging us to attend to the deteriorating state of our public discourse and political culture, alerting people to the rapid rise of toxic political movements and to the existence of profound social injustices, or exposing the moral, social, and ecological unsustainability of our decadent hedonistic individualism, the response almost invariably seems to display unconcerned indifference or abject futility.

Read the whole piece here.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in Culture, Ethics, Ezekiel, Guest Post, OT, Politics, Society, Theological. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Politics of the Watchman

  1. Geoff says:

    I opened the link to the full article and made this comment there, forgetting that it was not here.

    I’m not sure about this being especially frustrating today especially when you consider Ezekiel’s “modelling behaviour” to make a point. And how about Hosea?. Nothing as frustrating as Isaiah when told from the start he’d not be listened to. In fact, his words did not return empty but accomplished God’s purposes.
    We have a guest preacher, asked to preach Micah.
    The bible was written for we who live today.
    We all need to know that it is God who saves us from God, for God. Judgement is so much closer for all of us, yet salvation is at hand, is for now. Would anyone not want the New Heaven on Earth that is in view? Just as the saints in the Old Testament, always looked forward to fulfilment, so must we look for consummation.
    While living in the present and to enabled us to live us to live in a state of gracious, blessed assurance, we must look both ways, back and forwards, as the book of Hebrews wonderfully elaborates
    From your recent posts, you seem to be emboldened, refreshingly so, even if, in this post, it is under cover of the title

  2. Geoff says:

    Moses. Perhaps not a watchman,
    I watched the the Ridley Scott movie “Exodus” on terrestial UK TV on Sunday, gone. I don’t usually watch these types of movies but it was surprisingly recommended, the Daily Telegraph on saturday.
    Unsurprisingly, it was not bibically accurate but it was watchable.
    I picked out a couple of snippets:
    1 In the court of Pharoh, from the entrails of a Swan, a court prophet or seer, saw tha ther would be a saviour, through whom the Saviour would come! She didn’t know what it meant, nobody did, much to the disgruntlement of the Court.
    2 The Shecknia glory of the burning bush was a son, The son was I AM.
    3 It was the son who spoke to Moses. It was the son who gave the commandments, carved by Moses. He told Moses his leadership would come to an end, the the people to be led, guided by the commandments.
    4 The son always stepped in when Moses was at the end of his own strength, understanding, ability, tether, particularly before the sea crossing, when trapped a the seas edge, a death closing in behind them, from the enemy’s army, hell bent on their destruction. But there was a miraculous deliverance by God, clearly not by Moses, That scene brought to mind the desperate scene in the recent Dunkirk film, where the troops were facing certain death waiting at the seafront, before unimagined rescue.

    Watchmen. You may be aware of this about Ripon in N Yorkshire:
    From before the Conquest until the incorporation charter of 1604 Ripon was governed by a wakeman and 12 elders, or aldermen, but in 1604 the title of wakeman was changed to mayor, and 12 aldermen and 24 common councilmen were appointed.
    In 1318, when the Scots invaded England, Ripon only escaped being burnt a second time by the payment of 1000 marks. The custom of blowing the wakeman’s horn every night at nine o’clock, maintained to this day, is said to have originated about AD 700. It was probably at first a means of calling the people together in case of a sudden invasion, but was afterwards a signal for setting the watch. A horn with a baldric and the motto “Except the Lord keep the city the watchman waketh but in vain” forms the mayor’s badge.
    That scripture quotation is a plaster engraving still prominent in the market place on the Town Hall.
    Here is a link to a photo of it.
    Imagine trying to get that approved on any pulbic building in the UK today.

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