The other day I was in Wegman’s parking lot, and they were busy. Lots of coming and going everywhere. As I started to back up to leave, I was watching very carefully, because there is always the concern of backing into someone or something. Seems that some people think the whole lot is a sidewalk, and it’s the driver’s job to look out for them!
After checking my mirrors, and turning around and looking carefully behind me, I started very slowly to back up. Suddenly I heard “Beep… beep, beep… beep.” Instantly I touched my brake, because that is what the car’s alarm system is all about. When you are backing up, it beeps to alert you of danger. It is a warning to stop you when it senses that something or someone is behind you.
The new technology on these cars is a great blessing for us older ones, and it’s there for a purpose. But a warning is meant to be heeded. If it warned and we paid no attention, why have it?
I stopped instantly when I heard the warning, and nothing came of it.
And I will never know why it beeped. I looked around but didn’t see cause for it. Nevertheless, I was grateful to have been warned. Who knows what the sensor might have picked up that I didn’t see—a small child behind the car, or a youth running by, or a grocery cart too close, or… or? So many possibilities, none of which I saw. But I was still thankful for the alert.
It left me pondering a great spiritual lesson.
Suppose the warning sounded, and I paid no attention—because I didn’t see the cause for the warning. What am I saying if I don’t heed the warning? I’m saying that I know better than the warning device, that I trust my judgment more than the warning.
So why be warned?
Isn’t that the way we do with the Lord sometimes? He warns where He sees danger—usually through the eyes of someone near us—and we pay no attention. But just because we don’t see or sense the danger doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It’s even possible that we have seen it so many times that we don’t even think of it as danger. That is where our helpers in the Lord are invaluable. They can often “see” what we would otherwise overlook, and can help us keep safe.
If we heed the warning in a temporal situation, shouldn’t we be even more anxious to heed it in the forming of our characters before God?
That is why we have the Scriptures. They give us the “Beep…beep” alert. This is a warning to be obeyed, not to disregard because we don’t understand exactly why. Someone else sees it, or perhaps there is something in our circumstances that God arranged to alert us to danger. Do we just let it go by because we think we know better? What kind of respect is that showing to God!
I can think of times I let a warning go because I didn’t see the reason for it. But isn’t that extremely dangerous?
Just because we don’t see the danger doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
The prophet Jeremiah put out a serious warning. “Beep…beep.” It was a warning meant to be heeded:
Jeremiah 13:15–16 15Hear and give ear: Do not be proud, For the Lord has spoken. 16Give glory to the Lord your God Before He causes darkness, And before your feet stumble On the dark mountains, And while you are looking for light, He turns it into the shadow of death And makes it dense darkness.
How many times the Scriptures sound the “Beep…beep” warning. They say, “take heed” or “beware” or “hearken.” It sounds again and again to alert us to danger that we might otherwise overlook.
Paul calls it being “overtaken in a fault.” What does he say?
Galatians 6:1 1Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
Notice that the responsibility is on both persons. The brother or sister correcting the one at fault must “restore” him, but at the same time — “Beep…beep” – watch out! Restoring is only part of it. What about the attitude (spirit) of the one who observed it?
1…restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
If we are wanting to help someone over a wrong, Paul says, “consider yourself.” “Beep…beep.” You also can be tempted!
No place here for a spirit of superiority. YOU could fall in the same hole! YOU could be overtaken in the same wrong. “Beep…beep.”
Jesus said it about covetousness—the love of “things.” What was the warning?
Luke 12:15 15And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
The chase after “things” isn’t new with our generation, but it certainly hasn’t diminished. When were more “things” ever available! It is the glitter of Babylon. “Beep…beep.”
Take heed. Beware. Hearken. “Beep…beep.” We hear it over and over again through the Scriptures.
God told Ezekiel he had set him to be a watchman. Ezekiel had a duty. “Beep…beep.” Sound the warning—in Ezekiel’s case it was to blow a trumpet, much louder than a beep! But the message was the same: watch out! Beware! There is trouble up ahead.
Ezekiel was to warn of approaching danger . But the people warned also had a duty—to heed it.
Let’s read it from Ezekiel 33.
Ezekiel 33:1–3 1Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2“Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, 3when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people,
That is the prophet doing his duty, watching for danger. What about those who hear and do not take the warning?
Ezekiel 33:4–5 4then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself.
Those who hear and do not take the warning – they are at fault, they are taken away because they didn’t heed the warning. What about those who heed the warning?
Ezekiel 33:5 5… he who takes warning will save his life.
What if the watchman sees danger coming but does not blow the trumpet to warn the people?
Ezekiel 33:6 6But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’
The people who are not warned and do not get away from the danger are “taken away” in their iniquity. But more than this, the watchman who saw the danger coming and did not WARN the people will also be accountable and taken down for failing to do his duty.
Now the Lord says to Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 33:7–9 7“So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. 8When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 9Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.
In other words God says, Ezekiel, YOU are responsible. Where you see wrong, you must warn, or you are guilty along with the one transgressing.
The people did not like this accountability. What was their complaint?
Ezekiel 33:10 10“…‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?” ’
They said, like so many today, It’s hopeless to try to do right, we are so bad, we’re defeated before we try! They didn’t like being responsible. What was the answer from God that Ezekiel was to deliver?
Ezekiel 33:11 11Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’
They didn’t see God’s MERCY behind this plan. God did not want them to die., All they had to do was TURN and they would be delivered! Let’s read verse 11 again:
11Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’
God was showing His absolute fairness. The problem was not God but the wayward people. All they had to do at any point was TURN. At any point the one doing wrong could STOP doing the wrong and turn to God.
Again God’s fairness comes through.
Ezekiel 33:12 12“Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: ‘The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness in the day that he sins.’
The righteous one cannot deliver the one who transgresses; and the one transgressor will not fall because of his transgression as soon as he turns from it. “Beep…beep.”
What mercy! At ANY point we can change, just as Isaiah said so clearly:
Isaiah 1:16 16“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do well.
God’s promise of mercy even goes beyond the point of our turning from our wicked ways and doing what is right. What does he tell Ezekiel?
Ezekiel 33:14–16 14Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, 15if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 16None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live.
God says, TURN, heed the “Beep…beep” and I won’t even MENTION where you went wrong! I’ll forget it completely. When you have done what is right, you will LIVE.
God’s remedy for sin is so simple, so straightforward. No need for the blood of Christ, no need for any rite or ritual. Just turn and LIVE!
Proverbs says it again:
Proverbs 28:13 13He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
Confess and forsake – that is all God asks.
The lesson under all this? Listen for the warning. “Beep…beep.” Then?
1- HEED it. ASAP. Don’t think, I want to make my own judgment about this thing before I do anything about it. What does the Psalmist say?
2- Take whatever step is needed to CORRECT it.
3- THANK the one who loves us enough to sound the warning, “Beep…beep.” Don’t take it as an afront but as the loving concern of a brother or sister in Christ. Realize they want to SAVE us from a stumble, an injury, a potential calamity down the road, and grief at the day of Judgment.
And WHO is the watchman? God has made each of us to be a watchman, FIRST to warn OURSELVES, and SECOND, to others. Remember the warning is to SAVE our LIFE.
Ezekiel 3:18 18When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life,
That is the purpose: “to save his life.”
It isn’t about making a noise. It is a warning against real danger, transgression, taking the wrong course. What if the beeper went “Beep…beep,” “Beep…beep” all the time? The warning would be useless, and worse! We would be discouraged—we would want to disconnect it!
No, our words must be purposeful, sincere and kind. God wants us sincerely interested in OUR safety and that of our brother or sister. It is to save us from danger, to save life! It isn’t about a complaint, or something we don’t happen to like. It is to recognize danger and AVOID it, to save life.
And the life we save MAY BE OUR OWN!