Watch – The Keynote Of Safety
By E. M. Bounds
The devil uses a thousand instruments against us, comes to us in a thousand ways, administers a thousand rebukes, and assaults by a thousand surprises. Wakefulness at all times is our only safety. To be wide-awake not only when we see his form and sense his presence, but wide-awake to see him when he is not to be seen, to repel him when he comes in any one of his ten thousand disguises – this is our wise and safe course.
No alarm cry is so frequent in the New Testament as the call to watch. No call hurts Satan so vitally and defeats him so readily and so totally as to watch. Being on the watchtower prevents all surprises, and is the way to victory.
Watchfulness is a call to be sleepless, to be vigilant, to be ready, always ready. It is an image drawn from shepherds, in which we have Jacob’s indignant defense and protest against Laban: "In the day the drought consumed me and the frost by night and sleep departed from mine eyes" (Gen. 31:40). To watch is to be opposed to all listlessness. It is a wakeful state with sleep gone, as when one rouses himself in the presence of some great peril, cautious and on guard, a state in which no slumbering is allowed. Drowsiness is gone. Watchfulness quickens us against laziness and spiritual sloth.
In Revelation 3:2 the church at Sardis is called to watchfulness, because she is lethargic, as though drugged by the external appearance of all being well and good. The Ephesian church is charged to unite watching with persevering prayer (Eph. 6:18). The Corinthian church is urged to watch and stand fast (1 Cor. 16:13). The Colossians are exhorted to "continue in prayer, and watch in the same" (Col. 4:2). The Thessalonians are to "watch and be sober" (1 Thess. 5:6). Timothy, the young preacher, was to "watch thou in all things" (2 Tim. 4:5). Peter’s call is to be "sober, and watch unto prayer" because the solemn end of all things was hastening (1 Pet. 4:7). Again he says: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he might devour" (1 Pet. 5:8). In Revelation 16:15 we have the startling call, "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame."
The most frequent call to watchfulness is from our Lord. "Watch, therefore," He says, "for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come" (Matt. 24:42). Again He calls us to the exercise of this great grace: "Watch, therefore; for ye know neither the day nor the hour the Son of Man cometh" (Matt. 25:13). Again and again does He call us to "watch ye therefore."
The herald cry, the trumpet call from Him to us, is to be awake, to be fully awake, to be tremendously awake. "Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36). "Watch and pray," He charged His disciples, and so He charges us to "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matt. 26:41). Still today the flesh is weak, and watchfulness must ever be united with prayer while we are in the flesh.