We must make time on the rampart part of our daily lives. It requires discipline and obedience to draw apart and watch for what God wants to say. Unless we first learn honesty before God and a right attitude to correction, we cannot serve as true watchmen.
I will stand my watch And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected. (Habakkuk 2:1)
As with any genuine move of God, the call to raise up watchmen for His people has its ‘hangers on’ who chase after the apparent importance of the position. Ministries like deliverance, the prophetic, and intercessory prayer have all collected spiritual ‘groupies’ along for the glory ride. It’s terribly sad, but we can expect no less from the enemy who works consistently to hijack the real things of God and turn them to his purposes. The perception of many believers is that watchmen are part of the ‘elite,’ called to a grand and noble purpose. They are set high above others and are gifted with extraordinary discernment and authority. It may be that they do have certain gifts, but the real truth is that the job of watchman is often boring, thankless, uncomfortable, and even downright dirty. Out on the rampart, there’s little in the way of personal glory.
On the rampart is the place of obedience.
Today’s verse opens with Habakkuk declaring his commitment. We see him choosing to enter into a place of obedience which every believer should share. While some may have a particular ministry as watchmen, all believers are called to watch and pray. It’s as ordinary and as important as any other command given to us as disciples. Watching is part of our daily walk, and it’s our responsibility to make the decision to obey it. Like Habakkuk, we must willingly step up to stand our watch and set ourselves on the rampart. In other words, we must willingly ‘put ourselves out there’ because the rampart is not the place of comfort and ease. We won’t have the comfort and security of the crowd and might even have the mockery and ridicule of others. This is the place of obedience and surrender rather than self-gratification and illusions of grandeur.
I’m reminded, here, of how the disciples could not stay awake with Christ in Gethsemane. He needed them to watch and pray, but their personal comfort took precedence. Even there with Christ Himself in person, human frailty proved inadequate. There are undoubtedly many spiritual rewards that come from our obedience to set ourselves on the rampart. The focus, though, is not on ‘feel-good’ moments but on self-discipline and willing sacrifice. It’s about putting Him first and consciously and deliberately setting aside time to draw apart and climb the rampart to watch and wait on Him. Up there, we’ll find little to distract us. We have to leave all unnecessary things below. It’s the place of focus and commitment to the things of God, willingly setting self aside and accepting the discomfort, aloneness, and separation. Watchmen need to develop the obedient attitude of ‘I will’ no matter what.
Watching on the rampart is Godward and outward.
Based on other Bible verses, there is a tendency to understand watching as being outward. In other words, the watchman’s role is only to keep watch for approaching danger and warn the people. This is part of it, but Habakkuk uncovers a vital truth that adds a whole new and very relevant perspective. What we can see is that watching also involves watching for God. It means that part of our role on the rampart is to present ourselves to God and to willingly wait and watch for what He desires to say. This is a much-overlooked truth that believers need to seriously rethink. We cannot expect to have the required wisdom and discernment in our outward watching without first looking to God. He is the source of all we need to fulfil the call to be a watchman and we cannot neglect this critical drawing apart with Him.
Daniel was a watchman who looked to God and outward to the things affecting His people. He risked His life to draw apart in prayer and consistently denied Himself. His role of watching was focused on watching for God. He spent his time on the rampart listening and waiting for what God had to say. Such was his faithfulness and commitment that God sent an angel in reply. He also provided valuable insight into the spiritual issues at work, giving greater discernment and wisdom. In addition, Daniel was given powerful prophetic messages that spanned the political powers of his time to the end of the age and eternity. But his outward watch was the outworking of his Godward watch. It was his commitment and obedience, his willingness to put self aside and listen and watch for God, that released a prophetic ministry that still encourages believers today.
On the rampart is the place of honesty.
Up there, with all distractions and worldly diversions stripped away, is the place of honesty before God. It’s the place where pretence is no longer possible and excuses simply have no relevance. When we truly watch on the rampart, we have to open ourselves to the reality that it’s a one-on-one with God. There are two aspects to watching for God. The first is to see what He has to say. This is fairly broad in terms because obviously, God may choose to say anything about everything. He alone decides the what of it. But the second aspect highlights a crucial issue – our attitude to correction. This, in turn, adds deeper relevance to watching for what God has to say. It means opening ourselves up to correction and accepting that our watch time must include this. He doesn’t simply call us to serve but also to grow in obedience.
There will be many believers who chafe under the truth of this. It’s nicer to be swept away by the warm and fuzzy notions of a ‘great calling’ and the recognition it brings. The reality is far less comfortable. On the rampart, we’re exposed to the elements. There is no cover and no hiding place, and we stand before God with all our pretensions stripped away. We watch for His words of correction and we examine our response in absolute honesty. This is the place where we get to see ourselves as we really are and to entrust our hearts to His transforming grace. It’s where we let go and let Him work in us to shape and mould us according to His purposes. It’s seldom desirable or comfortable, but watching Godward with willing obedience and honesty shapes true watchmen. Humility before God brings His empowerment to serve.
A life of watching on the rampart.
We can neither avoid the rampart nor live there. The first is to shut ourselves off from God and a critical part of our lives as Spirit-filled believers. The second requires things to sustain us – the things of home rather than God. A life of watching on the rampart means stepping up to our watch. It’s setting aside time every day, a regular part of our day-to-day activities. If we’re employed to work shifts, that’s what we do. Soldiers have watch times set by their commanding officer. The kingdom of God is no different to this simple analogy. Our King and Commander sets our watch times and expects us to step up. It does require an honesty and obedience that will stretch us beyond anything we have known before. But our God has already made the way. What we hear on the rampart will surely change our lives and others.
Lord of all, we acknowledge today that You are our sovereign commander. Forgive us if we have been lax in looking to You. Also, if we have avoided hearing what You have to say to us or if our attitude to correction is wrong. Teach us in Your love and grace to come in honesty and obedience. Help us to allow You to complete Your perfect work in us for Your eternal glory.