(The Lord said) "So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from My mouth, you shall give them warning from Me." Ezekiel 33:7
It was after dark when Police Chief Jerry Peralta pulled up in front of the oceanfront units of the Richelieu Apartments in Pass Christian, Mississippi.
A man with a drink in his hand came out to the second-floor balcony and waved. Peralta yelled up, "You all need to clear out of here as quickly as you can. The storm is getting worse." But as others joined the man on the balcony, they just laughed at Peralta's order to leave.
"This is my land," one of them yelled back, "If you want me off, you'll have to arrest me."
Peralta didn't arrest anyone, but he wasn't able to persuade them to leave either. Sadly, the chief wrote down the names of the next of kin of the 20 partiers. They were amused as he took their names. Some even thanked Peralta, and then they shared, "I'm sure we will be just fine."
It was 10:15 p.m. when the front wall of the storm came ashore.
Scientists clocked Camille's wind speed at more than 205 miles per hour, at that time, the strongest on record. Raindrops hit with the force of bullets, and waves off the Gulf Coast crested between 22 and 28 feet high.
News reports later showed that the worst damage came at the little settlement of motels, go-go bars, and gambling houses known as Pass Christian, Mississippi.
It was there that 20 people were killed at a hurricane party held at the Richelieu Apartments. Nothing was left of that three-story structure but the foundation; the only survivor was a five-year-old boy found clinging to a mattress the following day. Those people died because they failed to hear the words of the watchman!
There is little doubt that many other people are going to die for eternity because they refuse to listen to the Lord's words, which are being shared by God's earthly watchman. All too often when the pulpit proclaims, "This is a sin" or "That is a transgression" people reply, "Maybe in the days of Moses and Ezekiel and Peter, but not now." When folks are encouraged to repent, they refuse. When they are asked by their church to remain faithful to the Word, many prefer to find a church that says, "You are okay just the way you are."
Understand, I am not saying every sentence spoken by a pastor, priest, professor or church leader is the Gospel truth.
Coming from a fellow sinner, we can be pretty sure that every once in a while errors, faults and flaws will creep in. But when a watchman shares the Word as it was given, when he condemns that, which our just God has condemned, and when He shares the forgiveness and grace that was won for us by Jesus on Calvary's cross, then it is time to pay attention.
If we do, God will be glorified, our watchman will be able to give a good account, and the listener will have the peace of knowing he has done as the Lord has asked.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, right now we pray for those we know who have disregarded the words of the watchman and the call of the Holy Spirit. There is great danger they will soon be swept away. For them I pray this: while there is still time let them hear and be brought to repentance and salvation. Let them hear and follow the Savior who gave Himself for us. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries