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Watchman on the Wall

Let My People Think / Ravi Zacharias
The Truth Network Radio
December 19, 2020 1:00 am

Watchman on the Wall

Let My People Think / Ravi Zacharias

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December 19, 2020 1:00 am

Is there a way to know what God's will is for your life? Can you see Him directing your path, or do you struggle to see or hear what He's saying? RZIM's Founder, the late Ravi Zacharias, looks at the story of Nehemiah and how he followed God even in difficult circumstances. That's this week on Let My People Think.


Thank you for downloading from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

Support for this podcast comes from your generous gifts and donations. You can find out more about Ravi Zacharias and the team at You can look at the time of the Wesleys or the Whitfields or the Spurgeons or the William Wilberforces and you will see at the center of that column all the Billy Grahams. At the center of that column one person who moved in a certain direction because he or she knew where God was moving and the bona fide mass movement follows along. There was such a man in the mid 400s before Christ.

He was a cup bearer to the Persian monarch in the palace itself. Who was this man that Ravi Zacharias is talking about? A man who according to Ravi's description knew exactly what God wanted from him. Hello and welcome to Let My People Think as we share some of the timeless messages from RZM's founder, the late Ravi Zacharias. Is there any Christian who doesn't long and pray for knowledge of exactly what God wants from him or her? It really isn't such a mystery. The Bible is full of information about what God asks of his people. This week Ravi is going to share one of those examples in his message, Watchmen on the Wall.

Here's Ravi now. We're engaged in a huge titanic struggle in our culture. And the fact of the matter is not only are we uncertain about how to hold on to the substance of the message and retain theological integrity, but we are even more confused about how to find the means and retain methodological genius.

How do we retain the substance of what we believe? And find the ways and the means to communicate it at a time when words have been redefined. Rights have taken on nuances that a generation ago people would never have put into that category. It's an amazing time in which we live when we talk so much about human rights and very little about the right to be human. Because we don't even know actually what it means to be human. And with the plurality of messages that you're hearing and one after another voice reminding you and reminding me, it's going to take ultimately the power of God and the wisdom of God to turn the tide that is flowing with such might against that which is essentially right.

Not pragmatically redefined. You see, all questions about evil and all questions against the existence of God make one great assumption that life has worth. When you raise the problem of evil and say, how can God allow all of this to happen? You're assuming in the question that your question is a worthy one because you have essential worth. How can one arrogate to humanity essential worth if time plus matter plus chance has been the original cause?

The only way you can assume human worth is if we are the offspring or the creation of an entity who himself is of ultimate worth. I want to read for you two statements. They are tough. One is a longer one. One is a briefer one. And then build into my message where I want to talk about before we put the watchman on the wall, let us build the wall. And I'm going to get to that part of it in the heart of my message.

Here it is. In the late 80s, we should have been alerted to this when Arthur Schlesinger said this in an interview with the New York Times. The mystic prophets of the absolute cannot save us. Sustained by our history and traditions, we must save ourselves at whatever risk of heresy or blasphemy. We can find solace in the memorable representation of the human struggle against the absolute in the fine scene in the greatest of American novels. I refer, of course, to the scene when Huckleberry Finn decides that the plain hand of Providence requires him to tell Miss Watson where her runaway slave Jim is to be found. Huck writes his letter of betrayal to Miss Watson and feels, quote, all washed and clean of sin for the first time he had ever felt this way in my life. And I know that I could pray now. He sits down there for a while thinking how good it was all this happened and how near I came to being lost and going to hell.

Then Huck begins to think about Jim and the rush of the great river and the talking and the singing and the laughing and the friendship. Then I began to look around and I seized that paper and I took it up and I held it in my hand. And I was a trembling because it got to decide forever between two things. And I noted I studied it a minute, sort of holding my breath.

And then I says to myself, all right, then I'll go to hell and tore it up. Schlesinger adds this footnote that, if I may say so, is what America is all about. He was too brilliant a man not to have noticed that the problem in the first place was because of the loss of an absolute. Taking the text out of context and creating a conflict between absolutes when the problem in the first place had come about because of a violation of absolutes, then he invokes a kind of a relativism which he ought never to have invoked.

But they are smart in the way they position issues in order to be self-referencing in their ultimate decisions. Listen now to the words of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The west is on the verge of collapse, created by its own hands. Between good and evil, listen to this statement, please, between good and evil there is an irreconcilable contradiction. One cannot build life, one's national life, without regard for this distinction. We, the oppressed people of Russia, watch with anguish the tragic and feeblement of Europe. We offer you the experience of our own suffering.

We would like you to accept it without having to pay the monstrous price of death and slavery that we have paid. Between good and evil, there is an irreconcilable contradiction. I want to take you through one man's life and point out to you that it is the kind of individual with the kind of vision that he had that it is going to take to rebuild the city, to rebuild the walls of this city as you and I, as watchmen and watchwomen keeping an eye on the city can alert the people to why the wall was built in the first place and what is the reason that we are there in order to protect that which is sacred.

G.K. Chesterton put it rightly when he said, any time you remove any fence, always pause long enough to ask why it was put there in the first place. These words were written by Richard Ellsworth Day in his book Filled with the Spirit. It would be of no surprise if a study of secret causes were undertaken to find out that in every golden era in human history, it proceeds ultimately from the devotion and righteous passion of one single individual. This does not set aside the sovereignty of God. It simply indicates the instrument through which God uniformly works.

In many ways, there are really no bona fide mass movements. It may look that way, but at the center of the column, there is always at least one person who knows God and knows where God is going. It may look like a bona fide mass movement, but at the center of the column, there is one person who knows God and knows where God is going. You can look at the time of the Wesleys or the Whitfields or the Spurgeons or the William Wilberforces, and you will see at the center of that column all the Billy Grahams. At the center of that column, one person who moved in a certain direction because he or she knew where God was moving.

And the bona fide mass movement follows along. There was such a man in the mid 400s before Christ. He was a cupbearer to the Persian monarch in the palace itself. Now, the amazing thing to me about Nehemiah is this, that even though he was an exile, the king trusted him more than he trusted his own people, because this man was the taster of the food before the king consumed it.

Imagine having that kind of integrity, where even though I have got you as a captive in my precincts, I'm trusting you so much that I believe you're the one with whom I would risk my entire life. There had to be something about the character of this man where the monarch knew he would never betray a trust that was given to him. What a character tribute to Nehemiah. He was a civil engineer, and he ushered in this great return. They were taken in three waves of captivity, they came back in three returns, and you see the monarchs being influenced by him. If you read chapters one and two, you'll begin to quickly see the story. May I race through the highlights of this life? The first thing is this, he felt a pathos for his people.

He personally felt a pathos for his people. Ladies and gentlemen, you will never lighten any load until you feel the pressure in your own soul. You will never lighten any load until you feel the pressure in your own soul. You know, my life as an itinerant is so crowded out sometimes that I think in the latter years, when they do come, I'm going to regret at how fast I actually moved. Last week I was in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia speaking there at some meetings the day before yesterday at Menlo Park in San Francisco. This morning in Orlando, I speak at a conference and flew out and come here. And I say to myself, when I just lay down for about half an hour when I came here, I said, Lord, this is not right, because I'm not allowed to bask in the blessing that you pour.

I'm moving so quickly as of what happened last week didn't really happen. I am now onto something new. So I did something.

I just called my wife and rehearsed with her what happened just this morning, just so that I could relive it and treasure it. But God has put on my heart the needs of this world, especially to reach the skeptic. I give priority to hostile audiences. I don't often come to audiences like this as wonderful as it is.

You're too kind and you're too good. And my calling is to those who are not going to agree with most of what I have to say to them. And yet on that last day in Kuala Lumpur, my colleague who's here with me, Krin, will tell you at the invitation to see that wide front packed to capacity with men and women. And I had the privilege of praying with a woman in her middle years, a refugee from Iran of a completely different faith. And as the tears ran down her face and she said, something happened to me as you were speaking. And it dawned on me as my colleague reminded me she didn't even speak English. I had the privilege of praying with her through an interpreter.

And yet as I walked away from there, I thought to myself, this is where I belong. I belong in the midst of people who have a completely different worldview to mine. You know, politicians can be limited.

Preachers can be limited. We cannot hear the heartbeat and the cry of every person. But I remember after a great tragedy in New York City one night in the 70s, if you remember, a woman who was destitute came home. The newborn baby and the dog had eaten up that baby because she had no food and left the baby on the floor, a five-day-old baby. And the whole city was stunned into shock.

I remember reading that, I think it was somewhere in the mid 70s. And they were all questioning the politicians, how could so much go wrong in an individual life and nobody be aware of it. And finally a city councilman spoke up. He said, do you know what you're asking me to do? He said, do you know what you're asking of me? He said, I don't even have a heart big enough sometimes to hear the heartbeat and cry of even every member of my family or my relatives. You're asking me to hear the heartbeat of a whole city and a borough this size. You may as well ask me to listen to the sound of every blade of grass growing and the heartbeat of every squirrel. The noise would be deafening on the other side of silence. You may as well ask me to listen to the sound of every blade of grass growing and the heartbeat of every squirrel. The noise would be deafening on the other end of silence. Ladies and gentlemen, the world is so large and the news is so vast and expansive.

And at the end of 30 to 40 minutes, you pause and say to myself, how can I even absorb all of this? So the only thing you and I can do is begin each day and end each day, at least the beginning and end, if not punctuated with several such visits before God. Ask him, what is the burden he's laid on your heart? That's what he intends for you and me to carry. We cannot carry everything, but we must ask him what it is he wants us to carry.

And I challenge you with just this one simple moment of thought here. Can you and I really carry a burden for the world if we do not carry a burden for the value of every human life? It's essential worth. It's value. You desacralize life and everything like a domino effect becomes desacralized and all of our choices become desacralized in the process.

And so the battle or the issue in which we are engaged is a very serious one. You'll never lighten any load until you feel the pressure in your own soul. Secondly, I look at Nehemiah. How did he prioritize his mission? He prioritized his mission in prayer, prioritize his mission with prayer. Eleven times in 13 chapters, he went to his knees and he says, so I prayed to the God of heaven. So I prayed to the God of heaven.

So I prayed to the God of heaven a few years ago. It was my privilege to be in Albania. And the curator of the museum took me into that museum, which was now surrounded by guards. And it was I was taken in there for what he said would be the treat of a lifetime. It was a long story. And when I got there, he asked me to speak to his staff. The message I just had the privilege of delivering to the members of parliament. And again, I had to do it through interpretation as a tough ordeal, but he kept promising he was going to give me a treat.

The likes of which I'd never had before. I wondered what carrot he was dangling in front of me. And then when I sat down, four guards walked in with their arms outstretched like this. One holding Matthew's gospel, another Mark, another Luke and another John in gold ink, perfectly justified the translation of Saint Chrysostom.

All four gospels. He gave me a pair of gloves and I touched those pages. I thought to myself, my word.

Sixteen hundred years have gone by. This man gave his life to penning in gold ink and the chapter of which they opened before me is done. And then Greek was the story of the woman with the alabaster ointment. Wherever the gospel is preached, there shall this also be told of what this woman has done to me. But the thought that came to my mind was Chrysostom's comment on prayer, which I had in my notes. I went back to my hotel room and read it.

Here's what he said. The potency of prayer had subdued the strength of fire. It has bridled the rage of lions.

It has hushed anarchy to rest. It has extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, expanded the gates of heaven, assuaged diseases, repelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction, staid the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. Prayer is an all-sufficient panoply, a mine which has never diminished, a treasure which is unexhausted, clouds unobscured by the storm. It is the root, the fountain, and the mother of a thousand blessings.

Is that mere rhetoric? You never lighten the load until you feel the pressure in your own soul. Number two, he met it immediately by prayer. Thirdly, not only did he meet it by prayer, he went close.

He got proximate to the situation. You and I will never get a burden of how it really is until we get close. If you don't get close, you'll always be proclaiming from a distance. And it has been my privilege over these years to get closer and closer and closer to people whose questions are tough and hard. And only when you get close do you answer a questioner rather than answering merely a question.

Hear what I say? It's only when you get close that you start answering a questioner rather than answering a mere question. And all of my team of apologists, I always say to them, please remember when you ponder in proximity that you are answering a person. And that person probably has the convergence of numerous hurts and agonies and displeasure and all of that. If you merely answer a question and not answer the questioner, you may have won a momentary battle, but you will lose the war.

We must understand we are dealing with people and we must hear how clearly it is that they really need to be understood. Like a Joseph Damian who bound the wounds of the lepers in Molokai until ultimately he contracted it himself. And what did the people in Molokai ask for after he died? They asked for the cutting off of his arm because the Belgian government demanded that his body be sent back. They said, would you at least keep his arm out here? Because this is the hand that touched us. And that's what's buried in Molokai today.

Some of them say it's his hand, some of them say it's the arm, but that's what was severed in order to be put on the ground. So he prioritized his mission by prayer. He pondered in proximity after feeling a pathos for his people. Fourthly, there was a process of preparation.

He knew what it would take to meet this kind of need. You know, half my life I have to spend studying. Sometimes I wish I didn't have to.

But it's important. You must understand what it is people are thinking, why they are thinking that way. I want to say this to you very candidly as fellow leaders in ministry. We are on the verge of losing thousands of our young people to a rabid skepticism. A rabid skepticism because we have sent them into the halls of learning totally unprepared.

Totally unprepared. I'm dealing with a young man like that now. If we'd call my son, the boy's only 18. Brilliant guy. And so one night at 915, two weeks ago, I went on the phone and chatted with him. I said, let's get moving on this discussion. I said, are you living a lifestyle that you really want to live in?

The Christian faiths make you feel uncomfortable because that way at least know how to enter into this discussion. He says, no. I said, telling me the truth.

He said, yes. I said, I have a friend like that into a bizarre lifestyle has become an atheist. I said, do you realize if you are an atheist, there's no such thing as a bizarre lifestyle. I said, you're making a moral judgment. You dismiss causality, you dismiss design and you dismiss a moral argument. But you're asking us to defend a cause for God's creation of this world. You're asking us for moral justification of why he has allowed this kind of world. And you're asking you to receive a designed argument when you've already said morality, causality and design doesn't really work.

But you're asking those very arguments to be used when you have dispensed with them. At the end of an hour, I had the privilege of praying with that young man. He's a brilliant young guy.

Brilliant young guy. Ladies and gentlemen, you must get close, ponder in proximity. I'll just give you two more thoughts here. Next, avoid the paralysis of pessimism. Don't give up hope. Please don't give up hope. Lives are changed by the day.

Dramatic changes are made. I got a letter from a man in prison who's on Life Sentence. He wrote to me and 99% of my radio audience writes to me as Robbie. R-O-B-B-I-E. And he said, and by your accent, I thought you were Scottish, so Robbie fit the name, you know. He said, until I saw your name on a book and I said, is this the same guy? He said, I'm writing to you because I want to beg your forgiveness. He said, when I saw your name and I saw your picture and I found out you're from India and I thought all along you were Scottish. He said, I'm in prison because I killed an Indian man in a convenience store. He said, who or what with the grace of God could have sent an Indian evangelist over the airwaves to bring me to Christ? He said, only God could have done that. Amazing. You've got stories like that. Amazing.

So avoid the paralysis of pessimism. I was in a country I'll leave unnamed where one of the senior most communist officials had three and a half hours with me of questions. This person is revered in that country. At the end of it, when we finished praying, I won't even give you the gender here. This person looked at me and said, this is the first time, I'm over 70, this is the first time in my life I've ever heard anybody pray. This is the first time in my life I've ever prayed. I just sat there with tears running down my face. God's changing hearts.

Don't give up hope. And the last thing I say to you is he built the wall after he'd pledged to the king. He would do it in 52 days and he came back. You can excavate in Jerusalem today and see parts of that wall that still remains from the mid 400s before Christ. Pathos for your people, prioritizing in prayer, pondering in proximity, the process of preparation, the paralysis of pessimism. Do what is right and you'll bring peace for the people. All of this undergirded with the message of love of the gospel, which is unique and beautiful.

And if he be lifted up, he will draw all people unto him. Thank you for giving me a hearing. God bless you. We hope this message has encouraged you.

And if you'd like to purchase a complete copy, be sure to call us at 1-800-448-6766 and ask for the message titled Watchmen on the Wall. If you're not familiar with our ministry, be sure to visit our website to order online or learn more about our efforts around the globe. There you can see a list of upcoming conferences and events being held at the Zacharias Institute. Sign up for an online class through RZIM Academy or learn about the work being done through our humanitarian arm, Wellspring International. Our website is a great place to learn more about RZIM and to find content to help you grow in your Christian faith.

That web address is or in Canada. Let My People Think is a listener-supported radio ministry and is furnished by RZIM in Atlanta, Georgia. How does a man born in India whose family traces its roots to the highest caste of the Hindu priesthood become a world-renowned Christian apologist and philosopher? That's the journey that Ravi Zacharias tells in his highly acclaimed book, Walking from East to West. Probably the most difficult book I ever wrote for two reasons. Autobiographies I really think are dangerous things to attempt. If not at any stage, certainly only valid at the end of your life and even then it's very precarious. But the reason I wrote it is because of the trials, the trauma and all of the struggles I went through in life before Christ transformed my heart and my mind. I wrote it because I know there are so many all over the world who go through the same thing. You can buy a copy of Walking from East to West for yourself by visiting our online bookstore at
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-13 18:47:33 / 2024-01-13 18:57:36 / 10

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