Wednesday, October 17, 2012


***Watchmen Spoilers***

"The word of the Lord came to me: 

'Son of man, speak to your people and say to them,

If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.

He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself.

But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life.

But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand.'" Ezekiel 33:1-6.

Watchmen stands alone as one of the most unique superhero fantasies. Although there are "masked vigilantes" and "caped crusaders," all but one of the characters of its characters lack "super powers." They live in perhaps the closest form of fictional universe to our own. The reason that many of them stepped up to be a hero was to combat the evil that they saw in the world.

In many ways, their commission was the same as Ezekiel's. They were to be a watchman, as described above. They were formed in order to warn others if they saw danger. If the world did not heed them, then that would be the fault of the world. But, if they did not warn the world of approaching evil then the fault would be their own and the world's blood would be on their hands.

While the Watchmen's America was drawing closer to a nuclear war with the Soviet Union (like the heat of the Cold War), they charged themselves to be the front-line in defending us from danger. They did more than just fight petty criminals, they swore to remain as our defense even as inevitable wars drew closer.

Then, Ozymandias thought of something. He was the wisest of the group, the smartest man in the world. He knew that war was inevitable. But, he didn't want it. He found a solution:

As the conclusion of Watchmen unfolds, we realize that instead of letting the U.S. or S.U. start a war to end all wars, Ozy created a monster to destroy New York. He had hoped to unite the world in one cause, finally forming peace between the arguing nations. He planned for the world to fight this new alien threat instead of fighting each other. But, was the cost worth it? I think not.

"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. If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 

But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul."

Why Will You Die, Israel?

“And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus have you said: ‘Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we rot away because of them. How then can we live?’

Say to them, 'As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?'" Ezekiel 33:7-11.

The Watchmen are called to warn the wicked from their ways. But, the Watchmen are not spared from their own sin. They fail to meet their own warning. They gossip and back-stab each other. They commit adultery (Nite Owl and Silk Spectre). They give in to violence (Rorschach and Comedian). They become incarnations of nihilism (Comedian) and apathy (Manhattan). And finally, they bring the destruction that they had been formed to stop (Ozy).

We, like the Watchmen, also continue to go astray. No matter how hard or how much we study the Law, we fail to keep it. We often become the immorality or the danger of which we stand against.

We, like Israel, deserve death. Although God does not wish us or the wicked to die, sin is all we sow. Therefore, death is all that we reap. We struggle with turning back from our evil ways. Repentance is not an easy thing to do. It's not only stopping the things that we continue to do wrong, it is "about-facing," completely and abruptly turning around, in order to do things righteously instead. We do not always admit when we are wrong. And, we would much rather hurt each other, punish the world, just like Ozy did. We hope to redeem ourselves while self-redemption remains an impossible feet.

There was only one true Watchman in the series:

Although he had given into temptation various times, Rorschach continued to stand for what was right. He was the only character willing to stand up and speak against the others. He was the only one who stuck to his role as a proclaimer of the truth and a watchman for the world. Even though the world might not heed his warning, he knew what part he had to play. And, he remained steadfast in what was right. He died for it.

Chapter 33 is a turning point in the book of Ezekiel. Up until this point, most of the book had been about what not to do. Ezekiel prophesied the Judgment that would take place against Israel and other nations. It is not until Chapter 33 that there is a glimmer of hope--a watchman that has been put in place to free the nation of God's judgment. This chapter becomes a warning to turn away from the sinful path.

“And you, son of man, say to your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him when he transgresses, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall by it when he turns from his wickedness, and the righteous shall not be able to live by his righteousness when he sins Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness and does injustice, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered, but in his injustice that he has done he shall die. Again, though I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ yet if he turns from his sin and does what is just and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has taken by robbery, and walks in the statutes of life, not doing injustice, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he shall surely live.

“Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just,’ when it is their own way that is not just. When the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it. And when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he shall live by this. Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways.” Ezekiel 33:12-20.

But, even with a watchman we cannot succeed. Israel still dies. If our hope was placed in this man, we are lost. We still do not take heed of his warnings. Even the righteous continue to do wicked. There is no just expectation that we could ever live up to.

So far we have been given a command to stop sinning: something we cannot do.

We have heeded the watchman. But, still fail.

Where is our hope? How can we ever be redeemed?

We must place our hope in the Lord.

"Thus says the Lord God; Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered..." Ezekiel 24:11-12.

Even though we cannot complete the task at hand, we cannot take care of ourselves to stop from sinning, God will still find us. He still cares and takes care of us. He forgives us.

But, by what means? How can God still love such a wicked and condemned people?

We must finish the story.

Even though Rorschach had been assimilated by Dr. Manhattan, his word lived on. He managed to tell the world the truth, the whole story, through his journal, a book he had kept with him in order to scribble down all of his notes.

We have been given a book, literally "The Book." If we bear witness to the end, we know that Jesus Christ is the shepherd from Ezekiel:

"I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep." John 10:14.

There is only one true watchman in our lives, giving up his life in order that we might know Him, the way, the truth, and the life:

Jesus Christ.

It is our duty to live as watchmen to warn others to stay away from wickedness and evil ways. But, it is not our place to force this life upon them (nor is it our place to help them with their undesirable choice). They alone have the will to choose the wicked path. No matter how much we would like to, we cannot force them to stay on the righteous path. We can only warn them.

We often fall off the path or become mislead. There is no way to save ourselves. No matter how hard we try, the Law condemns.

That is why we need the Gospel: the message of the salvation of Jesus Christ who continues to live daily in our lives. He alone is our hope and our redemption.

How much more important must it be to be a proclaimer of the truth? We do not only have the duty of warning the world of their dark paths, we also are meant to share the joy, love, mercy, grace, and blessing of the Gospel.... The completion of the Law through the sacrifice of our Lord Christ.

And, even when we fail to proclaim the truth and warn the wicked God still follows through. "I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice." Ezekiel 34:16. Even in our sharing of the Gospel, it is His Spirit who gathers His sheep to Him. It is God who changes the hardened hearts of the unbelievers through His Word and power. How blessed are we to be a vessel of His Word?! And, at the end of days we will remain his, safely grazing in his heavenly pasture.

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