A certain parable from the scriptures has been on my mind for a number of days and is still haunting me today. I decided that there must be a good reason why I continue to ponder this parable about watchmen on the towers and decided to share my thoughts about it. I first studied this parable many years ago but was aware of its principles before studying it. Isaiah wrote about the importance of having watchmen on the towers (Isaiah 52:8) as did numerous other prophets. This parable was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1833 at a time when the newly organized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was suffering great persecution in Missouri.
“A certain nobleman had a spot of land, very choice; and he said unto his servants: Go ye unto my vineyard, even upon this very choice piece of land, and plant twelve olive-trees;
“And set watchmen round about them, and build a tower, that one may overlook the land round about, to be a watchman upon the tower, that mine olive-trees may not be broken down when the enemy shall come to spoil and take upon themselves the fruit of my vineyard.
“Now, the servants of the nobleman went and did as their lord commanded them, and planted the olive-trees, and built a hedge round about, and set watchmen, and began to build a tower.
“And while they were yet laying the foundation thereof, they began to say among themselves: And what need hath my lord of this tower?
“And consulted for a long time, saying among themselves: What need hath my lord of this tower, seeing this is a time of peace? “Might not this money be given to the exchangers? For there is no need of these things.
“And while they were at variance one with another they became very slothful, and they hearkened not unto the commandments of their lord.
“And the enemy came by night, and broke down the hedge; and the servants of the nobleman arose and were affrighted, and fled; and the enemy destroyed their works, and broke down the olive-trees.
“Now, behold, the nobleman, the lord of the vineyard, called upon his servants, and said unto them, Why! What is the cause of this great evil?
“Ought ye not to have done even as I commanded you, and – after ye had planted the vineyard, and built the hedge round about, and set watchmen upon the walls thereof – built the tower also, and set a watchman upon the tower, and watched for my vineyard, and not have fallen asleep, lest the enemy should come upon you?
“And behold, the watchman upon the tower would have seen the enemy while he was yet afar off; and then ye could have made ready and kept the enemy from breaking down the hedge thereof, and saved my vineyard from the hands of the destroyer” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:45-54).
This parable refers to spiritual safety. We have been blessed with prophets, apostles and other spiritual leaders who warn us of spiritual dangers. Over the past couple of weeks I have come to realize that there are other watchmen on towers to whom we should listen. We can use the above parable as a pattern in finding some of the watchmen of our day.
God preserved America, a “spot of land” that is “very choice.” He inspired his “servants” – the Founders of this nation and the Framers of the United States Constitution – on how to keep his “olive-trees” – the inhabitants of this land – safe. The Founders and the Framers did their work, and they did it well. They established a brand new kind of government that put “watchmen” on the “towers” - our Constitution and honorable leaders. These “watchmen” have shouted out warnings over the years, and the United States has withstood its “enemies” for over two hundred years.
The problems of our day were caused by people – Presidents and Congresses – who should have been watching for enemies and doing those things necessary to protect us. It appears that they have forgotten their purpose and are colluding with the enemy or simply looking out for themselves. They are definitely “asleep” or have already “fled.”
There are however still watchmen on the towers trying to warn us of danger and lead us to safety. Some of these watchmen are Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. Other watchmen are on duty in the House of Representatives. Still other watchmen are in non-governmental towers such as Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and Glenn Beck who are sending their warnings over the Internet and airways. There are many other watchmen who see the “enemies” all around us – Obamacare, the national debt, the open borders, etc. – and are crying out their warnings.
To which group of watchmen do we listen? Do we listen to the ones who are calling out the dangers or do we listen to the other group mocking those who are trying to save our nation?
Cindy Simpson believes that Ted Cruz is our Tilly Smith. Tilly was on vacation in Thailand in 2004 when she recognized the signs of the approaching tsunami and called out a warning. She saved over one hundred lives because they listened to her.
“We can imagine that many of the sunscreen-lathered beachgoers were at first annoyed by Tillie’s bold interruption, and might even have called her a `wacko bird.’ Some may have been initially so irritated by her family’s warning, ruining their little slice of paradise in the sand – that they saw not a heroine, but an impudent little girl; or worse, called her names like `short-sighted fraud,’ `terrorist,’ `extremist,’ or `snake-oil salesman.’ Even though others could have observed the very same signs, they may not have recalled their own geography studies, and likely hesitated to heed Tilly’s alarm – wanting first to take a quick opinion poll from the rest of the in-crowd.
“One doesn’t need to recall simple math or economics lessons from school to hear and recognize the ugly sucking sound emanating from our nation’s 17-plus trillion dollar debt clock….
“Rather than look out beyond their microphones, up from opinion pieces, or outside the beltway cocktail party circuit to glance at that clock – many who should know better were annoyed at Senator Cruz’s interruption of their fantasy world. And a fantasy it is – to believe that everything would be just swell if Cruz and his Tea Party fans would only shut up and get with the establishment program.
“Even worse, although Cruz is armed with much more wisdom and credentials than a ten-year-old who aced a geography quiz, he didn’t receive much assistance form his family of fellow GOP-ers in the Senate. Most were embarrassed at his audacious rocking of the boat and strived to distance themselves from him. Instead of echoing his warnings, they huddled with the opposition and flung out a few insults of their own.
“Along with the mainstream media, even some conservative pundits insist Cruz’s strategy and the shutdown resulted in a failure for Republicans and a political win for Obama and the Democrats. Practically all the coverage and articles focused on that spin and the political fallout. Rare has been the speaker, commentator, or writer who looks up and out over the horizon, past their noses and laptops, to notice, much less address – the very real disaster lurking there: a tsunami that will spread well beyond Washington politics, reaching deeply into our pocketbooks and those of generations to come, while flooding the private spaces of our doctor’s examining rooms….”
Tilly Smith was a “watchman on a tower” and was able to save many people from the tsunami. There are watchmen on the towers of our nation who are warning us about the economic and political “tsunami” that is quickly approaching. Will we listen and run to safety – or will we join the mockers?