“His watchmen are blind, all of them know nothing. All of them are mute dogs unable to bark, dreamers lying down, who love to slumber.” (Isaiah 56:10)God is speaking of the shepherds and prophets of Israel. God declares that they are all blind and mute. Blind in that they are unable to understand the times and the present will and purpose of God, and mute in that they are unable to warn the people of God’s coming judgment. Israel’s shepherds and prophets had disqualified themselves from being used by God to warn and instruct His people. How had they disqualified themselves? They were disqualified due to their moral defection from God’s laws. God declares that they had all become greedy and given over to pleasure. God declares of them, “The dogs are greedy, they are not satisfied. And they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each one to his unjust gain, to the last one. ‘Come,’ they say, ‘let us get wine, and let us drink heavily of strong drink; and tomorrow will be like today, only more so.’” (Isaiah 56:11-12)
The moral state of the shepherds and prophets of Israel reminds me of Lot when he dwelt in Sodom. When Lot heard that God was about to destroy Sodom, he tried to warn his son-in-laws. “Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, ‘Up, get out of this place, for the LORD will destroy the city’ But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.” (Genesis 19:14) Why did his son-in-laws not believe him? Lot was a righteous man, but he had compromised his life in order to live peacefully amongst his sinning neighbors. While Lot may not have joined in with them in their sins, he had become fully integrated into their culture. He has ceased to be salt and light in the midst of great darkness. So compromised was his witness that, when he finally attempted to speak God’s word to them, they did not believe him and thought he was joking.
The story of Lot teaches us that we cannot live like the world and then expect the world to take us seriously when we speak God’s word. The world will discount our righteous words if the fail to see that righteousness in our lives. Lot had lost his moral legitimacy to preach God’s word and the same can happen to us. Paul put it this way, “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.” (Titus 1:16) Our deeds and our words need to be in full agreement if the world is to ever listen to what we have to say. If we want to preach of righteousness then we must live a righteous life. We must regain our moral right to bark!