I was sitting around earlier wondering are watchmen seers? What’s the difference between a watchmen and a seer? I took a look at scripture and came to this conclusion:
Are watchmen seers? They can be but not all watchmen are seer prophets but every seer prophet is a watchman. A modern-day watchman is someone who is tasked by the Lord to pray and keep watch. They may, or may not, also be called to the office of a prophet.
A Seer is a prophet in the five-fold ministry who’s gifting relies heavily on dreams, visions, and the manifest presence of God.
There is more to this question than a simple yes or no answer and I’m sure someone could argue that all watchmen are seers–but let’s take a look at what scripture says:
What is a watchman in the Bible?
Before we look into the different uses of the word watchmen in the Bible–I’d like us to look at Ezekial. Ezekial was a prophet who had some very knarly visions. He was a Seer. God also appointed him to be a watchman for Israel. He tells him straight up.
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. Ezekial 3:17 ESV
There are a couple of different meanings for the word watchman used in the Bible. In this instance, the Hebrew word צָפָה is used. I’m not a Hebrew expert–but Strongs says it means:
to lean forward, i.e. to peer into the distance; by implication, to observe, await: — behold, espy, look up (well), wait for, (keep the) watch(-man).strongs h6822
Ezekial was both a Seer Prophet and a Watchmen.
Does this mean every watchman is also a seer?
Personally, I don’t think so–but that’s just my opinion. I know many intercessor watchmen who don’t seem to flow in visions, dreams, or have their senses activated in the prophetic–but the Lord still speaks to them and warns them in prayer of things to come. I do think the calling is there for those who desire it enough.
All believers in Jesus have the Holy Spirit on the inside of them and are called to watch and to pray as Jesus commanded but not all believers are called to be prophets and not all believers have a calling to long hours on their knees in intercessory prayer–as a watchman does.
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mathew 26:41 ESV
Military Watchmen in the Old Testament
In the past, watchmen would stand in an elevated place–like on a wall or in a tower. They would keep watch for approaching enemy armies and sound an alarm when an enemy approached–so the people could prepare for the danger and make themselves ready.
In 1 Samuel 14 Jonothan and his armor-bearer had just defeated the Philistines and in verse 16 we read that “the watchmen of Saul looked. In this verse, the word watchmen is referring to soldiers who had the job of keeping a close watch and paying close attention to the enemy camp.
And there was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and even the raiders trembled, the earth quaked, and it became a very great panic. And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and behold, the multitude was dispersing here and there. 1 Samuel 14:15-16 ESV
The Hebrew word in this verse is צָפָה (Strongs h6822) which means:
to look out or about, spy, keep watch, observe, watch,to watch closelyStrongs h6822
Watchmen under Levitical Priests
Another word for watchmen is found in 2 Chronicles 23 during Jehoiada’s reforms. He set watchmen to serve under the Levites and burn incense in the house of the Lord. The Levites were priests and ministered to the Lord. Incense, in the Bible, is symbolic of the prayers of the saints. (Revelation 5:8). Here we see the word watchmen used in context to the priestly function and prayer.
And Jehoiada posted watchmen for the house of the Lord under the direction of the Levitical priests and the Levites whom David had organized to be in charge of the house of the Lord, to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, according to the order of David. 2 Chronicles 23:18
The Hebrew word for watchmen in that verse is פְּקֻדָּה which means:
Oversight, charge, office, overseer, class of officers.Strongs h6486
What is a Seer?
A seer is a type of prophet who primarily receives revelation from God in visions, dreams, and through their physical senses. They don’t always flow in the spontaneous inspirational gift of prophecy. They typically don’t stand up in church meetings to give an inspired word as a Nabiy prophet would. A Seer’s gift is more communicative. They receive information from God–they don’t necessarily stand up and broadcast it as they receive it (although they could).
1 Samuel 9:9 informs us that a Seer is also a prophet. This verse uses the Hebrew word râ’â–which means “to see.”
Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he said, “Come, let us go to the seer,” for today's “prophet” was formerly called a seer. 1st Samuel 9:9 ESV
How do you know if you are called to be a watchman or a Seer?
God sovereignly chooses his prophets and watchmen. It’s not a decision you can make. You can ask but ultimately the decision belongs to the Lord. He ordains prophets even before birth–like in Jeremiah.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 ESV
If you suspect you are called to the office of a Seer Prophet or Watchmen then begin asking God for confirmation. He might confirm your calling soon after you begin asking him in prayer–or it may take a number of years until he confirms it to you. I was 19 when I first believed that God had this call on my life but he didn’t confirm it until I was in my early twenties. Even now at 35, I have a long way to go.
Many times prophets will have supernatural signs, wonders, and manifestations in their life since childhood. This was the case for me in my childhood and also with many other prophets. There has frequently been tangible warfare over but my life–but also tangible glory that affects the people and spiritual atmosphere around me. I have many stories that go back to childhood.
Also, understand that just because someone is called to be a “prophet” doesn’t mean they are in the office of a prophet. The calling doesn’t mean they have the position until God places them there.
There is much soul-crushing and character formation that will have to take place in a prophet’s life before God starts to use them. I’m reminding of something Kris Volloton (a Bethel prophet) said once about how a person isn’t a prophet until other people start calling him a prophet. I think this is wisdom. Do yourself, and everyone else a favor, and don’t call yourself a prophet–let others call you one first.
A prophet’s calling is not meant to improve his or her life. It’s not a fast track to a big ministry or to fame or glory. The calling is to serve others and to strengthen the body and bride of Christ. Many prophets live their entire lives in hiddenness. Some live most of their lives in hiddenness–only to be used at a set and pre-ordained moment in history.
There is too much mystique I think, and glamor, over the word “prophet.” I personally, prefer the term “messenger” but that’s just me.
Books about Watchmen & Seer’s.
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In his book, The Elijah Task: A handbook for prophets and intercessors, John Loren Sanford does classify a prophet as a watchman:
A Christian prophet is a watchman. His task upon the walls of the city of God claims him entirely. God acts in and through all that we are. In everything a prophet is, the Spirit of God lives and moves and acts. The Christian prophet’s very life and breath is intercession within the churchJohn Loren Sanford
The Seer by James W. Goll is the first book I read about Seers–back in 2007. It’s one of the most well-known books on the topic. He breaks down what a seer is compared to the other streams in the prophetic.
What is the difference between a prophet and a seer? The distinction will become clearer, I hope, in the pages that follow, but for now let us say that all true seers are prophets but not all prophets are seers.Jame’s Goll page 18 of The Seer
Another good book is The Seer Dimensions: Activating Your Prophetic Sight to See the Unseen by Jennifer Leclaire. Jennifer Leclaire has a lot of videos that teach on the prophetic and seer realm. She also has a lot of content on spiritual warfare. A lot of seers pick up both the good and the bad. She has a lot of authority and her teaching is good. Check out her youtube channel.
James Goll has two books on the Watchmen and Intercession: