September 9, 2021
"Likewise you, human being – I have appointed you as Watchman for the house of Israel. Therefore, when you hear the Word from My mouth, warn them for Me."
“Likewise you, human being – I have appointed you as Watchman for the house of Israel. Therefore, when you hear the Word from My mouth, warn them for Me. When I tell the wicked person, ‘Wicked person, you will certainly die’; and you fail to speak and warn the wicked person to leave his way; then that person will die guilty and I will hold you responsible for his death. On the other hand, if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he doesn’t turn from his way; then he will still die guilty, but you will have saved your own life.” Ezekiel 33:7-9
I love action movies, particularly those James Bond/Mission Impossible/Bourne Identity types of thrillers. I’m always fascinated with those scenes where the characters get past high-tech security to accomplish their missions. We have come a long way since the wild-west bank robbing days, when a cowboy would pull his bandana over his nose and run into a bank with guns drawn, yelling, “Stick ‘em up!”
As in the wild-west days, ancient cities were extremely vulnerable to attack at almost any moment. In the days of Ezekiel, there were no surveillance cameras, radar, or infrared detection devices. There was just the Watchman. Occupying a suitable vantage point from which he could survey the surrounding countryside, the Watchman would blow a trumpet to warn any approaching parties, whether they be friendly or not. The amount of time a city would have to get its villagers safely within its city walls and ready for defensive action largely depended on the swift actions of its Watchman. The lives of the people were dependant on the Watchman’s vigilance.
The “Watchman” in today’s chapter is a spiritual one. The focus falls on both the duty of the Watchman himself and the response of the people. The Watchman had two responsibilities: 1) Watch for danger, and 2) Warn of approaching danger. But the people were likewise responsible: 1) Listen to the Watchman, and 2) React accordingly. Having given adequate warning, the Watchman could not be held accountable if the people chose to ignore him. If the people failed to run into the city, they had only themselves to blame if they fell under the sword of the invading army.
Ezekiel has been Israel’s spiritual Watchman. He has sounded the notes of warning concerning God’s judgment. Israel should have been fully aware that their sin had placed them smack in the middle of Babylon’s warpath. Being a Watchman is also the commission of every follower of Jesus. It is the responsibility of each of us to give a full warning (to both the believer and non-believer) of the consequences of rebellion against God and of having rejected His offer of salvation. We are the Lord’s representatives:
“We are therefore Messiah’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Messiah’s behalf: Be reconciled to God”. 2 Corinthians 5:20
We are accountable to warn the lost, and they are accountable for their response.