A watchman must warn: Ezekiel 3
Today’s reading: Ezekiel 1-4.
Hurricane Katrina made landfall near New Orleans at 5 AM on September, 29, 2005 and caused major flooding in the city. Mayor Ray Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans at 10 AM on the previous day. Though many residents were unable to leave the city because they lacked transportation, and over 1500 people died in Louisiana, experts estimate that 90% of New Orleans’ 1.3 million residents evacuated. The warnings made a difference.
The watchman in the tower has a clear duty to look for danger and sound the alarm when he sees trouble coming. God made Ezekiel the watchman for the Jewish exiles in Babylon and charged him with a heavy responsibility.
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.” Ezekiel 3:17-19
God didn’t send Ezekiel out unarmed. He prepared him first, then commissioned him.
- He revealed himself to Ezekiel through the vision of his glory, a miraculous moving throne surrounded by living cherubim.
- He filled Ezekiel with his own word.
- He made it clear that Ezekiel’s only task was to share the word. It was up to the Israelites to accept or reject his warning.
Ezekiel’s work began about six years before the destruction of Jerusalem. Two large groups of Hebrews had already been deported to Babylon. The people were looking for God to rescue Jerusalem and take them all back home, but God used Ezekiel to tell them that Jerusalem was doomed and they should get on with their new lives. I’m encouraged to see God’s faithfulness to the exiles. They had rebelled against his will, but he did not reject them. In spite of their hard hearts he kept reaching out to them.
Now we’ve been given the commission to reach out to people who have don’t know God or who may have rejected his will. We are the watchman in the tower with God’s word of warning. “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Our duty is only to share the words. The responsibility of response lies with those who hear and the Holy Spirit who convicts them.
If ye be damned, I am innocent of your damnation, for I have told you plainly, that except ye repent, ye must perish, and that except ye put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is for you no hope of salvation. Charles Spurgeon
Image by James Marvin Phelps on Flickr, CC by-nc 2.0