I have appointed you a watchman
Ezekiel 33:1-20 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
The Watchman’s Duty
And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, ‘If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman, 3 and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’
7 “Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. 9 But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.
10 “Now as for you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus you have spoken, saying, “Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we are rotting away in them; how then can we survive?”’ 11 Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’ 12 And you, son of man, say to your fellow citizens, ‘The righteousness of a righteous man will not deliver him in the day of his transgression, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he will not stumble because of it in the day when he turns from his wickedness; whereas a righteous man will not be able to live by his righteousness on the day when he commits sin.’ 13 When I say to the righteous he will surely live, and he so trusts in his righteousness that he commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered; but in that same iniquity of his which he has committed he will die. 14 But when I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and he turns from his sin and practices justice and righteousness, 15 if a wicked man restores a pledge, pays back what he has taken by robbery, walks by the statutes which ensure life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 16 None of his sins that he has committed will be remembered against him. He has practiced justice and righteousness; he shall surely live.
17 “Yet your fellow citizens say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right,’ when it is their own way that is not right. 18 When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, then he shall die in it. 19 But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and practices justice and righteousness, he will live by them. 20 Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways.”
There are many people today who focus on trying to live as Jesus did, showing love and compassion to even the outcasts of society. They rightly believe that their lives and their actions are the greatest sermons they can preach. In Mark 12:30-31 Jesus Himself said: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus says: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” So surely how we treat others, living as Jesus did, is critical to both our own lives and to the witness and testimony of Christ to others. It is important that we live a Christ like life.
We cannot though strive to do what Jesus did and ignore what He said. In Acts 1:8 Jesus says: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” How we live is part of that witness and testimony. But in Mark 16:15-16 Jesus also says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” What we say is also important. We are commanded and commissioned by Jesus, our Lord and Savior to preach, to share the gospel, the good news about Christ, in and to all the world. If we truly love our neighbors we need to tell them the truth. Our love for them is indeed demonstrated through acts of kindness, compassion and service. But the point of our love is not that they would love us in return. The point of our love is to be the demonstration of the love of God to them. Romans 5:8 says: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The love of God is more than compassion in difficult times. The love of God is Christ dying for our sins, for the sins of the world, on the cross. Romans 2:4 says that the kindness of God leads to repentance. That is the reason for our kindness and compassion to others, that they might know the kindness and compassion and the love of God and repent. That was Jesus message, what He preached from the beginning: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)
Today’s text carries a serious message to those who desire to be servants of God. These words were spoken to the prophet, but I believe we should all heed the warning God has for us who have heard Him. He says: I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life. In the same way that Jesus said that the nations, all people would be judged by what they did or didn’t do to and for others, we also will stand before God having either said what He told us or having failed to say what we heard, having failed to fulfill Jesus commission and commandment, to preach the gospel and so having failed to tell the truth to those we loved; to those He loves.
Today’s text ends saying: Yet your fellow citizens say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right,’ when it is their own way that is not right. When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, then he shall die in it. But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and practices justice and righteousness, he will live by them. Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways.” Fortunately for us we are saved by the grace of God, through faith in Christ and the demonstration of God’s love, the cross. In John 14:6 Jesus says: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Jesus is the way we are and will be judged if we believe in Him. Our message to the world, our preaching of the gospel is still important. It is not that they should become righteous but rather seeing the demonstration of God’s love and hearing the testimony of Christ that they would believe.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit may I live as the demonstration of Your love. May I speak the words which You have spoken, may I live and speak that they might know Your love, demonstrated on the cross. Amen.