I have appointed you a watchman
Ezekiel 33 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
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.”
21 Now in the twelfth year of our exile, on the fifth of the tenth month, the refugees from Jerusalem came to me, saying, “The city has been taken.” 22 Now the hand of the Lord had been upon me in the evening, before the refugees came. And He opened my mouth at the time they came to me in the morning; so my mouth was opened and I was no longer speechless.
23 Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 24 “Son of man, they who live in these waste places in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one, yet he possessed the land; so to us who are many the land has been given as a possession.’ 25 Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “You eat meat with the blood in it, lift up your eyes to your idols as you shed blood. Should you then possess the land? 26 You rely on your sword, you commit abominations and each of you defiles his neighbor’s wife. Should you then possess the land?”’ 27 Thus you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “As I live, surely those who are in the waste places will fall by the sword, and whoever is in the open field I will give to the beasts to be devoured, and those who are in the strongholds and in the caves will die of pestilence. 28 I will make the land a desolation and a waste, and the pride of her power will cease; and the mountains of Israel will be desolate so that no one will pass through. 29 Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I make the land a desolation and a waste because of all their abominations which they have committed.”’
30 “But as for you, son of man, your fellow citizens who talk about you by the walls and in the doorways of the houses, speak to one another, each to his brother, saying, ‘Come now and hear what the message is which comes forth from the Lord.’ 31 They come to you as people come, and sit before you as My people and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain. 32 Behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words but they do not practice them. 33 So when it comes to pass—as surely it will—then they will know that a prophet has been in their midst.”
James 3:1 says: Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. With authority come both responsibility and accountability. In 2 Samuel 24:15-17 we read what happened when David violated God’s commandment about numbering the House of Israel. It says: The Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time, and seventy thousand men of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. When the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the calamity and said to the angel who destroyed the people, “It is enough! Now relax your hand!” And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Then David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking down the people, and said, “Behold, it is I who have sinned, and it is I who have done wrong; but these sheep, what have they done? Please let Your hand be against me and against my father’s house.” David’s decision affected and cost the lives of seventy thousand men. As believers, we all have a level of responsibility and accountability for what we say, what we do and what we don’t say or do, because we are all leaders and teachers to some. James 4:17 says: For one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, for him it is sin. 2 Corinthians 5:20 says: Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
In today’s text it says: And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “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, and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people, 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. 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. 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.’ “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. 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. Part of our constitution includes a separation of church and state. We have allowed the culture to change and reverse what this was intended for and how it applies. The founders set this up so that government could not interfere with the freedom of religion, but we have allowed it to become that the church should not speak into politics. As believers though we are responsible and accountable to speak when government is in opposition to God. If we don’t stand for the lives of babies in the womb and stand and speak against those who are against them, how can we expect that God will not hold us accountable. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” If we condone the relaxing of God’s commandments in our culture, embracing lawlessness and immorality; teaching others that it is okay, we will be accountable. Edmund Burke rightly said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Some will say that all that we can do is pray. If all that was necessary was prayer, Jesus could have stopped after His hours of prayer in the garden, described in John 17, but for us to be freed from sin also required that Jesus follow His prayer with action. There are times that it will be unpopular and uncomfortable to stand for what is right; to speak out and warn those who are on the path of destruction. In John 15:18-25 Jesus says: “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me. They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’” In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus says: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” We are not to hide the light of Christ, but rather to shine forth in the darkness. Every believer has been called and commissioned to speak the truth. 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.’
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, thank You for the privilege of being called as a watchman in this time. Thank You for enabling and empowering me to see what is happening and to speak to those who are in danger. May I never hide Your light, but boldly and unashamedly shine it forth so that others may see and know the truth. Amen.