Read Ezekiel 33.1-11.
Introduction: A theater manager asked a young man applying for the job of usher what he would do if a fire broke out. The young man quickly answered, “Don’t worry about me. I’d get out okay.”
Many Christians respond this way at times. What would we do if Jesus were to return tomorrow? If we are thinking, “I’m not worried about it. I’d be okay.” We probably out to be reminded that we are spiritual ushers. It isn’t enough to get ourselves out or even our families out. We are responsible for helping others get out!
Jeremiah 20:9 (NKJV)
9 Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not.
· The more we know the Bible, the more we are convinced that we must share it with others.
· To hold it back is a life-wearying proposition. The Christian just cannot do so!
God called the prophet Ezekiel to be a watchman. The illustration of a watchman communicates just how crucial and urgent it was for Ezekiel to obey God’s call.
The Watchman’s Call
Explanation: God said of Ezekiel in v. 7, “I have made you a watchman…” God is the source of Ezekiel’s call. Since God called Ezekiel, He would give him the authority needed for this important task. Whenever God calls a man, that man must speak!
1 Corinthians 9:16 (NKJV)
16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!
God made Ezekiel a watchman over the house of Israel. This was his primary responsibility. If Ezekiel was to be effective as a watchman and warn his countrymen, he needed to know the dangers. He needed to hear from God. Speaking for God is always prefaced by spending time communing with God!
Application: While our desire is to reach foreign lands through our foreign missions projects, we must realize that we are watchmen to our own people. If we are not concerned for those surrounding us… If we cannot have compassion for the lost that are so near us, then our professed concern for foreign missions is vapid. It may even be an excuse that we use to release us from obeying the Great Commission right where we are!
The Watchman’s Job Description
Explanation: Verses 2-6 describe what a watchman ought to look like. When the watchman seeks the sword coming upon the land, he blows the trumpet to warn the people. He was a guard that stood on the city walls and warned the city when an army approached. He sounded the warning so that the people could be prepared.
If people failed to respond to his warning, they were responsible for whatever came upon them. But if the watchman failed to warn the people and the city was destroyed, he was responsible. The watchman had a great responsibility. He had to be diligent and vigilant. He had to be faithful to his duties of watching and alerting. Note two primary duties…
1. The Duty to Watch – “When he sees the sword coming upon the land…” (3a). Others may be comfortably asleep and oblivious to danger, but the watchman had a duty. Many believers hold the truth close to the vest. We gain much knowledge in our local churches and become quite excited about the truths we find. Then, we keep these things to ourselves. Watchmen cannot be blind to the spiritual needs of others!
2. The Duty to Warn – “…he blows the trumpet and warns the people” (3b). When we see the danger, we sound the alarm.
a. “O wicked man, you shall surely die!” (v. 8) – The wicked man is guilty because he has sinned. He is moving toward judgment, and he is completely oblivious to that fact. Souls are in danger; the watchman must warn sinners: “As it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.” (Heb 9.27-28)
b. “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from you evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?” (v. 11) – God has no pleasure when wicked, guilty people die in their sins. Yet there is forgiveness for those who repent. Every blast of the watchman’s trumpet becomes a clarion of hope for sinners who will hear. Judgment and eternal death await, but the repentant will find mercy, love, and everlasting life!
The Watchman’s Drive
Explanation: If we think of the consequences of failing to warn others, it ought to motivate us to faithfully carry out the Great Commission given us by the Lord Jesus Christ. Watchman should pray that God will prepare ground and bring success, but they must keep on even when it seems they are failing.
People may not respond, but God does not hold watchmen responsible for what is beyond them – how people respond. God holds us accountable for our faithfulness to the task of evangelism.
Acts 18:6 (NKJV)
6 But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
Acts 20:26 (NKJV)
26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.
1 Timothy 4:16 (NKJV)
16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save (deliver as a watchman) both yourself and those who hear you.
Application: It’s easy to get discouraged when we don’t see visible results from our evangelistic efforts. We must remember that our responsibility is to warn sinners; they, however, are accountable to God for their own souls. They need to receive Christ; we cannot receive Christ for them.
Explanation: If we fail, the wicked shall still die (v. 8). No one can blame another for his sin:
Ezekiel 18:20 (NKJV)
20 The soul who sins shall die.
The warning does not deliver the sinner (v. 9), and the failure to warn does not cause the sinner to die. God requires the blood, however, of the wicked at the hands of the unfaithful watchman. To do nothing as watchmen is to stand guilty before God. There are sins of commission and sins of omission. To do nothing and watch people drop into an eternal hell is the most grievous of the sins of omission!
Application: Every believer has the responsibility to make the Word of God known to the lost and dying world around him.
Romans 10:14 (NKJV)
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
Romans 10:17 (NKJV)
17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Accepting responsibility for the task of evangelism is difficult. But failing at this supreme task ought to cause all of us to fear unfaithfulness as watchmen before the Lord.
Hymn: Make Me a Channel of Blessing (331)