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Faithlife

The Appointment of a Watchman

Glorious God  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Notes & Transcripts
Claim - There is a time limit on God’s patience and Ezekiel is to warn other to repent - a task that can be faithfully strived for but only achieved through God’s word.
Exults the righteous glory of God, his angre at rebellion, his love for repenters, while calling those who know the truth to faitful account for their watchfulness.
Claim - There is a time limit on God’s patience, His word warns us and warns others to repent and be faithful.
Focus - We have a choice to have God as our greatest enemy or our only Hope, we should repent and be faithful in warning others.
Function - To cause reverent fear of God resulting in repentance and the faithful warning of others of His judgement.

Responding to the enemy
Personally accountable - Faithfulness, not success.
Don’t wait until it is too late.
God Friend or Foe
One of the most encouraging times was hearing the testimony of another Pastor, called Arnie, at Longheath Baptist church.
in the last year
heart attack, wife pregnat while recovering
Arnie - heart attack, wife pregnat while recovering
hospitalised again
the wife hospitalised
The baby was born but died shortly after.
Difficult year, but not bad year,
it has been a good year becasue it is the one that God has chosen for them.
Arnie remains faithful to God, sad, somber perhaps, but faithful.
What is it about his view of God that has enabled him to remain faithful.
I’m going to give you 20 seconds to think about your life.
What is the thing or things that you are afraid of,
that stops you either turning to God if you’re not a Christian,
Or if you are a Christian, that stops you being faithful to his rule in your life.
Fear of embarrassment,
Pride,
embarrassment,
Loosing reputation
Fear of missing out on something - success, money?
Fear of loosing pride?
If you do consider yourself a Christian,
what is it that causes you to be unfaithful,
either in obedience, or in doubt, or in sin?
Fear of ridicule?
Fear of too much work?
Fear that you have got it all wrong?
Illness,
that you can’t believe God would allow this?
Fear of not doing ithings your way?
I don’t know - what’s your fear of following God, or being faithful to God.
I’ll give you 20 seconds.
What is the thing or things that makes you unfaithful to God?!
Keep that in your mind as we start going through the passage.
so we’ll deal with them both together,
so don’t panic if after 20minutes we’re still on point 1,
2 will have been dealt with by then as well.
2 weeks ago,
we joined Ezekiel for his 30th birthday,
as he sat miserably beside the River Kebar in Babylon
(500 miles from Jerusalem, his home, were he should have been).
(I told you Babylon was in modern day Turkey, but as Bob Mallet pointed out to me, it’s actually in the middle of modern day Iraq. But it is still 500 miles from Jerusalm)
He’s been in exile living as a refugee for 5 years
(Ezekiel, not Bob),
and if you were here,
you’ll remember the transcendent glory of God
appearing before him,
terrifying in power, knowledge and presence.
The sheer scale of God’s glory (even just a glimpse of His glory)
was enough to put Ezekiel face to the ground in fear.
Last week, God spoke to Ezekiel.
He is called to be a prophet, a messenger of God.
We’re not actually told what he is to specifically say to the people,
but it is clear,
that they wont want to listen.
And from the context,
and more especially from Ezekiel’s reaction,
he certainly is expecting this to be a
terrible and difficult call.
God warns Ezekiel strongly not to harden his heart,
not to be rebellious like the people.
And we left Ezekiel in 3v15
so overwhelmed by the glory of God that he had experienced,
and with such an overwhelming challenge lay before him
that he just sat, stunned, confused and anxious,
might I suggest fearful for 7 days.
God has now given Ezekiel time to process that initial experience,
and it is time to explain to him, exactly what sort of ministry he is to have.
He’s not going to like it,
the Israelites in exile are not going to like it.
I wonder if we are going to like it at GC.
Ezekiel 3:17 NIV
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.
eze 3v17
A watchmen is an interesting role for a prophet. It implies a quite different role to the other prophets of this time. But we’ll think about this more in a moment.
There is a far more shocking elephant in the room in this passage.
Imaging the scene...
We’re in a fortified city,
likely we’re to imagine Jerusalem itself - the great city that hosts God almighty,
and is still in tact,
despite all the recent enemy invasions and occupations.
.
The watchman drifts in and out of sleep
as he stands in the tower
looking north for a Babylonian invasion army,
or the Egyptians from the east.
Perhaps even against civil war factions.
Whoever might pose a threat to the people of the city.
As dawn approaches and the orange glow of the sun
pierces the horizon the watchman sees a great dust cloud far away,
illuminated by the new sun.
But the weather is calm, it’s not a storm coming in.
This is the dust thrown up by feet of a great army.
The watchman scrambles for his trumpet and blows for all he’s worth.
“Who’s attacking come shouts from below.”
The Babylonians? Egyptians? Assyrians,?
Is it ISIS, North Korea, a terrorist attack”
No shouts the watchman.
It’s much worse than that!!
“an Israelite rebel group then,
some of our own have turned on us?”
“False teachers in the church,
is it the devil himself!!”
No comes the shout, it’s much worse than that!
Ezekiel 3:17 NIV
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.
The enemy Ezekiel is to watch out for is God!
Every-time Ezekiel sees or hears the Lord is coming,
he is to blow the trumpet, to shout out warnings.
I hope we’re realising the horror of this here today.
Their hearts sink, panic rises in their chests!
God is the greatest enemy.
I thought God was our only hope!
If he has turned on us, we are finished.
This is worse than any other single or collaborative effort
of all the evil in the world,
if God is the greatest enemy of mankind.
And worringly for us, The God of the OT is not a different God to today.
He has not changed.
He was not overly severe in the OT
and has mellowed out in his old age in the NT.
His plan to bring about an obedient people
has not changed from one of fearful judgment to one of softly softly in the NT.
Whatever is going on here shows us the character of God
He is the same God, with the same plan, yesterday, today and forever.
So, this passage begs the question:

1 - Is God our only hope, or our greatest fear?

And the answer is
yes.
He is both of those things.
It’s the lesson the exiled Israelites hadn’t yet realised,
and it’s the lesson we today need to realise, whether we believe in God or not.
Forgive me for a moment, for parking to one side any pastoral sensitivity,
but our biggest fear or problem is not
the thing I asked you to think about at the beginning of this sermon,
Not by a long shot.
Just like at this point, Ezekiel has been sat miserable for 7 days fearful of the
is that he’s going to sound like a fool,
look like a fool,
loose all respect and be ridiculed and ignored by his people
if he brings messages of judgment to them from God.
complete social rejection and most likely
(given what they did to other prophets at this time),
physical abuse and potential death at the hands of his people.
But that is not your greatest fear or problem says God. I am!!!
Get some perspective.
God says to Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 3:18 NIV
When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood.
Whether we are the messenger, like Ezekiel, or the message recipient,
God has to be our greatest fear.
If Ezekiel doesn’t obediently speak God’s messages and warnings to those that need to hear it,
then Ezekiel will be held accountable for their blood!
Their eternal death!
If
Don’t give a monkeys -
about what the person you warn about judgment will think of you, says God,
because I am way more terrifying than them!!
Too scared to tell others you’re a Christian?
Too scared to invite your neighbours to church this Christmas?
Too scared of the persecution you might face,
too scared of loosing your job if you share the gospel at work.
Too scared to follow Jesus for what it might mean for your life,
or how you might look to your mates, or spouse?
Don’t give a monkeys about that says God -
I’m way more terrifying than any of that!!
Now, I am not saying that we can read about Ezekiel here and directly apply his call from God to our lives here today in WP...
But, the principles of God’s character and salvation plan can be applied,
especially when we consider the NT accounts:
while we are not prophets in the same way as Ezekiel,
and while most of us aren’t in ministry teaching positions,
God almighty has the same standards that he had then.
Christians are empowered by the HS, as Ezekiel was,
we are a priesthood of all believers (1 Pet 2v5),
and we are commanded to declare this warning of judgment and salvation to the world (Matt 28v19)
Remember the
Listen to the words of Jesus in
Mark 8:38 NIV
If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Mark 8:38 NIV
If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Mark 8:38 NIV
If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
We are not to take our Christian walk,
our faithfulness,
our obedience,
our fight against sin,
our declaration about God
lightly!
Whatever stops or delays us is
to be put under the much more fearful reality of God’s glory,
as is revealed to Ezekiel!
Let me tell you why I think we can apply this to ourselves..
The principle of who God is, is still true today.
I am not saying we are going to be held accountable in the same way Ezekiel was,
for the salavtion of others who we do not tell about the gospel!
But the warnings he gives Ezekiel are echoed for those teaching the bible today...
And again, the NT does reinforce this standard for those who are responsible for teaching the word of God.
James 3:1 NIV
Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
James 3:1 NIV
Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
We have a huge responsibility, before God, to warn the world
Or “you will be held accountable for not warning Demelza that she ought not to be sleeping with her boyfirend if she says she’s a Christain.”
But we can apply generally the principle, that we have a huge responsibility before God to warn the world about the coming angre and judgment of God, and warn each other from rebelion against God’s standards. And he is at best displeased when we don’t.
about the coming judgment of God,
And to warn those we teach to remain faithful.
(At home as we teach our children, from the pulpit, in Sunday school)
And I don’t think we can get away from the fact,
that very healthy fear of the Lord
is supposed to be a very healthy motivation to action.
Blow the trumpet says God. My glory is at stake.
Are We to warn or be wa
Just a note on v20
Ezekiel 3:20 NIV
“Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood.
This verse is not a discussion on whether someone can loose their salvation if they sin.
This is purely a focus on the responsibilities of Ezekiel,
to hold others to account.
It is not ok to idly sit by and watch our brothers and sisters live in sin and rebelion -
even if they are mostly godly in other ways.
Maybe they have never truely understood the gospel and could be lost eternally
(which is what the stumbling block refers to) in this verse,
or maybe they are true believers and need us to blow the trumpet, so they return as in v21.
Our second point which we have already done, really, is

Are we to warn or be warned?

To not do so is to be guilty before God of murder by negligence.
And the answer is, YES
Sound the trumpet. Yes,
But we are also to hear the trumpet,
Ezekiel is not spared the fear of the Lord, and nor should we.
Perhaps like me, this passage has blown the trumpet straight in your ear!
becasue I don’t take every oppertunity to warn peiople of the judgement of God and the salavation he offers.
I don’t take every oppertunity to warn people of the judgement of God,
and I don’t deal with my sin quickly,
What does that say of my fear of the Lord?
It says I need a fresh reminder of His glory!
and I need a fresh reminder of His glory,
which is exactly what Ezekiel needs as God reveals the same vision of Chapter 1 to him again as recorded in v23
Ezekiel 3:23 NIV
So I got up and went out to the plain. And the glory of the Lord was standing there, like the glory I had seen by the Kebar River, and I fell facedown.
Let’s keep reading chapter 1 over the coming weeks to get a bigger and bigger picture of God’s glory.
But remember our question...
Is God our only hope or our greatest fear?
The answer is YES!
God’s Glory is so terrifying, not becasue God is terrible, but becasue we are terrible!
God’s glory is nothing but Good!!
The reason we must fear his glory is that we are not ever going to be good enough to enjoy it!
But God is so Good, that he chooses to give us the most wonderful and only hope available in this life.
Ezekiel has the same call to be a watchman repeated in ch 33,
and God follows it up that time with a desperately loving plea
Ezekiel 33:11 NIV
Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’
God has to protect his glory, he cannot tolerate evil,
BUT YET HE STILL LOVES US ENOUGH TO GIVE US HOPE!
He is desperate to love us!
And it’s so simple to accept his love.
Turn!
Or
Repent!
To bow down and say
So God may well be rightly our greatest fear (in a healthy sense) but he is also our only hope.
WHo is it that instructs Ezekiel to be a watchman? God?
his was a special call - but that said, the NT has similar warnings for bible teachers today....
SO if we are to try and apply form the specifics of Ezekiel, then I think we can apply to bible teachers. But we can definitely learn of the character of God, and therefore act appropriately today if we know him.
This is why ezekiel experiences that incredible vision of God in chapter 1. He is not to be rebellious like the people he will speak to, he is to ‘KNOW that God is God’. And so are we. By my actions says God 70 times in Ezekiel, you will know that I am God.
Get some perspective says God. Your trials, temptations, are very real, your fears and desperation’s are very real, LIFE is NOT easy!!
But this is just a foretast of what’s to come if you rebel against God!
PLease don’t think I find it easy to tell people about Jesus, I certainly havn’t found it easy in preparing this sermon today and warning of the terrifying judgement of God for anyone who rebels against God.
But I have to not worry about any backlash I may get from some who listen to this, and get some perspective of the standard that God hold me too.
This is also not a case of saying, oh, but today it is all about Grace. Because GRace is only grace if what I am saying is true!
If God is not our greatest enemy, then there is nothing really to experience Grace from.
Let me explain.
Because God is our greatest enemy.
Then it also means he is our only Hope.
WHo is it that instructs Ezekiel to be a watchman? God?
YOu see, we fear the glorious holiness of God becasue is demands perfect holiness from us, but at the same time, we have such a simple way of avoiding any judgemnt and recieving the most awesome, lving eternity with God.
Eze - I don;t delight in death.,....
We simply, Bow down in repentance.
God sets up the watchman. And the watchman has such a simple job to save himself from the incoming enemy. Simply sound the trumpet.
We trun from living our own way ad say
‘Have mercy on us Lord, I want to live for you now!’
Grace Church, no more living for ourselves, putting our families or comfort, or wealth or pride, or illness before God.
Have a healthy fear of the Glory of God,
becasue it is that fear that reminds us he is also our only hope!!
Turn, repent, bow down, give your life to Him, now and everyday from now!
And it’s all made possible becasue Jesus has made it possible.
we don’t fear the glory of God trembling and quaking.
We fear the glory of God
The Israelites had to trust that God would one day deal with their sin in a way that satisfied his perfectly good Glory.
But we know how he did it, becasue we know Jesus has
taken the wrath of God in our place.
He has paid the price on the cross in His death.
And we know, that unlike the Israelietes who do not turn, we can, becasue Jesus has made it possible. He has taken the wrath of God in our place. He has pain the price on the cross in His death.
He has taken the wrath of God in our place. He has pain the price on the cross in His death.
Jesus the only man to live perfectly, perfectly satisfies God’s glory.
He has offered us eternity in his resurection.
He has swapped his sinless life for our sinful life.
We can turn/repent becasue he has turned us.
The trumpet is sounding, Christians remain faithful, turn, pursue holiness more fearful of God’s glory than of our obstacles.
But not quaking, trembling fear, but awe-filled, reverent fear that reminds us of the glorious Hope set before us in Jesus.
.
Sound the trumpet of others. All becasue of Jesus.
Non-Christians, you must also turn, repent, bow down - for you do need to tremble before God because you do not have Jesus to take God’s angre on your behalf.
Reject your own rule and accept the glorious rule of the glorious God of the universe,
all through Jesus.
We will not be sorry if we do,
but if we don’t, the enemy is on his way, Jesus will break through the defences, you have heard today the trumpet sound, and if we are not found with lives that are bowed to the rgound, the glory of God iwll be at stake.
Ezekiel ???? - Do not delight, Turn turn!!
simply have to

1 - Is God our Only Hope or our Greatest Fear?

Yes
So bow down and enjoy his forgiveness and love forever.
xxx

2 - Are we to Warn or be Warned?

Yes,
So sound the trumpet and hear the trumpet?
xxx
And our 3rd question, and very breifly..

3 - Is our task Possible or Impossible?

And you’ve guessed it, the answer is yes.
So, Ezekiel is given this task to sound the trumpet, to warn the people,
to tell them of God’s coming judgement.
Proclaim, speak, warn, shout.
And then God says this...
And then he’s told...

Go, shut yourself inside your house. 25 And you, son of man, they will tie with ropes; you will be bound so that you cannot go out among the people. 26 I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be silent and unable to rebuke them, for they are a rebellious people. 27 But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’ Whoever will listen let them listen, and whoever will refuse let them refuse; for they are a rebellious people.

Ezekiel 3:24–27 NIV
Then the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet. He spoke to me and said: “Go, shut yourself inside your house. And you, son of man, they will tie with ropes; you will be bound so that you cannot go out among the people. I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be silent and unable to rebuke them, for they are a rebellious people. But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ Whoever will listen let them listen, and whoever will refuse let them refuse; for they are a rebellious people.
eze 3 24-
Can he speak, can’t he speak, can he go to the poeple, is he house bound?

3 - Is this task possible or impossible!

Yes i think is the answer.
How is he to warn the people if he can’t speak or leave his house!?
What I think is going on,
is that as a sign of how rebellious the people are against God,
their prophet Ezekiel, who would normally speak for them back to God,
is not going to be able to give them that privelegde.
Normally the prophet would beg God to forgive the people and to show them mercy.
They have gone too far,
They have gone too far,
hardened their hearts too much.
Jerulasm, their home coty representing hope, will eventually fall during the life of Ezekiel.
It is too late
So, when God gives a specific message,
Ezekiel will be able to declare it,
but there will be no way to speak back to God via the prophet.
In fact, there will barely be ways for
Ezekiel to expand on God’s messages and help his people at all!
They are alone,
God’s patience has to run out.
They have ignored God for too long and loved their own way for too long.
One day, God’s patience has to run out.
The world has rejected God, created it’s own idols. Humanly, it is impossible to turn, to repent, to bow to God.
Jerusalm in a few short years from this time will be destroyed, their hope will be gone.
And for us, one day, maybe today,
Jesus will return and all those who have not turned to God already
… well it will be too late.

24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Today is a loving and patient gift from God to make sure you are right with him.
But what good news that it is not down to us to save.
And what good news it is if you don’t believe in God. For if we are left to our own devises, even when we hear the trumpet, we will carry on.
God can do the impossible. He can save you.
He can change our hard hearts of stone and give us a soft heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26 NIV
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
So yes, Ezekiel’s task is impossible, in that he cannot save people by his own speech or skill, or effort.
But he can be faithful in reverently fearing God and sounding the warning trumpet for all to hear.
But God can do the impossible and save those who hear the trumpet,
by allowing them to bow down to His glory.
The question today is,
Do you trust Jesus in the first place to turn your life around,
and so respond to the trumpet blast.
Do you then in awe-filled fear sound the trumpet for others, reminding them that
God is also their ONLY HOPE.
And for all of us, as we hear the trumpet today,
And f y
ARNIE
will we address whatever it is that is slowing or stopping our faithfulness to God,
by looking to His transcendent Glory again.
PRAY
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