Ezekiel 3:16-21 (NIV) 16 At the end of seven days the word of the LORD came to me: 17 “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. 18 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. 19 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. 20 “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before him, he will die. Since you did not warn him, he will die for his sin. The righteous things he did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 21 But if you do warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he will surely live because he took warning, and you will have saved yourself.”
On verses 16-21: No pressure there Ezekiel. When God says that He has made Ezekiel a watchman for the house of Israel, what does He mean? A watchman is a soldier who stands guard in a watch tower and watches for any danger coming on the horizon against his city and warns the people accordingly. If the watchman sounds the warning and the city does not respond and is attacked, it’s the city’s fault. But if the watchman fails to sound the warning and the city is attacked as a result, the watchman is held responsible. Likewise, God says that Ezekiel’s role is that of a watchman. He is to warn the Israelites of God’s oncoming wrath against their sin. If he warns them and the people do not respond, the people will be held responsible. If he does not warn them about the oncoming danger, he will be held responsible.
What can we learn from this?
The consequences of sin are real and serious. Apparently the term “sin” is used in archery to describe missing the mark. If you shot your arrow and missed the target by a lot or by a little, all of it is called sin, missing the mark. Likewise, whether we sin a little like the “righteous man” in verse 20 or a lot like the wicked man in verses 18-20, all of us have sinned, fallen short of God’s standard and are subject to God’s wrath. We all need a Saviour to make up for our sin. Jesus came to be that Saviour for us. He is the only One who didn’t miss the mark and whose death on the cross was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. When we trust Jesus to be God’s perfect sacrifice for our sins, we are saved and forgiven of our sins, not by our good performance but by our faith in Jesus Christ.
Being Christians who are called to share Jesus with others comes with real and serious implications. When we faithfully share God’s Word with others, we can be like a bridge God uses to lead others to Jesus. But when we are too afraid, too apathetic or too self-consumed to share what we have with others, we can be the very thing that keeps others from knowing Jesus. That’s why it is so important that we keep trying to lead others to Jesus and make the most of the opportunities God gives us to do so.
We are not responsible for how people respond to God after we preach to them, but we are responsible for preaching to them as best as we can.
Ezekiel 3:22-27 (NIV) 22 The hand of the LORD was upon me there, and he said to me, “Get up and go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you.” 23 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. 24 Then the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet. He spoke to me and said: “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, though they are a rebellious house. 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.’…
On verses 22-27a: After allowing Ezekiel to see God’s glory once again (v22-23), God tells Ezekiel to shut himself inside his house (v24) and warns Ezekiel that the Israelites will tie him with ropes (v25) and his tongue will be unable to rebuke them (v26). But when the Lord comes to Ezekiel, that’s when Ezekiel will have words to speak (v27).
What can we learn from this?
Just as God was training Ezekiel to be totally dependent on Him for words to speak, may we learn to totally depend on God to give us words to speak that will help those around us. When you’re not sure what to say to someone in need, in your mind say a quick prayer to God and trust that the Holy Spirit will give you the words to speak.
Sometimes God allows us to be shut in (v24), tied down (v25), and muted out (v26) not to be cruel to us, but rather so that one day when we do open our mouths and speak we will have a message that is hard to ignore, a message that we and others can know is powered by God and not ourselves.
Ezekiel 3:27b (NIV) 27 …Whoever will listen let him listen, and whoever will refuse let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.
On verse 27b: Because God knows that the people He has sent Ezekiel to are a hardened and “rebellious house” (v27), God seems to be resigned to the fact that some will listen while some will refuse to listen.
What can we learn from this? Though God is all-powerful, He still leaves it up to every person to choose the condition of their heart and how open they will be to listening to God’s Word. That’s because God respects your freedom to make your own choices. He will not coerce you into believing in Him or listening to Him. What He wants from you is not forced love or coerced devotion, but love freely coming from your heart because you chose to.
Heavenly Father, You place on us the serious responsibility of being watchmen for you, who warn the people around us of Your wrath against sin and the salvation You have made available in Jesus Christ to rescue us from such wrath. May we take the responsibility of sharing Jesus with others seriously and fulfill it faithfully, lest we and others suffer as a result. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!