In the animated “Larry-Boy” series (from the creators of Veggie Tales), the signature superhero’s line in the theme song is, “I am that hero!” It’s fun to watch or hear about tales of heroism, but can be quite another matter to acknowledge that stepping up is our job, too.
Having learned about the duties of a watchman in Ezekiel 33:2-6), the example becomes personal. God’s message isn’t just about some hypothetical watchman on the city wall:
“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. When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.
Ezekiel 33:7-9 NIV
Ezekiel is the watchman. He has a warning to give to “the people of Israel” (note verse 7). Violence and harm is imminent, and wicked people need to know this.
Between my own reading and some commentaries, the warning that Ezekiel needed to give the people goes something like this:
- Repent, or unpleasant consequences are coming.
- Specifically, Nebuchadnezzar’s armies were in siege of Jerusalem (see Ezekiel 24:1-2; ref. Matthew Henry), as a consequence of the people’s sins. (In fact, Ezekiel hears about the fall of Jerusalem in verse 21).
- Those who hear the warning not only needed to get out of Jerusalem if they still could (or perhaps become content with living in exile for now), but they also needed to shape up their behavior.
- The exiles or fugitives (per Asbury) needed to listen to God’s warnings, lest they also die. It might have been too late to get out of Jerusalem, but the remaining Israelites needed to end any wicked ways.
So, as a watchman, Ezekiel’s had a clear message to share. You probably know that the next part of this is coming, though: If you look at the criteria here, we – as followers of Jesus – also meet the definition of a watchman (or watchperson?). Consider these things:
- We have received the words of God. God’s Word is available to us from the Bible at a minimum (if we read it), as is guidance from the Holy Spirit (if we listen to Him).
- We have been appointed by God to share His word with others. At least, that’s how I interpret the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), where Jesus told His followers to make disciples. You don’t make disciples by soaking up lots of God’s Word and keeping it to yourself.
- We know the consequences of sin. This is described in Romans 6:23, and passages elsewhere in the Bible detail what awaits those who continue in wickedness, apart from the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
- We need to be clear in communicating not only the joy of salvation, but also the warning of imminent danger. Personally, I think that not talking about sin – not appreciating the severity, awfulness, and consequences of sin – waters down the amazing nature of salvation through Jesus Christ. I fear that a lot of people don’t want to accept Jesus because they only see what they would have to “give up”, and not what awaits them if they do not. Of course, we have this idea that “hellfire and brimstone preaching” turns people off, but God – through His Son and His messengers – has not sugar-coated the reality of sin’s penalty, and there are a variety of ways to share this truth without being obnoxious to someone whom you care about (someone who you love), who is headed to an eternity away from God.
- We are called to sow the seed, but we are not expected to force everything to grow. At least, this is how I interpret the so-called “Parable of the Sower” (Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, Luke 8:1-15). Some people’s hearts are like the rocky soil in this parable, while others have metaphorical weeds. However, we don’t necessarily know the condition of someone’s heart (even the roughest-looking, roughest-talking, and roughest-acting person may have a heart that is ready to accept the Gospel), and if we don’t share God’s Word with them when called upon to do so, we might miss out on a great harvest.
So, if you follow Jesus Christ, I believe that you – like me – are a watchman, and you have not only opportunities to tell others the truth about Him, but also have a duty to share the truth in love when God calls you to do so. To paraphrase the fictional Larry-Boy, “I am that watchman!”
From Sunday School lesson prepared for September 4, 2022
- The Lookout, September 4, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.
- Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). Matthew Henry. 1706, via BibleGateway.com.
- Asbury Bible Commentary. Copyright © 1992 by The Zondervan Corporation, via BibleGateway.com.