Table of Contents
2. God’s Warning to Israel and Judah
– A lesson in ignoring God’s warnings
3. God’s Warning the World Today
– Repent or die
4. Do You Hear What I Hear?
– Our new responsibility
5. Sharing the Good Tidings
Watch & Listen
In Ezekiel 33, God shares a very important message with Ezekiel about the prophet’s commission and its importance. We also see In Ezekiel 33:2-4, that the Lord spoke about when He would bring a sword upon the land; it would be important for the people of the land to set themselves up a watchman to keep watch for danger. It would also be of great importance for the people to listen for when the trumpet sounds.
So, the Lord’s message to the prophet spoke to a great danger that He, the Lord, would bring upon the land. Why would God bring a sword upon the land? The reason was due to the people of the southern kingdom of Judea forsaking the Lord to live in obedience to sin.
Now, of great importance, in my key verse for today, Ezekiel 33:11, we will see that God told Ezekiel, “Say to them: ‘As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’” As I preached at the start of this year, God’s desire is clear: He wants people to live.
God’s Warning to Israel and Judah
God made it very plain and clear that He does not take pleasure (love/desire) in the death (destruction) of anyone, not even the sinner. This fact is shown repeatedly throughout scripture where the Lord repeatedly put His watchmen on the walls of Israel to sound their horns and warn of danger.
We should understand that posting of watchmen on the wall was a show of love and compassion from the Lord. Sadly, however, there is another lesson that we learn through Israel this week.
A lesson in ignoring God’s warnings
In Ezekiel 33:4, the Lord stated, “whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head.” So, why would his blood be on his own head? The Lord said in the next verse, “[Because] He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself (Ezek. 33:5).”
So, let us note the self responsibility in one being attentive to listening for and heeding the watchman sounding his trumpet. Sadly, many of those that lived in both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judea, chose to carry on disregarding God’s watchmen; they did so not caring for their own life. At the same time, there were several others that heard God’s watchmen sounding their horns but they complained about the noise the watchmen were making.
An example of this is shown in Micah 2:6, when the people turned to lying prophets who would tell Micah not to prophesy against the people; the false prophets would lie and say to the people that all was well, there was no threat of danger. Such lies gave the people a false sense of security all the while they lived in a manner that was bringing God’s wrath against them closer and closer. How do you suppose that worked out for them?
As scripture states, those that did not heed the trumpet sound ended up falling to the sword. The northern kingdom had fallen to the Assyrians by this point and the southern kingdom was conquered by the Babylonians. People like Ezekiel and Daniel ended up being carried away to Babylon while others tried to flee from God to Egypt where they ended up meeting their fate.
That outcome is very concerning to me because I believe that history parallels both the present day and a future day. As I heard when I was growing up, it is best to learn and know history just in case history repeats itself. I often wonder whether or not we are paying attention today and whether or not we have learned from the past. History, whether you realize it or not, has already been repeating itself and the Lord is, once again, posting watchmen on the walls.
God’s Warning the World Today
This began after the people returned to Jerusalem from the Babylonian exile. As shown in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, the people briefly lived in obedience to God’s word but sadly, over time, the people returned to the way of sin. Darkness covered the land and God went silent for 400 years until suddenly, His watchmen began to appear again.
In Luke 2:8-20, we are told of shepherds that were merely living in a field keeping watch over their flock when they were suddenly visited by an angel. The angel told them of the birth of a Savior, Christ the Lord. Then suddenly the shepherds were surrounded by the heavenly hosts who praised God and sang out, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
After the angel’s visit, the shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem, found Mary, Joseph, and the Baby lying in the manger. After they had seen the Baby, Christ, the shepherds became God’s watchmen and they went out and sounded their horns; they made it widely known concerning the birth of the Child. Scripture tells us that those who heard the shepherds marveled at the things told to them.
In Matthew 2:2-12, we are told of the wise men from the East that came to Jerusalem because they saw the star of Him who was born King of the Jews. When these watchmen came to Herod seeking the one who was born King of the Jews, the noise of their trumpets greatly disturbed Herod; the man desired to move with evil intent towards the Child, however the wise men moved on to find the Child, worshiped Him, and did not return to Herod.
John the Baptist, another of God’s watchmen, sounded his horn when he preached to the people about the coming of the Lamb of God. John called out to the people, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt. 3:2)!” John warned of the coming of the one mightier than him and that when He came He would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matt. 3:11).
Repent or die
The one that John warned of certainly did come and He carried with Him a very loud trumpet to get the attention of the world. Jesus said from the very beginning, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15).” Let us understand that Jesus’ message is one that all should heed and not disregard because, once again, the sin of man is causing God’s wrath to draw nearer and nearer.
In Luke 5:31-32, Jesus made it clear as to why He was born and was present in the world. Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Jesus’ message is clear: nobody is in perfect health, in their soul, as all are in need of spiritual healing. Do you hear what I hear?
To be healed, one must go see a doctor and that is what Jesus called on throughout His ministry— repent and come to Him. Jesus said that those who come to Him will not perish but will have everlasting life, however, those that do not are condemned already (John 3:15-16, 18) — Repent or die (live or die)!
Again, Jesus sounded His horn when He clearly warned in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven [will enter].”
Again I ask you, do you hear what I hear? It truly is important for all of us to be attentive to Jesus sounding this warning. You see, Jesus stated in Matthew 7:22-23, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
This statement from Christ is, again, of great concern because His trumpet sounds but many are like Judah of Ezekie’s day: some disregard while others complain. Those that live in this manner fail to understand that they are living as enemies of the Lord.
In his letter James asked, “Adulterers, and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (Jas. 4:4).” We must all understand that we are responsible for whether or not we choose to be attentive to Jesus’ warning or not. Therefore, we are responsible whether or not we live or die when God, once again, brings a sword upon the land!
To be clear: God is going to judge sin and the sinner and He, Himself, has sounded the trumpet – the alarm – to warn us because He loves us! God, again, does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked.
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Again, I ask you today, do you hear what I hear? Have you been attentive to God’s warning? Now, if you have been responsible and have taken heed to the trumpet sound, we will see there is more responsibility that we take on.
Our new responsibility
In Ezekiel 33:7, God repeats to the Ezekiel what He said to Ezekiel when Ezekiel was first attentive to God’s voice, “I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them (Israel) for Me (Ezek. 3:17).” God had commissioned Ezekiel to be a watchman on the wall and sound the horn of warning for the people.
With that in mind, if you have been attentive to the sounding of the trumpet of Christ, I ask you today: Do you realize that you have also been appointed (commissioned) by God to stand watch on the wall as a watchman of God?
Now, you may wonder to yourself, when was I appointed to stand watch? Did Jesus not say to His disciples, as recorded in Mark 13:32-33, “Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is (Mark 13:33).”
Jesus then said to the disciples in Mark 13:35-37, “Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming – in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” I ask you today: are you carrying out your new responsibility and actively being on watch?
If you did not know, you, the child of God, the sincere believer, are a watchman of God who has been assigned a post to stand watch on the wall for the world. I want you to understand that we, as God’s watchmen, are on watch not just for ourselves but for all of those around us. We are to be sounding the trumpet and spreading the word about the coming of Christ just as the prophets, the shepherds in the field, the wise men, the apostles, and Christ Himself.
Let us remember that Jesus commissioned us, “[To go] therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you (Matt. 28:18-19).” This is a responsibility that we carry, just as Ezekiel carried.
In Ezekiel 33:6, God said to our responsibility, “if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.”
Even more, we will see that God said in Ezekiel 33:8, “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you [the watchman] do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.” As watchmen of God we should take our role with the utmost of seriousness; they should care for their life and also the lives of all of those around them.
Sharing the Good Tidings
In Isaiah 62:6, the Lord said of His watchmen to Jerusalem, “I have set the watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They (the watchmen) shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent.”
You and I have a message to share with the world and we should not put a mute on our horn. The message is a message of rebuke and repentance; the kingdom of God is at hand and His sword draws nearer and nearer. Though God’s sword draws closer and closer, we have a message of great joy in that there is a Savior who saves the world!
Our role as watchmen of the Lord is not limited to only speaking about sin and the failure of mankind; we are to also proclaim good tidings – the good news – of God’s compassion— His mercy and forgiveness of sin. As we saw in my key verse, the Lord desires for us to let the world know that He does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked but that the wicked turn from sin; God desires for you to live eternally.
In Isaiah 52:7, of His watchmen and the message He has given them to share, the Lord said, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
To Israel, and now to the world, God has said in Isaiah 52:8-9, “Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, with their voices they shall sing together; For they shall see eye to eye when the Lord brings back Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem (the world)! For the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem (the world).”
Our role as watchmen also provides comfort for the people. Many people think the worst of hearing rebuke (correction) but when you are rebuked, it shows that someone loves and cares for you. For the world today, we should know and understand that God has rebuked the world because He loves the world, mankind, and wants mankind to live.
God has shown His love by giving His only begotten Son. The Savior was given to bring light to our wound and the threat we face because of our wound. As we know, physically speaking, poor health can lead to death; the same also holds true for poor spiritual health. So, I sound the trumpet today to, yes, warn but to also bring comfort and joy to the one that desires to be healed and saved; there is a physician that is more than able to heal your wounded soul.