Sept. 30: Ezekiel 33
the watchman's duty
In this remarkable passage, Ezekiel's office as a prophet in Israel is compared to the position of a watchman: 'So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel' (Ezekiel 33:7). The comparison is an apt one; like the watchman, the office of the prophet is one of public trust. Matthew Henry suggests that the office of the watchman is twofold:
His business is (1) to discover the approaches and advances of the enemy; and therefore he must not be blind nor asleep, for then he cannot see the sword coming; (2) to give notice of them immediately by sound of trumpet, or, as sentinels among us, by the discharge of a gun, as a signal of danger. A special trust and confidence is reposed in him by those that set him to be their watchman that he will faithfully do these two things; and they venture their lives upon his fidelity.
Ezekiel, therefore, is placed in a position where the warning sound is entrusted to him, and the people have every right to expect him faithfully to discharge his duty. If he does, then he is free from any blame or culpability should anything happen to them; but if he does not, then he risks not only his own life but the life of the people, and their wellbeing is his responsibility.
Sometimes I wonder if we have over-romanticised the work of the gospel ministry? It is wonderful to serve Christ, to work for his church, and to be engaged in the business of his kingdom. But here is the awful, weighty, crushing responsibility on every herald of the Word of God: are we discharging our office in terms of what has been entrusted to us? If sinners are lost, will it be their fault or ours? Will we have warned them clearly of their peril? Will we have pointed them clearly to the way of salvation in Christ? Will their blood be on their own hands, or on ours?
The safety of the city depended to such a great extent on the vigilance and faithfulness of its watchmen. May God furnish the church with those who will be loyal to their charge and will not fail in their duty!