The other day when I was doing my daily Bible reading, I came across a passage in Ezekiel chapter 33. At the beginning of this chapter, the Lord is telling Ezekiel that God has put him as a “watchman” to Israel and then explains the duties of a watchman to Ezekiel. As I read, it made me think of who is the watchman today? Who is the watchman over modern day Israel?
“Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand. So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.” ~ Ezekiel 33:1-7
We read this passage and we see the job of the watchman as being one of warning the people of impending dangers. The duty of the watchman is to inform the people of the city of anything that is coming that might harm them or in some way affect them. So we ask the question, who needs a watchman today? Who needs to be told of dangers that might be lurking about, seeking to harm them?
First let us see what the dangers are, and who it is that is seeking to harm us. We read in 1 Peter 5:8 that “…the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…” Our enemy, the one whom wishes to see us fall and die spiritually, is Satan, the “walking lion”. If you have ever gone to the zoo and seen a lion in the cage, you can see how ferocious they are with their long fangs, sharp claws and powerful, rippling muscles that are made to take down large prey. It is no wonder how Satan is compared to such a killing machine as the lion. If one of these animals was loose in your city, you would want someone watching out for this lion to warn the city when he sees it that way everyone can get to safety and protect their family. So again, we come to the question, who is this watchman against the spiritual dangers and who should the watchman warn?
When thinking about who is to be warned, we automatically think of fellow Christians because, after all, we don’t want to see a brother or sister in Christ fall prey to Satan. Satan sees a Christian, and he would love nothing more than to snatch that juicy, fat soul from God and destroy it. But while the Christian must be warned against the wiles of the devil, those who are not Christians must be warned also. If we truly love every soul and want to bring others to Christ, the watchman would warn everyone and tell everyone of the dangers lurking about. You may be thinking, “But who is this watchman and who should be responsible for warning the people?” Some may argue this is the job of the local preacher and some may even include the elders as being the watchman. But is it only the job of the elders and preacher? In Ezekiel 33:7 it says that whoever “…hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.” Who hears the word of God? All Christians (Romans 10:17)! This means that it is not just the job of the preacher or elders, it is our duty as fellow Christians to warn of the dangers of sin. This means it is the duty of all Christians to spread the Gospel of Christ. When Christ gave the great commission, it doesn’t read “Go therefore preachers into all the world…”, but rather it just says “go.” Christ didn’t give a specific person to do the spreading of the Gospel, but by leaving out who is to spread it, it implies that all who have the ability are to spread the word.
As Ezekiel 33:1-7 states, all our job as Christians is to be the watchman, to warn and tell others of what is coming and how to prepare for it. Our job is to tell others of the dangers of sin and the way of escape (Christ) and how to take that route of escape. But as God told Ezekiel, if they do not heed our warning and teaching, then “…heard the sound…, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him” (v. 5). All God asks us to do is to “warn” the people and to spread the Gospel. If they do not hear what we have to say, “his blood shall be upon him” and “shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them” (Mark 6:11). However, as God tells Ezekiel further, that if we do not do as He told us and spread the Gospel and warn the people, “his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.”
Are we doing to job of the watchman, or are we expecting the preacher to “fill our shift” for us?