Summary: "The future should impact our present more than the past." Tony Campolo
Introductory Considerations - Impacted By The Past
1. As I look at my life, I can think of examples of past hurts and sins that impact my present - how I live, my confidence levels, my defensiveness, my lack of hope in certain situations.
2. I know for some of you how the past impacts your life - past hurts, past failures, past experiences.
3. Ask each to consider what it is that makes us "tick" - behave the way we do.
1. Today we consider the words given by God to Ezekiel to the people of Israel. Consider their situation, the messenger, and the message and how this is a message God has called me to bring before you today.
2. The Situation
a. Israelites had been deported to Babylon. Ezekiel was with them.
b. Jerusalem had not yet fallen and the people thought they would soon return home. In chs 1-24 Ezekiel tells them it will fall and that they must not take God’s judgement lightly.
c. In chs. 29-31 he tells them that simply being part of God’s covenant people will not prevent them from being judged severely by God. Just like going to church will not save us.
d. When ch 33. takes place - Jerusalem has fallen and the message turns to a message of hope.
3. The Messenger
a. Ezekiel was called by God to be a watchman.
b. In war, the watchman was stationed on the wall had the responsibility of warning the people of an imminent enemy attack.
c. Role had been given to Ezekiel in the 3rd chapter when God called him to be a prophet.
d. Prepared for his task. In Ez. 3:3 he was given scroll to eat which tasted sweet. Then told to go and speak God’s word. He as saturated with word - he took it in and it was sweet to Him. To warn and to explain God’s word we need to know it and to rejoice in it - it must be sweet tasting to us.
e. Ezekiel is accountable for his role. If he warns people and they do not listen, they die but he will have saved ourselves from judgement in matter. If he doesn’t warn them, they will die and he will be judged - not affect salvation but either in this life or less rewards in heaven. (33:7-9)
4. The message - not the past but the future.
a. A warning of life. (v. 10-11)
i. This is a warning to the wicked. Turn from evil and live. If you don’t you will die.
ii. Not past that matters but the future.
iii. Warning that hell is real. Recent survey showed that 77% believe in heaven and only 58% in hell. Also, 76% believe they have good chance of going to heaven and ONLY 6% of going to hell.
iv. Hell is real - eternal anguish and punishment. Rev 20 describes hell as lake of fire where one is tormented
day and night forever and ever.
v. If focus on past - sin - no hope. If heed word and turn to trust in Lord and His word, we are saved. Israelites to trust in God and we in Christ today.
vi. Warning is to you today from me - where will you spend eternity? Have you turn away from evil deeds and repented.
vii. Story told by Jesus in Luke 16 - the rich man and Lazarus. I wouldn’t want to be in rich man’s position knowing I hadn’t warned you.
b. A warning of death. (v. 13)
i. Warning not just to wicked but to righteous. Those who have been righteous must not presume upon salvation.
ii. If turn from righteousness and do evil, we will die for evil.
iii. Do not trust in righteousness. Talked about last week in Reformation message.
iv. We all sin and we need Christ.
v. Do you trust in righteousness or in Christ?
c. Warnings are warnings of hope.
1. They show the way to life.
2. They reveal the mercy of God. "I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked" (v. 11)
3. But He will judge each according to their ways. (v. 20)
4. Applying this to today.
a. As minister I have role of watchman. "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account." Heb 13:17. See also Paul’s charge to Timothy in 1Tim 4:1-5. I have tried to fulfil this by warning you this morning.
b. Above passage refers to elders as well. Note that Ezekiel’s warning was given to God’s covenant people. Our warning to those in midst who go astray. Not to nitpick sins but to restore.
c. Each of us has responsibility to warn each other. Soon after story of rich man and Lazarus (see above), Jesus says in Luke 17:3 "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him." Yet do so in love and according to Jesus teaching in Mat 7:1-6.