Summary: God gives His people a watchman to protect their life. Brothers and sisters, in the weeks, months, and years that lie ahead, let us both, you and I, listen to the Word of God. And let us take heed to these warnings. So there will be life - eternal life.
Opening illustration: Americans are getting warned to death. Manufacturers are growing increasingly wary of being sued when their products are misused, so they are attaching warning labels to hundreds of items. For example, a Batman outfit bears this caveat: “Parents, please exercise caution—For Play only. Mask and cape are not protective; cape does not enable user to fly.”
So many warnings appear on items sold in our stores, say the experts, that they’ve lost their effectiveness.
While these kinds of warnings may fall on deaf ears, the Bible points out the importance of heeding God’s warnings. Ezekiel’s words in chapter 3 make it clear that a warning is vital not only for the person receiving it but also for the person giving it (vs. 16-21). God’s words must be taken seriously. “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit,” we are told (Ephesians 4:30). “Abstain from every form of evil,” we are reminded (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Jesus warned against adultery and lust (Matthew 5:27-28) and against judging others self-righteously (Matthew 7:1-5).
The Lord who made us knows how we should live. He longs to protect us from danger. Let’s make sure we take all of His warnings seriously. (Illustration by Dave Branon, Our Daily Bread)
Let us turn to Ezekiel 3 and check out the warnings given to the watchman Ezekiel so that he would listen and act upon them for saving not only their lives but his too from utter destruction.
Introduction: The prophet Ezekiel lived in a dark time. Imagine! In the space of less than 20 years, three loads of Israelites were dragged from the Promised Land. Three loads! Into exile. They had to live in Babylon. That center of the kingdom of the world. Away from Jerusalem, away from the temple, away from God Himself, it seemed. There they were God's people, children of Abraham - in a foreign land, a strange country. Even the king himself, Jehoiachin, was in exile. Ezekiel too - he was supposed to be a priest, serving at the temple in Jerusalem, but there he was in Babylon too, far from Jerusalem, far from the temple. But it gets worse still. Those Babylonians weren't satisfied with just ravaging the land. Would they dare to touch God's temple, His dwelling place in Jerusalem? Yes they would. And they did. There it went, into pieces, into rubble, into a smoking pile of ruins.
Ezekiel was indeed a good watchman. But the message he had to bring wasn't exactly a popular one. He had to bring God's Word to a people who didn't want to hear it. In fact we live in similar times. As the watchman, he had to announce God's Word of condemnation because of their sins: Chapter 5:6 "And she has wickedly rebelled against my ordinances more than the nations and against my statutes more than the countries round about her, by rejecting my ordinances and not walking in my statutes." As watchman, he had to announce God's Word of judgment because of their sins: Chapter 5:9-11 "And because of all your abominations I will do with you what I have never yet done, and the like of which I will never do again. Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in the midst of you, and sons shall eat their fathers....." cannibalism in Jerusalem. Then v. 11 "therefore I will cut you down; my eye will not spare, and I will have no pity." Not a pleasant message to bring. But as faithful watchman, Ezekiel faithfully proclaimed it, He watched and He warned. He brought God's Word to His people as a true prophet.
Who are we responsible to warn?
1. Warning the Ungodly (vs. 16-19)
But then we must remind ourselves of what the task of the watchman is. It is simply this: to bring God's Word. That's what sermons are all about: what does God reveal to us in Scripture. That's why we come to church: to hear what God has to say to us in His Word. And for me, then, that remains a task. Today the Lord has allowed me to become a minister. Or, as I perhaps should say: A minister of the Word. As an ordinary human being, a son of man, yes, an ordinary person with sins, with weaknesses no less, I am allowed to bring God's Word. Indeed, I must. For that task that lies ahead, brothers and sisters, is to bring God's Word. Not my own opinions or ideas. But God's Word. And then I need not think: What shall I say? What do the people want to hear? What will go down best? But just this: watching and warning. Hearing and bringing God's Word to His people. The message I bring, brothers and sisters, must not be my own. It must not be original. It must be rooted solidly in Scripture; it must confront you with what God Himself says. Says the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:20 "So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us." That's the task of the watchman: "Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me."