Summary: Spiritually-speaking we have a lot of silent alarms today. The duty of the watchman is to sound the alarm.
September 4, 2005
(Labor Day Weekend)
So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, "O wicked ones, you shall surely die," and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand.
But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life. Now you, mortal, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: "Our transgressions and our sins weigh upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?"
Say to them, As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?
Ezekiel 33:7-11 (NRSVA)
What would you say should become of an alarm clock that doesn’t wake you up in time for work? (Some have answered that its owner would rise up and call it blessed!) In reality, an alarm clock that fails to sound the alarm is useless.
God has had a pattern of dealing with the chosen nation which goes something like: scatter, gather…and repeat! Ezekiel’s time was 13 years after the scattering of God’s people. Jerusalem had been conquered by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (today’s Iraq), the nation was scattered in punishment. Ezekiel himself was a captive in Babylon, and it was there that the Lord called Ezekiel to be a prophet; God told Ezekiel that he was being set up as sentinel, a watchman over the house of Israel. Whenever God spoke, Ezekiel was to listen, then blow the horn of warning for all he was worth. Ezekiel was Israel’s moral and spiritual alarm clock. When God posted a sentry over the house of Israel He wasn’t just going through the motions. There was wrath to come because of the moral and spiritual decline of the people of God! The fact that God placed a sentry over the house of Israel presupposes the greater fact that a sentry was needed.
Some have called Ezekiel a “prophet of hope”. I suppose that’s true from Israel’s standpoint; even the name “Ezekiel” (God will strengthen) carries the promise of hope. Israel needed hope, as do we all.
Sentry duty is as old as the day God removed Adam and Eve from their paradise and posted an angel to prevent them from sneaking back in. It is a constant reminder that there are people that ought not be trusted:
• Armies always post sentries to watch out for the enemy.
• Homeland Security is searching bags at airports, and bodies too in the name of guarding against terrorists.
• The FDIC is watching over your money to make sure banks don’t steal it.
• ADT is watching over my house right now, protecting against intruders.
• And AOL, bless their bones, is posting spy-ware guards everywhere to keep me safe from Internet hackers and crackers.
• Even Colgate with super whitening power is guarding against tooth decay right in my mouth!