Summary: Just as the watchman is to primarily act as a guard by watching carefully for danger and to warn of its eventuality, so too has God appointed His messengers to watch out for spiritual dangers and warn of its coming destruction.
At the end of seven days the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 17 "Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. 18 "When I say to the wicked, ’You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 "Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself. 20 "Again, when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I place an obstacle before him, he will die; since you have not warned him, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 "However, if you have warned the righteous man that the righteous should not sin and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; and you have delivered yourself." [NASB]
When I was a young boy I enjoyed watching westerns and war movies. Now many of these movies would have a scene involving a campsite. At each campsite there would be sentries posted on the outer edges of the camp.
Now, the primary duty of a sentry was to act as a guard -
> He was to watch carefully for any signs of approaching danger.
> He was to warn those secure in the camp to get ready.
> He was to take up a defensive position to defend the camp.
Now, in ancient Israel, sentries were called “watchmen.” Who were usually placed at the highest point in a city and would inform the inhabitants –
> Of the progress of a battle (1 Samuel 14:16).
> Of approaching messengers (2 Samuel 18:24-27).
> Of the danger of an oncoming army (2 Kings 9:17-20).
Just as these civil watchmen are to primarily act as a guard by watching carefully for danger and to warn of its eventuality, so too has God, His own, watchmen to watch out for spiritual dangers and warn of its coming destruction.
In our text, Ezekiel, by God’s appointment, is one of those watchmen.
> His duty was to “listen” attentively to God’s message.
> His duty was to “warn” concerning the message.
> His duty was to “accept” responsibility and share in the message.
OBJECTIVE & PURPOSE
Just as God has appointed His prophets, like Ezekiel, to be watchmen over Israel, so too has the Lord appointed ministers today to be watchmen over His flocks.
> So what does God expect of us today, His “watchmen?”
> Does He expect any less of us today than he did in the OT times concerning His prophets?
Matthew Henry – Calls the office of the “Watchman”
> A Toilsome Office –
“Watchmen must keep awake, be they ever so sleepy, and keep abroad, be it ever so cold; they must stand all weathers upon the watch-tower …
Watchmen have to be alert – aware of the enemy’s tactics.
> A Dangerous Office -
“Sometimes they cannot keep their post, but are in peril of death from the enemy, who gain their point it they kill the sentinel; and yet they dare not quit their post upon pain of death from their general. Such a dilemma are the church’s watchmen in; men will curse them if they be faithful, and God will curse them if they be false.”
Watchmen have to be fearless – not afraid to declare: “Thus saith the Lord.”
> A Needful Office -
“The house of Israel cannot be safe without watchmen, and yet, except the Lord keep it, the watchman waketh but in vain.” - [Isaiah to Malachi, Vol. 4 of, A Commentary on the Whole Bible, 767.]
Churches need watchmen (!) – for their well being.
Let us examine the text and see what God expects of us His servants and apply it to our lives.
Let us also, see that God expects His servants today, as His prophets of old, to still fulfill the “watchman’s” purpose -
> Listen – to His Word
> Warn – to Warn with His Message
> Accept – to accept the responsibility of its consequences
3:16 “And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of the Lord came to me saying,”
3:17 “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.”