Faithful Watchmen and Watchwomen
Delivered By
C. C. Risenhoover
Delivered On
September 4, 2016
Central Passage
Ezekiel 33:1-9


          Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head.  He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself.  But he who takes warning will save his life.  But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’  “So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from my mouth and warn them for me.  When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.  Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul (Ezekiel 33:1-9).

          Some Bible passages are difficult because of the hard work it takes to understand them…whereas others are difficult to accept because their meaning is too clear.  The meaning of this passage from Ezekiel is very clear.  It’s a rebuke of sorts…and it is potent instruction for every child of God.

          Ezekiel was a priest and prophet at a time when God had removed the Jewish people from their homeland because of their sinfulness and idolatry.  The Israelites were at that time captives in Babylon.  So God called Ezekiel to a prophetic ministry and described his role as that of a watchman.

         The task of a watchman was to position himself high on the city wall…and to blow his trumpet if he saw an enemy approaching.  Failure to see and warn of an enemy’s approach meant the death of many people.  So a watchman was required to be faithful and trustworthy…a person who understood the importance and significance of his purpose.

          What God called Ezekiel to do was a sobering and serious task…and it was God held him responsible for doing it.  Ezekiel was to be a spiritual watchman…and in that capacity he was to blow a warning that most of the people didn't want to hear.

          People…even alleged Christians…don’t want to hear it today either.  They want to accept and dismiss as…just the way things are…sin and idolatry…false religion and its consequences….  They don’t want to confront these things with God’s message of salvation through Jesus Christ.  They prefer tolerance and political correctness.

          But those of us called to be watchmen…and watchwomen…must heed Paul’s mandate in 2 Timothy 4:1-5, which says: “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.  For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.  But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

          Christians have a watchman or watchwoman duty to warn the lost…but also to warn alleged believers who wander away from the truth.  James 5:19-20 tells us, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”

          The idea of a watchman or watchwoman was originated by God.  He said, “When I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land, take a man from their territory and make him their watchman…”

          When one nation comes against another…it may be for its own reasons…just as Babylon came against Judah for its own reasons.  But whatever the motivation…God brings about the confrontation.  It was God who sent Babylon to Judah in order to punish and correct His disobedient people.

          However, He used a watchman to warn his people…just as I am warning you…and just as you are supposed to be warning those with whom you come in contact.  God does bring the sword of discipline…but it isn't His will that people perish.  God told Ezekiel, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.  Turn, turn from your evil ways!  For why should you die, O house of Israel?”

          God’s desire is the repentance of those against whom He brings the sword…which is why He raises up watchmen and watchwomen to give His people a warning.  This watchperson comes from among the people themselves…someone they know, trust and can relate to.

          God doesn’t send angelic beings from heaven to be watchmen and watchwomen for His people.  He chooses fallen, sinful people who have been redeemed to be His spokesmen and spokeswomen.

          That’s why you can be assured that you weren’t saved by accident…that you don’t live in this sinful culture by accident…and that you’re not here today by accident.  God hasn’t yet removed you from the wrath that is to come…but He has called you to warn people about it.  God has called you to be His spokesperson…to cry out to people that government can’t save them…but that He can.

          You’re here because God has decreed that there’s nobody better to reach lost and dying people than you.  There’s nobody better than you to serve as His watchman or watchwoman.  There’s nobody better than you to warn people to flee from the wrath to come.

          Is there any greater calling?  I don’t think so.  I don’t care where you are in your life…and I don’t care where you’ve been…God is today calling you to be His spokesperson…to serve Him.

          In 2 Samuel 18:24-27 we’re told that a watchman stood on the roof over the gate of the city…and at times of conflict he cried out to alert David about who was coming.  And in 2 Kings 9:17 we’re also told that a watchmen was positioned high in the tower of Jezreel to warn King Jorum and the people of Israel about the approach of an enemy.

          When danger approached…the watchman was to warn the people in the clearest and loudest way possible.  In a number of Scriptures that loudest way was with the trumpet…but they also cried out.  And crying out can mean that a person is using his or her voice in any number of ways.

          The spiritual principle that relates to you and me is that wherever God puts us…we’re not to sit silent idle at our post when danger approaches.  We have a task to perform…and we’re to perform it faithfully.

          First, we’re to be a people who are accurately informed by God's word.  We’re to believe what God’s word says…and we’re to apply its truth to whatever the danger coming upon the people around us.  That means we’re to remember that in God's program of redemption, a clear and dreadful line is drawn: “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).

          We're to remember that in calling us God has entrusted us with the message of salvation found in Christ Jesus…and that message is “…there is no other name under heaven, given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  Only in Christ is there “…redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace…” (Ephesians 1:7).

          We need to open our mouths and cry out that warning…telling people around us about Jesus…and urging them to flee from the wrath to come by fleeing to Him.

          If you sound the alarm…and a person hears the alarm but pays no attention to it and dies as a result…his or her blood will be on their own head.  But if you fail to sound the alarm…and that person dies as a result of your negligence…his or her blood will be on your head.

          In other words, if you’re faithful and warn the people God puts in your path…you’re not responsible if they don’t heed the warning.  But if God puts someone in your path and you don’t warn them…then their blood is on your head.

          The spiritual implications of this are found in James 3:1, which says “…let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”

          So for those who don’t think I should speak out about the murder of babies in the womb…or homosexuality…or hell…or idolatry…or a false religion like Islam…it’s me who has to give an account to God for whether I warn people or don’t warn them about these things.  God didn’t call me to be a “silent watchman”…or a watchman who confuses people by mixing God's word with error.

          Someday I’m going to stand before God and be judged for what I’ve said…and also for what I haven’t said.  And you’re going to have that same opportunity.  We’re going to be judged just as much for what we didn’t say…and for our silence…as for what we did say.

          If you’re going to be a watchman…you have to speak boldly about what God has said.  As you mingle with…and live among the people with whom God calls you to be a watchman or watchwoman…be sure that you speak God's word to them.  They may not always appreciate or welcome His word…but it's our duty to bring it to them.

          You can search out the very best of what human beings say…and you can collect all the best human wisdom and put it in one place…and it won’t save anyone from the wrath to come.  Only God can do that.  And only God's word can make a man or woman “…wise for salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

          So as God's watchman or watchwoman…be sure you say what God wants said.  Give people His word…and be bold in faithfully bringing God's word of salvation to this lost and dying world.

          God told Ezekiel, “When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you shall surely die!' and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.”

          If you’re faithful to your calling as a watchman…or watchwoman…you won’t speak a muddled and unclear message.  And when you’re called to blow a warning on the trumpet…you won’t muffle its sound with a hat.  You won’t try to camouflage sin by some politically correct name.  And you won’t speak of the hereafter in vague terms so as not to offend an unrepentant sinner.  You won’t hesitate to spell out what the wrath of God means…or try to soften God’s description of the Great White Throne Judgment and the Lake of Fire.

          And you’ll talk about Jesus.  You’ll find that the majority of people aren’t offended when you talk about God…but many are offended when you talk about Jesus.  Fear of offending causes many Christians to neglect talking about Jesus Christ as God's only begotten Son, sent to us from the Father…the Son of God in human flesh…the crucified Savior of all mankind…and the resurrected Judge of all the earth.

          Many Christians give people the impression that God is everyone's heavenly Father…but they fail to mention that Jesus is the way…the truth…and the life…and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

          Some people don’t like that kind of clarity.  It offends them.  But we're on a rescue mission to save souls…and no one is saved by vague talk about God. They are saved by calling them to a clear, conscious, intentional faith in the sacrifice of God's Son, Jesus Christ.

          The majority of people will not accept our warning.  The majority will not heed the sound of the trumpet.  That will…and should break our hearts…just as it breaks the heart of the One who sent us to them.  But we have to leave it to Him…knowing that we have done what we were called to do.

          God said to Ezekiel, “…if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.”

          When Paul had completed his ministry to the people of Ephesus and was about to leave them…in Acts 20:26-27 he said the following: “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.  For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.”

          I pray that when we leave this world, we can all say the same.

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