"So you, son of man, I have made a watchman 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 one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.”
(Ezekiel 33:7-9 ESV)
This past Sunday, at Prince of Peace, we talked about outreach. We talked about the fact that each of us have been called by Christ to reach out to those around us. And, because of this call, because of this need, we should be compelled to do so.
In the above passage, we see how imperative it is for us to carry out this call of God. Ezekiel was a prophet of God. And God tells him that he’d made him a watchman for his people.
When we think of a watchman, we typically think of a soldier in the tower on the city wall. He’s there, scanning the horizon for any dangers that might be approaching. And it’s his responsibility to sound the warning.
If he fails in his responsibility, if he sees a danger coming and fails to sound the alarm, he then is guilty. Had he sounded the warning, the people could’ve taken precautions. They may even have had the chance to escape the approaching threat. But, because of his failure, their fate is sealed.
The same was true for Ezekiel, according to the Lord. If God gave to him a message of warning for the people and he failed to deliver it, he was then responsible for their judgment. They would die in their sin, but their blood would be required by his hand. In other words, their blood would be on his head. He would bear guilt for their judgment.
We see in the next verse that, if he warned the people, if he delivered the message of warning the Lord had given, and the people failed to heed his warning, they would die in their sin. But Ezekiel would be found innocent. Because he delivered his warning, their blood would be on their own head.
The same truth applies to each of us, as believers. We’ve been called to reach out to the world with the hope of the gospel. We’ve been called to warn the world of God’s approaching judgment. And we’re to do this that they might have the opportunity to trust in the Lord and receive his salvation.
If we fail in this calling, if we fail to give the people warning, they’ll have no chance of escape. Their fate is then sealed. And their blood will be on our head. Because we’ve failed to give them the chance to escape judgment, we will find ourselves responsible for their condemnation.
This is a great responsibility that we often fail to realize. Even knowing the call that Jesus has given us, we fail to understand the consequences of our failure upon the lives of others. We fail to understand how our failure to carry out our call takes from them the possibility of their salvation.
When we understand this, it should create within us a sense of urgency. I wouldn’t want my inaction to cause the death of anyone in this world. And, in the same way, I don’t want my inaction to bring about the eternal death of those I’ve been unwilling to reach.