TREASURES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT: EZEKIEL

EZEKIEL 2

INTRODUCTION

Sadly, many Christians avoid the Old Testament, and especially the prophetic books. Except for the prophetic messages, these books are also rich in material that teaches us more about the character of God, what he loves and hates and how He deals with it.

In this presentation, I will not add anything else but a few headings and let the verses speak for themselves.

Just for some background, Ezekiel, a priest and a prophet, ministers during the darkest days of Judah’s history: the seventy-year period of Babylonian captivity. His first vision came in the time of King Jehoiachin’s captivity. Carried to Babylon before the final assault on Jerusalem, Ezekiel uses prophecies, parables, signs, and symbols to dramatize God’s message to His exiled people. Though they are like dry bones in the sun, God will reassemble them and breathe life into the nation once again. Present judgment will be followed by future glory so that “ye shall know that I am the LORD” (6:7).

The Hebrew name Yehezke’l means “God Strengthens” or “Strengthened by God.” Ezekiel is indeed strengthened by God for the prophetic ministry to which he is called (3:8, 9). The name occurs twice in this book and nowhere else in the Old Testament.

DO NOT FEAR MAN – GO OUT AND SHARE GOD’S TRUTHS

Ezekiel 2:6-7 And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house. You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious.

HEAR AND SEE

Ezekiel 3:27 But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, Thus says the Lord God.’ He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.

Ezekiel 33:31-33 So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. And when this comes to pass—surely it will come—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

ANOTHER LITTLE BOOK

Ezekiel 2:9 Now when I looked, there was a hand stretched out to me; and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. Then He spread it before me; and there was writing on the inside and on the outside, and written on it were lamentations and mourning and woe.

Ezekiel 3:1-3 Moreover He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll. And He said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.” So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness.

SHEPHERS AND WATCHMEN

Ezekiel 3:18-21 When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.

Ezekiel 33:1-11 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. “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then 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 his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

Ezekiel 34:7-10 ‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: “As I live,” says the Lord God, “surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock”— therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them.”

SINS

Ezekiel 16:30 How degenerate is your heart!” says the Lord God, “seeing you do all these things, the deeds of a brazen harlot.

Ezekiel 17:24-26 But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die. Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not fair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair? When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies.

JUDGEMENT AND WRATH

Ezekiel 5:9,11,13 And I will do among you what I have never done, and the like of which I will never do again, because of all your abominations. Therefore, as I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will also diminish you; My eye will not spare, nor will I have any pity. Thus shall My anger be spent, and I will cause My fury to rest upon them, and I will be avenged; and they shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it in My zeal, when I have spent My fury upon them.

Ezekiel 7:3-4 Now the end has come upon you, And I will send My anger against you; I will judge you according to your ways, And I will repay you for all your abominations. My eye will not spare you, Nor will I have pity; But I will repay your ways, And your abominations will be in your midst; Then you shall know that I am the Lord!’

Ezekiel 7:8-9 Now upon you I will soon pour out My fury, And spend My anger upon you; I will judge you according to your ways, And I will repay you for all your abominations. ‘My eye will not spare, Nor will I have pity; I will repay you according to your ways, And your abominations will be in your midst. Then you shall know that I am the Lord who strikes.

Ezekiel 7:27 The king will mourn, The prince will be clothed with desolation, And the hands of the common people will tremble. I will do to them according to their way, And according to what they deserve I will judge them; Then they shall know that I am the Lord!

Ezekiel 14:8 I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.

Ezekiel 16:43 Because you did not remember the days of your youth, but agitated Me with all these things, surely I will also recompense your deeds on your own head,” says the Lord God. “And you shall not commit lewdness in addition to all your abominations.

Ezekiel 16:59 For thus says the Lord God: “I will deal with you as you have done, who despised the oath by breaking the covenant.

Ezekiel 17:18-20a Since he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, and in fact gave his hand and still did all these things, he shall not escape. Therefore thus says the Lord God: “As I live, surely My oath which he despised, and My covenant which he broke, I will recompense on his own head. I will spread My net over him, and he shall be taken in My snare.

Ezekiel 22:20-22 As men gather silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into the midst of a furnace, to blow fire on it, to melt it; so I will gather you in My anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there and melt you. Yes, I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you shall be melted in its midst. As silver is melted in the midst of a furnace, so shall you be melted in its midst; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have poured out My fury on you.’

Ezekiel 23:35 Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me behind your back, Therefore you shall bear the penalty, Of your lewdness and your harlotry.’

Ezekiel 24:13-14 In your filthiness is lewdness. Because I have cleansed you, and you were not cleansed, You will not be cleansed of your filthiness anymore, Till I have caused My fury to rest upon you. I, the Lord, have spoken it; It shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not hold back, Nor will I spare, Nor will I relent; According to your ways And according to your deeds, They will judge you,” Says the Lord God.’”

Ezekiel 24:25 And you, son of man—will it not be in the day when I take from them their stronghold, their joy and their glory, the desire of their eyes, and that on which they set their minds, their sons and their daughters

Ezekiel 25:6-7 For thus says the Lord God: “Because you clapped your hands, stamped your feet, and rejoiced in heart with all your disdain for the land of Israel, indeed, therefore, I will stretch out My hand against you, and give you as plunder to the nations; I will cut you off from the peoples, and I will cause you to perish from the countries; I will destroy you, and you shall know that I am the Lord.

THE FAIRNESS OF GOD’S JUDGEMENT

Ezekiel 33:12-19 “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: ‘The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness in the day that he sins.’ When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die. Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live. “Yet the children of your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ But it is their way which is not fair! When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die because of it. But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is lawful and right, he shall live because of it. Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not fair.’ O house of Israel, I will judge every one of you according to his own ways.”

Ezekiel 34:17 And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats.

Ezekiel 34:20-23 Therefore thus says the Lord God to them: “Behold, I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep. Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad, therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.

FALSE PROPHETS

Ezekiel 13:2-3,6-9a “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy out of their own heart, ‘Hear the word of the Lord!’ Thus says the Lord God: “Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!” They have envisioned futility and false divination, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord!’ But the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope that the word may be confirmed. Have you not seen a futile vision, and have you not spoken false divination? You say, ‘The Lord says,’ but I have not spoken. Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you,” says the Lord God. “My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies; they shall not be in the assembly of My people

Ezekiel 12:22-23 Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and you have strengthened the hands of the wicked, so that he does not turn from his wicked way to save his life. Therefore you shall no longer envision futility nor practice divination; for I will deliver My people out of your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.

Ezekiel 13:9-10 And if the prophet is induced to speak anything, I the Lord have induced that prophet, and I will stretch out My hand against him and destroy him from among My people Israel. And they shall bear their iniquity; the punishment of the prophet shall be the same as the punishment of the one who inquired

Ezekiel 22:28 Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord had not spoken.

THE PROUD WILL FALL

Ezekiel 17:24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the Lord, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the Lord, have spoken and have done it.

GOD WILL NOT HEAR THEM

Ezekiel 7:22,25-26I will turn My face from them, And they will defile My secret place; For robbers shall enter it and defile it. Destruction comes; They will seek peace, but there shall be none. Disaster will come upon disaster, And rumor will be upon rumor. Then they will seek a vision from a prophet; But the law will perish from the priest, And counsel from the elders.

Ezekiel 8:18 Therefore I also will act in fury. My eye will not spare nor will I have pity; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.

REMNANT

Ezekiel 6:8 Yet I will leave a remnant, so that you may have some who escape the sword among the nations, when you are scattered through the countries.

Ezekiel 12:16 But I will spare a few of their men from the sword, from famine, and from pestilence, that they may declare all their abominations among the Gentiles wherever they go. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.

Ezekiel 14:14,22a Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,” says the Lord God. Yet behold, there shall be left in it a remnant who will be brought out, both sons and daughters; surely they will come out to you, and you will see their ways and their doings.

MARK ON THE FOREHEAD

Ezekiel 9:4 and the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.

SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

Ezekiel 6:10 And they shall know that I am the Lord; I have not said in vain that I would bring this calamity upon them.

Ezekiel 12:13a I will also spread My net over him, and he shall be caught in My snare.

Ezekiel 12:25,28 For I am the Lord. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed; for in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it,” says the Lord God. Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “None of My words will be postponed any more, but the word which I speak will be done,” says the Lord God.’

Ezekiel 14:23b you shall know that I have done nothing without cause that I have done in it,” says the Lord God.

Ezekiel 20:3 “Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Have you come to inquire of Me? As I live,” says the Lord God, “I will not be inquired of by you.”

Ezekiel 20:33 As I live,” says the Lord God, “surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you.

Ezekiel 20:48 All flesh shall see that I, the Lord, have kindled it; it shall not be quenched.

Ezekiel 22:14 Can your heart endure, or can your hands remain strong, in the days when I shall deal with you? I, the Lord, have spoken, and will do it.

SALVATION

Ezekiel 11:19-21 Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts follow the desire for their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord God.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

Ezekiel 16:5-9 No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you; but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born. “And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare. “When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord God. “Then I washed you in water; yes, I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil.

Ezekiel 16:60,62-63 Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. And I will establish My covenant with you. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, that you may remember and be ashamed, and never open your mouth anymore because of your shame, when I provide you an atonement for all you have done,” says the Lord God.’

Ezekiel 18:4-5, 8-9, 17 Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father, As well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die. But if a man is just And does what is lawful and right; If he has not exacted usury. Nor taken any increase, But has withdrawn his hand from iniquity, And executed true judgment between man and man; If he has walked in My statutes, And kept My judgments faithfully— He is just; He shall surely live!” Says the Lord God. Who has withdrawn his hand from the poor, And not received usury or increase, But has executed My judgments, And walked in My statutes—He shall not die for the iniquity of his father; He shall surely live!

Ezekiel 18:21-23 But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?

Ezekiel 18:30-32 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!

Ezekiel 20:43 And there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils that you have committed.

THE DRY BONES LIVE – EZEKIEL 37

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.” ’ ”

So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.

Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” ’ ” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.

Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’ ”

DO NOT INSULT THE WATCHMEN!

watchmen

Many may think that I am obsessed with end time prophecies, the rapture and my strong opposition against heretic theologies such as amillennialism, replacement or fulfilment theology and the unbiblical allegorical interpretation of God’s holy Scripture. But whatever people may think is fine with me as I honestly believe that being a watchman is a calling from God. And in no way do as say this in arrogance.

As watchmen we are often being accused by those who reject the literal meaning of Bible prophecy and who follow the eschatology of men, that we are wasting time that could rather have been used on preaching the Gospel of Salvation to an unbelieving world.

But what does the Bible teach on this topic?

THE GREAT COMMISSION AND UNITY IN DIVERSITY

We read about the Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20.

“16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

In this passage, we see three key activities – Make disciples, baptize them and teach them.

1 Corinthians 12 says, “4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of al.”

This is indeed how things work, even today. There are evangelists, some going to foreign countries, to preach the gospel. We also see street preachers and many Christians who share the Gospel on social media, only to name a few. On the other hand, there are preachers running churches – baptizing and teaching those who have already heard of the Gospel. And so does each and every reborn Christian plays his or her role in light of the Great Commission – some roles bigger and some smaller. “If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? (v.7)

But there is also another type of ministry … that of the watchmen, who teach and prepare people to be ready for the return of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, these are the brothers and sisters who often get mocked when executing their God-given assignments.

WATCHMEN IN ANCIENT TIMES

In ancient times, watchmen stood guard on a city’s walls to see to the welfare of its citizens and to warn of coming trouble. Through Isaiah the prophet, God promises the watchful eye of servants who will hold day and night vigils for the peace of Jerusalem and its inhabitants:

“I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (Isaiah 62:6-7).

Jeremiah and others like him have stood in the role of a watchman. “Also, I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen.’ Therefore hear, you nations … Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people —the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not heeded My words nor My law, but rejected it” (Jeremiah 6:17-19).

The role of the ancient watchmen is best described in Ezekiel 33:1-6;

“1 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “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, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 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. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will [a]save his life. 6 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.”

WATCHMEN AND THE GREAT COMMISSION

If we continue to read from Ezekiel 33, we soon realize that the role of the watchman still applies today and also forms part of the Great Commission.

Ezekiel 33:8-11;

8 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. 9 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 [b]delivered your soul. 10 “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine[c] away in them, how can we then live?” ’ 11 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 his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

WATCH FOR THE COMING OF CHRIST

In the New Testament, we as Christians are instructed to watch and prepare for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. In Mark 13:33-37, during Jesus’ prophecy of the end time, He urges His disciples three times to “watch” during the times leading to His second coming.

Paul warns in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6;

1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

Paul also wrote: “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11) The closer we draw to the second coming of Christ, the more urgent it is that we awake out of spiritual sleep! Indeed, we have entered the fearful end-time years that are the grand climax of human civilization. If ever there was a time to pay attention and get prepared, it is now!

To know where to focus our attention, we particularly need to know the Bible prophecies of the end time, especially the prophecies surrounding the second coming of Christ. We are to “eagerly wait for” Christ’s return, not just passively wait around (Hebrews 9:28). Jesus was emphatic that His followers should hope for His return, expect His return and pray for His return! In addition, our enthusiastic anticipation and excitement will intensify as we see more and more world events fulfilling Bible prophecies—especially those that point to the increasing nearness of Christ’s return.

“Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching ” (Luke 12:35-36).

Jesus concluded His message by saying, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Luke 12:40).

Luke 21:28 says, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” and in verse 36 we read, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man”

In Revelation 16:15  we read, “Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame”

According to the Gospel of Matthew 25:1-13, the five virgins who are prepared for the bridegroom’s arrival are rewarded, while the five who are not prepared are disowned.

God warns us through the message of the prophets that sins will demand a day of reckoning. People cannot continue worshipping the false gods of materialism and self, blindly stumbling along in their own righteousness, and expect their affluent standard of living to continue.

By prayer and righteous living, we stay tuned to Jesus Christ. Through this way of life one can discern the moral climate of the times and avoid being tossed around with every shifting ideology of modern culture. Walking in God’s laws and instruction insulates us from the course of the world and its deceptions.

In his article, “The Role Of A Watchman,” Darris McNeely writes;

“Amos the prophet walked into the city of Samaria, capital of the northern kingdom of Israel, and boldly told the king and city leaders to repent or face captivity at the hands of the Assyrians. He pointed to neighboring states that had fallen and said, “You are no better than they were.”

He rebuked those who did not want to hear a “message of doom.” To those who stocked their homes with the finest luxury goods and gourmet foods, trusting that affluence was a sign of God’s blessing, he said, “Don’t trust in materialism.” The citizenry, at all levels, looked only to their comfort and ease and did not grieve “for the affliction of Joseph” (Amos 6:6).

Those who “grieve” and “sigh and cry” over societal sins are called to a unique role. They are part of God’s elect, called to the duty of proclaiming the announcement of the Kingdom of God. That message includes the good news of Jesus Christ’s return to restore all things (see Acts 3:19-21). The message also contains a warning to repent and receive God’s blessing or ignore the warning and face the judgment of God. It is a double-edged message—plain-spoken, yet full of hope.”

MORE ON THE ROLE OF THE WATCHMEN

Do we sigh and cry for the moral condition of our nation? Do we see the world through God’s eyes and understand how far people have strayed from His righteous commandments? If so, then we have a duty to help others understand what is coming when God sets His hand in judgment on the nations.

Do you see yourself in this group of watchmen? Is there a role for you among those who watch today’s world and yearn to make it better? Putting a number of scriptural commands and principles together, it becomes clear that today’s true Christians are meant to shoulder this grave responsibility now in the last days. We are to share in the role of standing vigil like a watchman of old, and showing the way forward through the suffering and evil in much of our world.

Fulfilling the role of a watchman requires courage, perseverance and a love for the people addressed. One of the best examples of this was the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah spent more than 40 years in the role of a watchman to the nation of Judah, urging people to heed his warnings and return to the ways of God.

These special servants understand the dangers of the present world. They see the dark clouds gathering on the world’s horizon and are moved to proclaim a warning message to all who will hear.

The message would also include teaching the way to personal peace for those who listen. It will show the true teachings of God and the way to salvation and how one could escape the judgment God will bring on the world.

The end result of fulfilling the role of a watchman within the Body of Christ—to be found standing in the faith, blessed of God at the dawn of His Kingdom on this earth. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, with their voices they shall sing together; for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord brings back Zion” (Isaiah 52:7).

(Main source: “The Role Of A Watchman” by Darris McNeely)

THE CALLING OF A WATCHMAN

The word “watchmen” is translated from the Hebrew word shamar or shomer. It appears 468 times in the Scripture and is translated “watchman” eight times. Other alternate translations are keep, guard, guardian, keeper, watch, observe, heed, or preserve.

“On Your Walls O Jerusalem I Have Appointed Watchmen; All Day And All Night they Will Never Keep Silent. You Who Remind the Lord Take No Rest For Yourselves.” (Isaiah 62:8).

It was Isaiah who first prophesied that God would raise up watchmen concerning the forthcoming events in the history of the Hebrews. As the events prophetically predicted by Isaiah unfold, we indeed see God calling the Prophet Ezekiel as the most prominent watchman in the scriptural usage of the word “watchman” (Ezekiel 3:17, 33:7), and it is Ezekiel that biblically best demonstrates what a watchman is and what he does.

Watchmen were critical for many reasons. In the Bible, watchmen would pray for repentance in the city (Ezekiel 18:30-32). They were called to wake up the city from its apostasy (Hosea 8:1) and turn from destruction (Amos 3:6). Praying watchmen provided protection from invasion (Jeremiah 4:5) and reported any sign of danger approaching the city (II Samuel 18:24-27).

THE BIBLICAL WATCHMAN, EZEKIEL

In Ezekiel 3:17-21, the underlying spiritual aspect of the watchman is emphasized. In Ezekiel 33: 2-9, the watchman warns of a physical threat.

Ezekiel 3:17-21

17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: 18 When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. 20 “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.” 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.”

Ezekiel 33:2-9

2 “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, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 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. 5 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. 6 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.’ 7 “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. 8 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. 9 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.”

According to Finis Jennings Dake, a watchman is one who looks out or sees from a height, with the view to warning of impending danger or to give any information, good or bad. The Lord often called priests and prophets to be a watchman. The duties of the watchmen were threefold: to wait and watch for what God would command and give in warning, to watch over the people, and to warn the people for God. Ezekiel’s prophetic calling was a great weight. Because the responsibility of warning the wicked sinner and the fallen righteous is not to be taken lightly.

Notice that Ezekiel is primarily concerned with fulfilling his responsibility before God. His primary concern is not whether people take heed, panic or fall back into apathetic slumber, but that he has fulfilled his duty to warn them. Their response remains their own responsibility.

CHRISTIANS ARE TO BE WATCHMEN IN THE END TIMES

With the continual threat of division, darkness, and terrorism presently in the world, watchmen are critical to warn others of the coming of the seven years of tribulation. In fact, it is felt to be a mandate from the throne of God! Any Christian who has a heart for God and a heart for others, and who is willing to humble themselves before God with a pure heart is encouraged to pray about being a part of this call.

Jesus said the End Times would be even crueler and more violent than the time He walked the Earth. He said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:37) And what characterized the times of Noah? We read in Genesis 6, “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”[8] and “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the Earth was filled with violence.”[9]

The role of the watchman is described in scripture in both the Old- and New Testaments. In a key parable, Jesus shows how a Christian may be commissioned by Christ as a dedicated watchmen, while at the same time Christ emphasizes that every believer is to have the attitude of a watchman.

The context of Jesus’ parable in Mark 13 shows there are signs of perilous times related to the close of this age. As we see many of these signs all around us today, we understand the rapture of the Church may be close at hand, though we are shown in scripture not to be “date setters” trying to predict the exact day. Contemporary evangelical pastors, such as Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, are increasingly recognizing the importance of being informed of current events and see the need for taking a stand in society. Hibbs is a regular speaker at the Watchmen on the Wall conferences in Washington, D.C. where critical issues are raised, while at the same time there is a reassurance of our encouragement and hope in Christ and in His coming.

In Jesus’ parable of watchmen in Mark 13, the main event is the anticipated return of the “the Son of Man”, a term Jesus used to describe Himself: “For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.”[1] The King James Version of the Bible uses the word porter to describe this watchman. In some translations, this watchman is called a doorkeeper(NASB) or a gatekeeper(NLT). In one form or another, the porter serves three parties: the master of the house, the inhabitants of the house and the guests who come to visit the house.

In Jesus’ time, the Romans occupied Israel and the main threat to the Jews and the early Church was not an invading army. Information of critical news came by way of word-of-mouth and the door keepers, and those who sat at the gates of the city would be in the know. Today, threats to the community are ascertained instantly by way of the Internet and radio. Christians who consistently review news and events are serving as modern-day watchmen. Because Christians emphasize truth and integrity and are often willing to stand for truth courageously, many non-Christians are interested in the news Christians have to share.

Though the doorkeeper has the main responsibility to watch in the parable, Jesus emphasizes in the conclusion of the parable that all Christians are to have the attitude of watchmen in the End Times, especially as we await an important main event, Christ’s return to rapture the Church: “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”

PRECONCEPTIONS ARE HARD TO OVERCOME

Noah warned the people of a great disastrous flood while people had never even seen rain before. Most people were apathetic. This condition is called the “normalcy bias” and was a reason why so many Jews refused to leave Germany before being killed. When you go against the grain to warn people, most people will be apathetic, some will appreciate it, and others may even become angry. We see all three of these reactions when we warn people. Some Christians believe the Church is supposed to “feed the sheep” and that’s it. But if all we do is feed the sheep and don’t warn them of danger, all we’re really doing is just fattening them up for the kill. We shouldn’t be dogmatic in assuming our role and responsibility before God is the same as another person. Christian attitudes towards End Times prophecy range from disdain to obsession, but there is a healthy medium to be found.

To be a watchman today requires overcoming some serious obstacles, such as the mind-numbing effects of mainstream media and the dumbed-down public education system. Psychologists have also labeled a certain kind of mental inertia and coined “the normalcy bias” that describes people who believe nothing really dangerous is ever going to happen, no matter what kind of facts you may present.

POSITIVE ENCOURAGEMENT IS IMPORTANT

Though we understand the End Times are a time of heightened trials, there are scriptures that emphasize we are to encourage one another with the blessed hope of the rapture of the Church and our ultimate unity with Christ.

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-3)

PRESENTLY, THERE’S A GROWING MOVEMENT

In addition to the blogs and websites sprouting up with a watchmen theme, there are organizations, such as “Watchmen on the Wall” that focus on equipping pastors to be watchmen in their communities. The mission statement of Watchmen on the Wall states:

“Watch what is going on in the culture. Pray for the wisdom to engage biblically, courageously, and winsomely. Sound the Alarm from the pulpit. Take a bold stand with others to defend and advance faith, family, and freedom.”

Conclusion

As Christians, we are all called to be watchmen in attitude, if not in service in these End Times, according to the teachings of Jesus. We should be careful of criticizing believers who have been called by God to focus on research regarding critical information and warning others. There is no sense in living ignorantly. And the desire to stand for truth and to be “valiant for the truth” (Jeremiah 9:3b) still finds common ground among many people of diverse backgrounds.

(Main source: Templestream Blogspot)