UNDERSTANDING our ROLE as “SPIRITUAL WATCHMEN”
August 26 Bible Reading: Ezekiel Chapters 1-3
"Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the Lord came to me, saying, "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: 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." (Ezek 3:16-19)
In ancient Israel, watchmen were stationed on the walls to watch out for approaching enemies and warn people of danger by sounding an alarm (see 2 Sam. 18:24-27; 2 Kin. 9:17-20). Prophets were also called watchmen because of the similar role they played spiritually (see Jer. 6:17; Hos. 9:8; Hab. 2:1).
In this passage we see that God made Ezekiel a “spiritual watchman” over His people, and was asked by God to warn both the “wicked” (vv. 18, 19) and the “righteous” (vv. 20, 21). As a watchman, Ezekiel was responsible to speak God’s Word and warn both the nation of Israel and wayward individuals. If Ezekiel did not warn the people, he would be held as responsible for their murder as if he had killed them himself. However, if he fulfilled his assignment, then he would have delivered himself from any responsibility for the coming calamity. People who refused to heed his warning had only themselves to blame eventually.
We, as the ministers of God, are the “spiritual watchmen” on the church’s walls, and we must be on the alert always (Isa. 21:8; Gen. 31:40). Of course, all our efforts are in vain if God does not guard the city as well (Psalms 127:1- 2). What are our duties as watchmen? We have “to take notice and give notice”. We have to take notice of what God is saying concerning His people and "hear the word from His mouth" (v. 17). Then, we must give notice of what we have heard to other people.
It is a serious thing to be watchmen, for the destiny of precious souls is at stake (Ezekiel 3:16–21; 33:1–9). The watchmen must be alert to every opportunity and must not be afraid to sound the alarm. False watchmen are not faithful (Isa. 56:10–12), and will be held accountable on the day of God’s final judgment. Apostle Paul was a faithful watchman who was able to say, “I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26–27).
One last word…despite his great responsibility Ezekiel was shut up by God and had to wait for God-given opportunities. We also need to be sensitive to God’s leading in witnessing. Sometimes we need to be silent. However, most of us are silent when we ought to be witnessing. Let us understand our role as “spiritual watchmen” of the church and the world, and fulfill our responsibilities faithfully, even today!