Watching and waiting

Few Bible characters leave my heart as unsettled as Ezekiel’s Watchman (Ezekiel 33: 1-11). In this passage, God shows Ezekiel his responsibility to warn Israel of the coming destruction of their nation so they might turn back to God.

Picture a city in Bible times: Jericho is the first one that comes to my mind. It was built with a  wall around  all four sides with only one gate. Those walls were so thick and strong, the inhabitants built houses into them.

Around the top of the wall, the armies built garrisons where troops could camp during a siege, as well as storage for extra weapons and food.  On the outside, rocky ground sloped up to the base of the walls making it even more difficult for an invading army to sneak up and catch the city unaware. This design made the city extremely defensible by a small army.

According to Ezekiel, a watchman had the most important job of all the soldiers. His early warning of the enemy’s movements could spare the city from unnecessary death and destruction. He must remain alert at all times.

Ezekiel minced no words as he interpreted God’s message. The Lord appointed him as a watchman for Israel. His job was to speak out about God’s plan for judging Israel – warning the people  so they had time to repent and be saved from total annihilation. If he failed to warn them, , he would be responsible for their unnecessary deaths. It’s interesting to note that God doesn’t hold Ezekiel responsible for the decisions made by the people – he is solely responsible to warn them.

On New Year’s Eve a small group of us watched the first in the series of “Left Behind” movies which tells the story of  the days right after the rapture of the church.  For me, one of the most poignant scenes showed a pastor weeping on his knees before God. He had been left behind when Christ returned to take believers from the earth in preparation for God’s judgment.

That pastor lamented  because even though he preached the message, he did not really believe it himself. He had been appointed to be a “watchman” and had failed to watch out for his own soul though many of his congregation believed.

As Christians, we need to be alert – things are heating up in our world. We are heading toward the end of things as we know them. We can’t hide our heads in the sand but must share God’s word with all who will listen. If we fail to do so, God will hold us accountable for the eternal deaths of many.

But our motivation to share God’s words and warnings  should not be based on fear of God’s judgment. We should share because we truly believe God’s message and love those around us.

Do you love those around you enough to risk ridicule or outright persecution to share God’s message? Do you love them enough to continue praying and fasting for their salvation – even if you have already been doing that for years?

Don’t give up. Ask God to give you a vision of His love for the world around you. Time is short! Use the tools and talents He has given you as a good steward, watching and warning others because you care.

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