“So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel 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 ones, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand.” (Ezekiel 33:7 – 8)
As I would thinking on and pondering these opening verses, I happened to wonder if the apostle Paul felt like he was a New Testament prophet. Or is the disciples who became apostles felt like they were prophets for the Lord God Jesus. It is a heavy responsibility to be a “sentinel” as the writer of Ezekiel says; if we are to believe that Ezekiel wrote the book of Ezekiel, then we must believe that he took seriously this charge from the Lord God and fulfilled it such that he was not answerable for the death of the “wicked”. Thinking further, this would impel anyone to speak as the Lord God has instructed them. And it implies accountability for all who would preach the Word of the Divine.
“But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.” (Verse 9)
You might have guessed, beloved reader, that being accountable to speak the Word does not mean you are responsible if the person it is spoken to does not believe and follow it. Still, one is compelled to speak, if not for the sake of the wicked, at least for one’s self. But to be honest, beloved reader, if one who holds sacred the task of preaching and speaking (and writing of the Word), it is a profound sadness when/if that Holy Word is not heeded.
“Now you, mortal, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: “Our transgressions and our sins weigh upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we 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 their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Verses 9 – 11)
Yesterday (or the last time I wrote to be more precise) I was wrestling with the discontinuity of the Divine turning the Egyptians’ hearts and hands against the Hebrews who had co-inhabited their land since Joseph brought his family to Egypt. This statement from the Divine spoken by Ezekiel/the writer of the book of Ezekiel soothes my rough edges and ruffled feathers. The Lord God takes no pleasure in the called and chosen people suffering and dying. This is much more in line with the Divine sending Jesus when again the called and chosen people needed to be saved from the situation they found themselves in – through not fault of their own . . . . directly. I know, my eyes glance up to verse nine where the house of Israel is being pressed upon by their sins and transgressions; and that probably is their fault. But still, there is mercy, compassion, and caring in the Words of the Divine. I don’t know about Ezekiel, but I am gratified and relieved to pass on the Words of compassion and restitution that are offered by the Divine. Speaking not just condemnation to the “wicked”, but giving them a way to be saved and restored is joyful work!
May you, beloved reader, when you are called speak words of care and compassion; and may such words be spoken to you! Shalom & Selah!