Son of man, I have made you a watchman to the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.…
Every servant of God conceives his service in his own manner, under the special light of his own experience and character. Ezekiel evidently felt the peculiar solemnity of his position among the children of the Captivity, and evidently was consumed by a desire to discharge his difficult and painful duty with fidelity and efficiency. Hence his habit of regarding himself, as indeed the Divine Spirit prompted him to do, as a watchman set to admonish and protect the Hebrew exiles in the East. In many respects this figure sets forth the vocation of every true minister of Christ called upon to watch fur souls as one who must give account unto God.
I. THE WATCHMAN'S COMMISSION. The spiritual guardian and keeper does not undertake this duty at the suggestion of his own thoughts and inclinations; he is called to it by the voice of God himself. The word of the Lord comes unto him. He is stationed where he stands by Divine authority. He has to listen for the Divine voice, to give heed to every direction, to be ready to utter such messages as he may receive from Heaven.
II. THE WATCHMAN'S DUTY. This is, generally, to testify to man according to the instructions he receives. He has to hear in order that he may speak, to take in the truth in order that he may give it forth. It is, therefore, not enough that he be attentive and intelligent; he must impart the tidings, the message, which he receives. He has a ministry, a trust, to fulfil for the benefit of his fellow men - he has to seek to bring them into conscious relations with the Father of spirits.
III. THE WATCHMAN'S SPECIAL OFFICE FOR THE REBELLIOUS. Watching for men, the spiritual guardian is bound to remember the special character of those over whom he is placed. He is not simply an instructor entrusted with the duty of declaring truth, of inculcating lessons and precepts. He has to deal with "a rebellious house." Hence one great function of the watchman is to warn. Throughout this book the greatest stress is laid upon this duty. "Warn them from me!" is the admonition of God to the faithful watchman. The people are in danger from manifold temptations; and they have to be put upon their guard against the spiritual perils by which they are threatened. The wicked are to be warned, that they may repent; the righteous have to be warned, lest they fall from their righteousness.
IV. THE WATCHMAN'S RESPONSIBILITY. The office thus described is indeed an honourable one; but it is difficult and responsible. Much depends upon the way in which the duty is discharged; the safety of the people and the acceptance of the guardian are both alike at stake.
1. The watchman's fidelity will be rewarded. If he fulfil his duty, he will deliver his soul, he will be approved and recompensed, promoted and honored.
2. The watchman's unfaithfulness will be punished. If he do not his duty, others will suffer, but he himself will not escape just retribution. The blood of the lost will be required at his hand.
1. Here is a lesson for those who are appointed to watch for souls. Their ears must be open to receive the Word of the Lord; their lips must be open to speak that Word.
2. Here is a lesson for those who enjoy the benefit of spiritual ministrations. It is not only an awful and responsible duty to watch; it is an awful and responsible privilege to listen to the watchman's warning. If the preacher is accountable for his utterances, the hearer is accountable for the spirit in which he receives those utterances. Take heed what, and how, you hear! - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.