“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.”
God called Ezekiel to be a watchman. “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 3:17). He was called to warn the Israelites during their captivity in Babylon. God gave Ezekiel the words that needed to be spoken to God’s people. The people of Judah had to understand that they were being disciplined for their rebellion against God and His Word.
The most important message Ezekiel had for God’s people was that although Israel had sinned, and they were under the chastisement of God, He would reveal Himself to them. “11. … I will judge you in the border of Israel: 12. And ye shall know that I am the LORD: for ye have not walked in my statutes, neither executed my judgments, but have done after the manners of the heathen that are round about you” (Ezekiel 11:11b-12). They had not obeyed or walked with God. However, God left a promise for the future of Israel. He promised to gather them together again and give back to them the land of Israel. At that time, the people would take away the detestable things and all of the abominations (Ezekiel 11:16-18). When this happened, read what God would do for His people: “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19). What would happen once they had a heart of flesh? “That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 11:20). God not only wanted them to understand the chastisement (for not walking according to God’s commands), but He promised them a change of heart so they could obey His commands. Throughout the book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel was to remind the Israelites that God wanted them to be His people, and He would be their God.
Why was this message so important?
Sin had so engrained itself into the Israelites at that time that most of the people no longer realized they were sinning against God and His Law, for their hearts had become hard. In the Old Testament, the Israelites’ understanding was darkened – they just did not get it. “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18). Blindness means “callousness or hardness.” Their hearts had become hardened to the guilt of sin. They thought they were living just fine.
Why is it important for us to know this? Do Christians still have the same problem today? Is sin so engrained in our hearts and lives that we do not even realize how much sin is present in our lives? Are our hearts hardened to sin? What are Christians to do? In Ezekiel, God told His people that he would take the stony heart out and give them a heart of flesh. It was only then that they could walk with God and keep His Word. It was then that they would be God’s people and He would be their God. Without a change of heart, God’s Word cannot be written in one’s heart. How can one’s heart be changed? “8. But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9. That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:8-10). God’s Word tells us that by faith in Jesus, believing in the heart, Jesus can save, changing the heart.
After conviction of sin and by belief in Jesus, God will give one a heart of flesh instead of a stony heart. “3. Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 4. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward” (2 Corinthians 3:3-4). When God’s Law (the Bible) is in our heart, the Spirit of the Living God constantly reminds us when have disobeyed God’s Word. It is then that we are convicted of sin, and our heart’s desire will be to eliminate sin from our lives and live pleasing to God.
A Christian cannot continue to live a sinful life, for because Christ is in a Christian’s heart and life, sin cannot be tolerated. The Spirit will convict. If that Christian does not correct, there will be discipline (see Hebrews 12:5-8). If one professes to be a Christian and continues in sin, that lifestyle betrays the heart – for it does not belong to Jesus (see 1 John 3:8-10).
Have you heard the warning of the Watchman, heeding the warning to not rebel against God’s Word?