A Question I Was Asked:



Could Any Modern Christian Ministry Be Ezekiel's Watchman?








A lot of discernment ministries use Ezekiel 33:1-17 as a proof text to call out error and false teachings; But is this Biblical since this passage surely mainly concerned Israel? Thanks.



UK Apologetics Reply:

Let us look at that. This will be quite a long Scripture reference.

1. The word of the Lord came to me: 2. "Son of man, speak to your people and say to them: 'When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, 3. and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, 4. then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head. 5. Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves. 6. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone's life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.' 7. "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 8. When I say to the wicked, 'You wicked person, you will surely die,' and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 9. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved. 10. "Son of man, say to the Israelites, 'This is what you are saying: "Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?"' 11. Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?' 12. "Therefore, son of man, say to your people, 'If someone who is righteous disobeys, that person's former righteousness will count for nothing. And if someone who is wicked repents, that person's former wickedness will not bring condemnation. The righteous person who sins will not be allowed to live even though they were formerly righteous.' 13. If I tell a righteous person that they will surely live, but then they trust in their righteousness and do evil, none of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered; they will die for the evil they have done. 14. And if I say to a wicked person, 'You will surely die,' but they then turn away from their sin and do what is just and right - 15. if they give back what they took in pledge for a loan, return what they have stolen, follow the decrees that give life, and do no evil - that person will surely live; they will not die. 16. None of the sins that person has committed will be remembered against them. They have done what is just and right; they will surely live. 17. "Yet your people say, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' But it is their way that is not just. (Ezekiel 33:1-17).

Okay, I have quoted all the verses you refer to although I am not sure they are all applicable. Certainly some discernment type ministries use the 'watchman' theme which is mainly outlined in verses 1-7:

1. The word of the Lord came to me: 2. "Son of man, speak to your people and say to them: 'When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, 3. and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, 4. then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head. 5. Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves. 6. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone's life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.'

7. "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.

I suppose one could loosely apply this to an anti-heresy or discernment type ministry, or to an Apologetics ministry, but I don't seek to apply this to UK Apologetics. I fully agree with my questioner that this referred to Ezekiel's role in Israel, not to any 21st century ministry. Having said that, some of these general principles would still apply. For example, if any of us Christians feel we know where certain trends in society are heading, our Lord certainly expects us to warn others. However, we should do it without drawing any undue attention to ourselves and certainly without for one moment suggesting that any of us are the "watchman" which Ezekiel was referring to.

Robin A. Brace. October 14th, 2016.

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