The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, 3 and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.
7 “So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 8 If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 9 But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul” (Ezekiel 33:1-9 ESV).
In verse 2, Alter translates watchman (qal, participle, ms, absolute) as lookout and “the connotation is clearly military: he is the person posted in a tower on a height to look out for and warn the people of approaching armies, as the prophet sees and warns of impending disaster” (The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary vol 2, 2019, p. 1151).
The trumpet that is used to warn the people is the shofar or ram’s horn (v 3, see pictures above). The shofar was used to muster troops, warn of attacks and was also used in religious ceremonies to call the people of Israel together (for example: Ex 19:16; Lev 23:24; 25:9). The shofar is mentioned more than any other instrument in the Bible at 72 times. “It is the only instrument of ancient Israel which survives in its original form and is still used in Jewish liturgy” (W. Elwell and B. Beitzel, “Music and Musical Instruments” BEB, 1988, p. 1510).
For the person who failed to hear Ezekiel’s shofar blast of impending doom, their blood was on their own head. Had the person taken the lookout’s warning seriously, they would have saved their life (vv 4-5). This person’s death is solely upon that person, not the watchman!
Now, if the watchman/lookout sees calamity approaching and does not blow the shofar warning people, and that person dies in their sin, the blood of that person the Lord will require from the hand of the watchman (v 6). The Lord reminds Ezekiel again of his divine calling (see Eze 3:17) to warn the house of Israel (v 7) of the coming destruction of Jerusalem. Again, the Lord says that if he fails to warn people of the coming destruction “retribution will be extracted from him” (Alter, p. 1152).
The Lord says to Ezekiel again that if he warns the wicked person and they do not take heed to his warning, the person will die in their sins; however, Ezekiel will have delivered his soul (v 9). Ezekiel, the watchman/lookout is NOT responsible how the message is received, he is responsible to deliver it!
Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have MUCH to warn others about today. As Cooper states, “Warning others of the consequences of judgment inherent in sin is never a popular assignment. Believers have a duty to be “watchmen” who warn those who are in the world and are without God of the destructive nature of sin and its final irrevocable result—death and hell (33:1–33). Our responsibility is to warn and proclaim as persuasively as possible, but how the message is received is beyond our control” (Ezekiel NAC, 1994, p. 294).
It is the responsibility of every believer to be diligent watchmen and lookouts. We live in an extraordinary time where end time events are beginning to unfold like never before. In a world that celebrates conformity, tolerance and acceptance of all kinds of evil; may we be watchmen and lookouts blowing the shofar that God’s Wrath and Judgment are coming and that unbelievers need to repent and be saved because sin itself will not spend eternity in hell, but rather unrepentant sinners.
Lord God, help us to keep watch, to be on the lookout and to warn sinners that You are real and that You will not be mocked. Lord God, help each believer to understand they are called to be a watchman and a lookout. This is a serious responsibility. While there are many things that we can blow the shofar about geopolitically, economically help us to not lose sight of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ and that the Kingdom of God is at hand! Lord God, help us to love You and Your Word and Truth more than this world and its message of lies. Help us to conform to You and not this world. Thank You Lord for this reader! May our lives glorify You today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.