|photo from World Hunger Picture Gallery|
Do you remember the first time you saw a magazine article or a TV news report with photographs of
starving people" That is an overwhelming experience; starvation is horrible to see, terrible to imagine. What could be worse than watching your children starve? God watches His children's (humanity) starvation - both literally and figuratively - every day.. And He mourns.
Ezekiel, prophet and author of this book of the Bible, mourned the spiritually starved people of his time. In verse 15, we see that he "sat among the exiles for seven days - overwhelmed." In those times a week was the prescribed length of time to sit in mourning for the dead. (In this case, Ezekiel was mourning for the spiritually dead.) Then, after the seven days was over, he gathered his strength, went to the people, and prophesied to them.
Why did he do this? Because the Lord told him to. Specifically, the Lord told Ezekiel to be "a watchman for the house of Israel", to hear the word of God, and to give them a warning from God. What does a watchman do? Well, he stands where he can see what's going on. He keeps watch of what's going on. And he warns
the other people of impending danger. The job God gave Ezekiel was to warn Israel of the coming judgement for their sin. The impending danger was their own sin. Their spiritual starvation.
If you were hiring a watchman, you would expect him to do his job, right? If the watchman was supposed to protect your family or your property, you would expect him to do so. Without his fulfillment of his job description, you might as well not have the watchman. In Ezekiel's day, the punishment for failure to properly perform the job of watchman was death. God told Ezekiel that he would be held responsible if he hailed to deliver God's warning to the people of Israel. God was not threatening Ezekiel with death; rather, He was reminding him of his responsibility to deliver the warning of the coming judgement if people did not repent.
It is the same today. God speaks to His people, telling them to feed the spiritually starving masses. They need salvation; they need to feed on the Word; they are in imminent danger of death.
And we, the watchmen, are responsible to share our knowledge.
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" (Romans 10:13-15 NIV)