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Ezekiel 3:16-21 – The Prophet as a Watchman


The prophetic role of Ezekiel is compared to a lookout on the city walls during a battle.


Ezekiel's role is compared to that of a watchman or lookout on the city walls. As the enemy approaches, the watchman must give the warning trumpet call. For a military lookout, failure of duty could result in execution. Ezekiel must prophesy God's word of judgment, even if the wicked do not listen or repent. The prophet must warn the righteous and the wicked alike in order to fulfill his obligation to his Lord; otherwise "their blood I will require at your hand" (3:18b), that is, God will hold Ezekiel responsible for their deaths. See also 33:1-9.

Ezekiel 3:16-21

16 At the end of seven days, the word of the Lord came to me: 17Mortal, I have made you a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die’, and you give them no warning, and do not speak to warn the wicked from their wicked way, in order to save their life, those wicked persons shall die for their iniquity; but their blood I will require at your hand. 19But if you warn the wicked, and they do not turn from their wickedness, or from their wicked way, they shall die for their iniquity; but you will have saved your life. 20Again, if the righteous turn from their righteousness and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling-block before them, they shall die; because you have not warned them, they shall die for their sin, and their righteous deeds that they have done shall not be remembered; but their blood I will require at your hand. 21If, however, you warn the righteous not to sin, and they do not sin, they shall surely live, because they took warning; and you will have saved your life.

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