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Ezekiel 33:1-20 – The Parable of the Watchman

Summary

Ezekiel's calling is compared to a lookout on the city walls.

Analysis

Similar to 3:16-21, this passage is an extended analogy, comparing Ezekiel's role as prophet to a lookout or watchman on the walls during a battle. He announces God's judgment as a warning to the people, and failure to fulfill his duty could result in severe punishment. Ezekiel's job is to announce God's judgment, just as the watchman would send a warning trumpet call. How individuals respond to his warning is between them and God; Ezekiel's task is to proclaim God's word. The wicked who repent will be spared; likewise the righteous who do wrong will perish.

Ezekiel 33:1-20

Ezekiel Israel’s Sentinel

33The word of the Lord came to me: 2O Mortal, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one of their number as their sentinel; 3and if the sentinel sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people; 4then if any who hear the sound of the trumpet do not take warning, and the sword comes and takes them away, their blood shall be upon their own heads. 5They heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; their blood shall be upon themselves. But if they had taken warning, they would have saved their lives. 6But if the sentinel sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any of them, they are taken away in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at the sentinel’s hand.

7 So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 8If I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked ones, you shall surely die’, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. 9But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.

God’s Justice and Mercy

10 Now you, mortal, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: ‘Our transgressions and our sins weigh upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?’ 11Say to them, As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel? 12And you, mortal, say to your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not save them when they transgress; and as for the wickedness of the wicked, it shall not make them stumble when they turn from their wickedness; and the righteous shall not be able to live by their righteousness* when they sin. 13Though I say to the righteous that they shall surely live, yet if they trust in their righteousness and commit iniquity, none of their righteous deeds shall be remembered; but in the iniquity that they have committed they shall die. 14Again, though I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die’, yet if they turn from their sin and do what is lawful and right— 15if the wicked restore the pledge, give back what they have taken by robbery, and walk in the statutes of life, committing no iniquity—they shall surely live, they shall not die. 16None of the sins that they have committed shall be remembered against them; they have done what is lawful and right, they shall surely live.

17 Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just’, when it is their own way that is not just. 18When the righteous turn from their righteousness, and commit iniquity, they shall die for it.* 19And when the wicked turn from their wickedness, and do what is lawful and right, they shall live by it.* 20Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, I will judge all of you according to your ways!

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10 February 2011

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