Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul.” (Ezekiel 3:20-21).
When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” (Acts 18:5-6).
And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. (Acts 20:25-27).
God called Ezekiel to be a watchman. He was responsible to warn the righteous and the unrighteous about God’s discipline on their life if they did not repent from their injustice and sin. God will deal with them but in His mercy, He provided an individual to warn people of God’s looming judgment.
The “watchman” text is often easily dismissed because it is Old Testament. They operated by the Law, and we do not. Be careful that you do not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Paul made very similar statements when it came to His role in relationship with the gospel. The statement, “your blood will be on your own heads” and “I am innocent” of their blood being on his own head, has an eerie semblance to the charge God gave Ezekiel.
The other reason we would dismiss this is because we don’t like the pressure of the responsibility. That was appropriate for Ezekiel and Paul because they were chosen by God as official messengers. Of course, the New Testament would seem to indicate that all believers have a call from God to live for Him and share the gospel of Christ with a lost world.
I believe there are enough analogical components to this that we need to pay attention to it. Both men were called to warn people about their sin. We are called by God to share the gospel because of the problem of sin. The warning is the gospel and the solution for people at the same time. God told both Ezekiel and Paul there was a level of responsibility that God would hold them to if they were not faithful to warn people about their sin. We have a responsibility to make disciples – it was a command.
We cringe at the idea that we are responsible before the Lord for warning people about their sin. Extraverts may not mind the responsibility because it sounds reasonable since many of them live for mission; it is part of their nature to have conversations with people. Introverts will naturally default to “plausible deniability” by claiming this is “obviously” not for me. If we are unwilling or unable to carry out the command, then we default to that posture that is safest for us.
All in all, much of this comes down to caring about the eternal plight of others more than I care about what people think about me. Both Ezekiel and Paul cared enough about the plight of others and their relationship with God. Our appeal is the same. Do we care about the plight of people’ relationship with the Lord to engage them and warn them through the gospel to repent of sin, reconcile with God and live according to His Word?