The Responsibilities of a Prophet
Text: Ezekiel 33
I. The time of this prophecy is not given.
A. The previous one was during the twelfth year, twelfth month, fifteenth day.
B. The next one (verse 21) is the twelfth year, tenth month, fifth day
C. Most guess this one is in the later part of the eleventh year, perhaps into the twelfth year.
II. The expectations for a watchman - Ezekiel 33:1-6
A. When a land is at war, people place watchmen to give advance warning of attacks.
B. If a watchman does his duty and gives warning, it is not his responsibility if people do not heed his warning.
C. The only person responsible is the person who did not heed the warning. His death is his own fault.
D. If a watchman doesn’t give warning, then people will still die, but the responsibility moves from the people to the one who doesn’t give warning.
III. Ezekiel is God’s watchman - Ezekiel 33:7-9
A. God gives Ezekiel a message to warn Israel.
B. If Ezekiel doesn’t deliver the message, then the death of a wicked man will be held against Ezekiel because he didn’t say anything.
1. Note that the wicked is not excused because “he didn’t know.”
C. If Ezekiel does deliver the message, then the responsibility is totally on the receiver. If he doesn’t listen, then he will still die.
D. II Corinthian 2:15-17 - Two reactions to the same message
E. James 3:1 - Teachers have the stricter judgment
F. Acts 20:26-27 - How Paul freed himself from other men’s sins
IV. The message to be delivered to Israel - Ezekiel 33:10-20
A. Objection by Israel: Our sins are too great to do anything about them!
1. It is a cry of hopelessness
2. “We’re going to die anyway.”
3. It is common among the wicked to hope to remain in sin and go unpunished; yet, simultaneously, despair of being able to escape punishment because God will never forgive our sins - Isaiah 49:14; Leviticus 26:39; Hosea 5:4
B. God’s answer: God isn’t looking to destroy, so repent and live - II Peter 3:9
1. This is the same message found in Ezekiel 18
2. There is no reason to die, except that a person chooses to do so.
C. God’s fairness
1. The past doesn’t matter. You can’t save up righteousness to balance future sins, nor do you have to pay back for all your sins of the past when you repent
2. II Chronicles 7:14 - God will forgive.
3. Don’t think you have it made - I Corinthians 10:12; Hebrews 10:38
a. In Ezekiel 33:13, who declared the man righteous?
b. Some avoid the obvious by saying that the man thought himself righteous because he kept God’s law. Is the keeping of God’s law the problem?
4. The wicked can change - Ezekiel 33:14-16
a. What is required to demonstrate a change? - Proverbs 28:13; Isaiah 55:7 (Does the Old Law require deed only?); Jeremiah 4:1; Micah 6:8; Acts 3:19
b. Will a wicked past be held against him? Why? - Isaiah 1:18; 43:25
c. Now explain Matthew 9:13
d. Is it proper to despair of being forgiven? - Micah 7:18-19; I John 2:1-2
D. Objection: “It is not fair!” - Ezekiel 33:17
1. People hang on to their past. They don’t want their righteousness forgotten.
E. Response: Each person is being treat equitably Ezekiel 18-20
1. The past doesn’t matter
2. What a person is is what matters
3. Each person is being judged by his own actions.
V. Word is delivered of Jerusalem’s fall - Ezekiel 33:21-22
A. The message arrived on year 12, month 10, day 5 (June 14, 586 BC)
1. The fall actually took place on year 11, month 4, day 9 (January 4, 587 BC) - II Kings 25:1-9
a. Nebuchadnezzar entered Jerusalem on year 11, month 5, day 7 (January 31, 587 BC)
2. It took almost 18 months for word to reach Babylon.
B. Recall what God told Ezekiel - Ezekiel 24:25-27
1. Ezekiel knew it had happened because of the prophecy, but now his word was confirmed by an eyewitness.
2. Ezekiel the man was coming in advance because his mouth was opened the evening before the man came. Some believe the first part of Ezekiel 33 was recorded that evening before the man came.
VI. The remnant are still believing they will escape - Ezekiel 33:23-29
A. Israel was consoling itself saying that if God gave Canaan to Abraham and he was only one man, there still were many descendants in the land so they will be able to possess it.
1. Did Abraham gain the land by strength or by faith?
2. So will numbers make a difference?
3. Did Abraham actually possess Canaan? - Acts 7:5
4. They vainly thought that being Abraham’s descendants gave them a right to the land
B. God asks why Israel should have rights to the land when they have sinned - Psalm 50:16-20
1. Eating blood - Leviticus 17:10
4. Reliance on violence - Micah 2:1-2
5. Committing abominations - Leviticus 18:26-30
6. Adultery - Jeremiah 5:8-9
C. Those remaining will also die
1. Through warfare (violence), attacks by animals, disease
2. There would be no hiding place: ruins, open field, remaining fortifications, or caves.
3. God promises to empty the land - Jeremiah 4:27; 12:11
VII. The reality of Ezekiel’s position - Ezekiel 33:30-33
A. People are coming to hear Ezekiel. They are inviting friends and neighbors.
B. They sit quietly and listen to what he says
C. But they do not act on his words, nor are they really listening
1. Their thoughts are on making money - Matthew 15:8
2. Isaiah 58:1-12
D. Their interest in Ezekiel was his entertainment value
1. They admired his delivery while not listening to what he said - mark 4:16-17
E. But when all that Ezekiel said comes true, then they will know that Ezekiel wasn’t an entertainer, but a true prophet - Deuteronomy 18:21-22