People in positions of authority are liable if they don’t warn their charges of potential danger
The thirty-third chapter of Ezekiel opens with some vague references to upcoming danger, a watchman, and heeding the warnings of the watchman. Who is this watchman, we wonder? Could it be an anticipation of Jesus? Or perhaps John the Baptist who will herald the way for Jesus? Maybe it’s you and I. It could be all of the above, yet there is nothing to imply that Ezekiel might be the watchman.
However, in verse seven, God declares that he has indeed made Ezekiel the watchman. I didn’t see that coming. But since most prophecy – perhaps all biblical prophecy – carries multiple perspectives – one for them then and one for us now – the watchman could be any of these other possible options, in addition to Ezekiel.
There are two key things to note about the watchman. First, his duty is to be on the lookout and sound the alarm. It doesn’t matter if the people pay attention or not. Their outcome is on them. The key is that the watchman alerts everyone when he sees danger.
The second key is if the watchman is negligent and fails to warn of the danger he sees. Then he must bear the burden of the deaths of all the people who he failed to warn. The people depended on the watchman to do his job and he failed them.
While we may never find ourselves perched in a tower scanning the horizon for an attacking army, our assignment may be looking for other things. Perhaps our job is one to protect, to watch for dangers be it physical, financial, emotional, or spiritual. Maybe we are in a position of leadership, and those under our care expect us to stand guard to warn them of trouble. This may be for our family, our work, our community, or our church.
We need to be on the lookout and warn people of impending danger. If we fail to sound the alarm, any harm that befalls them rests on us.
Being a watchman is serious business.