Ezekiel was accountable for warning people to turn away from wickedness and toward God and righteousness. I am not a prophet, and based on Ezekiel’s story, I do not want to be. I can, however, learn a few things from his burden as I carry the good news of Jesus…
16 At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me: 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.
20 “Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 21 But if you do warn the righteous person not to sin and they do not sin, they will surely live because they took warning, and you will have saved yourself.”
Their blood was on Ezekiel’s head if he did not warn the people.
Would you want that? Would you accept that responsibility? I wouldn’t want it. Yet in the Great Commission of God, in which we are to go into every part of the world and make disciples, we bear responsibility for telling people about Jesus.
The Great Commission is not like Ezekiel’s responsibility. He was more like a John the Baptist who also warned people to repent and not sin. When we tell people about Jesus, we are sharing God’s gift with people who do sin. We are telling them good news.
Paul puts our responsibility in a clear frame of reference in Romans 10:
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
People must hear in order to believe and trust. And my conviction is that we ought to have a burden on our shoulders on par with Ezekiel’s burden as we embrace our mission to share the love of Christ. The lives and eternities of our friends and family and neighbours are at stake.