Ezekiel 33:1-9 (NASB)
1. And the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
2. “Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, ‘If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman,
3. and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people,
4. then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head.
5. He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life.
6. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’
7. “Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me.
8. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand.
9. But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.
Is this a pattern that should applied to speaking out for Christ today? In other words, are we held responsible for the iniquity of others if we feel the urging of the Holy Spirit to present the gospel, but allow ourselves to be silenced by our own reluctance?
For a long time, I held the belief that this was a commission specific to Ezekiel himself, and such a direct application to us individually threatened to make us ‘pay the price’ for the iniquity of others.
Lately, I have changed my position. Any time we resist the leading of the Spirit, we are being sinful, regardless of what the Spirit is asking of us.
The “his blood I will require from your hand” (verse 8) does not mean we take on the iniquity of others, or will pay their penalty for their sin, but it does mean that our actions have consequences and the consequences of our actions, or inaction do affect the burden of personal sin upon our soul
The fact that it involves the wickedness of others and paying the price for their sin is just a way of emphasizing how important spreading Christ’s message is, and the gravity of reluctance.
For the believer, this burden may be alleviated by confession and removed by the blood of Christ, but this does not mean that it is to be taken lightly.