“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he surely shall live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.” (Ezekiel 3:17-21, N.K.J.V.)
There are a lot of old legends out there, stories that did or didn’t happen. One of them is the account of the destruction of an ancient city. In those days, the cities were surrounded by walls, with watchmen keeping guard atop the walls to warn if an enemy army approached.
As the story goes, the watchmen of this particular city were especially cautious and would sound the alarm anytime they saw anything stirring in the distance. This led to many false alarms. Finally, the citizens complained enough about the false alarms to cause the watchmen to stop sounding the alarm altogether.
You can guess what happened next. A real enemy army eventually stormed the city and destroyed it. Sometime later, someone erected a small memorial where the city had once been. The epitaph read: “Here stood a city that was destroyed by silence.”
The text passage for this post records how God charged the prophet Ezekiel with the responsibility of warning not only the wicked people but also the righteous people about the seriousness of their sins. If Ezekiel was faithful in carrying out his duty, he wouldn’t have any figurative blood on his hands. But if he was neglectful in carrying out his duty, the blood would be there. Anyone who can read those words and not feel some measure of sympathy for Ezekiel isn’t reading them correctly.
Since the days of the Old Testament prophets are long since past, God has now given Christians the responsibility of sharing His truth about sin. This responsibility means that we cannot remain silent about the sin that surrounds our world and threatens to destroy it. We must speak out. We must instruct. We must warn. If we don’t play the role of watchmen to not only the lost but also the saved, no one will.
I’m not going to lie and say that we will win all the cultural battles. The fact is, we won’t. But if winning the cultural war is the only reason we are crying out against sin, we are operating from the wrong motivation anyway. You see, God hasn’t given us the mandate to win the cultural war. Our mandate is simply to be responsible, diligent, effective, persevering watchmen. And no matter how much our fellow citizens complain, that’s a duty we must never shirk.