The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Ezekiel 33

Eze 33:1

Eze 33--39: Sectional outline:
Eze 33:1-20: Ezekiel is commissioned as a watchman for Israel. "Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins" (Isa 58:1). "Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?" (1Co 14:8).

Eze 33:2

SPEAK TO YOUR COUNTRYMEN: Which Ezekiel had been forbidden to do since Eze 24:26,27. But now the "escaped one" (v 21) has arrived.

SWORD: The Babylonian captivity, brought by God.

WATCHMAN: In ancient Israel, each town and city had a person positioned upon the wall in order to call out a warning about the approach of unexpected and possibly hostile people. This watchman had to "sound the trumpet" if an enemy was approaching, so that the townspeople could get ready for an attack. Prophets in Israel took on the function of spiritual "watchmen" (eg Eze 3:17; Jer 6:17), warning the people of impending punishment by God unless the nation changed its ways.

The word itself is from a Heb root signifying "to lean forward, to peek" (cp Isa 21:6-10; Hos 9:8; Hab 2:1). Thus the spiritual watchman was a "shepherd", his manner of life characterized by constant vigilance, with his eyes on the future for potential threats, as well as potential blessings, and an overriding concern for the spiritual wellbeing of others. "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you" (Heb 13:17).

"But not only do people need to be saved from the immediate threat of death; they need also to be saved from eternal death, from the consequences of sin. Now here are the searching questions that accompany that fact. Has God placed watchmen in strategic places in the world to warn the people of the threat of eternal death? Are you one of those people? Who have you warned?

"Just as with Ezekiel, whom God especially sent as a watchman to the house of Israel, there will be some people who will listen and some who will not. But whether we think they will listen or not, they must be warned. God said that Ezekiel would be surprised at which ones took his warnings. Some who thought they were righteous would ignore him, and others who were wicked would change their lives. We never know who will respond to the gospel message; like Ezekiel, we may be surprised at the results -- I have been!

"So let us warn all the people in our part of our world so that they can repent and live for God and be saved" (RP).

Eze 33:3

TRUMPET: See Lesson, Trumpet, the.

Eze 33:5

The watchman's obligation is discharged when the message is delivered. How can we fail to take warning from this verse? Exo 9:19-21; 2Ki 6:10; Acts 2:37-41; Heb 2:1-3; 11:7.

Eze 33:8

"Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God" (Act 20:26,27).

Eze 33:11

I TAKE NO PLEASURE IN THE DEATH OF THE WICKED: Cp Eze 18:28,32; Jer 29:11. "This verse is frequently used to support the view that God wants to save all men and it is only their refusal to turn to Him which prevents this, for does not Peter say, 'The Lord is... not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance' (2Pe 3:9)?

"A moment's reflection is enough to cast doubts on this conclusion. That God is merciful, gracious and a God of love, goes without saying; but to argue that He is so to all men, meaning every individual, contradicts the fundamental teaching of Scripture that God's purpose is being worked out 'according to ELECTION' (Rom 9:11).

"The words of Jesus indicate a selection process: 'No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me DRAW him' (John 6:44). It is because of this that Paul writes to the Thessalonians: 'We give thanks to God... knowing, brethren beloved, your ELECTION of God' (1Th 1:2,4)....

"God is all-powerful and able to do as He wills in His universe. If He will indeed have all mankind to be saved, why is it that so many never get to hear the gospel message? The words of the apostle in 1Ti 2:4 -- in which he says that '[God] will have all men to be saved' -- cannot mean that it is His desire to save every member of the human race. To interpret it thus would contradict the fundamental principle that God's purpose is being worked out on the basis of election. In these words the apostle, who had been divinely appointed as a preacher to the Gentiles, is simply saying that it was no longer the case that 'salvation is of the Jews'. God is now working with the Gentiles (all mankind) and it was His will that salvation be offered to 'all men' (ie, all nationalities) and not just to Jews.

"In 2Pe the apostle is writing to the brethren in the Ecclesias of Asia Minor. It is to these, troubled by the Judaizers and in danger of grave apostasy from the Truth, that he writes: 'The Lord... is longsuffering to us-ward (RV, youward), not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance' (2Pe 3:9). These to whom Peter writes had been called by the Father but were in danger of failing to 'make [their] calling and election sure' (2Pe 1:10). The same applies to these verses from Ezekiel. They are not addressed to the individuals of the pagan world but to the Covenant People.

"The vast majority of the Gentile world, then and now, comprise that great crowd of mankind that 'is in honour, and understandeth not' and who are, by God's appointment, 'like the beasts that perish' (Psa 49:20). Being left by God to wander 'out of the way of understanding', they will by His divine decree 'remain in the congregation of the dead' (Pro 21:16). That this sad fact does not give God pleasure, we would agree. Let us not, however, go to the extreme of emphasizing this to the point where we deny that God's purpose is 'according to election' " (AEz 186,187).

Eze 33:12

WHEN HE TURNS FROM IT: Mercy may be extended to all who really seek it: Zec 1:3; Jer 3:14.

Eze 33:20

BUT I WILL JUDGE EACH OF YOU ACCORDING TO HIS OWN WAYS: "For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil" (Ecc 12:14). "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad" (2Co 5:10).

Eze 33:21

Vv 21-33: A message from a smitten city. A man brings news of complete fall and destruction of Jerusalem after a 2-year siege. Though tragic, such judgments confirm the words of the LORD through the prophet.

Eze 33:23

Vv 23-29: The remnant who still remained in the Land (2Ki 25:12,22; Jer 52:16) continued to rebel against God and Babylon (2Ki 25:22,26; Jer 40:4-16; Jer 41-43). This led to the murder of Gedaliah and the flight to Egypt.

Eze 33:24

BUT WE ARE MANY: However, the inheritance was for a singular "seed" (Gal 3:16).

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