The contrast is staggering: on one hand the unfaithful ambassador who doesn’t share the truth fills his hands with blood as person after person he had a chance to share truth with but didn’t dies in their sin. On the other hand is the faithful preacher who shares the truth and has beautiful feet as he brings the most incredible news ever told to dying men and women all around them.
“Would You Rather…?” has become a very popular game in the past few years. One of my favorite “would you rathers” of all time is: would you rather have fingers the size of your legs, or legs the size of your fingers?
The Bible seems to present many different “would you rathers”, such as: would you rather live on the corner of a roof or with a contentious wife?
But mostly the Bible isn’t very good at the game. It asks questions like: would you rather spend eternity in hell or in heaven? With Jesus or the Devil?
When I was 18 I found one of the Bible’s most devastating “would you rathers”.
As I was reading through the Bible I came across a passage in Ezekiel 3:17-21 that completely changed my life. Here God is speaking to the prophet Ezekiel. He has just picked him to be his prophet, and has already told him that he is going to be a messenger to Israel; and now he is going to make him his ambassador.
17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18 If 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, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. 20 Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul.”
I don’t think I slept that night as these words kept going through my mind. What does it mean that “his blood I will require at your hand?” Faces of people I spent hours with flashed before my eyes, as the guilt of not sharing the gospel with them overwhelmed my heart. I couldn’t help but admit that my hands were filled with blood.
God designated his messenger. Notice that Ezekiel’s role was clear: God tells him that he is to be his watchman. He will be the guy who warns the people about impending destruction. God hand-picked Ezekiel and chose him to be the one who would deliver the news. The watchman’s role was simple – he had to have his eyes open at all times, and from the tower he was to watch for the enemy and sound the alarm. He couldn’t take a break; he couldn’t sit out a play; he couldn’t fall asleep; he had to stay alert at all times because his life depended on him, his family depended on him, and ultimately the whole country depended on him.
God determined his message. The problem in this case is that the one who is coming to destroy isn’t some immoral enemy, but rather God himself. And God has a specific message he wants Ezekiel to convey to the people of Israel: “If I say to the wicked you shall surely die…”. Ezekiel’s task was to deliver God’s message in its entirety; not to sugarcoat it or to leave anything out.