Today’s Old Testament reading from Ezekiel. All Scripture references from the New American Standard, Updated Edition.
Ezekiel 33: 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.
Here God tells the prophet Ezekiel that he is to be a watchman to warn the people of the ways of wickedness. Does not the New Testament teach that we are to do the same?
33: 13 "When I say to the righteous he will surely live, and he so trusts in his righteousness that he commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered; but in that same iniquity of his which he has committed he will die.
This could be misconstrued. If a righteous person commits a sin, then none of his righteous deeds will be remembered, and he would die in his sin. Remember, this was during the time when they were living under the law of Moses. The New Testament teaches that law was given to demonstrate to us that none of us could be saved by that law. This did not mean that a person of faith (one who believed as Abraham and it was counted as righteousness) would not find eternal forgiveness. In Ezekiel’s day, the Southern Kingdom of Judah was being carried into captivity in Babylon. When Ezekiel wrote this, he was already in Babylon. The temporal punishments, or the ‘punishments in this life’ were being executed at that time, as the nation was under judgment. As Paul taught, even a saved person who lives in sin may be turned over to Satan that his body may be destroyed, even so his soul may be saved. So when discussing judgments and punishments, it is necessary to keep in mind that there are temporal judgments and punishments, that apply in this life, which are different from judgments and punishments that extend to eternity. Focus on the phrase from above “… he commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered …” (from verse 13) and consider that Jesus said, “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” So we see that the Ezekiel passage referred to remembering his righteousness under that temporal judgment, but in eternal judgment, no righteousness (not even a cup of water) will be overlooked.
33: 31 "They come to you as people come, and sit before you as My people and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain. 32 "Behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words but they do not practice them. 33 "So when it comes to pass — as surely it will — then they will know that a prophet has been in their midst."
How easy is it to listen to a good preacher, and think how good his words and teachings are, but when we go out into the world, we so easily forget the words that tell us how we should be, but instead do what we feel we need based on increasing our own gain. This is not in reference to doing what is necessary to make a living, but refers to doing things that are not right to gain more worldly goods (i.e.- fudging on taxes, little lies to a boss, etc.). So serving the Lord should not be done in a manner that seeks to gain worldly wealth.
34: 1 Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, 'Thus says the Lord God, "Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? 3 "You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock.
Here Ezekiel is warning the religious leaders that they are pretending to be serving God, yet they are serving themselves. It is one thing for religious leaders to make a living, but it is another for them to take advantage of their position and build up themselves over tending to the sheep’s needs under the banner of doing God’s work.