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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 33

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-33

Chapter 33

Now as we get into chapter 33 God now begins to instruct those captives who are in Babylon.

Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: If when he sees the sword come upon the land, he blows the trumpet, and warns the people; Then whosoever hears the sound of the trumpet, and takes not warning; if the sword comes, and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, he did not take warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned; and the sword comes, and takes away any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand. So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me ( Ezekiel 33:2-7 ).

Now God is commissioning Ezekiel to speak His word to the captives, the people of God there in the land of Babylon. And God is holding Ezekiel responsible for speaking the word of God to them. And God likens it unto a watchman that has been set up to warn the people of an impending invasion. If the watchman sees the enemy coming and he blows the trumpet to warn the people, then he has fulfilled his obligation. His responsibility was complete when he blew the trumpet and gave warning. What the people do with the warning is not in the responsibility of the watchman. He cannot help what the people do with the warning that he gave. His job was to give the warning. The people could respond however they wanted to the warning. It was then their responsibility how they responded. And so God said, "Now I have set you like a watchman. If you don't warn them, then you are responsible and I will hold you responsible for them. But if you warn them, then they are responsible for themselves."

In our Christian witnessing, I think that it is important that we realize that we are much like a watchman. God has set us to give a warning unto people. Now, what they do with it is their business. God has not commissioned us, really, to argue people in to the kingdom of heaven, or to pressure or to force people into the kingdom of heaven. God has commissioned us to witness His truth, and what people do with that witness is their business. And I realize that there's nothing I can do beyond witnessing for the Lord. It is interesting to me how that there are some people that when you witness to them it's like they've been waiting for you all their lives. And they're just ready to accept. They are so eager, really, that they don't always even give you the chance to finish your witness. And there are others that you give the same witness to, and it's like it's falling on deaf ears. It's like they don't even hear you. It's like they haven't even heard anything you've said. And it doesn't seem to penetrate at all. It has no effect upon them. Now, this causes me to realize that the Holy Spirit is the one that has to do the work of conviction and the drawing of these people to Jesus Christ. My responsibility is as a watchman just to blow the trumpet, to declare, "The Lord is coming soon." Now what you do with that is your own business.

And so God said to Ezekiel, "Now look, you're like a watchman, Ezekiel. Your responsibility is to give the people My word. That's all. What they do with it after that is their responsibility. But I'm going to hold you responsible to warn them, to give them My word."

So when I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you will surely die; if you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at your hand. Nevertheless, if you warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul ( Ezekiel 33:8-9 ).

The Lord gave him much the same kind of a commission back at the beginning of the book in the third chapter of Ezekiel.

Therefore, thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we thus then live? ( Ezekiel 33:10 )

The question, very important question: if our transgressions and our sins be upon us and they are destroying us, how should we then live?

Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? ( Ezekiel 33:11 )

And so here we see the heart of God and we understand now a bit of the truth of God and not the perversion that has been fostered by Satan through the ages that God is cruel and harsh and almost relishes judging. Not so. God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, any wicked. But God cries unto them to turn.

I often hear the complaint: how can a God of love send a man to hell? Well, the complaint itself is wrong. Because the Bible does not teach that God actually sends men to hell. They go there by their own choice, against everything that God has done to keep them from hell. Now, God has given to us free choice. I can choose what I want. God doesn't force me to serve Him. He doesn't force me to love Him. He gives me that choice, and He respects the choice that I make. But God does everything short of violating my choice to bring me into His kingdom. But if I refuse every innovation of God towards me, every invitation of the Spirit, if I do despite to the Spirit of grace, trample under foot the Son of God, account the blood of His covenant wherewith He was sanctified an unholy thing. If I say, "Aw, the blood of Jesus Christ, means nothing to me." If I am stubborn, rebellious, and I hang in there, I can make it into hell, but it's the hardest trip in the world. Not easy to go to hell. You've got to fight against God every step, and finally you have to step over Jesus Christ, who actually sort of lays Himself out in your path to stop you from your madness. But the madness of man.

God says, "Turn ye, turn ye, for why would ye die, O house of Israel?" The path that they have taken is a path of destruction. They are pining away in their transgressions and sins. And God is crying to them to turn.

Therefore, thou son of man, say to the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth. When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trusts in his own righteousness, and commits iniquity, all of his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it. Again, when I say to the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turns from his sin, and does that which is lawful and right; If the wicked restores the pledge, and gives again that which was robbed, if he walks in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. And none of his sins that he has committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live ( Ezekiel 33:12-16 ).

Isn't that glorious? God'll never mention any of your past iniquities again as you turn to Jesus Christ. Of course, this is written in the pre-grace age. This is written under the old law of the covenant. But what is true under this as far as God not remembering our sins again is true under grace, the grace of God whereby we have that forgiveness of sins.

Yet the children of thy people say, The way of the Lord isn't equal ( Ezekiel 33:17 ):

"God isn't fair." How many times we've heard this complaint against God. "God isn't fair." This is the underlying complaint, really, whenever a person says, "How can a God of love... ?" you know that they are challenging the fairness of God. No matter what they say after that. There is that subtle challenge of the fairness of God. And how many times the fairness of God has been challenged by man. And here the children of Israel were challenging, "The way of the Lord isn't equal."

God says, "You tell them,"

their way isn't equal. When the righteous turns from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, he shall even die thereby. But if the wicked turns from his wickedness, and does that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby. Yet ye say, the way of the Lord is not equal, O ye house of Israel, I will judge every one of you after your ways ( Ezekiel 33:17-20 ).

Now, at this point,

It came to pass in the twelfth year of our captivity, in the tenth month, in the fifth day of the month ( Ezekiel 33:21 ),

So we're coming into a whole interesting aspect here now.

that one that had escaped out of Jerusalem came unto me, saying, The city is smitten ( Ezekiel 33:21 ).

And so the news finally arrived. It was a year earlier that Jerusalem fell. But one of the persons who had escaped finally comes to Ezekiel bringing him the news that Jerusalem was smitten.

Now the hand of the LORD was upon me in the evening, before he that was escaped came; and had opened my mouth, until he came to me in the morning; and my mouth was opened, and I was no more dumb ( Ezekiel 33:22 ).

Now the Lord, you remember, told Ezekiel that he was going to be dumb until they got word of the destruction of the city of Jerusalem. So the Lord opened his mouth and he was no more dumb.

Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, they that inhabit those wastes of the land of Israel speak, saying, Abraham was one, and he inherited the land: but we are many; and the land is given us for an inheritance ( Ezekiel 33:23-24 ).

So the Lord is saying to Ezekiel, "Though Nebuchadnezzar has conquered Jerusalem and has set up Gedaliah as a governor, yet the hearts of the people are still rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar." They are saying, "Look, Abraham was only one man and God gave him the land, and we are many so we can take the land still." And so even at the time of Gedaliah they were not really totally subdued. The people were still rebellious in their hearts. And so God is speaking to Ezekiel concerning the attitude that the people had who were back there in the land. Of course, Jeremiah was with them. Jeremiah kept telling them to just surrender to Babylon, things would go well, and if they dared to resist then they would be destroyed out of the land. They did not listen to Jeremiah either.

Wherefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; You eat with the blood ( Ezekiel 33:25 ),

Now these are the indictments against these people saying, "Oh, the land is ours, you know. Abraham was only one and God gave him the land; we are many so the land is ours." And God says, "Look, just tell them that they eat with the blood." That is, they were not killing the food as God required in the law, thoroughly bleeding the animals, but they were strangling the animals or killing them in ways by which the blood remained in the animal and they were eating with the blood. They were lifting up their eyes towards idols. They were shedding blood. And God says,

shall you possess the land? ( Ezekiel 33:25 )

You know, here you're committing all of these evil things against My law and you think I'm gonna let you possess the land?

For ye stand upon your sword, you work abomination, and you defile every one his neighbor's wife: and shall you possess the land? ( Ezekiel 33:26 )

God says, "You're incredible. I can't believe you."

Say thou thus unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; As I live, surely they that are in the wastes shall fall by the sword, and him that is in the open field will I give to the beasts to be devoured, and they that be in the forts and in the caves shall die of the pestilence. For I will lay the land most desolate, and the pomp of her strength shall cease; and the mountains of Israel shall be desolate, and none pass though. Then shall they know that I am the LORD, when I have laid the land most desolate, because of all of their abominations which they have committed. Also, thou son of man, the children of the people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak to one another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and let's hear the word that comes from the LORD ( Ezekiel 33:27-30 ).

Now, Ezekiel, they're still talking about you and in their houses they'll say, "Hey let's go down and see what the word of the Lord is from the prophet. Let's go down and see Ezekiel, see what God has to say."

And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as though they were my people, and they hear thy words, but they won't do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart is going after their covetousness ( Ezekiel 33:31 ).

Now the people are all talking about you, Ezekiel, saying, "Hey, let's go down to the prophet and hear the word of the Lord." And they come and they sit there before you, just like they were My people. And they hear the words that you're saying, but they're not going to do them.

Now in James we read that a man who is a hearer of the word and not a doer is a man who is deceiving himself. A lot of deception going on, because so often a person thinks, "Well, I study the Word of God," or, "I listen to the Word of God," or, "I hear the Word of God," or, "I know the Word of God." That's not what cuts it. Are you doing? "Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only" ( James 1:22 ).

So God's indictment against these people because they're coming and they were listening to the prophet, but they were so filled with their own covetousness they weren't doers of the Word.

And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that has a pleasant voice ( Ezekiel 33:32 ),

They just enjoy hearing you talk.

you can play well on an instrument ( Ezekiel 33:32 ):

They were going for entertainment.

for they hear thy words, but they do them not. And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) ( Ezekiel 33:33 )

Boy, when God says it like that you know, hey, it is. No stopping.

then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them ( Ezekiel 33:33 ).

When all these things that you told them happens, then they'll know. Right now they're just listening and you're an entertainment to them.

It's interesting how that so many people do go to the house of the Lord for entertainment. You know, it's their place of entertainment. It's a good socially accepted place of good entertainment. And so many churches are catering to these people who are looking for entertainment.

I heard this story of a Baptist pastor who came to his (and it could be any church) came to his assistants and said, "Fellows, the board is going to meet tonight and determine our salaries for the next year. And we're having a difficult time making our budget as it is. So it looks like it's going to be really slim as far as any pay raises this next year. And I think it's very important that we, all of us, just spend the day together praying because if we don't get pay raises, it's going to be a hard tough year. And they're going to be really taking a look at the budget tonight and things really look very bad for any pay hikes. So, let's just gather together and let's just pray that God will somehow work a miracle so that we can all get a raise in pay this next year." And so they decided in order that their prayers really be very spiritual they would pray in Gregorian chants. And so the assistant pastor began, "Oh Lord, you know that it's hard to live on $15,000 a year. I pray Thee Lord, that You'll help the board to be gracious and maybe give me a raise." And the pastor then offered his prayer and he said, "Yes, Lord, things are tough, and $22,000 a year is hard to live on when I have all of these expenses that I'm not reimbursed for. And so, Lord, please work and grant me a raise in pay." And then the music director, the one in charge of the entertaining programs for the church said, "Lord, You know that $50,000 a year is a little hard to get by on, but there's no business like show business, like show business, you know."

But it's sort of a sad indictment against those churches that have found it necessary to put on an entertaining program for people in order to draw the crowds. People with itching ears who will not endure sound doctrine. And yet, such is the case in so many places, where people go for entertainment.

And so they were coming to the prophet for entertainment. He had a good voice; could play instrument well. "And they sit before you and they do hear your words, but they're not going to do them. You're unto them like a lovely song, but when this comes, and it will come, they will know that there was a prophet among them." "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ezekiel 33". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/ezekiel-33.html. 2014.
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