Pentecost 14- Sermon: “Pastors are Watchmen,” Pastor Joe Asher, Kaiserslautern Ev. Lutheran Church, Germany, 9/6/20, *IN NOMINE JESU*
7 “So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 8 If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 9 But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today from our Old Testament reading we have the Lord’s instructions to the prophet Ezekiel. The “son of man,” Ezekiel, is to speak God’s warning to the House of Israel regarding their sin and rebellion to the Lord. The prophet is to speak the truth in the same way that a watchman in a tower might warn a city of a coming enemy attack.
And God further tells Ezekiel that he must be faithful to God whether the people will listen to him or not. Because if Ezekiel is quiet and unfaithful to the Lord, then the blood of the people will be, verse 8-
…required at his hand.
But when Ezekiel faithfully gives God’s warning to rebellious Israel, then the Lord tells him that he will save himself from responsibility.
Ezekiel was God’s prophet during a difficult time in Israel’s history. Around 600 BC, the people of Judah, Israel’s southern kingdom, were following the lead of their wicked kings and spiritual leaders and embracing extreme wickedness themselves. There were…
- Idols in the Lord’s temple… defiling God’s house
- Human sacrifices of children to idols, in the Valley of Hinnom SW of Jerusalem
- False prophets declaring peace and safety when God had given the opposite message by Ezekiel
And in the Book of Ezekiel, the prophet outlines the sins of the people. There was the unjust use of power which killed the innocent. The sexual sins of adultery and fornication were common throughout society. The people also immersed themselves in greed and dishonesty. And in the prophet’s writing, the list of transgressions against the Lord goes on and on.
So to stop Israel’s wickedness and rebellion, the Lord, through Ezekiel, calls Judah to repent and turn again to God. But the people did not listen. They persisted in their vile sin. So the Lord brings in the Babylonian Empire… and there is great loss of life. Jerusalem is captured, and a remnant of the people, those who are left, are carried off into captivity.
Sin always has consequences. A person harvests what he or she plants. God will not be mocked. (Galatians 6:7) And wickedness will have the Lord’s righteous response.
And God’s response to Israel’s wickedness and rebellion was the Babylonian captivity, which lasted 70 years. God’s discipline of His people resulted in great suffering and loss and death. The Lord used the Babylonians to execute His righteous judgement, and stop the people’s sin, with the result that Israel eventually returned to God in repentance and faith.
It is at this point that I hope that you can see the importance of the prophet Ezekiel. God sends His representatives to speak His Word so that sinners might return to Him. The Lord loves every human being, wants them to turn from the destruction of sin and its ultimate sentence of death, and instead receive His mercy. The prophet’s job is to warn the people so that the calamity of God’s judgement might be avoided.
Today, and in our own modern lives, there are times when each of us can be trapped in the delusion of sin, with the result that we are blind to the danger we are in. We can wander away from our loving God and serve all kinds of things which can lead to our destruction.
- Alcohol and drugs
- Sexual immorality
- Selfish ambition
And even unchecked dissention and bitterness… divisiveness between Christians can destroy faith and lead a person away from God.
So in our lives, God will send His representatives to give us His warning… to call us back to repentance and faith. It could be someone from the church, or a Christian colleague at work. A warning from God could come from a Christian family member… even a child or a teenager might be God’s instrument to give us a “wake up call” so that we can begin to recognize the strength our sinful nature and turn from our unrighteous rebellion to the Lord.
But often the person whom God sends with His warning is your pastor. And you might hear God’s warning like this:
I haven’t seen you in church for a while. Is everything ok? Or…
I’ve noticed that you’ve been having a lot of conflict with others. How is work and your family going?
Or a pastor might ask you to examine your priorities. Is God first in your life? Are your spouse and family second? Is everything else after that?
So often we put money or career in front of God. We can put the kids first, or food, or health, or entertainment ahead of our Lord. In this world, there is an endless list of things which we can make our pet obsession. And when we are blind to the danger, God sends Christians with His warning.
Because God loves us, He uses every means possible to turn us from the delusion of sin back to Himself. And our Lord gives us His Holy Spirit to supply the power to bring us back to repentance and faith.
Now if I can get personal, this three verse Old Testament passage has been a guide to me throughout
my entire pastoral ministry. For 36 years, my goal has always been to lead people to life and salvation in Jesus. But a pastor’s work is not only sharing the good news. The Law, or God’s expectations for righteousness, is also required.
God’s charge to Ezekiel identifies the work given to every faithful minister of God’s people. When I’m in the pulpit, I can’t be telling jokes or stories or primarily focusing on the media headlines of the day. Everything I say has got to be connected to God’s Word, so that you understand what the Lord wants you to know. As God’s people, you need the counsel of God’s Word and will. And that means instruction on your Christian life, and when necessary, the warning from God’s Word. And when I’m in the Sunday school classroom, or teaching Confirmation, or visiting you at home, you need the whole counsel of God, both Law and Gospel… which are God’s righteous expectations. And further, you need the Gospel, For our Lord provides all believers the forgiveness of sins in His cross and resurrection.
All this so that you recognize sin and take it seriously, while at the same time holding to Christ in faith.
For in Jesus, in His death and resurrection for us, there is always mercy and forgiveness for all believers in Christ.
In Jesus’ name. Amen. +Sola Deo Gloria+
KELC Prayers of the Congregation- Pentecost 14- 9/6/20
Gracious heavenly Father– give to your Church faithful pastors that they would preach Your Word for the benefit of Your people. Through Your Law, help all to know Your righteous expectations. And through Your Gospel, lead all hearts to Christ so that we may have the comfort of knowing that all sins are forgiven through faith in Your Son Jesus.
Lord in Your mercy………………………………………… Hear our prayer.
Blessed Redeemer, You invite us to share together at this altar the priceless gift of Your body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. Cast away from us all unbelief and fill us with faith to welcome You and Your gifts. And we also ask that You help us to hear and heed Your Word, and live as we believe.
Lord in Your mercy/ hear our prayer…
Eternal Holy Spirit, You have drawn us to faith by Your holy Word. Increase our faith in every difficulty of life, so that our trust in You may be unshaken.
Lord in Your mercy/ hear our prayer…………………………
Finally, Lord, in our families and among our friends and co-workers there are many who are in need of Your care. For those who are sick, hospitalized, away on duty assignments, traveling, unemployed, lonely, and for all other needs, we name our loved ones in our hearts before you now…
Lord in Your mercy/ hear our prayer…
Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.