After seven days the Lord gave me a message. He said, “Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel. Whenever you receive a message from me, warn people immediately. If I warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths. If you warn them and they refuse to repent and keep on sinning, they will die in their sins. But you will have saved yourself because you obeyed me.
“If righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and ignore the obstacles I put in their way, they will die. And if you do not warn them, they will die in their sins. None of their righteous acts will be remembered, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. But if you warn righteous people not to sin and they listen to you and do not sin, they will live, and you will have saved yourself, too.”
A watchman’s job was to stand on the city wall and warn the people of approaching danger. Ezekiel’s role was to be a spiritual watchman, warning the people of the judgment to come. If the people back in Judah continued in their sins, they and their land and cities would be destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s armies. If, on the other hand, the people turned back to God, God would spare them. God would hold Ezekiel responsible for his fellow Jews if he failed to warn them of the consequences of their sins.
God had already told Ezekiel that the people would not listen, so why should he bother to tell them God’s message? God wanted the people to know they had been warned. Ezekiel’s job was to obey God.
Like Ezekiel, we are responsible to tell others about God’s judgment and his message of salvation, but we are not held responsible for how they respond. Remember God’s words to Ezekiel. You are responsible to be faithful with God’s message, but you are not responsible for the outcome.