Ezekiel is one of the weirdest books in the bible. Even Revelation with its odd creatures and confusing descriptions isn’t on par with Ezekiel’s commands from God. But in the midst of a year lying on his left side and eating food cooked over cow poop, we have a few very important lessons.
First, according to this Old Testament prophet, we are responsible for those we see sinning but don’t warn. Assuming this is not a command unique to Ezekiel, and I don’t believe it is, if we see someone sinning (and who doesn’t on a daily basis) and don’t warn them against this sin, then we will be held responsible for their sin. Not to say that we will suffer their punishment for it, but “I will hold you accountable for their blood” says God. What this means is unclear, but it is certainly not good.
What would it look like for you to warn those around you that what they are doing is sinful? if you’re like me, your mind immediately went to the busybody old lady who sticks her nose in everyone else’s business. Or the bible-thumping “preacher man” who had a word of condemnation for everything anyone did, except for he himself, of course. First, we’d need to understand what sins God is calling us to call out in this society. We should be standing verbally and loudly against racism, sexism, human trafficking, violence, and fearmongering. But what are the other sins we should call out?
The second teaching for us is just as important: our task is to obey God, whether we see results, are successful, or are even noticed. Ezekiel is to share God’s message with his people, but is promised that his people won’t listen. We are so success-focused that we gauge our mission, our behavior, and our giving by whether we see results or success. But God doesn’t call us to succeed. He calls us to obey.
Hard lessons from a pretty weird source. But they are God’s Word, and so are part of our sole ruler measuring faith, doctrine, and conduct. We’d better be listening.