Ezekiel 33


The announcement of restoration and salvation. Ezekiel 33-48.

The calling of the prophet and his future attitude towards the people.


We return to the watchman theme. Ezekiel 33:1-9.

The watchman’s message is individual responsibility. Ezekiel 33:10-20.

Ezekiel receives news that the city has fallen. Ezekiel 33:21-22.

Preaching repentance after the fall of Jerusalem, the consequences with regard to the prophet. Ezekiel 33:23-33.

‘The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, speak to your people and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head. Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.’ ‘Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so, hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.’ Ezekiel 33:1-9

The Watchman

This is the link chapter between the two messages of the prophet. This section repeats Ezekiel 3:16-21. The only difference being one of direction. The people are being told that they had been given a watchman, Ezekiel. God defends the prophet before the people.

The prophets of the Old Testament were the watchmen of God, Ezekiel 3:16-21 / Isaiah 21:6 / Jeremiah 6:17 / Habakkuk 2:1. They were called in order to call Israel back to God. Their work was to warn the wicked, that they turn from their wicked ways. The Major and Minor Prophets existed for the purpose of warning God’s people during the era of apostasy that they should repent and return to God.

In this context, Ezekiel turned from the sins of the nation to the sins of the individual. Though the nation had to suffer the calamity of destruction and captivity, the individual would be saved through individual repentance and obedience to God’s law.

‘Son of man, say to the Israelites, ‘This is what you are saying: ‘Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?’ Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’ ‘Therefore, son of man, say to your people, ‘If someone who is righteous disobeys, that person’s former righteousness will count for nothing. And if someone who is wicked repents, that person’s former wickedness will not bring condemnation. The righteous person who sins will not be allowed to live even though they were formerly righteous.’ If I tell a righteous person that they will surely live, but then they trust in their righteousness and do evil, none of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered; they will die for the evil they have done. And if I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ but they then turn away from their sin and do what is just and right—if they give back what they took in pledge for a loan, return what they have stolen, follow the decrees that give life, and do no evil—that person will surely live; they will not die. None of the sins that person has committed will be remembered against them. They have done what is just and right; they will surely live. ‘Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But it is their way that is not just. If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, they will die for it. And if a wicked person turns away from their wickedness and does what is just and right, they will live by doing so. Yet you Israelites say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But I will judge each of you according to your own ways. Ezekiel 33:10-20

Review of the Message

A glance back to Ezekiel 18 will give us the gist of this section. This repeats what that had to say about the prophet’s message.

The exiled nation. 585 – 535 B.C. Ezekiel’s restoration prophecies

Twenty years have passed since the first captives were deported from Judah and the exile had begun. Now the city of Jerusalem had fallen, and the exile of the nation continued with greater magnitude. It will be another 50 years before the exile will end.

It is evidently some six months before one of the survivors of the Jerusalem slaughter finally makes his way to the prophet Ezekiel in Babylonia. Ezekiel gets a few hours advance warning of Jerusalem’s fall when on the evening before the messenger arrives. Ezekiel is suddenly unable to speak.

Undoubtedly, he recalls the day the siege began, the day of his wife’s death, When God told him his mouth would be opened when God told him that his mouth would be opened on the day when a messenger appears with news of the fall.

Just as promised Ezekiel’s muteness disappears the following morning before the messenger arrives. With this dramatic confirmation of his earlier predictions concerning Jerusalem, Ezekiel once more sets out to proclaim the word of the Lord to the people.

He reminds them that the desolation has not yet ended, but assures them that it will end soon and that the promised restoration will begin. The time for healing will come quickly, so Ezekiel changes his focus to begin to comfort a scattered people.

‘In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month on the fifth day, a man who had escaped from Jerusalem came to me and said, ‘The city has fallen!’ Now the evening before the man arrived, the hand of the LORD was on me, and he opened my mouth before the man came to me in the morning. So, my mouth was opened, and I was no longer silent.’ Ezekiel 33:21-22

Jerusalem fall announced. 586 B.C.

Here is the news of the city’s fall. A fugitive comes and brings him the news, just as God had told him. Two things are now evident:

1. The prophet will now have a new message.

2. The prophet is vindicated before the people. Deuteronomy 18:22.

‘Then the word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, the people living in those ruins in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one man, yet he possessed the land. But we are many; surely the land has been given to us as our possession.’ Therefore, say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Since you eat meat with the blood still in it and look to your idols and shed blood, should you then possess the land? You rely on your sword, you do detestable things, and each of you defiles his neighbour’s wife. Should you then possess the land?’ Ezekiel 33:23-26

The Residue in Judea

This concerns Ishmael and some who tried to take the land that was left. When Nebuzaradan took Zedekiah away in 586 B.C. he left Gedaliah as governor. Ishmael and a small guerrilla group killed Gedaliah and sought to re-establish themselves as an independent nation again. Jeremiah 40:41 / 2 Kings 25:25ff. They thought they still deserved the land, they thought they were righteous and as Abraham was only one and they were many then of course it was theirs.

‘Say this to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: As surely as I live, those who are left in the ruins will fall by the sword, those out in the country I will give to the wild animals to be devoured, and those in strongholds and caves will die of a plague. I will make the land a desolate waste, and her proud strength will come to an end, and the mountains of Israel will become desolate so that no one will cross them. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I have made the land a desolate waste because of all the detestable things they have done.’ Ezekiel 33:27-29

Desolation not ended

However, they did not inherit it. They went to Egypt and the land was left desolate. Jeremiah 40-41 / 2 Kings 25:22f.

‘As for you, son of man, your people are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the LORD.’ My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice. ‘When all this comes true—and it surely will—then they will know that a prophet has been among them’. Ezekiel 33:30-33

The Popular Prophet

Now the people are forced by events to admit that the prophet was right. They make him popular, but they only hear what he has to say, they will not do it. They enjoy a good sermon, they dissect it technically, ‘but they will not do it.’

Those days haven’t disappeared yet.

Go To Ezekiel 34