“'Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.'" Ezekiel 3:17-18
Every now and then I run across a Bible passage that makes my blood run cold. Ezekiel 3:17-21 is just such an example. The prophet Ezekiel was being sent by God to the rebellious people of Israel to deliver a warning from Him. One of the reasons he was being sent was so that the people would know that a prophet, and by extension, God Himself was among them. In turn, the message he was sent to deliver was designed to warn the people to turn from their wicked ways and return to the previously established covenant relationship lest they die.
The message God gave Ezekiel to deliver was a critical one, however, before he was given a word to speak, God impressed upon him the importance of carrying out the assigned task. In short, He told his prophet that if anyone perished (due to their own iniquity) without him having delivered the assigned message, he would bear responsibility.
Beloved, the reason this passage caused a chill to run down my spine is due to the realization that we have been given the same charge and bear that same responsibility. Those of us who call upon the name of Jesus are the messengers of God. We are sent to all nations to bear witness to the love of the Lord and to deliver His message (Matthew 28:19-20). We are to fill our mouths with His word and warn the stubborn, obstinate and unrighteous about the dangers associated with pursuing their current course. We are charged with nothing less than attempting to literally save the lives of the lost. Our failure to speak up and speak out condemns to death the people we refuse to warn just as if we failed to take the keys from an inebriated person attempting to get behind the wheel of a car. It is not our fault that the person is drunk, but we would bear responsibility for refusing to intercede if that person tragically died or worse, caused the death of someone else. Chilling indeed.
Let us not view our Christian lives simply as "going to Church," attending bible studies, participating in pot luck dinners and fellowshipping with those of like faith. Let us instead act as fire marshals engaged in literal fire prevention and fire fighters engaged in literal rescue of those in danger of being lost in the fire.