Ezekiel 3:20-21

 

The question posed:


God is telling Ezekiel to warn Israel to turn from their iniquity and explaining the consequences of his failure to give adequate warning.

AGAIN, WHEN A RIGHTEOUS MAN DOTH TURN FROM HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS AND COMMIT INIQUITY, AND I LAY A STUMBLINGBLOCK BEFORE HIM, HE SHALL DIE: BECAUSE THOU HAST NOT GIVEN HIM WARNING, HE SHALL DIE IN HIS SIN, AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH HE HATH DONE SHALL NOT BE REMEMBERED; BUT HIS BLOOD WILL I REQUIRE AT THINE HAND.

NEVERTHELESS IF THOU WARN THE RIGHTEOUS MAN, THAT THE RIGHTEOUS SIN NOT, AND HE DOTH NOT SIN, HE SHALL SURELY LIVE, BECAUSE HE IS WARNED: ALSO THOU HAST DELIVERED THY SOUL.

I understand the implications with respect to Ezekiel, in that failure to warn will result in the man's blood being on him. But here is my confusion.

I believe when we physically die, ALL of our deeds, both good and bad will be weighed before the judgment throne. Salvation will determine whether we spend eternity in heaven or in hell.

In the case of the righteous man who sinned after Ezekielís warning, God said he would die and his righteousness would not be remembered. Is this specifically because of the warning message of Ezekiel which was not heeded, or has judgment changed with the coming of Christ? If so, what is going to happen to the righteous that died before Jesus came to earth when He returns?

The answer:

 

First of all, chapter three deals with the calling and preparation of Ezekiel to serve God. His calling is made under law, but the issue of God's righteousness and the fact He expects holy behavior from those who are His is true in all dispensations. In fact, there is a passage in James 5:19 & 20 that is directly related to this passage. Some have actually opposed James being part of the canon for such statements, but they did so because of confusion over grace and righteousness I think.

 

God is making it clear to Ezekiel that he is being called to a hard task as a preacher, but failure to respond to this task however daunting has a worse alternative than being faithful even to death. The unfaithful preacher like the prophet has blood guilt because of those lost by his failure. Paul understood this right well, for his words in 1Corinthians 9:16-17 reflect an awareness of the downside of being an unfaithful preacher.

 

As far as judgment is concerned, the Bible does not know a single judgment but at least two can be taken into view. The first judgment is at the Mercy Seat and is for the believer. An outline of the basic criteria connected with this judgment is outlined simply in 1Corinthians 3:10-15. The other judgment is for the unbeliever, and is referred to as the Great White Throne Judgment. There the fact a person is under condemnation to hell is already assured and what is determined how far into the depths they will descend. No place in hell is good.

 

The issues of heaven and hell are not in sight when the discussion of the righteous man's righteousness being remembered is presented here. The issue is the legacy a man might leave upon the earth. A man who falls discourages those he has influenced before and his future legacy is made null and void.

 

I could speak of a preacher who once had a multi-thousand member church with multitudes of confessions of faith each year. He wrote books on how to build great Sunday schools and operate effective bus ministries and he was much desired as a speaker. Now he is dead and those familiar with his story are no longer interested in buying his books, his sermons are no longer printed in the evangelical paper that used to feature him regularly. Why? Because of the scandal that rocked his ministry at the end connecting him with a woman who was not his wife. I could speak of others who are in the same boat with a multitude of different types if scandals. We could speak of a man in Texas and one in New Orleans and I could go on. The principal of a man's sin making his righteousness not be remembered has a long history in this world, not the next.

 

The best warning the Lord makes clear in Ezekiel is the warning given before the act that heads of evil before it occurs. This preemptive strike is the power of preaching at its best.

 

The believer who died prior to the coming of Christ went to a place called Paradise otherwise known as the Bosom of Abraham, the same place where Jesus joined the believing thief after the crucifixion. This was where the Lord preached during the three days in the grave and when He arose Paradise was emptied. From this point all who died in the faith rests in the Lord, (not in a soul sleep state as some have imagined) which is a patient waiting for the resurrection change expected at the next great event, the rapture of the saints from the church age.

 

            Jonsquill Ministries

P. O. Box 752

Buchanan, Georgia 30113

171001-1