Beginning with chapter thirty-three, Ezekiel’s ministry would turn from a message of judgment to one of hope. In the remaining fifteen chapters, God speaks a word of reconciliation, restoration, and renewal to His people. In this chapter, Jehovah reaffirms Ezekiel’s responsibility as a ‘watchman’ over His people, a commission that was given him at the onset of his ministry. Thus far his message has been one of judgment, but now that will change. Like the watchman in Isaiah’s vision of the burden of the desert of the sea, he can now cry out, ‘the morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come’!
Israel had appointed watchmen, men of their choosing, but they had been unfaithful. ‘The beasts of the field’ and ‘beasts of the forest’ had ‘come to devour’ and they had shown themselves to be ‘blind’, ‘ignorant’, ‘dumb dogs’ that ‘cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber’. Such is so often the case when men put their trust in men. But God, who sees the hearts of men, had appointed Ezekiel, a man equipped and empowered by Jehovah Himself! Ezekiel would be faithful, vigilant, and alert, because his God was faithful, vigilant and alert!
‘I have set thee a watchman’. What greater proof of God’s favor could be given! ‘As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.’ Their God had given them a faithful watchman. If they would heed his words, they would find life and peace. If they refused his instruction, they would bring God’s judgment down upon their own heads. The wicked man who returned to his God would be made righteous. The righteous man who turned away would be declared wicked. Each would be judged according to his deeds. Peace or anguish, life or death, lay before them. God had given them a watchman who had sounded the trumpet and warned the people. All had heard His words, but many had not kept them. There would be no excuse in the day of His righteous judgment.
‘And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them.’