Shelby G. Floyd

It is a beautiful morning! And it is good to stand before you and present the word of God. I have decided to speak on the subject, “Watchmen on the Wall!”

We do not usually hear many sermons from the book of Ezekiel. But over the past six months, I have presented at least two lessons from Ezekiel. I spoke to you about those Dry Bones representing Israel who was dead spiritually. Then not long ago I spoke to you that Ezekiel was looking for someone to “Stand in the Gap!” And he found no one.

Today, we study “Watchmen on the Wall.” We all need watchmen. We do not have walls to watch out for invaders to come as far as nations are concerned. The Great Wall of China is probably the last example where nations tried to protect themselves by building a big high wall. But we do hear a lot about we need a wall on our southern border to protect from illegal invaders! So we still see the need for some kind of walls.

But, today we have different kinds of watchmen. Many of us have home cameras inside and outside of our homes to “watch for invaders.” These “watchmen” are to protect us from danger! And that is a good thing. We also have watchmen cameras to make sure we are not speeding and endangering lives on the highways! There is a watchmen at the bridge over to Louisville, Kentucky who will take your picture and send you a bill to pay for the construction of that bridge.

The Chinese understand the value of watchmen because evidently they were responsible for sending balloon cameras over sensitive areas of our country. There are many spies in our skies! But over all of the land is the Lord our God the ultimate watchmen! The “All Seeing Eye of God” knows everything that goes on.

Larry did a good job last Sunday introducing the book of Ezekiel. And that set the stage for my lesson today. Today Gene explained the exile of Israel to the land of Babylon. His lesson pointed out the coming destruction of Jerusalem. And that is where my lesson picks up today.



First, I give you the background for Ezekiel’s call to be a Watchmen for Israel. He was 30 years old when he was called to be a watchmen and taken into exile at Babylon (Ezekiel 1:1). He was in exile in Babylon for 22 years. This was from 592 – 570 B. C.

King Solomon reigned over the United Kingdom of Israel around 930 B. C. After his death Israel split into the northern kingdom known as Israel and the southern kingdom known as Judah. Judah stayed closer to the Lord than Israel, though both of them went astray. In 722 B. C. the northern kingdom of Israel fell to Assyria. About 597 B. C. King Nebuchadnezzar arrived with his army and took Jerusalem. Ezekiel and about 10,000 Jews were taken to Babylon about 592 BC. They were located about 100 miles south of Babylon on the Chebar River at a place called Tel Aviv. On August 14, 586 BC the temple was destroyed.

God’s message came to Ezekiel 22 times. It was simply, “the word of the Lord came to me.” Ezekiel received six visons from the Lord. Those visions demonstrate that man cannot fully know the mind of God. They are pictures in symbolic language that make you wonder about what does that mean. This first vision is all summed up in these words: “Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord!” (Ezekiel 1:28)! This verse is the key to understand many of the six visions that Ezekiel saw while in exile in Babylon!



Ezekiel is first a prophet to Israel. What is a prophet? The word prophet simply means “one who speaks for God.” So the word prophet and preacher are a lot alike. Ezekiel was first a prophet! And the four greatest prophets in the Bible are perhaps Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. These are often called the “major prophets!” This is because they had the longest books! Foy E. Wallace, Jr. once said that he must be a “major preacher,” because his sermons were two hours or longer!

Now God prepares Ezekiel for the message he wants him to deliver to Israel:
And He said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak to you.” 2 Then the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me, and set me on my feet; and I heard Him who spoke to me. 3 And He said to me: “Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. 4 For they are impudent and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ 5 As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse—for they are a rebellious house—yet they will know that a prophet has been among them.
6 “And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you, and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house. 7 You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious. (Ezekiel 2:1-7 NKJV).

God set Ezekiel on his feet and told him not to be afraid of the people of Israel: “And He said to me: “Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. 4 For they are impudent and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ 5 As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse—for they are a rebellious house—yet they will know that a prophet has been among them.” (Ezekiel 2:3-5). We learn here that first of all Ezekiel is a PROPHET!

I am so thankful that we do not have a congregation like Israel and Judah! You good people listen to the word of God. And for the most part we try to practice what God teaches us to do and how to live. And that is a joy for a preacher of God’s word. It is not good to deal with people like Israel! Ezekiel had a miserable job! God is up front with him so he will know what to expect when he goes among the people of Israel. Ezekiel has a big job on his hands! He cannot go among these people and be a lovey-dovey guy. And he is going to receive opposition. And he must be ready to deal with it.

Therefore, God prepares Ezekiel for the difficult work by making his mind harder than flint! Larry illustrated this by presenting Indian arrowheads made out of flint. God would harden Ezekiel like emery which is harder than flint. It is not going to be an easy job. So God tells Ezekiel, “you will need to be harder than flint!” And most God devoted preachers also have minds hardened like flint to deal with all the false doctrine that is spread abroad today!



Then God said to Ezekiel, “Moreover He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll. 3 And He said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.” So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness.” (Ezekiel 3:1-3 NKJV).

The Bible is “the book of books.” All preachers and members of the church should figuratively eat this book called the Bible. It is as sweet as honey. Job said that God’s word was his necessary food. The book God gave Ezekiel to eat was the instruction God gave him to declare to Israel. It was sweet to him, but very sour to the people of Israel who rebelled against Almighty God!



God appointed Ezekiel to be watchman over Israel and cry out when he sees danger approaching the people of God! Being a watchman is a very toilsome job. He must stay awake, he warns of danger, he must always be alert, he must know the tactics of the enemy, and he must not fail. For if he fails, he must suffer capital punishment!

A few weeks ago I watched the movie, “Remember the Alamo.” We have always needed watchman to watch out for our country. In the early days it was Paul Revere and the midnight ride to warn that the British were coming.

So Ezekiel is a watchman of the long-ago. He is to watch and warn of danger to God’s people. “Then I came to the exiles who lived beside the river Chebar at Tel-abib, and I sat there for seven days where they were living, causing consternation among them.” (Ezekiel 3:15 NASB).

And finally the Lord said, “Ezekiel it is time for you to go to work.” “Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me:” (Ezekiel 3:16-17).

What is Ezekiel to warn these people about? He is to warn the wicked of his wicked ways. But according to what we hear today there are not any wicked people. Everybody is good. It does not make any difference what you do, how you live, how you treat people, or what you say. Everybody is a good person. In my reading of history that has not always been the case. And it is not the case today. There are still wicked people in the world, or how else can we account for all the crime? A lot of people do not like that word wicked, but there is a play out called “wicked!” And the Bible uses that word because God said to Ezekiel: “You warn the wicked of their wicked ways.” Israel was a religious and civil society combined. They had religious laws, civil laws, and all the offices needed to enforce those laws. But in the days of Ezekiel they were all wicked and corrupt. It was a lot like our country and the whole world right now.

Therefore Ezekiel was to warn the wicked of his wicked ways: “When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.” (Ezekiel 3:18-19).

So here is Ezekiel’s approach! If you see the wicked practicing his wicked ways, he is going to die in his sins. But if you do not warning him of his wicked ways, and he continues to live in wickedness, he will die and his sins. But since you did not warning him, his blood I will require at your hand. But if you do warn him and he continues in his wicked way, he will die in iniquity, but you have delivered your soul. (Ezekiel 3:18-19).

Next God addresses Ezekiel’s responsibility to a righteous person. He says when you see a righteous man turn and commit iniquity, he will die because you gave him no warning. All the righteous acts he did will not be remembered any longer. He will die in his sin but his blood I require of you. But if you warn the righteous man that he should not sin and he does not sin, he will then live because he took your warning. And also you have delivered your soul.

It is good that we can have warnings. Sometimes our bodies give us health warnings. We should take these warnings seriously and not just fluff them off! There are all kinds of warnings, and they are for our good. The job of the watchman he is to warn as his number one responsibility. So God is saying to Ezekiel, “you give them warning from me!” You are my man to warn these people for me.

Therefore it is very important that we all look out for each other and warn each other when we start to go astray. In these examples we see the value of warnings today. We need warnings today in our country, organizations, workplaces, our communities, and in the church! And that is what we speak of now. What does the watchman on the wall do to warn the people under his charge? And how does he carry this out?




When there was danger, the watchman blew the trumpet! That is what they did in ancient times. And the trumpet was a ram’s horn called a shofar. They were usually about 18 inches long. And they came from a very common sheep in Israel.

So the watchman would stand on the wall and when he saw the enemy coming, he would warn the people by blowing the trumpet. The enemy would come to take a city, to steal the sheep, and to rob people of their goods.

A few weeks ago I watched an old cowboy movie. A cow herder was doing well, and he and his helpers were taking them to the railhead to sell. But some cattle rustlers followed to steal them away. So they posted watchman each night. Finally, they decided to put a stop to this nonsense. So during the night they stampeded their own herd across the camp of the rustlers. And that was the end of that. In the old West they had to have watchman all the time! Why? Because there was a lot of bad stuff going on just like there is today!



The watchman had to blow the trumpet when danger was imminent. First, in times of war the watchman blew the trumpet to prepare for battle: ““When you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God, and you will be saved from your enemies.” (Numbers 10:9).

Next, the trumpet was sounded when it was time to go to worship: “And when the assembly is to be gathered together, you shall blow, but not sound the advance.” (Numbers 10:7). In the early days of America, churches bells sounded the time to assemble for worship. Perhaps today we could have a loud horn to remind us that it is time for Bible study and worship!

Finally, they sounded the trumpet for special days of their gladness, like weddings: “Also in the day of your gladness, in your appointed feasts, and at the beginning of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; and they shall be a memorial for you before your God: I am the Lord your God.” (Numbers 10:10). Most everyone makes sure they will be on time for weddings. We have announcements that come through the mail, telephone, email, and texts messages. The message is to ensure that everybody will be on time for the wedding.

And yes, there will be a great wedding someday for the church. The church is the bride of Christ (Romans 7:4). Christ is figuratively married to the church. And so the trumpet will sound and the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up in the air to be with the Lord and so shall we ever be with the Lord. And so the trumpet will sound when the Lord comes to take his bride to her heavenly home. What a day that will be!



Now I speak of the three areas were God’s watchman need to sound out warnings today.

1. The elders of the church are God’s watchman for the flock of God. On his third evangelistic journey Paul sent word to the elders of the Ephesian church to meet him on the seacoast. When they arrived he reminded them how he had lived and conducted himself while he was with them for three years.
He then closed his talk and gave them warning about wolves who would try to destroy the flock of God – the church:

“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church [a]of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking [b]perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.” (Acts 20:28-31).

So the elders (they are also called bishops, overseers, and pastors) of the church are God’s watchman to guard the flock from spiritual wolves who would destroy the church. Jesus himself said, “beware of wolves who come to you in sheep’s clothing.” Watch and warn for they will disguise themselves.

And the writer of the book of Hebrews sounds out the same warning to the overseers. The church is to respect and submit to the leadership of faithful overseers. “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17).

2. Secondly, the fathers and mothers are God’s watchman over their sons and daughters. We rejoice that a lot of people in America are waking up, realizing that evil forces are trying to take the children away from the parents. Then they want to indoctrinate them with the new ungodly, liberal lifestyle! And now we hear that many young children do not know whether they are a boy or a girl. How dumb! This is the result when minds are filled with rotten, false ideas! Parents are waking up and realizing they are responsible for their children’s education, both secular and sacred. They are taking back their God-given responsibility as expressed by Paul:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” 4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4).

Fathers and mothers, God has placed you over your sons and daughters. You are to wake up and exercise your responsibility over the education of the children in the secular and sacred world of Christ and the church.

3. Finally, gospel preachers like Mitch and I, have the responsibility to “preach the word,” to get the message out to what is right and wrong, especially the gospel scheme of redemption from sin! One of Paul’s last words before he died was to the young preacher Timothy:

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:1-8).

To all of you watchmen preachers therefore do not shirk your responsibility to be a watchman for the souls of saint and sinners. Preach the whole counsel of God! Blow the Trumpet! Sound the Alarm!



Now, in order for Ezekiel to realize how hard his job would be, God put him through some difficult exercises. God commanded him to bake some bread, and the recipe is in Ezekiel 4:9: “Also take for yourself wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt; put them into one vessel, and make bread of them for yourself. During the number of days that you lie on your side, three hundred and ninety days, you shall eat it.” Perhaps some of you ladies would bake a loaf of “Ezekiel Bread” for Mitch and I! Mitch said one time, “I really like bread!” But please do not need tell us what fuel you used to bake the bread (see Ezekiel 4:15-17)!

The point is Ezekiel had to lay on his left side for 390 days and on his right side for 40 days. During this time he would live on bread and water. This was a symbol of the hard life Israel would have after God destroyed Jerusalem and burned the Temple down. Then he would scatter Israel throughout all the nations. Their fare would be bread and water.

This would also prepare Ezekiel for his difficult job of warning Israel of their sin and approaching destruction! Let us always remember what Jesus said one time, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4?).

This is my message today! We need to watch out for Satan. We need to watch out for each other. We need to watch out for the church, our family, and for our salvation that is only found in Christ Jesus. You have an opportunity to turn your life around and obey the gospel message while now we stand and sing.*

* Copyright © 2023 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved


Shelby G. Floyd delivered this sermon, Watchman on the Wall, July 9, 2023, at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West main Street, Greenwood, Indiana 46142

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