‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ God will hold those He has given this responsibility to accountable for it. Whether for the warnings they must give, or the leadership they must exercise, or their sin and rebellion, we will all answer for their actions before a holy God.
God starts with Ezekiel (33.1-9). He has been given a word to speak to his people. It’s a word of warning, designed to turn them away from their sin, and back to the Lord (5). If people hear his warning, and ignore it, that’s their look-out (v.4). But woe-betide Ezekiel if he fails to bring this hard word to the people (vv.7-8). God calls for obedience, even when it’s hard and unpleasant.
The Lord turns next to the people themselves (33.10-33). In love the Lord is calling them to turn back to Him. He hates the sin that is driving them to destruction (vv.10-11). But they need to see that they need Him, because it’s all about His grace. The one who thinks he’s good enough can never be righteous enough, his sin will always bring him condemnation (v.13). And the one who knows he is a sinner can never be bad enough, as grace always follows repentance and faith (14-16).
The people need to see that the Lord is just (vv.17-20). It is because they’ve turned away from Him and embraced the evil practices of the world around them that they’re in this state (vv.23-26). Because of that, judgement will fall (vv.27-29). Indeed, it already has (vv.21-22). But the people don’t want to listen. They like to hear Ezekiel, but their hearts are not changed. He makes a nice noise, but that’s about it (30-32). They will realise. They will see Ezekiel (v.33), and the Lord (v.29), for who they really are.
And, finally, the Lord turns to those shepherds who’ve led His people so far astray, feathering their own nests while His people starve (34.3-6). They’ve earned themselves the Lord’s enmity and judgement. They will receive the results of their self-centred leadership. And it will not be pleasant (vv.7-10).
But the sheep will be rescued from the places they’ve been scattered (v.11). Weak and broken as they are, the Lord Himself will rescue them (v.16), and bring them back into relationship with Him; into peaceful, loving covenant life with their God (25-31). And they will receive a new Shepherd, a better Shepherd (vv.23-24). Like His ancestor David, but so much more. The Good Shepherd who would lay down His life for the sheep, that they might be His people, and He might be their God (v.31).