Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Priest: Minister of the Kingdom of GodEzekiel 33:1-9
“I will hold you accountable for their blood.” (v. 8c)
Priestly ministry in the contemporary world has often been challenged for its significance. There are many people who dictate the role of the minister that they expect. The church ordains clergy to be the minister of the church. It combines both ecclesiastical and administrative roles. Theologically priest can be defined as the minister of the kingdom of God. It combines both ritualistic and social engagement of the priest in bringing up the understanding of the Kingdom of God among the community.
The metaphor of a watchman is used in Chapter 33: 1–9 of the Book of Ezekiel to highlight the idea of being “non-judgmental” as a primary concern in defining the role of the prophet. According to Ezekiel's appointment as the watchman over the house of Israel in Ezekiel 33:7, God was about to execute judgment. The watchman did not acquire his expertise by seeing the soldiers of the Babylonian empire or the false prophets who were at that time among God's people. God warned Ezekiel that judgment was coming shortly, and he had to make the announcement. The extension of this knowledge is that “O wicked man, you shall surely die.” Eze.33: l-9 explores the need for fulfilling the duty and the obligation on the part of the watchman to warn people about the imminent destruction they may suffer. It also portrays the accountability of the watchman as God’s spokesperson. Image of blowing the trumpet as a duty of the watchman portrays the watchman as a translator of divine plan. Because, when the judgment of God came upon the land and specially to correct God’s people, the watchman had a sacred responsibility to warn the people. Tendency to withhold the announcement of divine wrath shall make the watchman responsible for the adverse impact on people, no matter they are wicked or not (Eze. 3:7-8). Therefore, rather than the judgmental conclusions of the watchman, it is the divine revelation that are to be pronounced as a means of experiencing the kingdom of God.
As a watchman, Ezekiel was warned that the only way to avoid God's judgment on the land is to heed the watchman's warning and act appropriately. And the watchman will be held accountable for those who died if he doesn't perform his duties. Watchman is not the one who complains about the people whom he keeps on watching for the Lord, rather he is the one who understands the people individually that who should know the divine plan. If the watchman faithfully delivered his message, then the response of the one he warned was the responsibility of the one who heard it. Hence the watchman’s responsibility is not to watch carefully and look for faults and errors that others commit in fulfilling their duty, rather it is the duty to reveal the plan of God about restoration of people.
Gracious God, as a person responsible to understand and transform our life according to your will, help us to listen to your divine plan. If you chose ourselves to be a watchperson in this world, help us not to be judgmental rather make us the one who resembles the watchman in Ezekiel’s narration. In Christ’s name, we pray, Amen.
The Kingdom of God is an eternal reality that can affect any present situation, I am a part of it.
Rev. Dr. Pramod Zachariah,
Vicar, Epiphany Mar Thoma Church