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Ezekiel 3:18

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Thou shalt surely die - That is, If he turn not from his wickedness, and thou givest him not warning, as above, he shalt die in his iniquity, which he should not have committed; but his blood will I require at thy hand - I will visit thy soul for the loss of his. O how awful is this! Hear it, ye priests, ye preachers, ye ministers of the Gospel; ye, especially, who have entered into the ministry for a living, ye who gather a congregation to yourselves that ye may feed upon their fat, and clothe yourselves with their wool; in whose parishes and in whose congregations souls are dying unconverted from day to day, who have never been solemnly warned by you, and to whom you have never shown the way of salvation, probably because ye know nothing of it yourselves! O what a perdition awaits you! To have the blood of every soul that has died in your parishes or in your congregations unconverted laid at your door! To suffer a common damnation for every soul that perishes through your neglect! How many loads of endless wo must such have to bear! Ye take your tithes, your stipends, or your rents, to the last grain, and the last penny; while the souls over whom you made yourselves watchmen have perished, and are perishing, through your neglect. O worthless and hapless men! better for you had ye never been born! Vain is your boast of apostolical authority, while ye do not the work of apostles! Vain your boast of orthodoxy, while ye neither show nor know the way of salvation! Vain your pretensions to a Divine call, when ye do not the work of evangelists! The state of the most wretched of the human race is enviable to that of such ministers, pastors, teachers, and preachers.

But let not this discourage the faithful minister who teaches every man, and warns every man, in all wisdom, that he may present every man perfect to Christ Jesus. If after such teaching and warning they will sin on, and die in their sins, their blood will be upon themselves; but thou, O man of God, hast delivered thine own soul.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible
Verses 18-21

This passage anticipates the great moral principle of divine government Ezekiel 3:20

I lay a stumblingblock before him - I bring him to trial by placing difficulties and temptations in his way (compare Ezekiel 7:19; Ezekiel 44:12 margin; Ezekiel 14:3-4). It is true that God tempts no man in order to his destruction, but in the course of His Providence He permits men to be tried in order that their faith may be approved, and in this trial some who seem to be righteous fall.

Because thou … his blood … - So far as the prophet was concerned, the neglect of his duty is reckoned as the cause of the seemingly righteous man‘s fall.

His righteousness … - Or, righteousnesses, i. e. acts of righteousness. The “righteous” man here is one, who had hitherto done the “acts of righteousness” prescribed by the Law, but when trial came was shown to lack the “principle of righteousness.”

Ezekiel 3:21

The repetition of the word “righteous” is to be noted. There seems to be an intimation that sin is alien to the character of a “righteous” man. Compare 1 John 3:7-9.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
This mission made the holy angels rejoice. All this was to convince Ezekiel, that the God who sent him had power to bear him out in his work. He was overwhelmed with grief for the sins and miseries of his people, and overpowered by the glory of the vision he had seen. And however retirement, meditation, and communion with God may be sweet, the servant of the Lord must prepare to serve his generation. The Lord told the prophet he had appointed him a watchman to the house of Israel. If we warn the wicked, we are not chargeable with their ruin. Though such passages refer to the national covenant made with Israel, they are equally to be applied to the final state of all men under every dispensation. We are not only to encourage and comfort those who appear to be righteous, but they are to be warned, for many have grown high-minded and secure, have fallen, and even died in their sins. Surely then the hearers of the gospel should desire warnings, and even reproofs.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 286

When all is done that can be done in providing for orphans in our own homes, there will still be many needy ones in the world who should be cared for. They may be ragged, uncouth, and seemingly in every way unattractive, but they are bought with a price, and are just as precious in the sight of God as are our own little ones. They are God's property, for whom Christians are responsible. Their souls, God says, “will I require at thine hand.” 6T 286.1

To care for these needy ones is a good work; yet in this age of the world the Lord does not give us as a people directions to establish large and expensive institutions for this purpose. If, however, there are among us individuals who feel called of God to establish institutions for the care of orphan children, let them follow out their convictions of duty. But in caring for the world's poor they should appeal to the world for support. They are not to draw upon the people to whom the Lord has given the most important work ever given to men, the work of bringing the last message of mercy before all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. The Lord's treasury must have a surplus to sustain the work of the gospel in “regions beyond.” 6T 286.2

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 320.6

We must search the Scriptures for ourselves. As we search them as for hidden treasure, the truths that we find will give us strength to stand in the day of God. God holds us responsible for those around us. There are sinners to save, souls to be won. Shall we allow iniquity to separate us from Christ, from the work that He has given us? Let each one of us say, I will not disappoint the Saviour. He shall not have died for me in vain. I want to praise Him through all eternity. I must have heaven at any cost. TDG 320.6

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 313

You chose to have your way. And now you have only yourself to blame. You profess to be a watchman on the walls of Zion, a shepherd to the flock, yet you saw the poor sheep torn and scattered and gave no warning. “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at My mouth, and give them warning from Me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.” “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.” Ezekiel 3:17-19, 21. 1T 313.1

The sin of those in Wisconsin who went into fanaticism rests more heavily upon you, Brother G, than upon any other one. You were an unfaithful watchman. You discerned not the evil, because you were unfaithful. God sent His faithful watchmen who stood in the light and could discern the evil to warn you and the erring flock. Had you then listened to the warning, a great amount of evil would have been saved. Your influence would have been preserved. You would have stood out of the way, that the testimony of the servants of God might reach the distracted flock. The erring would not hear the voice of God through His chosen servants. They made their spirit strong against the warning of the watchmen sent to them, and strengthened themselves in their unreasonable, self-deceived course. The shepherd would not hear. He was offended because this fanaticism was handled so decidedly. He perceived not the danger. He saw no haste in the matter. He had sufficient light to decide, but was too willful and too suspicious of God's servants to yield to their testimony. 1T 313.2

Brother G wished to wait until the fanaticism should develop, and it went on just as Satan would have it, until it did develop with terrible results. There were not reasonable, sensible manifestations to characterize that work as being of God. The Lord's servants executed their mission, freed their garments from the blood of souls, and kept themselves clear of the cursed influence, while you bear the fearful weight of the sin of this woeful fanaticism. You have deeply regretted it, yet do not see your own wrongs in relation to it. You censure and blame the weak, erring sheep for leading you out of the way. What is a watchman for, unless it be to watch for evil and give the warning? What is a shepherd for, unless it be to watch for every danger lest the sheep be harmed and destroyed by wolves? What excuse could a shepherd plead for suffering the flock to stray from the true pasture, and be torn and scattered and devoured by wolves? How would an excuse stand made by the shepherd that the sheep led him astray? They left the true pasture, and led him out of the way? Such a plea would tell with force against that shepherd's ability to watch over the sheep. No more confidence could be placed in him as a faithful shepherd to care for the sheep, and bring them back as they might stray from the right path. 1T 314.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 708

Brother P, you should have had feelings of brotherly sympathy and love for Brother R, for he deserved this from you rather than one word of censure. You should severely censure your own course because you were found fighting against God. But you have amused yourself and others at the expense of Brother R by relating his efforts for you and your resistance of his labors, and have enjoyed a hearty laugh over the matter. 2T 708.1

It becomes every minister of Christ to use sound speech, which cannot be condemned. I was shown that a solemn work is to be accomplished for the ministers of Christ. This cannot be done without effort on their part. They must feel that they have a work to do in their own cases which no one else can do for them. They must seek to gain the qualifications necessary, in order to become able ministers of Christ, that in the day of God they may stand acquitted, free from the blood of souls, having done all their duty in the fear of God. As their reward, the faithful undershepherds will hear from the Chief Shepherd: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” He will then place the crown of glory upon their heads and bid them enter into the joy of their Lord. What is that joy? It is beholding with Christ the redeemed saints, reviewing with Him their travail for souls, their self-denial and self-sacrifice, their giving up of ease, of worldly gain, and every earthly inducement, and choosing the reproach, the suffering, the self-abasement, the wearing labor, and the anguish of spirit as men would oppose the counsel of God against their own souls; it is calling to remembrance the chastening of their souls before God, their weeping between the porch and the altar, and their becoming a spectacle unto the world, to angels, and to men. All this is then ended, and the fruits of their labors are seen; souls are saved through their efforts in Christ. The ministers who have been co-workers with Christ enter into the joy of their Lord and are satisfied. 2T 709.1

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” Ministers are too forgetful of the Author of their salvation. They think they endure much, when they bear and suffer but little. God will work for ministers if they will let Him work for them. But if they feel that they are all right and do not need a thorough conversion, and will not see themselves and come up to the measurement of God, He can do better without their labors than with them. 2T 709.2

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