We’ve already looked at ten negative answers to the question, “What is a preacher?” Today, the prophet Ezekiel is going to give us eight positive answers from chapter 33 of his book.
1. The preacher is a sinful man
Six times in chapter 33, God called Ezekiel “son of man,” and many other times throughout the book. Though called to a prominent position, he was a “son of man” and therefore a sinful man. A preacher is not an angel, nor a perfect specimen of humanity, but a flawed human being liable to errors and mistakes from time to time. The best of men are still men at their best.
2. The preacher is a called man
The preacher is not only called by other men and women (Ezekiel 33:2), but also by God (v. 7). Preachers must not be self-made and self-sent but God-made and God-sent.
For the preacher, that means that he doesn’t give up at the first sign of difficulty. If God has called, he must run with His message.
For the hearers, it means that the way we listen and respond to the preacher’s message is an extremely solemn matter. Jesus identifies himself so much with His sent messengers that He says, if you receive them, you receive me and my Father (Matt. 10:40).
3. The preacher is a laboring man
“Therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth” (v. 7). The preacher doesn’t just preach his own ideas or open the Bible, flick through the pages, and hope that a verse “pops out.” He labors in word and doctrine (1 Tim. 5:17). He seriously and earnestly prays to God for his text, theme, points, explanations, illustrations, applications, and quotations. He does this at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the process.
This study is usually a long and often laborious process. Sometimes making bricks looks more attractive. This is why Paul says to Timothy: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth:” (2 Timothy 2:15).
4. The preacher is a watchman
“I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel” (v. 7). A watchman is someone who is looking out for danger. He has his eyes and ears open. What’s he looking out for? He’s scanning for physical, spiritual, emotional, moral, relationship, cultural, and ecclesiastical threats. He is in a Defcon 1 state of high-alert.
5. The preacher is a trumpet man
He sees the sword and blows the trumpet so that people escape with their lives (v, 2, 3, 8). While in Ezekiel’s day there was a literal sword and trumpet, the New Testament identifies the Word of God as the preacher’s trumpet (1 Cor. 14:8, 9). That trumpet has two notes, one warning of death (v. 8), the other promising life (v. 12). The preacher must blow both notes publicly, clearly, loudly, constantly, and compassionately.
6. The preacher is an accountable man
If preachers fail to warn, sinners will die of false confidence. If preachers fail to give hope, sinners die of despair (v. 10). The result is the same, sinners perish in their sins, but God requires their blood at the preacher’s hand (v. 6). If God does not call the preacher to account in his conscience while he lives, He will call him to account in the divine court when he dies.
7. The preacher is a limited man
The preacher is accountable for blowing the trumpet but not the results (vv. 3-4). The preacher is limited, he cannot secure the safety of one single sinner. All he can do is blow as faithfully as he can. If people do not heed, he must not feel guilty. He has done all he could, he has delivered his soul (v. 9). If I was responsible for the results, I’d go insane with the responsibility and the burden.
8. The preacher is a happy man
Joy of all joys, there are times when the trumpet is sounded, when sinners hear, when sinners believe, when sinners take the necessary actions, when they repent and believe the Gospel, by the grace of God, and they seek and find salvation in Christ (v. 5). There is no greater pleasure, no greater happiness on earth. No wonder John said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth.”