Written by Gary Ladd
Thursday, 25 March 2010 17:07
The very title of this message contains a terribly frightening prospect for a minister of the gospel:‘‘Blood on Our Hands.’’ It contains the kind of implication from which, if we followed our instinct, we would tuck our tails and run:‘‘Blood on Our Hands.’’ Serious thought of the possibility of such a reality is almost enough to overwhelm even the strongest of us:‘‘Blood on Our Hands.’’ Out of the imagery of the Old Testament comes the idea for the message. All major cities in the Old Testament world had a watchman stationed atop a tall tower on the wall, where a maximum range of visibility would be his. If an enemy army approached the city, the watchman’s duty was to warn the city of an impending attack. If the watchman failed in his duty of warning, and the city was overrun and its citizenry massacred, the watchman would be held responsible.
The blood of those who had perished would be on his hands. With this symbolism in mind, God said to the prophet Ezekiel:‘‘Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel ... When I say to the wicked,‘O wicked man, you shall surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. But if you on your part warn a wicked man ... you have delivered your life’’(Ezek. 33:7–9 NASB).
I. The relevance of blood on our hands.
Because of the location of the text and the seriousness of its inference, the tendency today is to lay the issue of blood on our hands on a man-made shelf of Old Testament irrelevancy. With the attitude of ‘‘what happened before Christ came does not pertain to us,’’ much of contemporary Christianity would reject this principle as outmoded—a thing of the past. This may be a legitimate claim except for the fact that the apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, contends that the principle of bloodguilt for negligence is still binding in this Christian age. When he left the city of Ephesus, he boldly stated,‘‘I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God’’(Acts 20:26, 27 KJV). The apostle might have left the city of Ephesus with blood on his hands. But rather,‘‘I am not guilty of blood in Ephesus,’’ he cries.‘‘My hands are clean.’’ According to the New Testament, a failure to discharge a God-given responsibility to speak out means the blood of eternal souls is on our hands. The bloodguilt principle found in the Old Testament is repeated in the New Testament. Its recurrence enforces its ratification in your life and mine.
II. The reality of blood on our hands.
Relevance suggests reality, and there is no more frightening reality in the life of any Christian than the reality of being held responsible for the souls of others. That we, by our negligence, can be guilty of a kind of spiritual homicide— that our hands can be stained with blood because of indifference toward those who are lost—what an awesome truth! The reality of blood on our hands rebukes anything short of total commitment to the task of sharing the exciting news of Jesus. The reality of bloodguilt is a reproof to anything short of a life controlled by the Holy Spirit, being in the right place at the right time, playing a part in God’s redemptive activity. The reality of bloodguilt is a censure on careless living, sin-obstructed testimonies, and Spirit-grieving habits. It is a constant rebuttal to the kind of cowering fear that causes Christians to shut up when they ought to speak up. Here is some relief and good news for you today…the heart of this message has to do with how the blood may be removed.
III. The removal of blood on our hands.
Blood on our hands is a frightening reality. But the blood can be removed. Every preacher of the gospel should seriously consider how.
A. First, blood can be removed by the cultiv