Shoot The Messenger

shoot the messenger

If I warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths. (Ezekiel 3:18)

Read: Ezekiel 3:16 – 6:14, Hebrews 4:1-16, Psalm 104:24-35, Proverbs 26:27

Relate: History hinged on a pair of messengers. Way back around the time Pompey was a young man and Julius Caesar was just a child, there was a king on the rise in the East. Tigranes, ruler of Armenia, effectively crushed the Seleucid empire, and it had the Parthians on their heels. Then one of his minor neighbors got in a war with the upstart Romans and was soundly defeated. Mithridates fled to Armenia and the Roman general Lucullus sent a request (demand) that the Armenian king hand him over. Tigranis refused. Almost immediately Lucullus turned around and began in invasion of Armenia.

The first messenger to bring news of this invasion, according to Plutarch, was killed. Tigranes refused to believe that an army so far from its home, after fighting one war, could prepare and embark on another so quickly. Because of his reaction to that first messenger, nobody was willing to come forward for days while Rome’s armies burned and pillaged the western cities and ports of his kingdom. Had he acted immediately, Rome would likely have been stopped in its tracks and history as we know it would have been vastly different.

Finally, one man did have the courage to step forward and inform his king of the growing danger. For his courage this messenger, Mithrobazanes, was made a commander in the army quickly raised to stop Rome’s advance. After some initial setbacks, including the siege of Armenia’s capital, Rome was stopped. Even though Rome claimed victory, they were unable to completely crush Tigranes. With the help of their eventual rival, Parthia, they were able to cut the kingdom of Armenia down to size and from that time forward, Armenia was a “buffer state” manipulated by both Rome and Persia against the other. Tigranes, after already losing a sizable chunk of his empire, was almost able to fight the two greatest empires of that time to a standstill. What would have happened if he had responded quickly to that first messenger rather than having him killed?

React: Another question, how many other messengers were sent out to the king by defeated garrisons and burning cities did not deliver their message? How many people kept quiet when they realized that delivering their message would likely result in their death? How many other innocents died while the cronies around the king quivered in fear?

God tells Ezekiel that He has made the prophet a messenger. If Ezekiel speaks out but they refuse to listen, they will die for their sin. If he refuses to speak out, they will still die for their sin but their blood will be on his hands. When I stand before God, how much blood will be on my hands? How many people will be in hell because I did not speak out? What am I afraid of, death? Death is but a gateway. I have a message. I have no excuse. If that message gets me shot, so be it. I cannot remain silent.

Respond:

God, give me the courage to be Your voice whatever the consequences. I pray that the words I speak will land on fertile soil, but even if the hearer were to shoot the messenger, give me the audacity to speak out anyways. Let me fear no one but You. Whether it is my neighbor, or around the world, let me speak out to everyone I can in every way possible. 

 

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