Consider the prophet Ezekiel and his role in Israel. God had chosen Israel to be in relationship with Him. “You only have I known from all the families of the earth,” Amos 3:2. Ezekiel was appointed a watchman over Israel when they were captive in Babylon. “Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me,” Ezekiel 3:17. The first half of the book of Ezekiel (chapters 1 through 32) concerns itself with judgment upon Israel for their rebellious ways. The second half (chapters 33 through 48) tells of Israel’s restoration and special place in God’s kingdom on earth.
The context of verse 5 in chapter 33 shows the responsibility of the watchman (Ezekiel in this case) to warn of danger. It was the job of the watchman in a land to sound the alarm (usually a trumpet) when he could see the enemy approaching. God is using this analogy to tell Israel, through Ezekiel, of their coming judgment. It is interesting to note that this is a repetition of Ezekiel 3:17-21 where he was first assigned the role of watchman. God is here emphasizing the importance of Ezekiel’s message to Israel. It was a very serious responsibility. If he failed to give the message, he would be held accountable for the results. If, on the other hand, he would be faithful in giving it, then the hearer could take heed and change his ways. If the hearer chose not to listen, then he alone would be accountable.
Today, God is not in a covenant relationship with any Gentile nations. (See Zechariah 14.) God is calling individuals to come into relationship with Him through Christ. However, the Christian can apply this lesson from Ezekiel in principle today. When we see a brother or sister on a dangerous course we can and should warn them of the danger. In that sense, we can be watchmen for one another, not in a meddling sense, but with the love that looks for ways to do good to a brother.
For a more detailed study about Israel in the end times, download the free PDF: "Will Israel Survive the End Times?"