The Lord Again Appoints Ezekiel to Warn Israel
1A message from the Lord came to me. The Lord said, 2“Son of man, speak to your people. Tell them, ‘Suppose I send enemies against a land. And its people choose one of their men to stand guard. 3He sees the enemies coming against the land. He blows a trumpet to warn the people. 4Someone hears the trumpet. But they do not pay any attention to the warning. The enemies come and kill them. Then what happens to them will be their own fault. 5They heard the sound of the trumpet. But they did not pay any attention to the warning. So what happened to them was their own fault. If they had paid attention, they would have saved themselves. 6But suppose the guard sees the enemies coming. And he does not blow the trumpet to warn the people. The enemies come and kill one of them. Then their life has been taken away from them because they sinned. But I will hold the guard responsible for their death.’
7“Son of man, I have appointed you as a prophet to warn the people of Israel. So listen to my message. Give them a warning from me. 8Suppose I say to a sinful person, ‘You can be sure that you will die.’ And suppose you do not try to get them to change their ways. Then they will die because they have sinned. And I will hold you responsible for their death. 9But suppose you do warn that sinful person. You tell them to change their ways. But they do not change. Then they will die because they have sinned. But you will have saved yourself.
10“Son of man, speak to the Israelites. Tell them, ‘You are saying, “Our sins and the wrong things we have done weigh us down. We are wasting away because we have sinned so much. So how can we live?” ’ 11Tell them, ‘When sinful people die, it does not give me any joy. But when they turn away from their sins and live, that makes me very happy. And that is just as sure as I am alive,’ announces the Lord and King. ‘So turn away from your sins! Change your evil ways! Why should you die, people of Israel?’
12“Son of man, speak to your people. Tell them, ‘Suppose a godly person does not obey the Lord. Then the right things that person has done in the past count for nothing. Suppose a sinful person turns away from doing wrong things. Then the wrong things that person has done in the past won’t bring them judgment. A godly person who sins won’t be allowed to live. That’s true even though they used to do right things.’ 13Suppose I tell a godly person that they will live. And they trust in the fact that they used to do what is right. But now they do what is evil. Then I will not remember any of the right things they have done. They will die because they have done so many evil things. 14Suppose I say to a sinful person, ‘You can be sure you will die.’ And then they turn away from their sin. They do what is fair and right. 15They return things they take to make sure loans are repaid. They give back what they have stolen. They obey my rules that give life. They do not do what is evil. Then you can be sure they will live. They will not die. 16None of the sins they have committed will be held against them. They have done what is fair and right. So you can be sure they will live.
17“In spite of that, your people say, ‘What the Lord does isn’t fair.’ But it is what you do that is not fair. 18Suppose a godly person stops doing what is right. And they do what is evil. Then they will die because of it. 19But suppose a sinful person turns away from the evil things they have done. And they do what is fair and right. Then they will live by doing that. 20In spite of that, you Israelites say, ‘What the Lord does isn’t fair.’ But I will judge each of you based on how you have lived.”
The Lord Explains Why Jerusalem Fell
21It was the 12th year since we had been brought to Babylon as prisoners. On the fifth day of the tenth month, a man who had escaped from Jerusalem came to bring me a report. He said, “The city has fallen!” 22The evening before the man arrived, the power of the Lord came on me. He opened my mouth before the man came to me in the morning. So my mouth was opened. I was no longer silent.
23Then a message from the Lord came to me. The Lord said, 24“Son of man, here is what the people living in Israel’s broken-down buildings are saying. ‘Abraham was only one man. But he owned the land. We are many people. The land must certainly belong to us.’ 25So tell them, ‘The Lord and King says, “You eat meat that still has blood in it. You worship your statues of gods. You commit murder. So should you still possess the land? 26You depend on your swords. You do things I hate. Each one of you sleeps with your neighbor’s wife. So should you still possess the land?” ’
27“Tell them, ‘Here is what the Lord and King says. “The people who are left in those broken-down buildings will be killed by swords. Wild animals will eat up those who are out in the country. Those who are in caves and other safe places will die of a plague. And that is just as sure as I am alive. 28I will turn the land into a dry and empty desert. The strength Jerusalem is so proud of will come to an end. The mountains of Israel will be deserted. No one will travel across them. 29So I will turn the land into a dry and empty desert. I will punish my people because of all the evil things they have done. I hate those things. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” ’
30“Son of man, your people are talking about you. They are getting together by the walls of their houses and at their doors. They are saying to one another, ‘Come. Listen to the Lord’s message.’ 31My people come to you, just as they usually do. They sit in front of you. They hear what you say. But they do not put it into practice. With their mouths they say they love me. But in their hearts they want what belongs to others. They try to get rich by cheating them. 32You are nothing more to them than someone who sings love songs. They say you have a beautiful voice. They think you play an instrument well. They hear what you say. But they do not put it into practice.
33“Everything I have told you will come true. You can be sure of it. Then the people will know that a prophet has been among them.”