1 A message from the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, tell your people: If I brought an army to attack a country, the people there would choose one of them to be their watchman. 3 When he saw the army advancing to attack the country, he would blow the trumpet to warn everyone.
4 So if you hear the trumpet but don't pay attention to the warning, and you're killed in the attack, you will be responsible for your own death. 5 Since you heard the trumpet but didn't pay attention to the warning, then you will be responsible for your own death. If you had paid attention the warning, you could have saved your life.
6 But if the watchman saw the attack coming and didn't blow the trumpet to warn everyone, and someone is killed, then that person will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their death.
7 Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for the people of Israel. Listen to what I tell you and warn them for me. 8 If I tell the wicked ‘You're wicked; you're going to die’; but you don't warn them to change what they're doing, then they'll die in their sins and I will hold your responsible for their deaths. 9 But if you warn the wicked to change what they're doing, and they don't, they will die in their sins, but you will save your own life.
10 Son of man, tell the people of Israel that this is what they've been saying, ‘We recognize our sins and wrongs, and they weigh on us, wearing us out. How can we go on living?’
11 Tell them: As I live, declares the Lord God, it brings me no pleasure when wicked people die. I wish they would stop sinning and live! Stop! Stop sinning! Why should you die, people of Israel?
12 So, son of man, tell your people: All the good things a good person has done won't save them when they sin; while the bad things a bad person has done won't be a problem for them if they stop sinning. But good people won't live if they start sinning.
13 If I tell a good person that they will live and then they rely on their goodness and start sinning, then none of the good things they did will be remembered; he will die because of the sins.
14 But if I tell a bad person, ‘You're going to die’ and they stop sinning and do what is good and right, 15 if they return security given for a loan, pay back what they've stolen, and follows my laws about how to live, not doing wrong—then they will live; they won't die. 16 None of their sins will be remembered; they have done what is good and right and so they will live.
17 However, your people are complaining, ‘What the Lord does isn't right.’ But it's what they're doing that isn't right. 18 If a good person stops doing good and sins, they will die because of it. 19 On the other hand, if a bad person turns from their sins and they do what is good and right, they will live as a result.
20 So how can you say, ‘What the Lord does isn't right’? Well, I'm going to judge each of you depending on what you've done, people of Israel.”
21 On the fifth day of the tenth month of the twelfth year of our exile, a refugee who'd escaped from Jerusalem arrived and told me, “The city has been captured!”
22 The previous evening before the messenger arrived the Lord had touched me so I could speak again. This was before the man came to see me in the morning. I wasn't mute any longer—I could speak again.
23 A message from the Lord came to me, saying, 24 “Son of man, people living among the ruins in Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one man, but the country was given to him to own. There's plenty of us, so the country should belong to us.’
25 So tell them that this is what the Lord God says: You eat meat with the blood still in it. You go and worship your idols. You commit murder. Do you really think the country should belong to you? 26 You rely on your swords to get your way. You have done some disgusting things. You're all having sex with each other's wives. Should the country belong to you?
27 Tell them that this is what the Lord God says: As I live, in the people living among the ruins will be killed by the sword. Those living in the countryside will be eaten by wild animals. Those living in the fortresses and caves will die from disease. 28 I will turn the country into a wasteland, and power you are so proud of will be ended. The mountains of Israel will become wild places that no one will want to travel through. 29 Then the people will acknowledge that I am the Lord, when I have turned the country into a wasteland because of all the disgusting things they have done.
30 Son of man, your people are talking about you out in the streets and in the doorways of their houses. They encourage one another, saying, ‘Come on! Let's go and hear a message from the Lord!’
31 So my people come and visit you like they usually do. They sit and listen to the message you share, but they don't do anything about it. Even though they talk about love, all they're thinking about is how to cheat others. 32 In fact, to them you're just someone who sings love songs with a lovely voice and who is a fine musician. They listen to the message you share, but they don't do anything about it. 33 So when what you say does happen (and it will), then they will realize that they did have a prophet among them.”