33 Once again a message came to me from the Lord. He said:
2 “Son of dust, tell your people: ‘When I bring an army against a country, and the people of that land choose a watchman, 3 and when he sees the army coming and blows the alarm to warn them, 4 then anyone who hears the alarm but refuses to heed it—well, if he dies, the fault is his own. 5 For he heard the warning and wouldn’t listen; the fault is his. If he had heeded the warning, he would have saved his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm and warn the people, he is responsible for their deaths. They will die in their sins, but I will charge the watchman with their deaths.’
7 “So with you, son of dust. I have appointed you as a watchman for the people of Israel; therefore, listen to what I say and warn them for me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will die!’ and you don’t tell him what I say, so that he does not repent—that wicked person will die in his sins, but I will hold you responsible for his death. 9 But if you warn him to repent and he doesn’t, he will die in his sins, and you will not be responsible.
10 “O people of Israel, you are saying: ‘Our sins are heavy upon us; we pine away with guilt. How can we live?’ 11 Tell them: ‘As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; I desire that the wicked turn from his evil ways and live. Turn, turn from your wickedness, for why will you die, O Israel? 12 For the good works of a righteous man will not save him if he turns to sin; and the sins of an evil man will not destroy him if he repents and turns from his sins.’
13 “I have said the good man will live. But if he sins, expecting his past goodness to save him, then none of his good deeds will be remembered. I will destroy him for his sins. 14 And when I tell the wicked he will die, and then he turns from his sins and does what is fair and right— 15 if he gives back the borrower’s pledge, returns what he has stolen, and walks along the paths of right, not doing evil—he shall surely live. He shall not die. 16 None of his past sins shall be brought up against him, for he has turned to the good and shall surely live.
17 “And yet your people are saying the Lord isn’t fair. The trouble is they aren’t fair. 18 For again I say, when the good man turns to evil, he shall die. 19 But if the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what’s fair and just, he shall live. 20 Yet you are saying the Lord isn’t fair. But I will judge each of you in accordance with his deeds.”
21 In the eleventh year[a] of our exile, late in December, one of those who escaped from Jerusalem arrived to tell me, “The city has fallen!” 22 Now the hand of the Lord had been upon me the previous evening, and he had healed me so that I could speak again by the time the man arrived.
23 Then this message came to me:
24 “Son of dust, the scattered remnants of Judah living among the ruined cities keep saying, ‘Abraham was only one man and yet he got possession of the whole country! We are many, so we should certainly be able to get it back!’ 25 But the Lord God says: ‘You are powerless, for you do evil! You eat meat with the blood, you worship idols, and murder. Do you suppose I’ll let you have the land? 26 Murderers! Idolators! Adulterers! Should you possess the land?’
27 “Tell them, ‘The Lord God says: As I live, surely those living in the ruins shall die by the sword. Those living in the open fields shall be eaten by wild animals, and those in the forts and caves shall die of disease. 28 I will desolate the land and her pride, and her power shall come to an end. And the mountain villages of Israel shall be so ruined that no one will even travel through them. 29 When I have ruined the land because of their sins, then they shall know I am the Lord.’
30 “Son of dust, your people are whispering behind your back. They talk about you in their houses and whisper about you at the doors, saying, ‘Come on, let’s have some fun! Let’s go hear him tell us what the Lord is saying!’[b] 31 So they come as though they are sincere and sit before you listening. But they have no intention of doing what I tell them to; they talk very sweetly about loving the Lord, but with their hearts they are loving their money. 32 You are very entertaining to them, like someone who sings lovely songs with a beautiful voice or plays well on an instrument. They hear what you say but don’t pay any attention to it! 33 But when all these terrible things happen to them—as they will—then they will know a prophet has been among them.”