1The LORD’s word came to me: 2Human one, speak to your people and say to them: Suppose I bring a sword against a country, and the people of the land take a certain person from their assembly and make him their lookout. 3When he sees the sword coming against the land, he blows the trumpet and warns the people. 4If they hear the sound of the trumpet but don’t heed the warning, when the sword comes and they are taken away, they are responsible for their blood. 5They heard the sound of the trumpet but didn’t heed the warning, so their blood is on them. If they had paid attention to the warning, they would have saved their lives. 6If the lookout sees the sword coming but doesn’t blow the trumpet to warn the people, when the sword comes and takes away any of them, they are taken away in their sin, but I’ll hold the lookout responsible for their blood.
7You, human one, I’ve made you a lookout for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear me speaking, you must give them warning from me. 8If I pronounce a death sentence on wicked people, and you don’t warn them to turn from their way, they will die in their guilt, but I will hold you responsible for their blood. 9But suppose you do warn the wicked of their ways so that they might turn from them. If they don’t turn from their ways, they will die in their guilt, but you will save your life.
10You, human one, say to the house of Israel: This is what all of you are saying: "How our transgressions and our sins weigh on us! We waste away because of them. How can we live?" 11Say to them, This is what the LORD God says: As surely as I live, do I take pleasure in the death of the wicked? If the wicked turn from their ways, they will live. Turn, completely turn from your wicked ways! Why should you die, house of Israel?
12You, human one, say to your people: The righteousness of the righteous doesn’t rescue them when they begin to sin. Nor does the wickedness of the wicked make them stumble if they turn from their wickedness. If the righteous sin, their righteousness won’t protect them. 13Even if I’ve told the righteous they will live, none of their righteous deeds will be remembered if they trust in their righteousness and do wrong. They will die because of their evil deeds. 14And even if I have pronounced a death sentence on the wicked, if they turn from sin and do what is just and right—15if they return pledges, make restitution for robbery, and walk in life-giving regulations in order not to sin—they will live and not die. 16None of the sins they’ve committed will be remembered against them. They’ve done what is just and right, and they will live.
17Yet your people say, "My Lord’s way doesn’t measure up." Isn’t it their ways that don’t measure up? 18When the righteous turn from their righteousness to do wrong, they will die because of it. 19And when the wicked turn from their wickedness to do what is just and right, it is for that reason they will live. 20Yet you say, "My Lord’s way doesn’t measure up." I judge each one of you according to your ways, house of Israel!
News from Jerusalem
21In the twelfth year, on the fifth day of the tenth month of our exile, a survivor from Jerusalem came to me and reported, "The city has fallen!" 22The LORD’s power was with me in the evening before the survivor arrived, and just before he arrived in the morning, God opened my mouth. So my mouth was opened, and I was no longer speechless.
23The LORD’s word came to me: 24Human one, those who live among those ruins in Israel’s fertile land are saying, "Abraham was just one man, and he inherited the land. We are many, so certainly the land has been given to us as an inheritance."
25So say to them, The LORD God proclaims: You eat with the blood, you lift your eyes to the idols, and you shed blood. Should you inherit the land? 26You live by the sword, you observe detestable practices, and every one of you commits adultery.#Or defiles his neighbor's wife Should you inherit the land?
27Say to them, The LORD God proclaims: As surely as I live, those in the ruins will fall by the sword, those in the countryside I will give to the wild beasts to consume, and those in the strongholds and caves will die of plague. 28I will make the land an uninhabitable waste. Its proud strength will come to an end, and Israel’s highlands will become so deserted that no one will cross through them. 29They will know that I am the LORD when I make the land an uninhabitable waste because of all their detestable practices.
A fickle audience
30As for you, human one, your people talk about you beside the walls and in their doorways. One by one, they say to each other, "Let’s go hear what sort of message has come from the LORD." 31So they come to you as people do, and they sit before you as my people. They listen to your words, but they refuse to do them. Though they speak of their longing#Or love songs for me, they act out of their own interests and opinions. 32To them you are like a singer of love songs with a lovely voice and skilled technique. They listen to your words, but no one does them. 33When this comes—and it is certainly coming—they will know that a prophet has been among them.