Ezekiel 18

1 The LORD spoke to me. 2 ‘Your people say this about the country called Israel. “Fathers have eaten fruit that makes their mouths dry. But their children have the dry mouths.” 3 Now I am sure that you will no longer say this. 4 Everything that is alive is mine, says the LORD. Both the father and the son are mine. I will punish any person who does wrong things. 5 Think about a good man. He does only what is good.’

18:5Jeremiah was living in Jerusalem when Ezekiel received this message from the LORD. The people in Jerusalem were also saying the same thing (Jeremiah 31:29).

6 ‘He does not eat with people who worship idols. He does not himself worship idols. He does not have sex with another man's wife. He does not have sex at the time that the woman is not clean.

7 He does not hurt other people. He may take something from a man and lend him money. He will keep the thing until the man has paid him back. But he will always give the man's thing back.

He does not take things from other people. But he gives food to hungry people.

And he gives clothes to people who have no clothes.

8 He does not lend money and then ask the man to give back a lot more money.

He will not do anything that is wrong.

Sometimes men do not agree. He decides what is right.

9 He obeys all my rules.

Surely he is a good man. And I will let him stay alive’, says the LORD God.

10 ‘Now think about that man's son. He might be angry. And he might hurt or kill people.

He might do other bad things. 11 (But the father has not done any of these things.)

The son might eat with people who worship idols.

He might have sex with another man's wife.

12 He might hurt people who are poor or sick.

He might take things that are not his.

He might not give back things that he took from other men.

He might worship idols and do other bad things.

13 He might lend money and take back much more money.

I will not let any man that does these things stay alive. I will kill him because he has not obeyed me. I am a fair judge.

14 But this bad man might have a son. The son would see all the wrong things that his father had done. But he would not do them himself.

15 He would not eat with people who worship idols.

He would not worship idols.

He would not have sex with another man's wife.

16 He would not hurt anyone.

He would not take anything when he lent money to someone.

He would not take things that belonged to other people. But he would give food to hungry people.

He would give clothes to people who had none.

17 He would not do any wrong thing. He would not take back too much money from people to whom he had lent it.

He would obey my rules. And he would do the things that give me pleasure.

This son will not die because his father did bad things. He will stay alive. 18 But his father did things that were wrong. So he will die. He took too much money from people to whom he had lent it. He took things from his brother.

19 You do not understand why I do not punish the son with his father. The son has done what is good and right. And so he will stay alive. He obeyed all my rules, so he will stay alive. 20 But I will punish people who do wrong things. They will die. I will not punish the son because of the bad things that his father did. And I will not punish the father because of the bad things that his son did. Men who do good things give me pleasure. But I will punish those men who do bad things.

21 A bad man might not do the wrong things that he did any longer. And he might start to do good things. He would begin to obey me. Then he would stay alive. I would not kill him. 22 I would not remember any of the bad things that he did. 23 I do not want to kill anyone. That does not give me pleasure’, says the LORD God. ‘When bad men start to do good things, it gives me pleasure. Then they stay alive.

24 A good man might not do things that are good and true any longer. He might start to do the same wrong things as bad men. Then I will not remember any of the good things that he did. I will punish him because of the wrong things that he has done. He will die because he has not been faithful to me.

25 You say that I am not fair. But listen to me, Israel's people. The things that you do are not fair. 26 A good man might stop doing good things. If then he does bad things he will die. He will die because he has done wrong things. 27 A bad man might not do bad things any longer. Then if he does good things he will stay alive. 28 He has seen that he had done wrong things. And so he has started to do good things. I will not kill him and he will stay alive. 29 But you, Israel's people, say that I am not fair. You must see that you are not fair to me. The things that you do are wrong.

30 So I will be a judge for each of you. I will punish those people who do bad things. And I will save the people who do good things’, says the LORD God.

‘You must be sad if you have done bad things. You must be sorry and you must start to do good things. Stop doing bad things and I will not punish you. 31 You must live in a different way. You need new thoughts. You must want to do good things. I am sure that you, Israel's people, do not want to die. 32 I do not want anyone to die. That gives me no pleasure’, says the LORD God.

‘Be sad. Turn back to me and stop doing wrong things. Then you will stay alive.’