Ezekiel 18

1 The Lord spoke to me. 2 ‘You say this proverb about Israel's people: “Our fathers have eaten bitter fruit, but their children receive the pain.” 3 Now I, the Lord God, tell you this: You will no longer say that proverb. 4 Everything that is alive is mine, says the Lord. Both the father and the son are mine. I will punish the person who does wrong things, not his children.

18:2Jeremiah was living in Jerusalem when Ezekiel received this message from the Lord. The people in Jerusalem were also saying the same thing. See Jeremiah 31:29.

5 Think about a good man who does things that are right. 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. He gives clothes to people who have no clothes. 8 He does not lend money to someone and then ask to receive more money back. He will not do anything that is wrong. He decides how to help people in a fair way. 9 He obeys all my laws and my rules.

Surely that man is a good man. Because of that, he will live,’ 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 his father has not done any of these things.) The son might eat special meals to 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 pray to idols and do other bad things. 13 He might lend money so that he can receive back a lot more money.

A man like that will not continue to live. He will certainly die, because he himself has done all these bad things. He is guilty so he himself must die.

14 But this bad man might have a son. The son sees all the wrong things that his father has done. But he decides that he will not live in that bad way. 15 He does not eat with people who worship idols. He does not worship idols. He does not have sex with another man's wife. 16 He does not hurt anyone. He does not take anything when he lends money to people. He does not rob other people. But he gives food to hungry people. He gives clothes to people who have none. 17 He does not do any wrong thing. When he lends money to people, he does not take more back money back from them. He obeys my rules and my laws.

This son will continue to live. He will not die just because his father did bad things. 18 But his father did things that were wrong. He took too much money from people. He robbed his brother and he did things that hurt his own people. So he will die because of his own sins.

19 You should not say, “Surely the son should receive punishment because of his father's sins.” If the son does what is good and right and he obeys my laws and my rules, he will continue to live. 20 But if a person does wrong things, he himself will die. I will not punish a son because of the bad things that his father did. And I will not punish a father because of the bad things that his son does. People who do what is right, will receive good things because of that. But bad people will receive punishment, because of the bad things that they themselves have done.

21 A bad man might not continue to do wrong things. He might start to do good things instead. 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 bad people to die. That does not make me happy. I want bad people to change how they live. If they start to do good things, that makes me happy. Then they continue to live. That is what I, the Lord God, say.

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.’