Ezekiel 33

The LORD tells Ezekiel that he must watch over his people

1 The LORD spoke to me. 2 ‘Son of man’, he said. ‘Speak to the people in your nation. Tell them that they may choose a man to watch over my people. I may send men with swords to attack you. Then you must do this. 3 The man must blow a trumpet to tell them if he sees an enemy. The enemy may come to attack them with swords. 4 The people will hear the trumpet and they will prepare to fight. If they do not prepare, then they may die. They will die because they did not listen. 5 A man may hear the trumpet but he may not prepare to fight. Then the enemy may kill him with a sword. He will die because he did not obey the noise of the trumpet. He would not have died if he had listened to the trumpet's noise. He did not save himself. 6 But the man who is watching may see the enemy. He may see them when they come with swords. But then he may not blow his trumpet. The men in the city will not hear anything. Then soldiers will come and kill them. The people may have done bad things. They will die because they did not obey me. But they did not know that the enemy was coming to attack them. They could not prepare to fight the enemy. Then I will punish the man who saw the soldiers. I will punish him because he did not blow the trumpet. He did not tell the people that an enemy was attacking them.

33:6During a war, a city had to be ready to defend itself. It was the custom to appoint a person to watch. This guard would stand on the wall of the city and he would carry a trumpet. When he saw the enemy, he would blow his trumpet. Then the people would prepare to fight.

7 Son of man, I have made you like the man with the trumpet. You must watch Israel's people. You must tell them when they do wrong things. 8 I may say to a bad man, “You are doing something that is wrong. You will die.” Then you must tell him that I am angry. Tell him that I will kill him. If you do not tell him this, he will surely die because of his sin. But I will punish you because you have caused his death. 9 That man is doing something that is wrong. You must tell him that. He may not listen to your words. He may not stop doing those things. Then he will die because of his sins. But you will not have caused his death. I will not punish you.

10 Son of man, speak to Israel's people. “You say: We have done many wrong things and we are dying. We want to stay alive!”’

11 Tell them, ‘It does not give me pleasure to kill men that do bad things. I want them to stop doing those wrong things and to stay alive. Stop doing things that are wrong, Israel's people. I do not want you to die!’

12 So you must speak to the people in your country, son of man. Say, ‘If a good man starts to do bad things, I will punish him. The good things that he did will not save him. They will not save him if he does not obey me. But I will not punish a bad man who stops doing wrong things.

A good man may stop doing good things. He may start to do bad things. Then he will die. The good things that he had done will not save him.

13 He may think about the good things that he has done. He may think that they will save him. But I will not remember those good things if he then does bad things. I will cause him to die because of the wrong things that he has done.

14 I may say to a bad man: “You must die.” But then he may stop doing wrong things and do good things. 15 He might give back to a man something that he had taken (something that would make sure that the man would return his money). Or he might return things that were not his. He might start to obey me. If he then does only good things he will stay alive. 16 I will not remember any of the wrong things that he has done.

He has done what is good and right. So he will surely stay alive.

17 Israel's people are saying: “The Lord's rules are not fair!” But you people are those who are not fair. 18 A good man may stop doing good things. If he then starts to do bad things he will die. 19 And a bad man may stop doing bad things. Then he might start to do things that are good and right. Because he has done these good things, he will stay alive. 20 But Israel's people say: “The Lord is not fair!” But I will judge each man because of the things that he has done.’

The LORD tells Ezekiel why enemies have taken Jerusalem

21 A man ran away from Jerusalem. He came to me when we had been in Babylon for twelve (12) years. He came on the fifth (5th) day of the tenth (10th) month. He said, ‘Enemies have taken the city.’ 22 The LORD had touched me in the night. That was the night before the man came to me. He had opened my mouth so that I was able to speak again.

33:22It had taken this man about 6 months to bring the news. It was a long way to travel on foot. And he had to come into the country of the enemy. It would have been a difficult journey.

23 Then the LORD spoke to me.

24 ‘Son of man’, he said, ‘People live in the broken cities of Israel. This is what they are saying. They say, “Abraham was only one man, but God gave him the country called Israel. But we are many men. Now God has given the country called Israel to us.” 25 So speak to them. Say: This is what the LORD God says. “You eat meat with the blood still in it. You worship your idols and you kill people. The country is too good for you. 26 You fight to get the things that you want. You do bad things. You have sex with each other's wives. I cannot give the country to you.”’

27 Say this to them. ‘This is what the LORD God says: “I will make a promise. Enemies will kill the people in the destroyed city with swords. Wild animals will kill and eat people in the country. Some of these people will hide in strong buildings. Or they might hide in holes in the sides of mountains. They will become ill and die. 28 I will make the country empty, like a desert. Israel will no longer be strong or powerful. I will make its mountains wild and empty. No people will walk across them. 29 Then they will know that I am the LORD. I have made the country a desert because they have done such evil things.”’

30 Son of man, your people are talking about you in the streets. They are saying, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the LORD.’

31 ‘My people will come and sit in front of you. They often do that. They will listen to your words. But they will not obey them. They say that they love me. But they really want to become rich people. They take things from other people. They are not fair. 32 They do not believe your words. You are like a man who sings beautiful love songs. They listen to your words but they do not obey them.

33 All these things will happen. Then they will know that a prophet has spoken to them.’