1 This message came to me from the LORD: 2 "Son of Man, speak to your nation's children and tell them: "If I bring war to a land, and the people of that land appoint one of their conscripted men to serve as a sentinel, 3 and if he notices that violence is approaching and sounds an alarm to warn the people, 4 then if anyone who hears the sound of the alarm does not heed the warning, when the sword arrives and destroys him, his shed blood will remain his own responsibility. 5 After all, he heard the alarm sounding, but did not heed the warning, so his shed blood will remain his own responsibility. If he had heeded the warning, he would have saved himself. 6 If that sentinel notices that violence is approaching, but does not sound an alarm, then because the nation does not take warning and the sword arrives and destroys their lives because of their guilt, I'll seek retribution for their shed blood from the one who was acting as sentinel.'"
7 "Now as for you, Son of Man, I've established you as a sentinel for the house of Israel. So whenever you hear a message from me, you are to warn the people from me. 8 If I should say to a certain wicked person, "You wicked man, you're certainly about to die,' but you don't warn him to turn from his wicked behavior, he'll die in his guilt, but I'll seek retribution for his bloodshed from you. 9 However, if you warn the wicked to turn from his behavior and he does not do so, he will die in his guilt, and you will have saved yourself."
10 ""Now, Son of Man, tell this to the house of Israel: "You keep saying, "Our crimes and sins burden us so much that we're rotting away, so how can we keep on living?"' 11 "Tell them, "As certainly as I'm alive and living,' declares the Lord GOD, "I receive no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Instead, my pleasure is that the wicked repent from their behavior and live. Turn back! Turn back, all of you, from your wicked behavior! Why do you have to die, you house of Israel?'"
12 "And now, Son of Man, say this to your people: "The righteousness of the righteous won't save them when they keep on committing crimes against me, the wickedness of the wicked won't keep them from remaining away when they're turning from their wickedness, and no righteous person will keep on living by their righteousness when they sin.' 13 "If I tell the righteous person that he will certainly live, if he trusts in his own righteousness and commits evil, none of his righteousness will be remembered, and he will die because of the wrong that he commits.
14 "If I tell the wicked person that he will certainly die, if he turns from his sin and acts with justice and righteousness, 15 returning what has been placed as collateral for a loan, paying back what he has taken, following the regulations that promote life, and committing no iniquity, he will certainly live, and not die. 16 None of the sins that he has committed will be remembered against him. Since he did what is just and right, he will certainly live.
17 "Nevertheless, your people's children keep saying, "Living life the Lord's way isn't right,' when all the while it is their way of living that isn't right. 18 When a righteous man forsakes his own righteousness and commits evil acts, he will die because of those acts, 19 and when the wicked turn away from their wickedness and do what is just and right, he will certainly live because of that. 20 "And yet you keep saying, "Living life the Lord's way isn't right,' But I will judge every one of you according to the way you live, you house of Israel!"
21 On the fifth day of the tenth month of the twelfth year of our captivity, a fugitive who had escaped from Jerusalem came and informed me, "The city has been destroyed." 22 Now the hand of the LORD had been touching me the evening before that fugitive arrived, so the LORD had given me something to say by the time the messenger arrived the next morning. He opened my mouth and I no longer had nothing to say to him.
23 As a result, this message came to me from the LORD: 24 "Son of Man, those who are living among these ruins of the land of Israel keep saying, "Abraham was only one man, but he was able to possess the land! As for us, we're a multitude, and the land has been given to us as an inheritance.' 25 So tell them, "This is what the Lord GOD says: "You keep eating flesh along with its blood, you keep looking to your idols, and you keep shedding blood, and you're going to take possession of the land? 26 You keep trusting in your weapons, you continue to commit loathsome deeds, men keep defiling their neighbors' wives, and you're going to take possession of the land?'
27 "Tell them this: "This is what the Lord GOD says: "As certainly as I'm alive and living, those who live in the wastelands are certain to die violently, I'll give those who die in the open fields to the wild animals for food, and whoever takes refuge in caves and fortified places will die of diseases. 28 Then I'll turn the land into a desolate ruin and her arrogant strength will come to an abrupt end. The mountains of Israel will become so desolate that no one will be able to travel over them." 29 "Then they'll learn that I am the LORD, when I've turned their land into a desolate wasteland because of all of the loathsome deeds that they've committed.'"
30 "Now as for you, Son of Man, your nation's children keep gathering together to talk about you beside the walls and at the doorway to their houses. Everyone tells one another, "Please come! Let's go hear what the LORD has to say!' 31 Then they come to you as a group, sit down right in front of you as if they were my people, hear your words and then they don't do what you say because they're seeking only their own desires, they pursue ill-gotten profits, and they keep following their own self-interests. 32 As far as they are concerned, you sing romantic songs with a beautiful voice and play a musical instrument well. They'll listen to what you have to say, but they won't put it into practice! 33 When all of this comes about and you can be sure that it will! they'll learn that a prophet has been in their midst."