You Are the Watchman

33 1-5 God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people. Tell them, ‘If I bring war on this land and the people take one of their citizens and make him their watchman, and if the watchman sees war coming and blows the trumpet, warning the people, then if anyone hears the sound of the trumpet and ignores it and war comes and takes him off, it’s his own fault. He heard the alarm, he ignored it—it’s his own fault. If he had listened, he would have saved his life.

“‘But if the watchman sees war coming and doesn’t blow the trumpet, warning the people, and war comes and takes anyone off, I’ll hold the watchman responsible for the bloodshed of any unwarned sinner.’

7-9 “You, son of man, are the watchman. I’ve made you a watchman for Israel. The minute you hear a message from me, warn them. If I say to the wicked, ‘Wicked man, wicked woman, you’re on the fast track to death!’ and you don’t speak up and warn the wicked to change their ways, the wicked will die unwarned in their sins and I’ll hold you responsible for their bloodshed. But if you warn the wicked to change their ways and they don’t do it, they’ll die in their sins well-warned and at least you will have saved your own life.

10 “Son of man, speak to Israel. Tell them, ‘You’ve said, “Our rebellions and sins are weighing us down. We’re wasting away. How can we go on living?”’

11 “Tell them, ‘As sure as I am the living God, I take no pleasure from the death of the wicked. I want the wicked to change their ways and live. Turn your life around! Reverse your evil ways! Why die, Israel?’

12-13 “There’s more, son of man. Tell your people, ‘A good person’s good life won’t save him when he decides to rebel, and a bad person’s bad life won’t prevent him from repenting of his rebellion. A good person who sins can’t expect to live when he chooses to sin. It’s true that I tell good people, “Live! Be alive!” But if they trust in their good deeds and turn to evil, that good life won’t amount to a hill of beans. They’ll die for their evil life.

14-16 “‘On the other hand, if I tell a wicked person, “You’ll die for your wicked life,” and he repents of his sin and starts living a righteous and just life—being generous to the down-and-out, restoring what he had stolen, cultivating life-nourishing ways that don’t hurt others—he’ll live. He won’t die. None of his sins will be kept on the books. He’s doing what’s right, living a good life. He’ll live.

17-19 “‘Your people say, “The Master’s way isn’t fair.” But it’s the way they’re living that isn’t fair. When good people turn back from living good lives and plunge into sin, they’ll die for it. And when a wicked person turns away from his wicked life and starts living a just and righteous life, he’ll come alive.

20 “‘Still, you keep on saying, “The Master’s way isn’t fair.” We’ll see, Israel. I’ll decide on each of you exactly according to how you live.’”

21 In the twelfth year of our exile, on the fifth day of the tenth month, a survivor from Jerusalem came to me and said, “The city’s fallen.”

22 The evening before the survivor arrived, the hand of God had been on me and restored my speech. By the time he arrived in the morning I was able to speak. I could talk again.

23-24 God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, those who are living in the ruins back in Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one man and he owned the whole country. But there are lots of us. Our ownership is even more certain.’

25-26 “So tell them, ‘God the Master says, You eat flesh that contains blood, you worship no-god idols, you murder at will—and you expect to own this land? You rely on the sword, you engage in obscenities, you indulge in sex at random—anyone, anytime. And you still expect to own this land?’

27-28 “Tell them this, Ezekiel: ‘The Message of God, the Master. As sure as I am the living God, those who are still alive in the ruins will be killed. Anyone out in the field I’ll give to wild animals for food. Anyone hiding out in mountain forts and caves will die of disease. I’ll make this country an empty wasteland—no more arrogant bullying! Israel’s mountains will become dangerously desolate. No one will dare pass through them.’

29 “They’ll realize that I am God when I devastate the country because of all the obscenities they’ve practiced.

30-32 “As for you, son of man, you’ve become quite the talk of the town. Your people meet on street corners and in front of their houses and say, ‘Let’s go hear the latest news from God.’ They show up, as people tend to do, and sit in your company. They listen to you speak, but don’t do a thing you say. They flatter you with compliments, but all they care about is making money and getting ahead. To them you’re merely entertainment—a country singer of sad love songs, playing a guitar. They love to hear you talk, but nothing comes of it.

33 “But when all this happens—and it is going to happen!—they’ll realize that a prophet was among them.”

Renewal of Ezekiel’s Call as Watchman

33 The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword(A) against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman,(B) and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet(C) to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning(D) and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head.(E) Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head.(F) If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves.(G) But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.’(H)

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman(I) for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.(J) When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,(K)’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for[a] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood.(L) But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so,(M) they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.(N)

10 “Son of man, say to the Israelites, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away(O) because of[b] them. How then can we live?(P)”’ 11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.(Q) Turn!(R) Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’(S)

12 “Therefore, son of man, say to your people,(T) ‘If someone who is righteous disobeys, that person’s former righteousness will count for nothing. And if someone who is wicked repents, that person’s former wickedness will not bring condemnation. The righteous person who sins will not be allowed to live even though they were formerly righteous.’(U) 13 If I tell a righteous person that they will surely live, but then they trust in their righteousness and do evil, none of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered; they will die for the evil they have done.(V) 14 And if I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ but they then turn away from their sin and do what is just(W) and right— 15 if they give back what they took in pledge(X) for a loan, return what they have stolen,(Y) follow the decrees that give life, and do no evil—that person will surely live; they will not die.(Z) 16 None of the sins(AA) that person has committed will be remembered against them. They have done what is just and right; they will surely live.(AB)

17 “Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But it is their way that is not just. 18 If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil,(AC) they will die for it.(AD) 19 And if a wicked person turns away from their wickedness and does what is just and right, they will live by doing so.(AE) 20 Yet you Israelites say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But I will judge each of you according to your own ways.”(AF)

Jerusalem’s Fall Explained

21 In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month on the fifth day, a man who had escaped(AG) from Jerusalem came to me and said, “The city has fallen!(AH) 22 Now the evening before the man arrived, the hand of the Lord was on me,(AI) and he opened my mouth(AJ) before the man came to me in the morning. So my mouth was opened and I was no longer silent.(AK)

23 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 24 “Son of man, the people living in those ruins(AL) in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one man, yet he possessed the land. But we are many;(AM) surely the land has been given to us as our possession.’(AN) 25 Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Since you eat(AO) meat with the blood(AP) still in it and look to your idols and shed blood, should you then possess the land?(AQ) 26 You rely on your sword, you do detestable things,(AR) and each of you defiles his neighbor’s wife.(AS) Should you then possess the land?’

27 “Say this to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: As surely as I live, those who are left in the ruins will fall by the sword, those out in the country I will give to the wild animals to be devoured, and those in strongholds and caves will die of a plague.(AT) 28 I will make the land a desolate waste, and her proud strength will come to an end, and the mountains(AU) of Israel will become desolate so that no one will cross them.(AV) 29 Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I have made the land a desolate(AW) waste because of all the detestable things they have done.’(AX)

30 “As for you, son of man, your people are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the Lord.’ 31 My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before(AY) you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy(AZ) for unjust gain.(BA) 32 Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs(BB) with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.(BC)

33 “When all this comes true—and it surely will—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.(BD)

Footnotes

  1. Ezekiel 33:8 Or in; also in verse 9
  2. Ezekiel 33:10 Or away in

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