Ezekiel 33

33:1 The word of the LORD came to me:

33:2 “Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman,

33:3 and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people,

33:4 then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head.

33:5 Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning, his blood will be on his own head. If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself.

33:6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.’

33:7 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman [stood atop city wall and watched for an enemy’s approach; sounded alarm to warn city’s inhabitants of imminent danger; cf. 2 Kings 9:17] for the house of Israel [in this context refers to Judah]; so hear the word I speak [Ezekiel’s message came from God] and give them warning from me [God was the source of Ezekiel’s warning].

33:8 When I say to the wicked [a guilty or ungodly person], ‘O wicked man, you will surely die [cf. God’s words to Adam in the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:17)],’ and you [as a watchman Ezekiel was to warn people of impending divine judgment] do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways [from a consistent pattern of sin], [note twofold result of failing to sound the warning] [1]that wicked man will die for his sin [one’s relationship with God matters when death comes], and [2] I will hold you accountable [believers will give an account for their lives after they die (1 Cor. 3:10-15)] for his blood.

33:9 But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways [from a consistent pattern of sin] and he does not do so, [1] he will die for his sin, but [2] you will have saved yourself [watchman was not held accountable if he had fulfilled his responsibility].

33:10 “Son of man, say to the house of Israel [the Southern Kingdom of Judah], ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses [transgressions; rebellion; deliberate revolt against the Lord] and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting [decaying or rotting] away because of them. How then can we live?”‘

33:11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live [this phrase emphasizes the seriousness of the Lord’s reply], declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live [cf. 2 Pet. 3:9]. Turn! Turn [repetition of this word emphasizes the seriousness of God’s urging] from your evil ways! Why will you die [they could avoid this by accepting the Lord’s remedy for their spiritual condition], O house of Israel?’

33:12 “Therefore, son of man, say to your countrymen, ‘The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys, and the wickedness of the wicked man will not cause him to fall when he turns from it. The righteous man, if he sins, will not be allowed to live because of his former righteousness.’

33:13 If I tell the righteous man that he will surely live, but then he trusts in his righteousness and does evil, none of the righteous things he has done will be remembered; he will die for the evil he has done.

33:14 And if I say to the wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ but he then turns away from his sin and does what is just and right-

33:15 if he gives back what he took in pledge for a loan, returns what he has stolen, follows the decrees that give life, and does no evil, he will surely live; he will not die.

33:16 None of the sins he has committed will be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he will surely live.

33:17 “Yet your countrymen say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But it is their way that is not just.

33:18 If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, he will die for it.

33:19 And if a wicked man turns away from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he will live by doing so.

33:20 Yet, O house of Israel, you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But I will judge each of you according to his own ways.”

33:21 In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month on the fifth day, a man who had escaped from Jerusalem came to me and said, “The city has fallen!”

33:22 Now the evening before the man arrived, the hand of the LORD was upon me, and he opened my mouth before the man came to me in the morning. So my mouth was opened and I was no longer silent.

33:23 Then the word of the LORD came to me:

33:24 “Son of man, the people living in those ruins in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one man, yet he possessed the land. But we are many; surely the land has been given to us as our possession.’

33:25 Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Since you eat meat with the blood still in it and look to your idols and shed blood, should you then possess the land?

33:26 You rely on your sword, you do detestable things, and each of you defiles his neighbor’s wife. Should you then possess the land?’

33:27 “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.

33:28 I will make the land a desolate waste, and her proud strength will come to an end, and the mountains of Israel will become desolate so that no one will cross them.

33:29 Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I have made the land a desolate waste because of all the detestable things they have done.’

33:30 “As for you, son of man, your countrymen are talking together about you [Ezekiel and his messages were the topic of conversation] by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear [these commands are plural in Hebrew] the message that has come from the LORD.’

33:31 My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words [the people hung on his every word], but they do not put them into practice [cf. Isa. 29:13; Jas. 2:14-18]. With their mouths they express devotion [the people talked a good spiritual game], but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain.

33:32 Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well [the people admired Ezekiel’s voice and eloquence], for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.

33:33 “When all this [divine judgment] comes true—and it surely will [emphasizes the certainty of judgment]—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

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