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.
"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.
"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?"'
"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?'
"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.
"'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.
"'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.
"'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.'"
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)