The LORD spoke his word to me. He said,
"Son of man, speak to your people. Tell them, 'Suppose I bring war on this country, and the people of this country choose one of their men and make him their watchman.
If he sees the enemy coming to attack the country, he will blow his horn to warn the people.
If the people hear the horn and ignore the warning and the enemy comes and takes them, they will be responsible for their own deaths.
They heard the sound of the horn but ignored its warning. So they are responsible for their own deaths. If they had taken the warning, they would have saved themselves.
"'But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn't blow his horn to warn the people and the enemy comes and kills someone, that watchman must die because of his sin. I will hold him responsible for their deaths.'
"Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for the people of Israel. Listen to what I say, and warn them for me.
Suppose I say to a wicked person, 'You wicked person, you will certainly die,' and you say nothing to warn him to change his ways. That wicked person will die because of his sin, and I will hold you responsible for his death.
But if you warn a wicked person to turn from his ways and he doesn't turn from them, then he will die because of his sin. However, you will save yourself.
"Son of man, say to the people of Israel, 'You have said this, "Our wickedness and our sins weigh us down, and we are rotting away because of them. How can we live?"'
"Tell them, 'As I live, declares the Almighty LORD, I don't want wicked people to die. Rather, I want them to turn from their ways and live. Change the way you think and act! Turn from your wicked ways! Do you want to die, people of Israel?'
"Son of man, say to your people, 'The right things that a righteous person has done will not save him when he rebels. The wicked things that a wicked person has done will not make him stumble when he turns from his wickedness. The righteous person will not live when he sins.'
I may promise the righteous person that he will certainly live. But if he trusts in the right things that he has done and he does evil, none of the right things that he has done will be remembered. He will die because of the evil things he has done.
I may warn the wicked person that he will certainly die. But suppose he turns from his sin and does what is fair and right.
He returns the security for a loan, pays back everything he stole, lives by the rules of life, and does nothing evil. Then he will certainly live. He will not die.
None of the sins that he has done will be remembered. He has done what is fair and right. He will certainly live.
"But your people say, 'The Lord's way is unfair.' Yet, their ways are unfair.
If the righteous person turns from the right things that he has done and does evil, he will die because of it.
If the wicked person turns from his wickedness and does what is fair and right, he will live because of it.
Yet, the people of Israel say, 'The Lord's way is unfair.' I will judge each of you by your own ways, people of Israel."