Ezekiel 33

Listen to Ezekiel 33

Ezekiel Is Israel's Watchman

1 The word of the LORD came to me:
2 1"Son of man, speak to 2your people and say to them, If 3I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their 4watchman,
3 and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and 5blows the trumpet and warns the people,
4 then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, 6his blood shall be upon his own head.
5 7He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life.
6 8But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, 9that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand.
7 10"So you, 11son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. 12Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.
8 13If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, 14and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, 15that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.
9 16But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, 17that person shall die in his iniquity, 18but you will have delivered your soul.

Why Will You Die, Israel?

10 "And you, 19son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus have you said: 'Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and 20we rot away because of them. 21How then can we live?'
11 Say to them, 22As I live, declares the Lord GOD, 23I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; 24turn back, turn back from your evil ways, 25for why will you die, O house of Israel?
12 26"And you, son of man, say to 27your people, 28The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him when he transgresses, 29and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall by it when he turns from his wickedness, 30and the righteous shall not be able to live by his righteousness[a] when he sins.
13 Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet 31if he trusts in his righteousness and does injustice, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered, but in his injustice that he has done he shall die.
14 Again, 32though I say to the wicked, 33'You shall surely die,' yet 34if he turns from his sin and does what is just and right,
15 if the wicked 35restores the pledge, 36gives back what he has taken by robbery, and walks 37in the statutes of life, not doing injustice, he shall surely live; he shall not die.
16 38None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he shall surely live.
17 "Yet 39your people say, 40'The way of the Lord is not just,' when it is their own way that is not just.
18 41When the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it.
19 And 42when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he shall live by this.
20 Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' O house of Israel, 43I will judge each of you according to his ways."

Jerusalem Struck Down

21 In the 44twelfth year 45of our exile, in the tenth month, on the fifth day of the month, 46a fugitive from Jerusalem came to me and said, 47"The city has been struck down."
22 48Now 49the hand of the LORD had been upon me the evening before the fugitive came; and he had opened my mouth by the time the man came to me in the morning, so my mouth was opened, and I was no longer mute.
23 The word of the LORD came to me:
24 50"Son of man, the inhabitants of these 51waste places in the land of Israel keep saying, 52'Abraham was only one man, yet he got possession of the land; but 53we are many; the land is surely given us to possess.'
25 Therefore say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: 54You eat flesh with the blood and 55lift up your eyes to your idols and 56shed blood; shall you then possess the land?
26 57You rely on the sword, 58you commit abominations, and 59each of you defiles his neighbor's wife; shall you then possess the land?
27 Say this to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: 60As I live, surely those who are in 61the waste places shall fall by 62the sword, and whoever is in the open field I will give to 63the beasts to be devoured, and those who are in 64strongholds and in caves shall die by 65pestilence.
28 66And I will make the land a desolation and a waste, and 67her proud might shall come to an end, and 68the mountains of Israel shall be so desolate that none will pass through.
29 69Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I have made the land a desolation and a waste because of all their abominations that they have committed.
30 "As for you, 70son of man, 71your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, 'Come, and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.'
31 72And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for 73with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain.
32 And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and 74plays[b] well on an instrument, for 75they hear what you say, but they will not do it.
33 76When this comes--and come it will!--77then they will know that a prophet has been among them."

Ezekiel 33 Commentary

Chapter 33

Ezekiel's duty as a watchman. (1-9) He is to vindicate the Divine government. (10-20) The desolation of Judea. (21-29) Judgments on the mockers of the prophets. (30-33)

Verses 1-9 The prophet is a watchman to the house of Israel. His business is to warn sinners of their misery and danger. He must warn the wicked to turn from their way, that they may live. If souls perish through his neglect of duty, he brings guilt upon himself. See what those have to answer for, who make excuses for sin, flatter sinners, and encourage them to believe they shall have peace, though they go on. How much wiser are men in their temporal than in their spiritual concerns! They set watchmen to guard their houses, and sentinels to warn of the enemies' approach, but where the everlasting happiness or misery of the soul is at stake, they are offended if ministers obey their Master's command, and give a faithful warning; they would rather perish, listening to smooth things.

Verses 10-20 Those who despaired of finding mercy with God, are answered with a solemn declaration of God's readiness to show mercy. The ruin of the city and state was determined, but that did not relate to the final state of persons. God says to the righteous, that he shall surely live. But many who have made profession, have been ruined by proud confidence in themselves. Man trusts to his own righteousness, and presuming on his own sufficiency, he is brought to commit iniquity. If those who have lived a wicked life repent and forsake their wicked ways, they shall be saved. Many such amazing and blessed changes have been wrought by the power of Divine grace. When there is a settled separation between a man and sin, there shall no longer be a separation between him and God.

Verses 21-29 Those are unteachable indeed, who do not learn their dependence upon God, when all creature-comforts fail. Many claim an interest in the peculiar blessings to true believers, while their conduct proves them enemies of God. They call this groundless presumption strong faith, when God's testimony declares them entitled to his threatenings, and nothing else.

Verses 30-33 Unworthy and corrupt motives often lead men to the places where the word of God is faithfully preached. Many come to find somewhat to oppose: far more come of curiosity or mere habit. Men may have their hearts changed. But whether men hear or forbear, they will know by the event that a servant of God has been among them. All who will not know the worth of mercies by the improvement of them, will justly be made to know their worth by the want of them.

Cross References 77

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Hebrew by it
  • [b]. Hebrew like the singing of lustful songs with a beautiful voice and one who plays

Chapter Summary


This chapter treats of the prophet's duty, and the people's sins; contains a vindication of the justice of God; a threatening of destruction to those who remained in the land after the taking of the city; and a detection of the hypocrisy of the prophet's hearers. The duty of a watchman in general is declared, Eze 33:1-6, an application of this to the prophet, Eze 33:7: the sum of whose business is to warn the wicked man of his wickedness; and the consequence of doing, or not doing it, is expressed, Eze 33:8,9, an objection of the people, and the prophet's answer to it, Eze 33:10,11, who is bid to acquaint them, that a righteous man trusting to his righteousness, and sinning, should not live; and that a sinner repenting of his sins should not die, Eze 33:12-16, the people's charge of inequality in the ways of God is retorted upon them, and removed from the Lord, and proved against them, Eze 33:17-20, then follows a prophecy, delivered out after the news was brought of the taking of the city, threatening with ruin those that remained in the land, confident of safety, and that for their sins, which are particularly enumerated, Eze 33:21-29, and the chapter is closed with a discovery of the hypocrisy of those that attended the prophet's ministry, Eze 33:30-33.

Ezekiel 33 Commentaries