Ezekiel Encourages the People To Turn Back to the Lord
1One day, some of Israel's leaders came to me and asked for a message from the Lord. 2While they were there, the Lord said:
3Ezekiel, son of man, these men have started worshiping idols, though they know it will cause them to sin even more. So I refuse to give them a message!
4Tell the people of Israel that if they sin by worshiping idols and then go to a prophet to find out what I say, I will give them the answer their sins deserve. 5When they hear my message, maybe they will see that they need to turn back to me and stop worshiping those idols.
6Now, Ezekiel, tell everyone in Israel:
I am the Lord God. Stop worshiping those idols I hate so much and come back to me.
7Suppose one of you Israelites or a foreigner living in Israel rejects me and starts worshiping idols. If you then go to a prophet to find out what I say, I will answer 8by turning against you. I will make you a warning to anyone who might think of doing the same thing, and you will no longer belong to my people. Then you will know that I am the Lord and that you have sinned against me.
9If a prophet gives a false message, I am the one who caused that prophet to lie. But I will still reject him and cut him off from my people, 10and anyone who goes to that prophet for a message will be punished in the same way. 11I will do this, so that you will come back to me and stop destroying yourselves with these disgusting sins. So turn back to me! Then I will be your God, and you will be my people. I, the Lord God, make this promise.
Judgment on a Sinful Nation
12The Lord God said:
13Ezekiel, son of man, suppose an entire nation sins against me, and I punish it by destroying the crops and letting its people and livestock starve to death. 14 Even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were living in that nation, their faithfulness would not save anyone but themselves.
15Or suppose I punish a nation by sending wild animals to eat people and scare away every passerby, so that the land becomes a barren desert. 16As surely as I live, I promise that even if these three men lived in that nation, their own children would not be spared. The three men would live, but the land would be an empty desert.
17Or suppose I send an enemy to attack a sinful nation and kill its people and livestock. 18If these three men were in that nation when I punished it, not even their children would be spared. Only the three men would live.
19And suppose I am so angry that I send a deadly disease to wipe out the people and livestock of a sinful nation. 20Again, even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were living there, I, the Lord, promise that the children of these faithful men would also die. Only the three of them would be spared.
21 I am the Lord God, and I promise to punish Jerusalem severely. I will send war, starvation, wild animals, and deadly disease to slaughter its people and livestock. 22And those who survive will be taken from their country and led here to Babylonia. Ezekiel, when you see how sinful they are, you will know why I did all these things to Jerusalem. 23You will be convinced that I, the Lord God, was right in doing what I did.