33 The Lord’s word came to me: 2 Human one, speak to your people and say to them: Suppose I bring a sword against a country, and the people of the land take a certain person from their assembly and make him their lookout. 3 When he sees the sword coming against the land, he blows the trumpet and warns the people. 4 If they hear the sound of the trumpet but don’t heed the warning, when the sword comes and they are taken away, they are responsible for their blood. 5 They heard the sound of the trumpet but didn’t heed the warning, so their blood is on them. If they had paid attention to the warning, they would have saved their lives. 6 If the lookout sees the sword coming but doesn’t blow the trumpet to warn the people, when the sword comes and takes away any of them, they are taken away in their sin, but I’ll hold the lookout responsible for their blood.
7 You, human one, I’ve made you a lookout for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear me speaking, you must give them warning from me. 8 If I pronounce a death sentence on wicked people, and you don’t warn them to turn from their way, they will die in their guilt, but I will hold you responsible for their blood. 9 But suppose you do warn the wicked of their ways so that they might turn from them. If they don’t turn from their ways, they will die in their guilt, but you will save your life.
10 You, human one, say to the house of Israel: This is what all of you are saying: “How our transgressions and our sins weigh on us! We waste away because of them. How can we live?” 11 Say to them, This is what the Lord God says: As surely as I live, do I take pleasure in the death of the wicked? If the wicked turn from their ways, they will live. Turn, completely turn from your wicked ways! Why should you die, house of Israel?
12 You, human one, say to your people: The righteousness of the righteous doesn’t rescue them when they begin to sin. Nor does the wickedness of the wicked make them stumble if they turn from their wickedness. If the righteous sin, their righteousness won’t protect them. 13 Even if I’ve told the righteous they will live, none of their righteous deeds will be remembered if they trust in their righteousness and do wrong. They will die because of their evil deeds. 14 And even if I have pronounced a death sentence on the wicked, if they turn from sin and do what is just and right— 15 if they return pledges, make restitution for robbery, and walk in life-giving regulations in order not to sin—they will live and not die. 16 None of the sins they’ve committed will be remembered against them. They’ve done what is just and right, and they will live.
17 Yet your people say, “My Lord’s way doesn’t measure up.” Isn’t it their ways that don’t measure up? 18 When the righteous turn from their righteousness to do wrong, they will die because of it. 19 And when the wicked turn from their wickedness to do what is just and right, it is for that reason they will live. 20 Yet you say, “My Lord’s way doesn’t measure up.” I judge each one of you according to your ways, house of Israel!
News from Jerusalem
21 In the twelfth year, on the fifth day of the tenth month of our exile, a survivor from Jerusalem came to me and reported, “The city has fallen!” 22 The Lord’s power was with me in the evening before the survivor arrived, and just before he arrived in the morning, God opened my mouth. So my mouth was opened, and I was no longer speechless.
23 The Lord’s word came to me: 24 Human one, those who live among those ruins in Israel’s fertile land are saying, “Abraham was just one man, and he inherited the land. We are many, so certainly the land has been given to us as an inheritance.”
25 So say to them, The Lord God proclaims: You eat with the blood, you lift your eyes to the idols, and you shed blood. Should you inherit the land? 26 You live by the sword, you observe detestable practices, and every one of you commits adultery.[a] Should you inherit the land?
27 Say to them, The Lord God proclaims: As surely as I live, those in the ruins will fall by the sword, those in the countryside I will give to the wild beasts to consume, and those in the strongholds and caves will die of plague. 28 I will make the land an uninhabitable waste. Its proud strength will come to an end, and Israel’s highlands will become so deserted that no one will cross through them. 29 They will know that I am the Lord when I make the land an uninhabitable waste because of all their detestable practices.
A fickle audience
30 As for you, human one, your people talk about you beside the walls and in their doorways. One by one, they say to each other, “Let’s go hear what sort of message has come from the Lord.” 31 So they come to you as people do, and they sit before you as my people. They listen to your words, but they refuse to do them. Though they speak of their longing[b] for me, they act out of their own interests and opinions. 32 To them you are like a singer of love songs with a lovely voice and skilled technique. They listen to your words, but no one does them. 33 When this comes—and it is certainly coming—they will know that a prophet has been among them.
The good shepherd
34 The Lord’s word came to me: 2 Human one, prophesy against Israel’s shepherds. Prophesy and say to them, The Lord God proclaims to the shepherds: Doom to Israel’s shepherds who tended themselves! Shouldn’t shepherds tend the flock? 3 You drink the milk, you wear the wool, and you slaughter the fat animals, but you don’t tend the flock. 4 You don’t strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the injured, bring back the strays, or seek out the lost; but instead you use force to rule them with injustice. 5 Without a shepherd, my flock was scattered; and when it was scattered, it became food for all the wild animals. 6 My flock strayed on all the mountains and on every high hill throughout all the earth. My flock was scattered, and there was no one to look for them or find them. 7 So now shepherds, hear the Lord’s word! 8 This is what the Lord God says: As surely as I live, without a shepherd, my flock became prey. My flock became food for all the wild animals. My shepherds didn’t seek out my flock. They tended themselves, but they didn’t tend my flock.
9 So, shepherds, hear the Lord’s word! 10 The Lord God proclaims: I’m against the shepherds! I will hold them accountable for my flock, and I will put an end to their tending the flock. The shepherds will no longer tend them, because I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and they will no longer be their food.
11 The Lord God proclaims: I myself will search for my flock and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out the flock when some in the flock have been scattered, so will I seek out my flock. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered during the time of clouds and thick darkness. 13 I will gather and lead them out from the countries and peoples, and I will bring them to their own fertile land. I will feed them on Israel’s highlands, along the riverbeds, and in all the inhabited places. 14 I will feed them in good pasture, and their sheepfold will be there, on Israel’s lofty highlands. On Israel’s highlands, they will lie down in a secure fold and feed on green pastures. 15 I myself will feed my flock and make them lie down. This is what the Lord God says. 16 I will seek out the lost, bring back the strays, bind up the wounded, and strengthen the weak. But the fat and the strong I will destroy, because I will tend my sheep[c] with justice.
17 As for you, my flock, the Lord God proclaims: I will judge between the rams and the bucks among the sheep and the goats. 18 Is feeding in good pasture or drinking clear water such a trivial thing that you should trample and muddy what is left with your feet? 19 But now my flock must feed on what your feet have trampled and drink water that your feet have muddied.
20 So the Lord God proclaims to them: I will judge between the fat and the lean sheep. 21 You shove with shoulder and flank, and with your horns you ram all the weak sheep until you’ve scattered them outside. 22 But I will rescue my flock so that they will never again be prey. I will even judge between the sheep! 23 I will appoint for them a single shepherd, and he will feed them. My servant David will feed them. He will be their shepherd. 24 I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David will be their prince. I, the Lord, have spoken. 25 I will make a covenant of peace for them, and I will banish the wild animals from the land. Then they will safely live in the desert and sleep in the forest. 26 I will give them and those around my hill a blessing by sending the rain in its season. They will be rains of blessing. 27 The trees in the field will bear fruit, and the earth will yield its harvest. They will be safe on their fertile land, and they will know that I am the Lord when I break the bars of their yoke and deliver them from those who enslaved them. 28 The nations will no longer prey on them, and wild animals will no longer devour them. They will live in safety, with no one to trouble them. 29 I will establish for them a place famous for what it grows. No longer will they experience famine in the land, nor will they bear the disgrace of the nations. 30 They will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and they, the house of Israel, are my people. This is what the Lord God says. 31 You are my flock, the flock of my pasture. You are human, and I am your God. This is what the Lord God says.
Our acts of service and sacrifice
13 Keep loving each other like family. 2 Don’t neglect to open up your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing it. 3 Remember prisoners as if you were in prison with them, and people who are mistreated as if you were in their place. 4 Marriage must be honored in every respect, with no cheating on the relationship, because God will judge the sexually immoral person and the person who commits adultery. 5 Your way of life should be free from the love of money, and you should be content with what you have. After all, he has said, I will never leave you or abandon you.[a] 6 This is why we can confidently say,
The Lord is my helper,
and I won’t be afraid.
What can people do to me?[b]
7 Remember your leaders who spoke God’s word to you. Imitate their faith as you consider the way their lives turned out. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
9 Don’t be misled by the many strange teachings out there. It’s a good thing for the heart to be strengthened by grace rather than by food. Food doesn’t help those who live in this context. 10 We have an altar, and those who serve as priests in the meeting tent don’t have the right to eat from it. 11 The blood of the animals is carried into the holy of holies by the high priest as an offering for sin, and their bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy with his own blood.
13 So now, let’s go to him outside the camp, bearing his shame. 14 We don’t have a permanent city here, but rather we are looking for the city that is still to come.
15 So let’s continually offer up a sacrifice of praise through him, which is the fruit from our lips that confess his name. 16 Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have because God is pleased with these kinds of sacrifices.
Closing greeting and blessing
17 Rely on your leaders and defer to them, because they watch over your whole being as people who are going to be held responsible for you. They need to be able to do this with pleasure and not with complaints about you, because that wouldn’t help you. 18 Pray for us. We’re sure that we have a good conscience, and we want to do the right thing in every way. 19 I’m particularly asking you to do this so that I can be returned to you quickly.
20 May the God of peace,
who brought back the great shepherd of the sheep,
our Lord Jesus,
from the dead by the blood of the eternal covenant,
21 equip you with every good thing to do his will,
by developing in us what pleases him through Jesus Christ.
To him be the glory forever and always. Amen.
22 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to put up with this message of encouragement, since I’ve only written a short letter to you! 23 You should know that our brother Timothy has been set free. If he comes soon, we will travel together to see you.
24 Greet your leaders and all of God’s holy people. The group from Italy greets you.
25 May grace be with all of you.
115 Not to us, Lord, not to us—
no, but to your own name give glory
because of your loyal love and faithfulness!
2 Why do the nations say,
“Where’s their God now?”
3 Our God is in heaven—
he can do whatever he wants!
4 Their idols are just silver and gold—
things made by human hands.
5 They have mouths, but they can’t speak.
They have eyes, but they can’t see.
6 They have ears, but they can’t hear.
They have noses, but they can’t smell.
7 They have hands, but they can’t feel.
They have feet, but they can’t walk.
They can’t even make a noise in their throats!
8 Let the people who made these idols
and all who trust in them
become just like them!
9 But you, Israel, trust in the Lord!
God is their help and shield.
10 Trust in the Lord, house of Aaron!
God is their help and shield.
11 You who honor the Lord, trust in the Lord!
God is their help and shield.
12 The Lord remembers us and will bless us:
God will bless the house of Israel;
God will bless the house of Aaron;
13 God will bless those who honor the Lord—
from the smallest to the greatest.
14 May the Lord add to your numbers—
both you and your children.
15 May you be blessed by the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth!
16 The highest heaven belongs to the Lord,
but he gave the earth to all people.
17 The dead don’t praise the Lord,
nor do those who go down to silence.
18 But us? We will bless the Lord
from now until forever from now!
Praise the Lord!
21 A crucible is for silver and a furnace for gold,
so are people in the presence of someone who praises them.
22 Even if you grind fools in a mortar,
even grinding them along with the grain,
their folly won’t be driven from them.