Ezekiel 21 The Voice (VOICE)
21 The word of the Eternal once again came to me with a similar message.
Eternal One: 2 Son of man, look toward Jerusalem, and speak against My temple. Prophesy against the whole land of Israel, 3 and tell the land of Israel what the Eternal One says: “Pay attention. I am against you. I will draw My sword from its sheath and kill both the righteous and the wicked who live within your borders. 4 Because I am going to kill everyone, both good and evil, all flesh from south to north will feel the wrath of My sword! 5 Then everyone all over the world will know I, the Eternal One, have drawn My sword from its sheath and do not intend to return it.”
God tells Ezekiel to act out His message. He must demonstrate what it will be like when the bad news arrives of what has happened back home in Jerusalem.
6 Now as for you, son of man, groan as if your heart is breaking. Groan in front of people because of your bitter agony! 7 When they see you, they will ask you, “Why all this loud and noisy groaning?” Answer them this way: “I am groaning because of the horrible news that is coming. Every heart will melt, every hand will fall limp, every spirit will grow faint, and every knee will become as weak as water. So pay attention. The time is near! It is going to happen soon.”
So said the Eternal Lord.
8 The word of the Eternal came to me.
Eternal One: 9 Son of man, prophesy, and tell them this message is from the Eternal.
A sword! Yes, a sword—
Should we celebrate My son’s scepter?
11 My sword is sent to be polished till radiant,
14 As for you, son of man, prophesy;
18 The word of the Eternal came to me regarding Babylon’s sword.
Eternal One: 19 Son of man, mark out two roads for the sword of Babylon’s king to take. Have both roads begin in the same place. Make a signpost, and put it at the fork in the road: 20 one road leading the sword to Ammon and its capital, Rabbah; the other road leading to Judah and its fortified capital, Jerusalem. 21 The Babylonian king will stop at the fork in the road and look for a sign to see which way to go: he will shake the arrows and draw one, call to his household gods[a] for advice, and examine an animal liver.
Kings never go into battle without first looking for signs and omens. War is too risky—even for Babylon—not to have the blessings of the gods. The Babylonian king stops at the crossroads: which way should he go? So he calls for his priests to consult the gods for signs. Their mediation may be something like drawing straws. At times it involves the ancient practice of “reading” the liver of a sacrificial animal. When a king wants to make sure his decision is the correct one, he uses several forms of divination. The ancients do not believe in chance; they believe their gods are involved in orchestrating their lives and decisions. In this case, Babylon’s king happens to be correct because the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is directing him to take the road to Jerusalem.
Eternal One: 22 He reads “Jerusalem” in his right hand, so he will march first in that direction with battering rams for the gates and a command to massacre the city, sounding war cries and building siege ramps and siege walls. 23 Everyone in Jerusalem will believe the omen to be false because they had pledged loyalty to Babylon. But his actions will remind the doubters of their guilt, and they will be taken prisoners.
(to the Israelites) 24 Because you have reminded Me of your sins and once again exposed your rebellious ways, making every wicked thing you ever did obvious, you will be forcefully taken prisoner. 25 You are already dead, you wicked prince of Israel! Your hour has arrived! Your day of excruciating punishment has come! 26 This is what the Eternal Lord says: “Remove your royal turban and crown. Everything is about to change: the lowly will be brought high, and the high will be brought low. 27 Ruination! I will make a total ruin out of everything! It will remain in ruins until the one to whom it rightfully belongs arrives, and then I will hand it over to Him.”
28 But you, son of man, must preach to them what I, the Eternal Lord, have to say about the Ammonites and their insults:
A sword! Yes, a sword
29 “In spite of false prophesies and lying omens concerning you, the sword will slice the necks of the wicked. They are as good as dead. Their hour has come! Their day of punishment has arrived! 30 Put the sword back in its sheath. In the place where you were conceived, in the land of your origin, I will judge you with My sword of judgment. 31 I will pour out My anger over your head, I will breathe fiery wrath on you, I will give you over to barbaric men (artists of destruction who love to mutilate and kill). 32 You will become coals for a fire; Babylonian blood will flood the land, and you will be forgotten! I, the Eternal, promise this.”
Ezekiel 21 New International Version (NIV)
Babylon as God’s Sword of Judgment
21 [a]The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, set your face against Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuary. Prophesy against the land of Israel 3 and say to her: ‘This is what the Lord says: I am against you. I will draw my sword from its sheath and cut off from you both the righteous and the wicked. 4 Because I am going to cut off the righteous and the wicked, my sword will be unsheathed against everyone from south to north. 5 Then all people will know that I the Lord have drawn my sword from its sheath; it will not return again.’
6 “Therefore groan, son of man! Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief. 7 And when they ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?’ you shall say, ‘Because of the news that is coming. Every heart will melt with fear and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every leg will be wet with urine.’ It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
8 The word of the Lord came to me: 9 “Son of man, prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Lord says:
“‘A sword, a sword,
“‘Shall we rejoice in the scepter of my royal son? The sword despises every such stick.
11 “‘The sword is appointed to be polished,
13 “‘Testing will surely come. And what if even the scepter, which the sword despises, does not continue? declares the Sovereign Lord.’
14 “So then, son of man, prophesy
18 The word of the Lord came to me: 19 “Son of man, mark out two roads for the sword of the king of Babylon to take, both starting from the same country. Make a signpost where the road branches off to the city. 20 Mark out one road for the sword to come against Rabbah of the Ammonites and another against Judah and fortified Jerusalem. 21 For the king of Babylon will stop at the fork in the road, at the junction of the two roads, to seek an omen: He will cast lots with arrows, he will consult his idols, he will examine the liver. 22 Into his right hand will come the lot for Jerusalem, where he is to set up battering rams, to give the command to slaughter, to sound the battle cry, to set battering rams against the gates, to build a ramp and to erect siege works. 23 It will seem like a false omen to those who have sworn allegiance to him, but he will remind them of their guilt and take them captive.
24 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because you people have brought to mind your guilt by your open rebellion, revealing your sins in all that you do—because you have done this, you will be taken captive.
25 “‘You profane and wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come, whose time of punishment has reached its climax, 26 this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Take off the turban, remove the crown. It will not be as it was: The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low. 27 A ruin! A ruin! I will make it a ruin! The crown will not be restored until he to whom it rightfully belongs shall come; to him I will give it.’
28 “And you, son of man, prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says about the Ammonites and their insults:
“‘A sword, a sword,
30 “‘Let the sword return to its sheath.