Ezekiel 21

The Word Made Fresh

1The LORD spoke to me, saying, 2“Son of man, look toward Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuaries. Prophesy against the land of Israel. 3Tell them the LORD says I am coming against you. I will draw my sword and cut both the righteous and the wicked off from you. 4My sword will be drawn against everyone from south to north. 5They will all know that I have drawn my sword and will not sheath it again. 6Groan, son of man. Let them see you groan with a broken heart and bitter grief. 7When they ask why you are groaning tell them it is because of the news that has come. Every heart will faint, and every hand will be weak. Everyone’s hearts will melt, and everyone will have weak hands. Their spirits will faint, and their knees will be like water. It is coming! It will happen!”

8The LORD said to me: 9“Son of man, speak this prophesy: This is what the LORD says: a sword is sharpened and polished; 10sharpened for slaughter, polished to flash like lightning. How can we celebrate? You have hated the rod and all forms of discipline.

11The sword must be polished and must be grasped in the hand.
It is sharpened and polished for the slayer to grasp.
12Weep and moan, son of man, because it is against my people.
It is against all of Israel’s princes. They are to be given to the sword.
So will all the common people. Ah, slap your thigh!
13Think about it! What if you hate the rod?
Then will it not happen? says the LORD.  
14Prophesy, son of man, prophesy. Strike your hands together.
Let the sword fall twice, even three times for killing.
It is a sword of terrible slaughter, and it will surround them.
15Many hearts will melt. Many feet will stumble.
I have set the sword against every gate,
flashing, made for slaughter.
16Attack those on the right and on the left.
Wherever the edge of the sword points, attack!
17I will also strike out with both hands to satisfy my anger.
I, the LORD, have spoken.”

18The LORD said to me, 19“Son of man, map out two roads for the sword of the king of Babylon to advance. Both roads must begin from the same land. Then make a signpost to show a fork in the road that will lead to a city. 20Map the roads for the sword to come to Rabbah of the Ammonites and to Judah for Jerusalem to be fortified. 21The king of Babylon is standing at the fork of the roads. He shakes the arrows. He consults his little gods and carefully inspects the liver of the sacrificed animal. 22His right hand grasps the dice for Jerusalem to make battering rams. He orders his soldiers to slaughter. He raises the cry for the attack, to use battering rams against the gates, casts up ramps against the walls and builds siege towers. 23Others will see it as a false omen. After all, they have sworn solemn oaths. But he will remind them of their guilt, and they will become captives.

24“Therefore,” the LORD says, “because your guilt has been remembered and your sins revealed, you will be taken into captivity.

25‘And you, you wicked prince of Israel, your day has come, and you will face the final punishment. 26The LORD commands you to remove your turban and crown because things will not remain as they are. The lowly will be exalted; the exalted brought low. 27I will make it a ruin, something that has never happened before, until the one arrives to whom I have given the right.

28“As for you, son of man, prophesy; tell them the LORD God says this concerning the shame of the Ammonites. Say:
A sword has been drawn, drawn to kill,
polished and flashing like lightning.
29Even though they tell lies about you,
it will be placed on the necks of the wicked.
Their day has come! The final judgment.
30Now, return the sword to its sheath.
In the land where you were created, I will judge you.
31I will pour out my anger on you
and blow the fire of my wrath over you.
I will hand you over to brutes who are skilled in destruction.
32You will be fed to the fire as fuel.
Your blood will be spilled on the ground.
No one will remember you.
I, the LORD, have spoken.'”


1-7: The calamity yet to befall Jerusalem — the second siege by Nebuchadnezzar’s army — will be an unsheathing of God’s sword. In other words, God is allowing it to happen. Because it will be a pagan king who mounts the attack no distinction will be made between the righteous and the wicked. Ezekiel is to make the pronouncement, complete with wailing and tears, before the Judeans who are in exile with him.

8-17: Ezekiel is to act out the battle, making sword thrusts with his hands right and left to show the relentless carnage that will overtake Jerusalem.

18-23: In another demonstration he is to show, apparently with “roads” marked out on the ground, how Nebuchadnezzar is coming to a decision of whether to proceed to Rabbah, principal city of Ammon, or to Jerusalem. He is to show how Nebuchadnezzar will cast lots, with the lots pointing him to Jerusalem. The elders of the people will think Ezekiel’s demonstration a hoax, but then God will cause them to remember how they had been captured and taken into exile.

24-32: As they remember their own guilt, they will begin to believe that Ezekiel’s pronouncements are true. The king of Judah will be conquered and disposed of, but then their neighboring country, Ammon, is suddenly brought back into the picture. When Jerusalem has been dealt with, Ammon will themselves be dealt a fatal blow.


God will not be mocked or despised forever. If God’s people continue to pollute their faith with the worship of other things, God will eventually allow them to suffer the consequences.