Ezekiel 21

The Lord uses the people from Babylon to punish Israel

21:1This chapter explains the meaning of the story of the fire in Ezekiel 20:45-49.

1 The Lord spoke to me. 2 ‘Son of man,’ he said. ‘You must look towards Jerusalem. Then tell them what I say. They are doing things in my holy place that are wrong. Speak to the people in Israel. 3 Say to them, “This is what the Lord says: I will fight against you. I will take out my sword and I will use it to kill everyone. I will kill the good people and the bad ones. 4 Because of this, I will attack all the people from the north to the south. 5 Then all the people will know that I am the Lord. I am attacking them with my sword. And I will not put my sword back in its place.” ’

6 So cry with a loud voice, son of man. Let them see how sad and sorry you are. 7 They will ask you why you are so sad. Then you will say, ‘Because of the bad news that is coming to you. Every one of you will be afraid and will become weak. Your hands will hang down and your knees will bend. You will be very afraid. You can be sure that I am coming to punish you,’ says the Lord God.

8 The Lord spoke to me again. 9 ‘Son of man, prophesy to them. Say, “This is what the Lord says:

I have a sword. It is sharp and it shines.

10 It is ready to kill. It shines like bright lightning!”

This sword will destroy any kingdom. So we cannot trust our own strength.

11 I have made it ready to hold in the hand.

It is sharp and it shines. My sword is ready for the hand of the person who kills.

12 Cry with a loud voice, son of man,

because the sword is coming against my people.

It is coming against the princes of Israel.

I will throw the princes and the people to the sword.

So you must show them that you are very sad.

13 I will surely be a judge for my people.

And if they do not obey me, these things will happen,’ says the Lord God.

14 ‘So prophesy, son of man.

Hit your hands together.

The sword will hit them more than once.

I made the sword to kill. It will kill many times.

The swords come from all round the city.

15 The people are very afraid. Swords will kill many of them.

Swords wait at every gate. They move fast to kill.

16 Sword, hit out to your right side. Then hit to the left. Turn every way to kill.

17 I, too, will hit my hands together. Then I will not be angry any longer.

I, the Lord have spoken.’

18 The Lord spoke to me. 19 ‘Son of man, draw two roads for the king of Babylon to follow. They must both start from the same country. Put a sign where the two roads go away from each other. 20 Mark one road for the sword to go to Rabbah of the Ammonites. The other road goes towards Judah and the strong city, Jerusalem. 21 The king of Babylon will stop where the road goes two ways. He will try to decide which way to go. He will ask his idols to tell him. He will ask his priests to throw dice. They will look at the insides of animals. 22 The priests will say that he should go to Jerusalem. There he will build hills round the city, to attack it. He will make his men shout while they attack it. They will hit the gates with very heavy long sticks. They will climb up its walls. 23 The people in Jerusalem may think that the king of Babylon is their friend. He should be their friend because of the promises that they made to each other. They think that he will not attack them. But he will attack because the people in Jerusalem have done many wrong things. That is what I say. He will make them his prisoners.

24 This then is what the Lord God says: “People see that you have not obeyed me. You do evil things all the time and in all the places where you go. You are not ashamed of your sin. So your enemies will make you their prisoners.

25 King of Israel, you are evil. I told you what you should do. But you have not done those things. The day has come when I will punish you.”

26 This is what the Lord God says: “Take off the special hat that you wear. Remove your crown. I will change things. Some people think that other people have no value. But those same people will become important. Other people thought that they themselves were important. Then they will learn that they are not important. 27 I will break down your city. This will not happen until my chosen man comes. I will give the city to him. It belongs to him.”

28 You, son of man, must prophesy about the people in Ammon. They have said bad things about you. This is what the Lord God says:

“A sword, a sword, it is ready to kill.

It shines like the light that moves quickly from the sky.

29 Your prophets have said nothing that is true.

They have told you about pictures that I have not given them.

They say that things will happen. But I did not tell them that they should say those things.

The sword will cut through the necks of people who are evil.

The time has come when I will punish them.

30 Put your sword back in its place.

I will be your judge in the place where I made you.

In the country that I gave to your fathers, I will punish you.

31 You will see that I am angry with you.

I will give you to men who are not kind.

They are men who like to kill.

32 You will be like wood in the fire.

They will pour your blood on the land.

Nobody will remember you.

I, the Lord, have spoken.” ’