Ezekiel 21

The Lord punishes Israel

21:1This chapter explains the meaning of the story about the strong fire in Ezekiel 20:45-49. God will use the army from Babylon to punish his people. Soldiers will come and attack Jerusalem.

1 The Lord gave this message to me: 2 ‘Son of man, look towards Jerusalem. Speak about the things in my holy place that are wrong. Speak my message to warn the people of Israel. 3 Say to them, “This is what the Lord says: I am now your enemy. I will take my sword in my hand. I will use it to kill both righteous people and wicked people. 4 I will remove righteous people and wicked people from among you. So I will use my sword to attack everyone in the land, from the north to the south. 5 Then all the people will know that I am the Lord. I am the one who is punishing them with my sword. And I will not put it back in its place.” 

6 So now, son of man, cry aloud. Let the people see how sad and upset you are. 7 They will ask you, “Why are you so sad?” Then you will say, “I am sad because of the news that will soon come. Every one of you will be very afraid. Your hands will be weak and your knees will shake.” You can be sure that this will happen very soon. That is what the Almighty Lord says.’

8 The Lord gave this message to me: 9 ‘Son of man, speak my message to the people. Say, “This is what the Lord says:

Look at my sword! It is sharp and it shines brightly.

10 It is sharp and it is ready to kill people.

It shines as bright as lightning!

Should we trust in the power of our king?

No! This sword does not respect any kingdom.

11 Now it is sharp and it shines.

It is ready for someone to take in their hand.

It is ready for the killer to use it.”

12 Cry aloud, son of man!

This sword is ready to attack my people.

It will attack all the leaders of Israel.

It will destroy my people and their leaders.

Because of that, show that you are very upset.

13 I am ready to test my people.

My sword does not respect the power of any king.

So my people will not escape punishment.

That is what the Almighty Lord says.

14 So speak my message to warn my people, son of man.

Then clap your hands together.

My sword must attack them many times.

It is ready to kill many people.

It will attack them from all directions.

15 So people will shake with fear. Many of them will fall down.

My sword is ready to kill them at every gate of the city.

It shines like lightning. It is ready to kill!

16 My sword, attack quickly on your right side!

Now turn and attack on your left side!

Attack in every direction that you turn!

17 Then I, too, will clap my hands together.

Finally, my anger will finish.

I, the Lord, have spoken.’

18 The Lord gave this message to me: 19 ‘Son of man, make a mark on two roads for the king of Babylon to follow with his army. Both these roads must start from the same country. Put a sign at the place where the two roads go in separate directions. 20 Show the two places that the roads go to. One road goes to Rabbah, the big city of the Ammonites. The other road goes to Judah and its strong city, Jerusalem. 21 The king of Babylon will arrive at the place where the road goes in separate directions. He will try to decide which way to go. He will use magic to ask his gods to tell him. He will shake arrows in his hands. He will pray to his idols. He will look at the livers of animals. 22 The arrow in his right hand shows him that he should go to Jerusalem. He will command his army to go and kill the people there. His soldiers will use heavy pieces of wood to knock down the walls and gates of the city. They will shout as they attack the city. They will build heaps of earth against the city's walls. 23 The people in Jerusalem had promised to serve the king of Babylon. So they think that he will not attack them. But he will tell them about the wrong things that they have done. Because of that he will take them as his prisoners.

21:21These were different kinds of magic that they used to find out what their false gods said. A liver is an inside part of an animal.
21:23See Ezekiel 17:18.

24 So this is what the Almighty Lord says: You have shown everyone that you are guilty of many sins. Everything that you do shows your sins very clearly. Because you are guilty, your enemies will take you as their prisoners.

25 I say this to you, wicked king of Israel. The time for your final punishment has now arrived. 26 This is what the Almighty Lord says:

Take off the special cloth from the king's head.

Remove his crown!

Everything will change!

Give honour to humble people!

Make proud people ashamed!

27 I will cause your city to become a heap of stones.

I will destroy the kingdom.

This will happen when my chosen man comes.

I have chosen him to punish the city.

Then I will give him authority over the city, because it belongs to him.

28 You, son of man, must speak my message about the Ammonites. They have insulted Israel. This is what the Almighty Lord says:

A sword is ready to destroy them.

It shines brightly like lightning and it is ready to kill.

29 Their visions about the battle have deceived them.

What they think will happen is only lies.

The sword will punish wicked people with death.

The time for their final punishment has now arrived.

30 Now put the sword back in its place!

21:30Verses 30-32 are probably God's message to the army of Babylon. When they have finished punishing the people of Jerusalem and the Ammonites, they must go back to their own land. Then God will punish them there.

I will judge you in your own land,

in the place where you were born.

31 I will punish you very strongly,

because I am so angry with you.

I will put you under the power of cruel men

who know how to destroy people.

32 You will be like wood that helps a fire to burn.

You will die a violent death in your own land.

Nobody will remember you any more.

I, the Lord, have said this.’