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FRAMEWORKS: Ezekiel 21: Babylon as God's sword of judgment


[Preliminary Comment: Yet another set of warnings of the coming destruction – and it WILL come!]


v.1-4 Another warning to Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Land


v.1   The word of the Lord came to me :

v.2  ‘Son of man, set your face against Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuary . Prophesy against the land of Israel

v.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.

v.4  Because I am going to cut off the righteous and the wicked, my sword will be unsheathed against everyone from south to north.


[Notes: The city, the Temple and the Land generally are now warned: all – unrighteous AND righteous are warned of the coming judgment. [In what is coming even the righteous will find they are in the sights of Babylon]. It includes the whole land.]



v.5-7 The Lord's judgment is sure, it will happen!


v.5  Then all people will know that I the Lord have drawn my sword from its sheath; it will not return again.”

v.6  ‘Therefore groan, son of man! Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief.

v.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.'


[Notes: The warning is all-inclusive.. Even the few righteous trapped in Jerusalem will have to suffer what the majority have brought on them.]



v.8-11 The Lord's sword (that will be Babylon) is drawn


v.8   The word of the Lord came to me :

v.9  ‘Son of man, prophesy and say, “This is what the Lord says:

‘“A sword, a sword,
    sharpened and polished –
v.10  sharpened for the slaughter,
    polished to flash like lightning!

‘“Shall we rejoice in the sceptre of my royal son? The sword despises every such stick.

v.11  ‘“The sword is appointed to be polished,
    to be grasped with the hand;
it is sharpened and polished,
    made ready for the hand of the slayer.

[Notes: Make no mistake, the judgment will come by the sword, i.e. an invading army, and no amount of royal pomp [v.10b] will hold this off.]



v.12,13 The sword will come on rulers differentiating between good and evil


v.12  Cry out and wail, son of man,
    for it is against my people;
    it is against all the princes of Israel.
They are thrown to the sword
     along with my people.
Therefore beat your breast.

v.13  ‘“Testing will surely come. And what if even the sceptre, which the sword despises, does not continue? declares the Sovereign Lord.”


[Notes: Be quite clear, it's not just the ordinary people who will suffer, it's royalty as well. The ‘test' will be whether to obey the Lord and be spared death or flee and die.]



v.14,15 Wake them up to the horror that is coming


v.14  ‘So then, son of man, prophesy
    and strike your hands together.
Let the sword strike twice,
    even three times.
It is a sword for slaughter –
    a sword for great slaughter,
    closing in on them from every side.
v.15  So that hearts may melt with fear
    and the fallen be many,
I have stationed the sword for slaughter
    at all their gates.
Look! It is forged to strike like lightning,
    it is grasped for slaughter.

[Notes: Although striking hands together has a variety of applications in scripture, here [v.14a] it is probably the sign of a pledge – this WILL happen, the sword WILL come, there WILL be fear when the invader comes.]



v.16,17 For the sword will destroy in all directions


v.16  Slash to the right, you sword,
    then to the left,
    wherever your blade is turned.
v.17  I too will strike my hands together,
    and my wrath will subside.
I the Lord have spoken.'


[Notes: When conquering invaders come, their swords are used against all before them. God makes His pledge that this will happen.]



v.18-20 When Nebuchadnezzar comes, he will find two options before him


v.18   The word of the Lord came to me :

v.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.

v.20  Mark out [1] one road for the sword to come against Rabbah of the Ammonites and [2] another against Judah and fortified Jerusalem.


[Notes: Nebuchadnezzar will wonder about which enemy to take.]



v.21,22 His guidance will lead him to Jerusalem


v.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.

v.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.


[Notes: As he seeks occult guidance, it will take him to Jerusalem.]



v.23,24 Locals would find he was no longer for them


v.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.

v.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.


[Notes: Although Zedekiah was made king by Nebuchadnezzar [2 Chron 36:10] his rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar [36:13] meant that his people could no longer feel secure with the Babylonians and he would be taken in chains to Babylon.]



v.25-27 Zedekiah's time is running out


v.25  ‘“You profane and wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come, whose time of punishment has reached its climax,

v.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.

v.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.”


[Notes: All signs of his royal position will go [when he flees in the night] and the Lord will turn their world upside down and ruined.]



v.28-32 Oh yes, and you Ammonites….


v.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,
    drawn for the slaughter,
polished to consume
    and to flash like lightning!
v.29  Despite false visions concerning you
    and lying divinations about you,
it will be laid on the necks
    of the wicked who are to be slain,
whose day has come,
    whose time of punishment has reached its climax.

v.30  ‘“Let the sword return to its sheath.
    In the place where you were created,
in the land of your ancestry,
    I will judge you.
v.31  I will pour out my wrath on you
    and breathe out my fiery anger against you;
I will deliver you into the hands of brutal men,
    men skilled in destruction.
v.32  You will be fuel for the fire,
    your blood will be shed in your land,
you will be remembered no more;
    for I the Lord have spoken.”'


[Notes: Ammon had long been derisory about Israel and when Nebuchadnezzar comes to Israel he will also come to their surrounding neighbours who also warrant God's judgment.]


Continue to Chapter 22