Morning Light – Ezekiel 21

Today: [Ezekiel 21] God Works His Will Among the Nations. In ch. 21 of Ezekiel we see two prophetic words describing the sword of the Lord coming forth to establish His will in the earth. It may seem that godlessness prevails around us at times but ultimately God will have His way among men and among His own people.
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[Eze 21:1-32 KJV] 1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem, and drop [thy word] toward the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel, 3 And say to the land of Israel, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I [am] against thee, and will draw forth my sword out of his sheath, and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked. 4 Seeing then that I will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked, therefore shall my sword go forth out of his sheath against all flesh from the south to the north: 5 That all flesh may know that I the LORD have drawn forth my sword out of his sheath: it shall not return any more. 6 Sigh therefore, thou son of man, with the breaking of [thy] loins; and with bitterness sigh before their eyes. 7 And it shall be, when they say unto thee, Wherefore sighest thou? that thou shalt answer, For the tidings; because it cometh: and every heart shall melt, and all hands shall be feeble, and every spirit shall faint, and all knees shall be weak [as] water: behold, it cometh, and shall be brought to pass, saith the Lord GOD. 8 Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 9 Son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus saith the LORD; Say, A sword, a sword is sharpened, and also furbished: 10 It is sharpened to make a sore slaughter; it is furbished that it may glitter: should we then make mirth? it contemneth the rod of my son, [as] every tree. 11 And he hath given it to be furbished, that it may be handled: this sword is sharpened, and it is furbished, to give it into the hand of the slayer. 12 Cry and howl, son of man: for it shall be upon my people, it [shall be] upon all the princes of Israel: terrors by reason of the sword shall be upon my people: smite therefore upon [thy] thigh. 13 Because [it is] a trial, and what if [the sword] contemn even the rod? it shall be no [more], saith the Lord GOD. 14 Thou therefore, son of man, prophesy, and smite [thine] hands together, and let the sword be doubled the third time, the sword of the slain: it [is] the sword of the great [men that are] slain, which entereth into their privy chambers. 15 I have set the point of the sword against all their gates, that [their] heart may faint, and [their] ruins be multiplied: ah! [it is] made bright, [it is] wrapped up for the slaughter. 16 Go thee one way or other, [either] on the right hand, [or] on the left, whithersoever thy face [is] set. 17 I will also smite mine hands together, and I will cause my fury to rest: I the LORD have said [it].
In Ez. 21 the prophet is instructed to set his face (his spirit) against Jerusalem to prophesy. In ch. 20:46 the wording used regarded prophesying to the south, which in this passage is by name delineated to be the city of Jerusalem itself and the holy place (the temple) in particular. The reason for this is because this is where much of the abominable acts of the kings and priests were carried out in Zedekiah’s reign and the kings immediately before him (such as putting images of their idols alongside the lampstand and the altar of incense, claiming it was acceptable to burn incense to their pagan images upon the altar before the holy of holies).
Because of the obscenities practiced in the temple it is now polluted and God declares that He is now against the temple and will draw out His armaments to destroy it and all of those peoples who delighted to worship there under the existing conditions of compromise and idolatry.
In giving this word Ezekiel in v. 6 is instructed to sigh bitterly in the presence of the elders in order to provoke them to ask the question as to why he was so troubled. In other words, as it is in teaching and preaching today the elders weren’t listening. They were accustomed to hearing from Ezekiel that he had a new word to give them, and while they did respond to his call their minds were elsewhere as they listened to him drone on, so Ezekiel captures their attention by physical perturbations and a great show of disturbance and bodily pain. When they ask him why he is so upset he tells them it is because of the horrible news that he is hearing about the fate of those left in the nation of Judah and the city of Jerusalem.
In verse 8 now that he has the attention of his listeners, Ezekiel goes on to present a further word about the sharpened sword of the Lord that will cut off the lineage of the great men in Israel. This is particularly troubling to the elders gathered before Ezekiel because they are of the captivity that originated when the king of Babylon took away the elite, and the upper classes of Jerusalem and Judah to hold them hostage during the invasion of the southern kingdom. Ezekiel was speaking of their own relatives and loved ones who they longed to see and the prophet is saying that they will see them no more.
18 The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying, 19 Also, thou son of man, appoint thee two ways, that the sword of the king of Babylon may come: both twain shall come forth out of one land: and choose thou a place, choose [it] at the head of the way to the city. 20 Appoint a way, that the sword may come to Rabbath of the Ammonites, and to Judah in Jerusalem the defenced. 21 For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he made [his] arrows bright, he consulted with images, he looked in the liver. 22 At his right hand was the divination for Jerusalem, to appoint captains, to open the mouth in the slaughter, to lift up the voice with shouting, to appoint [battering] rams against the gates, to cast a mount, [and] to build a fort. 23 And it shall be unto them as a false divination in their sight, to them that have sworn oaths: but he will call to remembrance the iniquity, that they may be taken. 24 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have made your iniquity to be remembered, in that your transgressions are discovered, so that in all your doings your sins do appear; because, [I say], that ye are come to remembrance, ye shall be taken with the hand. 25 And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity [shall have] an end, 26 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this [shall] not [be] the same: exalt [him that is] low, and abase [him that is] high. 27 I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no [more], until he come whose right it is; and I will give it [him]. 28 And thou, son of man, prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning the Ammonites, and concerning their reproach; even say thou, The sword, the sword [is] drawn: for the slaughter [it is] furbished, to consume because of the glittering: 29 Whiles they see vanity unto thee, whiles they divine a lie unto thee, to bring thee upon the necks of [them that are] slain, of the wicked, whose day is come, when their iniquity [shall have] an end. 30 Shall I cause [it] to return into his sheath? I will judge thee in the place where thou wast created, in the land of thy nativity. 31 And I will pour out mine indignation upon thee, I will blow against thee in the fire of my wrath, and deliver thee into the hand of brutish men, [and] skilful to destroy. 32 Thou shalt be for fuel to the fire; thy blood shall be in the midst of the land; thou shalt be no [more] remembered: for I the LORD have spoken [it].
In verse 18 a second word comes to Ezekiel that describes the sword of the king of Babylon as a dual appointment of God to displace both the inhabitants of Judah and the nation of the Ammonites as well. The Ammonites were a fierce enemy of the nation of Judah. It is certain that the people of God had prayed for years that the people of Ammon would be dealt with by the hand of God. When we pray thus we need to remember that judgment first comes to the house of God. When we judge others and declare that God will no longer endure the disobediences of someone or some people group we find obnoxious to our sensibilities, we have to remember that God will first deal with us and then deal with those who have persecuted us or displeased us in some way. This is why Jesus taught again and again that we should bless our enemy and do good to those who despise and abuse us. In blessing our enemy and asking God to bless them we are in effect blessing ourselves. The surest way to see God’s mercy on your own life is to pray it down on the life of your mortal enemy.
The mention of the king of Babylon going against two different nations, one of which was Judah, is because the king was at that time using divination (looking into the entrails of a sacrificed animal) to decide which nation to attack first. Leaders and military men today follow in this example trying to sift through the tea leaves of current events to find out what they must do. In v. 23 Ezekiel declares that the ultimate decision of the king of Babylon will be settled for him when he considers the sins and transgressions of the people of Judah. The king of Babylon had come down against Judah more than once and struck bargains with them to pay fealty to the Chaldean empire. The king of Jerusalem would submit initially and then rebel time and time again once the armies of the north withdrew. The people of Judah had hoped that the king of Babylon would put his attention elsewhere but Ezekiel declares this is a false hope and that the siege of Jerusalem would be unavoidable.
In verse 25 Ezekiel declares by the Spirit of the Lord that king Zedekiah is a profane and wicked princes who will now be deprived of his crown and his kingdom overturned. That doesn’t mean that the Ammonites will go unscathed. One the dealing hand of God’s justice is deployed it will make a full end, nonetheless the city of Jerusalem and the people thereof shall be fuel for the fire and remembered no more. This is a great disappointment to the elders listening to Ezekiel and to Ezekiel himself. For us we look upon these events as Paul taught us in Romans 11 as cautionary message that there is in God’s character a point of tolerance beyond which He will not pass, but will have His way in the earth and in our lives hopefully with our cooperation but ultimately regardless.

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