Ezekiel 21

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Read Ezekiel 21

Babylon as God’s Sword of Judgment

21 The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face againstJerusalem and preach against the sanctuary. Prophesy against the land of Israel 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. Because I am going to cut off the righteous and the wicked, my sword will be unsheathed against everyone from south to north. Then all people will know that I the Lord have drawn my sword from its sheath; it will not return again.’

“Therefore groan, son of man! Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief. 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.”

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Lord says:

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

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

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.
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.

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

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

18 The word of the Lord came to me: 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. 20 Mark out one road for the sword to come against Rabbah of the Ammonites and another against Judah and fortified Jerusalem. 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. 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. 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.

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.

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

28 “And you, son of man, prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lordsays about the Ammonites and their insults:

“‘A sword, a sword,
    drawn for the slaughter,
polished to consume
    and to flash like lightning!
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.

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.
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.
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.’”

Go Deeper

God continues the message of judgment in Ezekiel 21 consisting of the song of the sword, the model of the map, and Ammon’s fate. God is going to cut off both the righteous and the wicked and Ezekiel is to mourn this. (v. 4). God says to Ezekiel, “As for you, son of man, groan; with breaking heart and bitter grief, groan before their eyes…because of the news that it is coming. Every heart will melt, and all hands will be feeble; every spirit will faint, and all knees will be weak as water. Behold, it is coming, and it will be fulfilled” (v. 6-7). The reason for grief and broken hearts is because people have not repented of sin. God tells Ezekiel to grieve this news and to go tell people about it. 

Ezekiel is asked by the Lord to perform a public demonstration as a warning to the people. Since the parable of the devouring fire wasn’t hitting home, Ezekiel acted out the coming judgment now with a sword. God tells Ezekiel, “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. 14). God was going to use wicked Babylon to draw His sword against the people. Destruction was coming and Ezekiel needed to get people’s attention!

Ezekiel also makes a representation of a highway with a fork in the road. The road was coming out of Babylon and there were two options: a road that leads to Rabbah (the capital of the Ammonites) and the other to Jerusalem (the capital of the Israelites). It says, “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. 21). There was a pagan practice called divination that was used to discover hidden knowledge through supernatural means. King Nebuchadnezzar was using divination and being directed by evil spirits to choose which path to take. 

It turned out that Jerusalem was the winner and was going to be destroyed first. The Lord of course was sovereign over this divination and controlled the outcome. God’s people were going to experience the consequences of their sins. However, the Ammonites were next. Their sin had not been overlooked by God. God says concerning the Ammonites, “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. 29). This was going to be the end for the Ammonites. 

Like Ezekiel, we are surrounded every day by people who are headed towards eternal destruction. Are we broken hearted over those who do not know God in our city? Are we grieved that there are billions of people around the world who have never heard of Jesus and will experience eternal separation from Him? There was an urgency to the message of Ezekiel, and likewise there is an urgency to the message of the gospel for us. Would we live with the urgency of eternity today, warning people of God’s judgment towards sin and the freedom from it found in Christ alone.


  1. What stands out to you about this passage? 
  2. What does this chapter teach you about the character of God?  
  3. Who is someone you can share the gospel with this week?

Keep Digging

Interested in learning more about the practice of divination referenced in today’s chapter? Check out this article from GotQuestions.org!

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3 thoughts on “Ezekiel 21”

  1. When reading about the outcome of those who refuse to repent, we need to be reminded of several things:
    •God takes no delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11).
    •It is God’s mercy that he warns us of judgement giving us time to repent (2 Peter 3:9).
    One of the greatest tools we’ve been given is holy scripture that instructs us in godly living. May we internalize it’s instructions and allow it to inform our minds, so that we intentionally follow the righteous path.

  2. Compassion, for the lost but also for the ones who know who Christ is but are choosing the wrong path.

    God thank You for me having a compassionate heart for those I know that know You but are choosing a path of destruction. Thank You for me seeing me and how I stumble that grieves Your heart, Thank You for me not dwelling on any others walk but thank You for me praying for them. God I am so thankful grateful and blessed in Jesus name amen

  3. Robert Denniston

    Can you think of someone who loves you? Who comes to mind for you? Is it your mom? Is it your dad? Is it a teacher that you had when you were a kid? Is it a close friend? Your spouse? A girlfriend or boyfriend? You knew through their words and their actions how much they cared about you. You could just talk to them and be yourself and you felt refreshed by just being with them. God wants you to quit rebelling against him and just talk with him. Give up the fight let him help you. You might not know how to get close to God but just ask him and he will show you the way, he will teach you of his ways. He offers you friendship, love and a peace that goes beyond your understanding. Take a moment right now and reflect on those who love you and include God in that mix.

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