The LORD's Sharpened Sword
21 1 God's Message came to me: 2 "Son of man, now face Jerusalem and let the Message roll out against the Sanctuary. Prophesy against the land of Israel. 3 Say, 'God's Message: I'm against you. I'm pulling my sword from its sheath and killing both the wicked and the righteous. 4 Because I'm treating everyone the same, good and bad, everyone from south to north is going to feel my sword! 5 Everyone will know that I mean business.' 6 "So, son of man, groan! Double up in pain. Make a scene! 7 "When they ask you, 'Why all this groaning, this carrying on?' say, 'Because of the news that's coming. It'll knock the breath out of everyone. Hearts will stop cold, knees turn to rubber. Yes, it's coming. No stopping it. Decree of God, the Master.'"
8 God's Message to me: 9 "Son of man, prophesy. Tell them, 'The Master says: "'A sword! A sword! razor-sharp and polished, 10 Sharpened to kill, polished to flash like lightning! "'My child, you've despised the scepter of Judah by worshiping every tree-idol. 11 "'The sword is made to glisten, to be held and brandished. It's sharpened and polished, ready to be brandished by the killer.' 12 "Yell out and wail, son of man. The sword is against my people! The princes of Israel and my people - abandoned to the sword! Wring your hands! Tear out your hair! 13 "'Testing comes. Why have you despised discipline? You can't get around it. Decree of God, the Master.' 14 "So, prophesy, son of man! Clap your hands. Get their attention. Tell them that the sword's coming down once, twice, three times. It's a sword to kill, a sword for a massacre, A sword relentless, a sword inescapable - 15 People collapsing right and left, going down like dominoes. I've stationed a murderous sword at every gate in the city, Flashing like lightning, brandished murderously. 16 Cut to the right, thrust to the left, murderous, sharp-edged sword! 17 Then I'll clap my hands, a signal that my anger is spent. I, God, have spoken."
18 God's Message came to me: 19 "Son of man, lay out two roads for the sword of the king of Babylon to take. Start them from the same place. Place a signpost at the beginning of each road. 20 Post one sign to mark the road of the sword to Rabbah of the Ammonites. Post the other to mark the road to Judah and Fort Jerusalem. 21 The king of Babylon stands at the fork in the road and he decides by divination which of the two roads to take. He draws straws, he throws god-dice, he examines a goat liver. 22 He opens his right hand: The omen says, 'Head for Jerusalem!' So he's on his way with battering rams, roused to kill, sounding the battle cry, pounding down city gates, building siege works. 23 "To the Judah leaders, who themselves have sworn oaths, it will seem like a false divination, but he will remind them of their guilt, and so they'll be captured. 24 "So this is what God, the Master, says: 'Because your sin is now out in the open so everyone can see what you've been doing, you'll be taken captive. 25 "'O Zedekiah, blasphemous and evil prince of Israel: Time's up. It's "punishment payday." 26 God says, Take your royal crown off your head. No more "business as usual." The underdog will be promoted and the top dog will be demoted. 27 Ruins, ruins, ruins! I'll turn the whole place into ruins. And ruins it will remain until the one comes who has a right to it. Then I'll give it to him.'
Judgment on the Ammonites
28 "But, son of man, your job is to prophesy. Tell them, 'This is the Message from God, the Master, against the Ammonites and against their cruel taunts: "'A sword! A sword! Bared to kill, Sharp as a razor, flashing like lightning. 29 Despite false sword propaganda circulated in Ammon, The sword will sever Ammonite necks, for whom it's punishment payday. 30 Return the sword to the sheath! I'll judge you in your home country, in the land where you grew up. 31 I'll empty out my wrath on you, breathe hot anger down your neck. I'll give you to vicious men skilled in torture. 32 You'll end up as stove-wood. Corpses will litter your land. Not so much as a memory will be left of you. I, God, have said so.'"
The Sins of Jerusalem
22 1 God's Message came to me: 2 "Son of man, are you going to judge this bloody city or not? Come now, are you going to judge her? Do it! Face her with all her outrageous obscenities. 3 Tell her, 'This is what God, the Master, says: You're a city murderous at the core, just asking for punishment. You're a city obsessed with no-god idols, making yourself filthy. 4 In all your killing, you've piled up guilt. In all your idol-making, you've become filthy. You've forced a premature end to your existence. I'll put you on exhibit as the scarecrow of the nations, the world's worst joke. 5 From far and near they'll deride you as infamous in filth, notorious for chaos. 6 "'Your leaders, the princes of Israel among you, compete in crime. 7 You're a community that's insolent to parents, abusive to outsiders, oppressive against orphans and widows. 8 You treat my holy things with contempt and desecrate my Sabbaths. 9 You have people spreading lies and spilling blood, flocking to the hills to the sex shrines and fornicating unrestrained. 10 Incest is common. Men force themselves on women regardless of whether they're ready or willing. 11 Sex is now anarchy. Anyone is fair game: neighbor, daughter-in-law, sister. 12 Murder is for hire, usury is rampant, extortion is commonplace. "'And you've forgotten me. Decree of God, the Master. 13 "'Now look! I've clapped my hands, calling everyone's attention to your rapacious greed and your bloody brutalities. 14 Can you stick with it? Will you be able to keep at this once I start dealing with you? 15 I'll throw you to the four winds. I'll scatter you all over the world. I'll put a full stop to your filthy living. 16 You will be defiled, spattered with your own mud in the eyes of the nations. And you'll recognize that I am God.'"
17 God's Message came to me: 18 "Son of man, the people of Israel are slag to me, the useless byproduct of refined copper, tin, iron, and lead left at the smelter - a worthless slag heap. 19 So tell them, 'God, the Master, has spoken: Because you've all become worthless slag, you're on notice: I'll assemble you in Jerusalem. 20 As men gather silver, copper, iron, lead, and tin into a furnace and blow fire on it to melt it down, so in my wrath I'll gather you and melt you down. 21 I'll blow on you with the fire of my wrath to melt you down in the furnace. 22 As silver is melted down, you'll be melted down. That should get through to you. Then you'll recognize that I, God, have let my wrath loose on you.'"
23 God's Message came to me: 24 "Son of man, tell her, 'You're a land that during the time I was angry with you got no rain, not so much as a spring shower. 25 The leaders among you became desperate, like roaring, ravaging lions killing indiscriminately. They grabbed and looted, leaving widows in their wake. 26 "'Your priests violated my law and desecrated my holy things. They can't tell the difference between sacred and secular. They tell people there's no difference between right and wrong. They're contemptuous of my holy Sabbaths, profaning me by trying to pull me down to their level. 27 Your politicians are like wolves prowling and killing and rapaciously taking whatever they want. 28 Your preachers cover up for the politicians by pretending to have received visions and special revelations. They say, "This is what God, the Master, says . . ." when God hasn't said so much as one word. 29 Extortion is rife, robbery is epidemic, the poor and needy are abused, outsiders are kicked around at will, with no access to justice.' 30 "I looked for someone to stand up for me against all this, to repair the defenses of the city, to take a stand for me and stand in the gap to protect this land so I wouldn't have to destroy it. I couldn't find anyone. Not one. 31 So I'll empty out my wrath on them, burn them to a crisp with my hot anger, serve them with the consequences of all they've done. Decree of God, the Master."