God Uses the Babylonians to Judge Israel
1A message from the Lord came to me. The Lord said, 2“Son of man, turn your attention to Jerusalem. Preach against the temple. Prophesy against the land of Israel. 3Tell them, ‘The Lord says, “I am against you. I will pull out my sword. I will remove from you godly people and sinful people alike. 4Because I am going to remove them, my sword will be ready to use. I will strike down everyone from south to north. 5Then all people will know that I have pulled out my sword. I will not put it back. I am the Lord.” ’
6“Groan, son of man! Groan in front of your people. Groan with a broken heart and bitter sorrow. 7They will ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?’ Then you will say, ‘Because of the news that is coming. The hearts of all the people will melt away in fear. Their hands will not be able to help them. Their spirits will grow weak. And they will be so afraid they’ll wet themselves.’ The news is coming! You can be sure those things will happen,” announces the Lord and King.
8A message from the Lord came to me. The Lord said, 9“Son of man, prophesy. Say, ‘The Lord says,
“ ‘ “A sword! A sword!
A sharp and shiny sword is coming from Babylon!
10It is sharpened to kill people.
It flashes like lightning.” ’ ”
The people say, “Should we take delight in the scepter of the Lord’s royal son? The sword looks down on every scepter like this.” 11The Lord says,
“I have told Nebuchadnezzar to shine his sword.
It is in his hand.
It has been sharpened and shined.
It is ready for the killer’s hand.
12Son of man, cry out and weep.
The sword is against my people.
It is against all the princes of Israel.
It will kill them
along with the rest of my people.
So beat your chest in sorrow.
13“You can be sure that testing will come. Why does the sword look down on the scepter? Because even the scepter will not continue to rule,” announces the Lord and King.
14“Son of man, prophesy.
Clap your hands.
Let the sword strike twice.
Let it strike even three times.
It is a sword to kill people.
It is a sword to kill many people.
It is closing in on them from every side.
15People’s hearts will melt away in fear.
Many will be wounded or killed.
I have prepared the sword to kill people
at all their city gates.
Look! It strikes like lightning.
It is in the killer’s hand.
16Sword, cut to the right.
Then cut to the left.
Strike down people everywhere your blade is turned.
17I too will clap my hands.
I won’t be so angry anymore.
I have spoken. I am the Lord.”
18A message from the Lord came to me. The Lord said, 19“Son of man, mark out on a map two roads for the sword to take. The sword belongs to the king of Babylon. Both roads start from the same country. Put up a sign where the road turns off to the city of Rabbah. 20Mark out one road for the sword to take against Rabbah in Ammon. Mark out another against Judah and the walls of Jerusalem. 21The king of Babylon will stop at the place where the two roads meet. He will look for a special sign. He will cast lots by pulling arrows out of a bag. He will ask his gods for advice. And he will look carefully at the liver of a sheep. 22His right hand will pull out the arrow for Jerusalem. There he will get huge logs ready to knock down its gates. He will give the command to kill its people. He will sound the battle cry. He will build a ramp up to the city wall. He will bring in his war machines. 23The decision to attack Jerusalem will seem like the wrong advice to those who made a treaty with Nebuchadnezzar. But he will remind them that they are guilty. And he will take them away as prisoners.”
24So the Lord and King says, “You people have reminded everyone of how guilty you are. You have done it by refusing to obey me or any other authority. Everything you do clearly shows how sinful you are. So you will be taken away as prisoners.”
25King Zedekiah, your day has come. You are an unholy and evil prince in Israel. The day for you to be punished is here. 26The Lord and King says, “Take off your turban. Remove your crown. Things will not be as they were in the past. Those who are considered not important will be honored. And those who are honored will be considered not important. 27Jerusalem will fall. I will destroy it. It will not be rebuilt until the true king comes. After all, the kingdom belongs to him. I will give it to him.
28“Son of man, prophesy. Say, ‘The Lord and King speaks about the Ammonites. He also talks about the way they laugh because of Jerusalem’s fall. He says,
“ ‘ “A sword! A sword!
Nebuchadnezzar’s sword is ready to kill you.
It is shined to destroy you.
It flashes like lightning.
29The visions of your prophets are false.
They use magic to try to find out
what is going to happen to you.
But their magic tricks are lies.
The sword will strike the necks of you sinful people.
You will be killed.
The day for you to be punished has finally come.
Your time is up.
30Ammon, return your sword to its place.
In the land where you were created, I will judge you.
That is where you came from.
31I will pour out my anger on you.
I will breathe out my burning anger against you.
I will hand you over to mean people.
They are skilled at destroying others.
32You will be burned in the fire.
Your blood will be spilled in your land.
You will not be remembered anymore.
I have spoken. I am the Lord.” ’ ”