From Ezekiel 21-22
If someone sharpens, polishes and draws their sword it generally means they want to wield it. In today’s passage the LORD turns on Israel in his wrath. Both the righteous and the wicked will suffer. Ezekiel is told to go out in the streets and cry and groan loudly. When he is asked why he will respond – the sword is prepared, blood is about to flow.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
In the previous chapter Ezekiel says to the LORD that no one believes him. They say he is a ‘maker of parables’. This solicits a greater threat of punishment on Israel for refusing to accept the LORD’s message and prophet.
21 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, set your face toward Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuaries. Prophesy against the land of Israel 3 and say to the land of Israel, Thus says the Lord: Behold, I am against you and will draw my sword from its sheath and will cut off from you both righteous and wicked. 4 Because I will cut off from you both righteous and wicked, therefore my sword shall be drawn from its sheath against all flesh from south to north. 5 And all flesh shall know that I am the Lord. I have drawn my sword from its sheath; it shall not be sheathed again. (Eze 21.1-5)
Ezekiel is told to preach against the sanctuaries. The places where the people worship. They are not worshiping the LORD. They are committing idolatry.
Consequently the LORD promises to bring the sword. Many swords in fact, a whole army of foreigners who will take over the land, slaughter their people and plunder their goods.
The LORD promises to spare no one. Both the righteous and the wicked, everyone from the north to the south will fall by the sword.
Sometimes the righteous are included in God’s punishment, because the entire nation is being judged.
6 “As for you, son of man, groan; with breaking heart and bitter grief, groan before their eyes. 7 And when they say to you, ‘Why do you groan?’ you shall say, ‘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,’ ” declares the Lord God. (Eze 21.6-7)
Ezekiel is commanded to respond to this news by publicly groaning and grieving. Can you imagine Ezekiel walking down the streets of Jerusalem groaning loudly and crying out so everyone will hear him?
People will notice. Some will ask him why he is behaving like this. ‘Why do you groan?’
He groans because of the news that the sword is coming.
8 And the word of the Lord came to me: 9 “Son of man, prophesy and say, Thus says the Lord, say: “A sword, a sword is sharpened and also polished, 10 sharpened for slaughter, polished to flash like lightning! (Eze 21.8-10)
Ezekiel reemphasized the point. A beautiful, bright and deadly sword is coming. But this message isn’t the only one Israel has heard.
Or shall we rejoice? You have despised the rod, my son, with everything of wood.
11 So the sword is given to be polished, that it may be grasped in the hand. It is sharpened and polished to be given into 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 delivered over to the sword with my people. Strike therefore upon your thigh.
13 For it will not be a testing—what could it do if you despise the rod?” declares the Lord God. (Eze 21.10-13)
Ezekiel tells them this is not a time for rejoicing. The LORD is sending the sword because they have ‘despised the rod’. Despised the LORD’s discipline by continuing to worship things of wood. Idolatry.
The LORD is not testing them again. This time he means business.
“In the last of the four oracles the text becomes more explicit about what is to take place. The king of Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar) will start out on a military campaign against the lands to the west of Babylon. At some point on the journey he will stop and seek omens as to which town to attack: Jerusalem or Rabbah. The omens will point to Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar will then lay siege against Jerusalem. The ruler of Israel will be deposed and taken captive.” (Carson, D.A., France, R.T., et al. eds., 1994. New Bible commentary: 21st century edition 4th ed., Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.)
It is obvious that the righteous suffer along with the wicked. We see this everyday. It is a consequence of living in a fallen world.
24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’ ” (Mt 13.24-30)
There will however be a time when the righteous and the wicked are gathered up. The weeds will be thrown into the fire. The wheat put into a place where there will be no more crying or pain.
For those who follow Jesus, this is something to look forward to.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.