2nd December 2023 – Ezekiel 21:18-32

18 The word of the Lord came to me again: 19 “As for you, son of man, mark two ways for the sword of the king of Babylon to come. Both of them shall come from the same land. And make a signpost; make it at the head of the way to a city. 20 Mark a way for the sword to come to Rabbah of the Ammonites and to Judah, into Jerusalem the fortified. 21 For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination. He shakes the arrows; he consults the teraphim; he looks at the liver. 22 Into his right hand comes the divination for Jerusalem, to set battering rams, to open the mouth with murder, to lift up the voice with shouting, to set battering rams against the gates, to cast up mounds, to build siege towers. 23 But to them it will seem like a false divination. They have sworn solemn oaths, but he brings their guilt to remembrance, that they may be taken.

24 “Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you have made your guilt to be remembered, in that your transgressions are uncovered, so that in all your deeds your sins appear—because you have come to remembrance, you shall be taken in hand. 25 And you, O profane wicked one, prince of Israel, whose day has come, the time of your final punishment, 26 thus says the Lord God: Remove the turban and take off the crown. Things shall not remain as they are. Exalt that which is low, and bring low that which is exalted. 27 A ruin, ruin, ruin I will make it. This also shall not be, until he comes, the one to whom judgment belongs, and I will give it to him.

28 “And you, son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus says the Lord Godconcerning the Ammonites and concerning their reproach; say, A sword, a sword is drawn for the slaughter. It is polished to consume and to flash like lightning— 29 while they see for you false visions, while they divine lies for you—to place you on the necks of the profane wicked, whose day has come, the time of their final punishment. 30 Return it to its sheath. In the place where you were created, in the land of your origin, I will judge you. 31 And I will pour out my indignation upon you; I will blow upon you with the fire of my wrath, and I will deliver you into the hands of brutish men, skillful to destroy.32 You shall be fuel for the fire. Your blood shall be in the midst of the land. You shall be no more remembered, for I the Lord have spoken.”

We must look at one or two further points in this passage before leaving it. First of all, there is the question of the meaning of 23. It is perhaps best to take it as referring to the exiles by the river Chebar. Ezekiel had drawn out before them a diagram of the two forks on the road, and indicated that the lot would fall on Jerusalem, saying 'This is the word of the Lord, and this is what is going to happen'. But the elders of the people, blind as ever, assume that must be a false divination, for they cannot conceive that Jerusalem could ever be destroyed. In 25, there is a clear reference to Zedekiah, the last of the kings - and as a matter of simple history, he has indeed proved to have been the last king of Israel, for after the captivity there were no further kings, nor will there be, 'until He comes whose right it is' - a remarkable and impressive reference to the promised Messiah, to whom the sceptre, the crown and the diadem alone rightfully belong. In 28-32 the doom of Ammon is prophesied, in the same kind of language as that used earlier to describe the doom of Jerusalem. The significant difference, however, is that they were to be judged in their own land, whereas the people of God were to be taken into captivity, to be purged, purified and cleansed then returned to Israel, a chastened and holier people. Ammon, however, had no such future; for them it was to be utter, final judgment and extinction. They were to be no more remembered. And, historically, the Ammonites are no more, and they never will be any more, whereas Israel still exists today as a corporate entity in the economy and purposes of God.