Ezekiel Chapter 21 Promise of Messiah

Jul 7th, 2009 | By | Category: Ezekiel, Psalm 83 and Gog & Magog, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Ezekiel Chapter 21 Promise of Messiah

Ezek. 21:1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

In verses 1–7 God gave Ezekiel instructions on what to say and do. Of course the destruction of 606 BC was still a few years off. At that time news would come forth that the very trouble described in these verses was a past event (see verse 7).

Ezek. 21:2 Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem, and drop thy word toward the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel,

Not only was Ezekiel to give a judgment message to the people, but he was instructed to turn and face Jerusalem (the south) and “the holy places” (the Temple area). In other words, the prophet was to speak audibly in the direction of Jerusalem and the Temple and demonstrate visually as if events were taking place at that very time.

Ezek. 21:3 And say to the land of Israel, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I am against thee, and will draw forth my sword out of his sheath, and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked.

Notice that both the righteous and the wicked (both the green and the dry trees of Ezekiel 20:47) would be affected by the trouble, although a small righteous remnant was spared and taken to Babylon. This trouble of 606 BC reminds us of the trouble at the end of the age when God will purge out the rebels (Ezek. 20:38). However, in 606 BC the land was left empty and desolate.

Ezek. 21:4 Seeing then that I will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked, therefore shall my sword go forth out of his sheath against all flesh from the south to the north:

Ezek. 21:5 That all flesh may know that I the LORD have drawn forth my sword out of his sheath: it shall not return any more.

Principle: God’s Word does not return unto Him void but accomplishes its purpose (Isa. 55:11). Only then will the sword go back into its sheath.

Ezek. 21:6 Sigh therefore, thou son of man, with the breaking of thy loins; and with bitterness sigh before their eyes.

Ezek. 21:7 And it shall be, when they say unto thee, Wherefore sighest thou? that thou shalt answer, For the tidings; because it cometh: and every heart shall melt, and all hands shall be feeble, and every spirit shall faint, and all knees shall be weak as water: behold, it cometh, and shall be brought to pass, saith the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel was told to groan and to sigh so deeply that each time his body would contract or double over. The “breaking of thy loins” was done realistically. What was the purpose? To arouse curiosity. When asked what he was sighing about, he was to reply, “Oh, the news, the terrible news about Jerusalem! The trouble is coming. It is on its way.” Parts of his anatomy were involved to demonstrate that the people would react with great grief and great fear when the armies of Babylon arrived. (Ezekiel did dramatic things on other occasions as well, for example, building a fort and lying on first one side for 390 days and then the other for 40 days.) He then told of the dreadful things that would happen to Judah, to those not yet in captivity and exile.

Ezek. 21:8 Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

Ezek. 21:9 Son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus saith the LORD; Say, A sword, a sword is sharpened, and also furbished:

Ezekiel was told to say, “A sword! A sword is sharpened and polished” (paraphrase). He actually prepared a sword to dramatize the prophecy. The glittering, or reflection, of light against the polished sword would strike fear in the enemy. Even from a spiritual standpoint, a sharp doctrine strikes fear and discourages debate, causing the hearer to feel he is against an expert.

Ezek. 21:10 It is sharpened to make a sore slaughter; it is furbished that it may glitter: should we then make mirth? it contemneth the rod of my son, as every tree.

This verse is difficult to understand. The sword, or rod, was one of correction; the judgment was designed to have a beneficial effect upon the nation. “Every tree” meant all of the people, the wicked as well as the righteous. The sword was upon every tree. Judah needed punishment and correction. The King James margin reads: “It is the rod of my son, it despiseth every tree.”

In Jacob’s Trouble, the Assyrian (Gog in the Book of Ezekiel) is called the “rod” or “axe” of God’s anger (Isa. 10:5,15). In regard to the axe, the thought is, “Shall he that wieldeth the axe not realize that the Lord is doing the work?” The Assyrian will think his success against Israel is due to his own strength and not realize that the success is based on God’s providence in allowing him to visit the judgment. In other words, the Assyrian will get heady. God will ask, “Don’t you realize who is doing the sawing [destructive] work? It is I who have been helping you.” The sword is to have a repercussive effect, bouncing back on itself.

“Should we then make mirth?” The people may actually have been complacent and jovial. Therefore, the question was a rebuke against them and against the false prophets, who spoke smooth (peaceful) things. The mirth was unbecoming, for it should have been a time of sackcloth and ashes. In principle, as John the Baptist said at the First Advent, “The axe is laid unto the root of the trees” (Matt. 3:10). When a tree is to be cut down, the axe is laid against the tree, then pulled back and swung into that spot. In other words, the judgment was determined.

Ezek. 21:11 And he hath given it to be furbished, that it may be handled: this sword is sharpened, and it is furbished, to give it into the hand of the slayer.

The sword was prepared and then given “into the hand of the slayer,” that is, into the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and his army. Note: In antitype the “slayer” will be Gog/the Assyrian. The pictures must be kept separate. “Again” in verse 8 means “on another occasion.”

Ezek. 21:12 Cry and howl, son of man: for it shall be upon my people, it shall be upon all the princes of Israel: terrors by reason of the sword shall be upon my people: smite therefore upon thy thigh.

Ezekiel actually cried and howled in the dramatization, for the trouble would come upon all those in Judah. Then he smote his thigh. All of Ezekiel’s actions and words were intended to intensify the bad news.

Ezek. 21:13 Because it is a trial, and what if the sword contemn even the rod? it shall be no more, saith the Lord GOD.

The “sword” hated the “rod” (the rule) of the Israelites. The rule would be no more. The judgment was set; it could not be revoked.

Ezek. 21:14 Thou therefore, son of man, prophesy, and smite thine hands together, and let the sword be doubled the third time, the sword of the slain: it is the sword of the great men that are slain, which entereth into their privy chambers.

Ezek. 21:15 I have set the point of the sword against all their gates, that their heart may faint, and their ruins be multiplied: ah! it is made bright, it is wrapped up for the slaughter.

Ezekiel smote his hands together to attract attention. Three times he clapped with anger, dismay, and disgust and then repeated the action, again smiting his hands together three times. When he smote his thigh (verse 12), the purpose was to emphasize his grief over the coming bad news. Here the clapping of his hands was more symbolic. The sword’s being “doubled” indicated a corresponding portion, that is, a total of three judgments. The third judgment would be the worst.

In other words, the clapping was doubled: 1, 2, 3—pause—1, 2, 3. Ezekiel smote his hands three times—twice. There was a significance in Ezekiel’s day, and there will be a prophetic significance in our day in the near future.

The first clapping of three times was a judgment by the “slayers” Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar. Judah’s kings Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah received judgments.

The third clap, Zedekiah, would occur shortly.

“It is the sword of the great men that are slain, which entereth into their privy chambers.” “Privy chambers” would be a smaller chamber within a chamber, for example, a closet in a room or a bathroom. The point was that no matter how or where the people tried to escape the judgment, the sword would find them. They would not be able to hide from the coming sword.

Ezekiel was trying to instill in the captives in Babylon the fear that those in Judah would have upon seeing the enemy come down. The enemy would stand at every gate ready to slaughter any Israelite who attempted to escape.

“Ah! it [the sword] is made bright, it is wrapped up for the slaughter.” The sword was “wrapped up for the slaughter” by being sharpened (King James margin). After the sword was sharpened and polished, it was protected to keep it sharp. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Ezekiel was probably a very powerful actor.

“The sword [was set] against all their gates, that their heart may faint, and their ruins be multiplied.” The sword was set against all the gates in the sense that there would be no escape. The preparedness and strategy of the enemy was thus indicated. Note: See additional commentary under verse 27.

Ezek. 21:16 Go thee one way or other, either on the right hand, or on the left, whithersoever thy face is set.

In other words, whichever way the sword would point—whether to the right or to the left—it would do damage. It was to smite on all sides. (Verses 18–24 provide a further explanation.)

Ezek. 21:17 I will also smite mine hands together, and I will cause my fury to rest: I the LORD have said it.

The third time God would smite His hands together would be the last, for His fury would then be satisfied. In the natural picture back there, the reference was to Zedekiah’s defeat. That was one level of interpretation.

Comment: In verse 10, which is part of the picture with an antitype, the question was asked, “Should we then make mirth?” The question seems to be a reminder of Belshazzar’s feast at the time when the nations feel secure and are having a celebration in Christendom. A warning will go out by the feet members that trouble is coming. To state this comment in more detail: The antitype of the sword being “doubled the third time” would be World Wars 1, 2, and 3—wars against Christendom that weaken the Gentile nations. Just prior to World War 3 would be the time for the feet members to give “Ezekiel’s” warning. “Should we then make mirth?” seems to be a reminder of the festivities of Belshazzar’s feast, which will take place as the Church-State coalition comes into power. The feet members will warn: “Your arrangement will not work. It is not the Kingdom of God. The Time of Trouble is coming.”

Q: The answer to the following question depends on what is meant by the word “rod,” which can be a symbol of rule (verse 13). Could the thought be as follows? “It [the sword] contemns [despises] the rod [rule] of my [professed] son [the nominal Church in the hour of power], every tree [every leader in Christendom, especially every religious leader].” In other words, the Assyrian (or Gog) force will hate the rule of the professed son [Christendom]. Hence they will come down and bring a judgment in the future just as back there the sword of Nebuchadnezzar hated the rule of natural Israel.

A: That thought has just as much merit as the one already expressed. It seems to have value and sounds good in certain respects.

Ezek. 21:18 The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying,

Ezek. 21:19 Also, thou son of man, appoint thee two ways, that the sword of the king of Babylon may come: both twain shall come forth out of one land: and choose thou a place, choose it at the head of the way to the city.

Ezek. 21:20 Appoint a way, that the sword may come to Rabbath of the Ammonites, and to Judah in Jerusalem the defenced.

Ezek. 21:21 For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he made his arrows bright, he consulted with images, he looked in the liver.

Ezek. 21:22 At his right hand was the divination for Jerusalem, to appoint captains, to open the mouth in the slaughter, to lift up the voice with shouting, to appoint battering rams against the gates, to cast a mount, and to build a fort.

Ezek. 21:23 And it shall be unto them as a false divination in their sight, to them that have sworn oaths: but he will call to remembrance the iniquity, that they may be taken.

Ezek. 21:24 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have made your iniquity to be remembered, in that your transgressions are discovered, so that in all your doings your sins do appear; because, I say, that ye are come to remembrance, ye shall be taken with the hand.

Just as earlier Ezekiel’s actions punctuated his remarks, so now he would dramatize the prophecy of verses 18–24, which gave the route of invasion. In “appoint[ing] … two ways,” he probably drew a “Y” on the ground. One of the two upper points of the “Y” pointed to Rabbath, the capital of the Ammonites, and the other pointed to Jerusalem. The point in the “V” neck—that is, the fork in the road—was Riblah, where Nebuchadnezzar came to a junction and stopped to use divination to determine his direction. An animal was cut and its liver examined, and the king also used teraphim (images).

When the divination kept pointing to Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar thought it was false divination—until the Lord brought to mind some of Israel’s disobedience and rebellion.

Then the king got angry and decided Israel did need punishment and judgment. The Holy Spirit called to Nebuchadnezzar’s remembrance the covenants of obedience that were made with the vassal kings Jehoiachin and Zedekiah and how those covenants were broken.

Then Nebuchadnezzar regarded the divination as true. God helped him remember Israel’s iniquity.

Verse 22 tells that King Nebuchadnezzar’s army would use battering rams and utter a united battle cry, a rhythmic chant with gusto. “To cast a mount” means to build the earth higher, that is, to make an inclined road from which they could go over the wall.

Ezek. 21:25 And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end,

The “profane wicked prince of Israel” was Zedekiah. The cumulative guilt of the nation demanded judgment, and the time was drawing near. Probably Nebuchadnezzar was already mustering his forces to go down to Judah. He had thought he would go to Ammon first and to Judah second—until the repeated divination and the recalling of Israel’s sins changed his mind.

Ezek. 21:26 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high.

The word “diadem” is used elsewhere in regard to the Church to show glory, honor, and emolument of office. The Church will be a diadem in the hand of the Lord (Isa. 62:3). The “crown” represents the prerogatives of office, the prerogatives of ruling. Usually a diadem is worn by a woman and a crown by the king.

“Remove the diadem, and take off the crown.” God was saying, through Ezekiel, that the favor shown to Israel in their having kings who theoretically sat on the throne of the Lord would cease with Zedekiah’s dethroning. He was taken captive to Babylon, his eyes were put out, and his sons were slain. A diadem, which is a jeweled headband, is more resplendent and more an ornament of beauty. However, in verse 26 the “diadem” was a turban or miter like that worn by the high priest.

“Exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high.” Jeconiah was exalted by being brought out of prison in Babylon and eating his meals at the king’s table. Zedekiah was abased by his removal from office, humiliation, blinding, and death in prison in Babylon.

Messiah’s lineage went through both Jeconiah and Nathan. Nathan’s line was exalted and the Solomonic line debased. Since both Nathan and Solomon were sons of David, Messiah came from the Davidic line.

Ezek. 21:27 I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.

When Zedekiah, the last king, was removed from office, a void was left: “It shall be no more, until he come whose right it is.” The period of kingship was terminated temporarily; it was suspended.

David was told that one of his lineage would always be selected as the representative of Israel—but the individual would not necessarily be in Israel sitting on the throne. Zedekiah was taken to Babylon blind. The succession of regal office was subsequently traced through Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) down to Messiah (Matt. 1:11).

“It shall be no more” in the sense that Israel was no longer a state on its own but was a captive or vassal state, subject to the whims of alien powers.

“I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it [the typical kingdom].” The first overturning occurred in 606 BC when Zedekiah was removed from the throne, the inhabitants of Judah were taken to Babylon, and the land was left desolate. It was a real overturning, not just a change of rulership.

Daniel dreamed of five universal empires. Four pertained to earthly dominions: Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome. The fifth will be Christ’s Kingdom. The four empires, Gentile powers, have dominion before the Jewish nation is fully restored under Messiah. But these four do not equate with the three overturnings. Hence the “overturning” does not mean that another enemy came in and took over (as Media-Persia took over Babylon, for example). Some Jews returned to Israel, but the land was not overturned—the Jews simply went back. The Jews returned and stayed there for about 600 years, from 536 BC until AD 70, when the second overturning occurred. The Jews were under alien dominion, but they were in the land until AD 70, when the Romans did a radical overturning, slaying many and dispersing the rest throughout the Roman provinces. At that time Jerusalem and its environs were destroyed. The third overturning was in AD 135 under Hadrian, who gave Jerusalem a new Roman name and forbid the Jews to even be in eyesight of the city. From then until Messiah would come at his Second Advent (“until he come whose right it is”) and have the Kingdom given to him—a long period of time—the kingdom of Israel was suspended. The Jews, being back in their homeland now after all these years, will never again be entirely uprooted. They will be defeated and some taken into exile, but an overturning like in the past will not again occur.

The point is that three overturnings had to be fulfilled before Jesus could assume the rulership at his Second Advent. At that time God would “give it [the Kingdom to] him [Jesus].” Jesus secured the right to rule at his First Advent, but the exercising of this right pertains to the Second Advent—to sometime after the end of Gentiles Times, hence 1914 or thereafter. The long period of void from AD 135 “until he come whose right it is” is likened to Gentile Times. It is also likened to the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, in which the rich man wanted a little water to cool his tongue, and to the Parable of the Pounds, in which Jesus said a nobleman went away “into a far country [heaven] to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return” (Luke 16:19–31; 19:12–27).

The following distinctions are to be noted:

Term                                                                           Definition

Crown                                                                        Prerogatives of rule

Diadem                                                                       Honor and glory of office

Scepter                                                                        Legal right to rule

Let us consider verse 14 again: “Thou therefore, son of man, prophesy, and smite thine hands together, and let the sword be doubled the third time.” The three overturnings were radical and violent—and they pertained to Israel. They were three judgments. In addition, the Gentiles are to have three judgments: World War 1, World War 2, and World War 3. The three World Wars are shown by the sword’s being used three times. Just as back in 606 BC, so in the future the trouble will come on both the righteous and the wicked. Whole nations were (and will be) involved in the wars, with no discrimination being made between good and bad.

The advice for the future for Gentiles is, “Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger”( Zeph. 2:3). Notice that there is no guarantee to the Gentiles.

John the Baptist also gave advice: “Do violence to no man. Do not get in the way of the Lord’s steamroller. Do not bear false witness. Be content with your wages” (Luke 3:10–14 paraphrase). John was giving general advice as to what course to pursue to be less likely to experience the fierce judgment to come. On the other hand, the Jews will be handpicked for survival. To be of the Holy Remnant, they must be humble and repentant. If in the proper heart condition, they will be spared.

Ezekiel’s smiting his hands three times is a symbolic picture, as follows:

1. Jewish historians back there equated the smitings with the puppet kings Jehoahaz, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. That interpretation had a practical benefit for the Israelites, but it was not the real picture.

2. The use of the sword three times can be equated to the three overturnings: 606 BC, AD 70, and AD 135.

3. The three uses of the sword prophetically symbolize the three World War experiences and/or judgments of the Gentiles.

Ezek. 21:28 And thou, son of man, prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning the Ammonites, and concerning their reproach; even say thou, The sword, the sword is drawn: for the slaughter it is furbished, to consume because of the glittering:

Previous verses show that King Nebuchadnezzar, through divination, fought against Judah first. Now he returned to visit judgment on the Ammonites, as he had originally intended to do first. The time had come for him to do battle against the Ammonites. The sword had been drawn for Judah and would not be sheathed until the Ammonites had also received the Lord’s judgment.

Ezek. 21:29 Whiles they see vanity unto thee, whiles they divine a lie unto thee, to bring thee upon the necks of them that are slain, of the wicked, whose day is come, when their iniquity shall have an end.

Even though King Nebuchadnezzar had gone to Judah first, he would also pursue the Ammonites, creating a mass grave (“to bring thee upon the necks of them that are slain”).

“Whose day is come, when their iniquity shall have an end.” The repetition shows the finality of the Ammonite punishment. Similar language was used in regard to Zedekiah in verse 25.

Ezek. 21:30 Shall I cause it to return into his sheath? I will judge thee in the place where thou wast created, in the land of thy nativity.

The sword would not be sheathed until the Ammonites had been judged, and they would be judged where they were “created,” in the land of their “nativity.” Both the Moabites and the Ammonites were descendants of Lot. (After Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt, his daughters bore sons, Moab and Ammon, through their father.) Not only were the Moabites and the Ammonites related, but they were closely situated—and both disliked Israel. God was reminding the Ammonites of their morally questionable origin to point out that they had no right to condemn Israel.

Ezek. 21:31 And I will pour out mine indignation upon thee, I will blow against thee in the fire of my wrath, and deliver thee into the hand of brutish men, and skilful to destroy.

“I will blow against thee in the fire of my wrath.” Extra air (oxygen) creates a rapid, intense heat. In other words, the Lord was indignant with the Ammonites. The “brutish men” were the Babylonians, who were known for their lack of sympathy for their enemies. Moreover, they spoke a crude, hard language that was vulgar and brutal.

Ezek. 21:32 Thou shalt be for fuel to the fire; thy blood shall be in the midst of the land; thou shalt be no more remembered: for I the LORD have spoken it.

The Ammonites “shalt be no more remembered” (verse 32). That was true, and Jordan, the Hashemite Kingdom, has since been established by the League of Nations.

This verse is a reminder of when Ezekiel cast a third of his hair into the fire—an action that represented the destruction of the people. The hair (or people) was like fuel for the fire.

“[Spilled] blood [great violence and slaughter] shall be in the midst of the land.” The suggestion is that the shed blood was payment, or retribution, for blood the Ammonites had previously shed.

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