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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 21

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-7

EZEKIEL - CHAPTER 21

PARABLE OF THE SWORD AND SIGHING PROPHET

Verses 1-7:

Verses 1, 2 call upon Ezekiel to set his face toward Jerusalem, the place where the people put their confidence. The Lord then further directed him to drop his word or prophecy toward the holy place (the sanctuaries) Psalms 73:17; 1 Peter 4:17, and prophecy against the land of Israel. The dispersed of Israel, yet impenitent, in captivity in Babylon, still turned their hopes toward Jerusalem and their mother country. As a matter of certain delusion, "the land of Israel" corresponds with "the south field" of Ezekiel 20:46. See also Deuteronomy 32:2; Amos 7:16; Micah 2:6; Micah 2:11.

Verse 3 announced to Israel that the Lord was to draw His sword (an instrument of judgment) out of His sheath and sever from the land both the righteous and the wicked, Job 9:22; Ecclesiastes 9:2; Jeremiah 15:2-4. The sword of the Lord had rested in its sheath for more than 400 years. God forebear national judgment of Israel, from the days of David, where He "stayed" the suspended arm of His "destroying angel" over Jerusalem, upon David’s obediently offering burnt­ offerings on the place where the temple was later built, 1 Chronicles 21:16-17; 2 Chronicles 22:1. While the righteous and the wicked were both taken from the land by the sword, the righteous were disciplined, with future hope, but the wicked who fell were without hope, Romans 8:28; Proverbs 10:28; Proverbs 11:7.

Verse 4 asserts that the coming judgment of God would extend upon Jerusalem and all flesh in the land of Israel, "from the south to the north, of both the righteous and the wicked." This territory is that often described as being "from Dan (in the extreme north) to Beersheba in the extreme south," meaning the whole country of Israel, Ezekiel 20:47.

Verse 5 declares that His unsheathed sword of judgment over all the land of Israel, with her holy city and sanctuaries, would be so thoroughly visible that "all flesh" should be made to know that it was Israel’s God who had sent the sword of judgment upon His people and His land. The statement "it shall not return any more," emphasizes that the judgment was to be so final that He would not send it any more, or stop the fire of His wrath till His purpose was accomplished, Ezekiel 20:48; 1 Samuel 3:12; Isaiah 45:23; Jeremiah 23:20; Nahum 1:9.

Verse 6 calls upon Ezekiel to sigh, as the son of man, with the breaking of his loins; one’s loins refers to his power or strength that may be broken by sharp pain or acute suffering, Deuteronomy 33:11. He was to groan openly, as in deep pain, holding his loins with his hands, as in near death, giving utterance to bitterness of spirit, as he presented himself to the people of Israel to bear this judgment message, Jeremiah 30:6; Jeremiah 4:19; Jeremiah 9:17; Jeremiah 9:21; Isaiah 22:4; John 11:23; John 11:25.

Verse 7 then instructs Ezekiel that when the people asked, "why are you sighing or groaning?" he was to respond, "because of the tidings," the message of judgment from God on all Israel. He explained that as he was cut to the heart, in violent emotional pain, for the coming judgment of all his people back in Jerusalem and all Israel, so should they all be pained. So severe was it to be that: a) every heart would melt, b) all hands would become feeble, c) every spirit would faint, and d) all knees would become as weak as water, unstable. The announced judgment was irrevocable. Prayer and repentance were now too late, as described, Jeremiah 11:14; Jeremiah 14:11-16.

Verses 8-17

Verse 8-17:

Verse 8 is a transitional reassertion that what is to follow is the word of the Lord, not merely the words of the man Ezekiel, 2 Peter 1:20-21; Luke 1:70.

Verse 9 calls upon Ezekiel to prophesy, making it plain that a sword has been and is sharpened and furbished or polished, ready as an instrument of Divine wrath and judgment, against His rebellious land and people, v. 15, 28; Deuteronomy 32:41. The sharpened, polished, unsheathed sword glittered in the sunshine as a feared instrument of destruction, Job 20:25; Psalms 7:11-12.

Verse 10 asserts that the sword had been sharpened for a Divine purpose that was not to be obstructed. Its work of judgment terror would not be put aside, until a "terrible slaughter" had been completed. It had been "furbished that it might glitter," or have lightning in its swiftness, and sure destruction, as alluded to v. 28; Deuteronomy 32:41; Ezekiel 1:13-14; It was an avenging instrument of God’s broken law, Exodus 19:19. The rhetoric question is then raised," we should not make mirth, make light of or a joke of these judgments, should we?" The Lord asserts that it, His sharpened sword, in the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, contemned or judged the rod of His son, referring to His people Israel, Genesis 49:10; Exodus 4:22; Hosea 11:1.

Verse 11 indicates that "He" (God), had given this sharpened sword to be furbished, that it might be more accurately wielded in slaughter against His apostate people. Nebuchadnezzar, the Assyrian King, was only an instrument of chastisement in the hands of God against lawless, rebellious Israel, as afore warned, Deuteronomy 28:45-51. See also Revelation 19:15.

Verse 12 calls upon Ezekiel to "cry and howl" loudly, emotionally, with fervor, to make those who heard to be without excuse, regarding what was ahead for their people, and for the princes or rulers of their homeland, from north to south, Dan to Beersheba, v. 4. He was directed to smite his thighs, himself upon his thighs, a sign of grief, as he fervently prophesied of coming judgments of terror by the sword that were to befall all Jerusalem and the land of Israel, Jeremiah 31:19.

Verse 13 relates the ominous supposition that since this is a trial or testing from God, what if the sword should cut off even the rod? Job 9:23; 2 Corinthians 8:23. Meaning the promised heir through Judah, Genesis 49:10. It, "the rod" or seed of Jesse and David, was to be cut off from ruling in the land forever, or any more, until the true "rod", the Messiah came, v. 27; Isaiah 11:1.

Verse 14 calls upon Ezekiel to smite or clap his hands together, loudly, to get the attention of all possible to hear a further word from the Lord, Numbers 24:10. He is to let the sword be doubled the third time, flashed repeatedly to emphasize the power and severity of its certain slaughter in all Israel, even to its entrance into their "privy chamber," meaning the sanctity of every part of their homes, and the sanctuaries and holy places of every place of worship in Israel, Deuteronomy 32:25; Ezekiel 8:12; See also 1 Kings 20:30; 1 Kings 22:25; Amos 8:5.

Verse 15 declares that the Lord God had put, set, or fixed the point of the sword against their gates in Israel in order that their hearts should faint, grow weary. Their ruins were to be multiplied as the Chaldean army swept across the land. Then with exclamation of "Ah!" Ezekiel cries out that the sharpened sword, unsheathed and heavily polished, as an instrument of wrath and divine judgment in the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, was wrapped and ready for a terrible slaughter against rebellious Israel in all her land, Psalms 7:11-12.

Verse 16 directs the flashing two-edged sword to go forth, doing its slaughter work, on the right and on the left, on every side. This indicates the broad sway of this instrument of terror and destruction, embracing all the land of Israel and Judah, much like the wheel and "living creatures" that went forward with destruction in their path, in every direction they moved, Ezekiel 1:9; Ezekiel 1:12.

Verse 17 concludes that the Lord Himself will also smite or clap His hands together, as He had commanded Ezekiel to do, v. 14; Ezekiel 22:13. Such indicates violent, convulsive grief with which God was overcome because of the pollutions, fornications, rebellion and whoredoms of His rebellious wife, Israel, with whom He had made a sacred marriage covenant, to whom He was married, Exodus 19:1-8; Jeremiah 3:6-14. The clapping of the hands may also allude to the Lord’s calling a halt to the slaughter of the sword when His judgment has been fully affected, that He may "rest" from His anger, 2 Kings 13:18-19.

Verses 18-27

NO KING FOR ISRAEL UNTIL THE MESSIAH SHOULD COME

Verses 18-27:

Verses 18, 19 call upon Ezekiel to draw or cut out a visual sketch, to demonstrate on a table or tablet, a visual view of the coming invasion of the land of Israel and siege of the holy city, Jerusalem. The invasion was to be by two ways or routes, over which the kings of Babylon’s army would swoop down upon all Israel, Ezekiel 5:13. In this sketch He was told of the Lord to choose or cut a place "at the head of the way to the city," referring to sharp signs that would directly point to the city, evidently of Jerusalem; For it was both the political and religious center of the land to which the sword of Babylon was ultimately to cut or slaughter.

Verse 20 directed Ezekiel that the sketch he is to use as a visible aid in delivering his prophecy is to appoint or sketch the way the sword shall go; first, to Rabbath of the Ammonites, Ezekiel 25:5; Jeremiah 49:2; Amos 1:14. And second, to the fenced city of Jerusalem in Judah. The Ammonites were idol worshipers who induced Israel to fall, hence they were to share her early judgments. Next Jerusalem, the royal city, fenced city was to fall, Deuteronomy 28:52. Israel’s defenses were raised in vain, under her rebellious state, 2 Samuel 12:26.

Verse 21 recounts that the king of Babylon, Balshazzar led his army to the border of Babylon on the west to the point of the fork in the road or dividing of the ways, where one road parted to lead to Rabbath of the Ammonites and the other toward Jerusalem in Judah. Uncertain which road to take he resorted to some type of divination. Three forms were then prevalent among the Chaldeans; 1) Two arrows were taken and names or marks were put on them; they were mixed, then one was drawn out, a form of chance practiced by the Arabs until the time of Mohammed, and forbidden in the Koran, 2) another form of divination for making decisions was to look at the liver of an animal, of a newly-killed sacrifice, and judging whether good or bad was signified by an healthy or unhealthy liver, 3) a third form of divination was by consulting images of family gods, the teraphim from whom it was thought future events might be determined, Genesis 31:19; Genesis 31:34; Judges 17:5; Judges 18:14.

Verse 22 states that at his (Nebuchadnezzar’s) right hand was the divination for Jerusalem, perhaps with Jerusalem on the marked arrow. It was then held up as encouraging the army to march on Jerusalem, Exodus 32:17-18; Joshua 6:10; Joshua 6:20; 1 Samuel 17:20; Jeremiah 51:14. Captains were then appointed to "open the mouth", in the slaughter or to lead in the loud slaughter-shout, as they went into battle to make battering rams against the gates, cast or build up a mount (mound of dirt) to go over the walls of the city, and to build a fort or fortress nearby, Jeremiah 32:24; Jeremiah 33:4; Jeremiah 52:4.

Verse 23 declares that the divination shall be as a fake or false thing in the sight of Israel who had sworn oaths, to both the God of Israel and, the king of Babylon and broken pledges to both. The pretentious claims of divination in directing Nebuchadnezzar and his army to Jerusalem was a remembrance and a reproof to Israel for her following these very same practices, Jeremiah 17:3.

Verse 24 announces that in all their doings, their practices in Babylon, their iniquity did appear, as it had in their transgressions in the land of Israel, Genesis 13:13. Such sins were as those related on the day of atonement when a "remembrance was made of sins," Leviticus 16 th ch., Hebrews 10:3. Then they confessed their sins, and were forgiven, but now they refused to acknowledge their guilt, so they stand for punishment, Ezekiel 18:2.

Verse 25 addresses the profane prince of Israel as a wicked prince or ruler, (Zedekiah) whose time had come, when iniquity should surely be punished, Genesis 15:16; Ezekiel 17:19; 2 Chronicles 36:13; Jeremiah 52:2.

Verse 26 announces that the Lord had called for removal of the diadem and the crown. The diadem was "the mitre" of the High Priest of Israel, Exodus chs. 28, 29; Leviticus chs. 8, 16. The crown refers to that of the King in Israel, 2 Samuel 12:30; 1 Chronicles 20:2. Both the priestly and kingly offices are one day to be restored, Zec ch. 6. The sins of the exalted and the low were to be punished together in Israel’s judgment for her sins, Luke 1:52.

Verse 27 asserts that the Lord will overthrow or overturn, three times stated for intensive emphasis, so that it should be no more, as in days of old, meaning Jerusalem should be totally destroyed and the land ravaged and the sanctuaries destroyed. This was to continue until He comes whose royal right it shall be to rule the city

and land, Genesis 49:10; Zechariah 6:13; Numbers 24:19; Acts 3:14; Hebrews 7:26; Zechariah 9:9; Luke 1:32-33; John 1:49. The mitre and the crown are met in the coming Messiah.

Verses 28-32

THE COMPLETE OVERTHROW OF THE AMMONITES

Verses 28-32:

Verse 28 calls upon Ezekiel to prophesy in the name of the Lord, against the Ammonites, concerning their reproach. He was to certify that the word should surely strike them with furbished fury because of their willful reproaches against Israel’s God; Their slaughter was at hand, Lamentations 1:2; Ezekiel 25:2-3; Ezekiel 25:6; Jeremiah 47:6; Jeremiah 49:1; Zechariah 2:8-10. This was to be their retribution for insults heaped upon Judah.

Verse 29 explains that lying diviners among the Ammonites had been prophesying peace to them, a peace that did not come. For they were to be involved in a common ruin with the Jews, v. 25; Job 18:20; Psalms 37:13.

Verse 30 asks if the Ammonites thought the Lord would return His sword to the sheath, withhold His judgment. He then sent them the message that they too should be slaughtered in the place of their nativity, Genesis 15:14; Ezekiel 16:13.

Verses 31, 32 warn that the Lord will blow against them, in the fire of His wrath and indignation, to deliver them into the hands of brutish, cruel, and foolish men, skillful to destroy them, Psalms 92:7; Isaiah 30:30. This nation of the Ammonites had Ichabod written in their history, as a people to be remembered no more. She had no future hope like that extended to Israel, v. 27; Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 50:31; Jeremiah 51:13.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Ezekiel 21". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/ezekiel-21.html. 1985.
 
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