This verse contains both a promise and a penalty. The encouraging part of the scripture is that God is looking for just one person who will be righteous and pray fervently for his nation. We sometimes wait for crowds and multitudes to join us in prayer, but God is looking for even one individual who will intercede for his country.
That one person must see himself as mediating a large gap between a holy God and a sinful nation destined for His judgment. What an important position! Because Moses willingly stood in such a gap, the nation of Israel was spared.
The sad reality of the situation in Ezekiel was that even though God needed only one person, He could not find a single one. Today may you and I be such an intercessor, knowing our rights in the new covenant of grace.
Always remember: You may be that person upon whom God is focused-the one who is holding back His wrath. Keep praying, for God is surely watching!
6 “Therefore groan, son of man! Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief.
8 The word of the Lord came to me:9 “Son of man, prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Lord says:
“‘A sword, a sword,
sharpened and polished—
polished to flash like lightning!
“‘Shall we rejoice in the scepter of my royal son? The sword despises every such stick.
11 “‘The sword is appointed to be polished,
to be grasped with the hand;
it is sharpened and polished,
made ready for 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 thrown to the sword
along with my people.
Therefore beat your breast.
13 “‘Testing will surely come. And what if even the scepter, which the sword despises, does not continue? declares the Sovereign Lord.’
14 “So then, son of man, prophesy
Let the sword strike twice,
even three times.
It is a sword for slaughter—
a sword for great slaughter,
15 So that hearts may melt with fear
and the fallen be many,
I have stationed the sword for slaughter
at all their gates.
Look! It is forged to strike like lightning,
it is grasped for slaughter.
16 Slash to the right, you sword,
then to the left,
wherever your blade is turned.
and my wrath
18 The word of the Lord came to me:19 “Son of man, mark out two roads for the sword
24 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because you people have brought to mind your guilt by your open rebellion, revealing your sins in all that you do—because you have done this, you will be taken captive.
25 “‘You profane and wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come,
drawn for the slaughter,
polished to consume
and to flash like lightning!
29 Despite false visions concerning you
and lying divinations
it will be laid on the necks
of the wicked who are to be slain,
whose day has come,
In the place where you were created,
in the land of your ancestry,
I will judge you.
31 I will pour out my wrath on you
I will deliver you into the hands of brutal men,
your blood will be shed in your land,
you will be remembered
for I the Lord have spoken.’”
22 The word of the Lord came to me:
2 “Son of man, will you judge her? Will you judge this city of bloodshed?
6 “‘See how each of the princes of Israel who are in you uses his power to shed blood.
13 “‘I will surely strike my hands
17 Then the word of the Lord came to me:18 “Son of man, the people of Israel have become dross
23 Again the word of the Lord came to me:24 “Son of man, say to the land, ‘You are a land that has not been cleansed or rained on in the day of wrath.’
30 “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall
6 “Son of man, groan before the people! Groan before them with bitter anguish and a broken heart.7 When they ask why you are groaning, tell them, ‘I groan because of the terrifying news I have heard. When it comes true, the boldest heart will melt with fear; all strength will disappear. Every spirit will faint; strong knees will become as weak as water. And the Sovereign Lord says: It is coming! It’s on its way!’”
8 Then the Lord said to me,9 “Son of man, give the people this message from the Lord:
“A sword, a sword
is being sharpened and polished.
10 It is sharpened for terrible slaughter
and polished to flash like lightning!
Now will you laugh?
Those far stronger than you have fallen beneath its power!
11 Yes, the sword is now being sharpened and polished;
it is being prepared for the executioner.
12 “Son of man, cry out and wail;
pound your thighs in anguish,
for that sword will slaughter my people and their leaders—
everyone will die!
13 It will put them all to the test.
What chance do they have?
says the Sovereign Lord.
14 “Son of man, prophesy to them
and clap your hands.
Then take the sword and brandish it twice,
even three times,
to symbolize the great massacre,
the great massacre facing them on every side.
15 Let their hearts melt with terror,
for the sword glitters at every gate.
It flashes like lightning
and is polished for slaughter!
16 O sword, slash to the right,
then slash to the left,
wherever you will,
wherever you want.
17 I, too, will clap my hands,
and I will satisfy my fury.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”
18 Then this message came to me from the Lord:19 “Son of man, make a map and trace two routes on it for the sword of Babylon’s king to follow. Put a signpost on the road that comes out of Babylon where the road forks into two—20 one road going to Ammon and its capital, Rabbah, and the other to Judah and fortified Jerusalem.21 The king of Babylon now stands at the fork, uncertain whether to attack Jerusalem or Rabbah. He calls his magicians to look for omens. They cast lots by shaking arrows from the quiver. They inspect the livers of animal sacrifices.22 The omen in his right hand says, ‘Jerusalem!’ With battering rams his soldiers will go against the gates, shouting for the kill. They will put up siege towers and build ramps against the walls.23 The people of Jerusalem will think it is a false omen, because of their treaty with the Babylonians. But the king of Babylon will remind the people of their rebellion. Then he will attack and capture them.
24 “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Again and again you remind me of your sin and your guilt. You don’t even try to hide it! In everything you do, your sins are obvious for all to see. So now the time of your punishment has come!
25 “O you corrupt and wicked prince of Israel, your final day of reckoning is here!26 This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“Take off your jeweled crown,
for the old order changes.
Now the lowly will be exalted,
and the mighty will be brought down.
27 Destruction! Destruction!
I will surely destroy the kingdom.
And it will not be restored until the one appears
who has the right to judge it.
Then I will hand it over to him.
28 “And now, son of man, prophesy concerning the Ammonites and their mockery. Give them this message from the Sovereign Lord:
“A sword, a sword
is drawn for your slaughter.
It is polished to destroy,
flashing like lightning!
29 Your prophets have given false visions,
and your fortune-tellers have told lies.
The sword will fall on the necks of the wicked
for whom the day of final reckoning has come.
30 “Now return the sword to its sheath,
for in your own country,
the land of your birth,
I will pass judgment upon you.
31 I will pour out my fury on you
and blow on you with the fire of my anger.
I will hand you over to cruel men
who are skilled in destruction.
32 You will be fuel for the fire,
and your blood will be spilled in your own land.
You will be utterly wiped out,
your memory lost to history,
for I, the Lord, have spoken!”
22 Now this message came to me from the Lord:2 “Son of man, are you ready to judge Jerusalem? Are you ready to judge this city of murderers? Publicly denounce her detestable sins,3 and give her this message from the Sovereign Lord: O city of murderers, doomed and damned—city of idols,
6 “Every leader in Israel who lives within your walls is bent on murder.7 Fathers and mothers are treated with contempt. Foreigners are forced to pay for protection. Orphans and widows are wronged and oppressed among you.8 You despise my holy things and violate my Sabbath days of rest.9 People accuse others falsely and send them to their death. You are filled with idol worshipers and people who do obscene things.10 Men sleep with their fathers’ wives and force themselves on women who are menstruating.11 Within your walls live men who commit adultery with their neighbors’ wives, who defile their daughters-in-law, or who rape their own sisters.12 There are hired murderers, loan racketeers, and extortioners everywhere. They never even think of me and my commands, says the Sovereign Lord.
13 “But now I clap my hands in indignation over your dishonest gain and bloodshed.14 How strong and courageous will you be in my day of reckoning? I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do what I said.15 I will scatter you among the nations and purge you of your wickedness.16 And when I have been dishonored among the nations because of you,
17 Then this message came to me from the Lord:18 “Son of man, the people of Israel are the worthless slag that remains after silver is smelted. They are the dross that is left over—a useless mixture of copper, tin, iron, and lead.19 So tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you are all worthless slag, I will bring you to my crucible in Jerusalem.20 Just as silver, copper, iron, lead, and tin are melted down in a furnace, I will melt you down in the heat of my fury.21 I will gather you together and blow the fire of my anger upon you,22 and you will melt like silver in fierce heat. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have poured out my fury on you.’”
23 Again a message came to me from the Lord:24 “Son of man, give the people of Israel this message: In the day of my indignation, you will be like a polluted land, a land without rain.25 Your princes
30 “I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.31 So now I will pour out my fury on them, consuming them with the fire of my anger. I will heap on their heads the full penalty for all their sins. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”
21 And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem, and drop thy word toward the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel,
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.
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:
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.
6 Sigh therefore, thou son of man, with the breaking of thy loins; and with bitterness sigh before their eyes.
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.
8 Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
9 Son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus saith the Lord; Say, A sword, a sword is sharpened, and also furbished:
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.
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.
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.
13 Because it is a trial, and what if the sword contemn even the rod? it shall be no more, saith the Lord God.
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.
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.
16 Go thee one way or other, either on the right hand, or on the left, whithersoever thy face is set.
17 I will also smite mine hands together, and I will cause my fury to rest: I the Lord have said it.
18 The word of the Lord came unto me again, saying,
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.
20 Appoint a way, that the sword may come to Rabbath of the Ammonites, and to Judah in Jerusalem the defenced.
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.
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.
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.
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.
25 And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end,
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
22 Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
2 Now, thou son of man, wilt thou judge, wilt thou judge the bloody city? yea, thou shalt shew her all her abominations.
3 Then say thou, Thus saith the Lord God, The city sheddeth blood in the midst of it, that her time may come, and maketh idols against herself to defile herself.
4 Thou art become guilty in thy blood that thou hast shed; and hast defiled thyself in thine idols which thou hast made; and thou hast caused thy days to draw near, and art come even unto thy years: therefore have I made thee a reproach unto the heathen, and a mocking to all countries.
5 Those that be near, and those that be far from thee, shall mock thee, which art infamous and much vexed.
6 Behold, the princes of Israel, every one were in thee to their power to shed blood.
7 In thee have they set light by father and mother: in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger: in thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow.
8 Thou hast despised mine holy things, and hast profaned my sabbaths.
9 In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in thee they eat upon the mountains: in the midst of thee they commit lewdness.
10 In thee have they discovered their fathers' nakedness: in thee have they humbled her that was set apart for pollution.
11 And one hath committed abomination with his neighbour's wife; and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter in law; and another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father's daughter.
12 In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood; thou hast taken usury and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbours by extortion, and hast forgotten me, saith the Lord God.
13 Behold, therefore I have smitten mine hand at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee.
14 Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the Lord have spoken it, and will do it.
15 And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee.
16 And thou shalt take thine inheritance in thyself in the sight of the heathen, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord.
17 And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
18 Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross: all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver.
19 Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because ye are all become dross, behold, therefore I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem.
20 As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in mine anger and in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you.
21 Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst therof.
22 As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the Lord have poured out my fury upon you.
23 And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
24 Son of man, say unto her, Thou art the land that is not cleansed, nor rained upon in the day of indignation.
25 There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof.
26 Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.
27 Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.
28 And her prophets have daubed them with untempered morter, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord God, when the Lord hath not spoken.
29 The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.
30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.
31 Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God.
10 The law is only a shadow
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world,
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”
11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices,
15 The Holy Spirit also testifies
16 “This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
17 Then he adds:
10 The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship.2 If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared.
3 But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year.4 For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.5 That is why, when Christ
“You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings.
But you have given me a body to offer.
6 You were not pleased with burnt offerings
or other offerings for sin.
7 Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God—
as is written about me in the Scriptures.’”
8 First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses).9 Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect.10 For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.
11 Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins.12 But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand.13 There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet.14 For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.
15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says,
16 “This is the new covenant I will make
with my people on that day,
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”
17 Then he says,
“I will never again remember
their sins and lawless deeds.”
10 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;
9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.
10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.
14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,
16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
I will sing
2 Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
3 I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
6 Save us and help us with your right hand,
that those you love may be delivered.
“In triumph I will parcel out Shechem
and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth.
8 Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine;
Ephraim is my helmet,
10 Who will bring me to the fortified city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
11 Is it not you, God, you who have rejected us
and no longer go out with our armies?
12 Give us aid against the enemy,
13 With God we will gain the victory,
1 My heart is confident in you, O God;
no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart!
2 Wake up, lyre and harp!
I will wake the dawn with my song.
3 I will thank you, Lord, among all the people.
I will sing your praises among the nations.
4 For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens.
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
5 Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.
May your glory shine over all the earth.
6 Now rescue your beloved people.
Answer and save us by your power.
7 God has promised this by his holiness
“I will divide up Shechem with joy.
I will measure out the valley of Succoth.
8 Gilead is mine,
and Manasseh, too.
Ephraim, my helmet, will produce my warriors,
and Judah, my scepter, will produce my kings.
9 But Moab, my washbasin, will become my servant,
and I will wipe my feet on Edom
and shout in triumph over Philistia.”
10 Who will bring me into the fortified city?
Who will bring me victory over Edom?
11 Have you rejected us, O God?
Will you no longer march with our armies?
12 Oh, please help us against our enemies,
for all human help is useless.
13 With God’s help we will do mighty things,
for he will trample down our foes.
108 O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.
2 Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.
3 I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.
4 For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.
5 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth;
6 That thy beloved may be delivered: save with thy right hand, and answer me.
7 God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth.
8 Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver;
9 Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe; over Philistia will I triumph.
10 Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?
11 Wilt not thou, O God, who hast cast us off? and wilt not thou, O God, go forth with our hosts?
12 Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.
13 Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.
12 The prudent see danger and take refuge,
but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
12 A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.
The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.
12 A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.