Then I heard him call out loudly, "Executioners, come! And bring your deadly weapons with you."
Six men came down the road from the upper gate that faces north, each carrying his lethal weapon. With them was a man dressed in linen with a writing case slung from his shoulder. They entered and stood by the bronze altar.
The Glory of the God of Israel ascended from his usual place above the cherubim-angels, moved to the threshold of the Temple, and called to the man with the writing case who was dressed in linen:
"Go through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the forehead of everyone who is in anguish over the outrageous obscenities being done in the city."
I listened as he went on to address the executioners: "Follow him through the city and kill. Feel sorry for no one. Show no compassion.
Kill old men and women, young men and women, mothers and children. But don't lay a hand on anyone with the mark. Start at my Temple." They started with the leaders in front of the Temple.
He told the executioners, "Desecrate the Temple. Fill it with corpses. Then go out and continue the killing."
So they went out and struck the city. While the massacre went forward, I was left alone. I fell on my face in prayer: "Oh, oh, God, my Master! Are you going to kill everyone left in Israel in this pouring out of your anger on Jerusalem?"
He said, "The guilt of Israel and Judah is enormous. The land is swollen with murder. The city is bloated with injustice. They all say, 'God has forsaken the country. He doesn't see anything we do.'
Well, I do see, and I'm not feeling sorry for any of them. They're going to pay for what they've done."
Just then, the man dressed in linen and carrying the writing case came back and reported, "I've done what you told me."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)