Then I heard the LORD call out in a loud voice. He said, "Bring those who guard the city here. Make sure each of them has a weapon."
I saw six men coming from the direction of the upper gate. It faces north. Each of them had a deadly weapon. A man who was wearing linen clothes came along with them. He was carrying a writing kit at his side. They came in and stood beside the bronze altar.
The glory of the God of Israel had been above the cherubim. It moved from there to the doorway of the temple. Then the LORD called to the man who was dressed in linen clothes. He had the writing kit.
The LORD said to him, "Go all through Jerusalem. Look for those who are sad and sorry about all of the things that are being done there. I hate those things. Put a mark on the foreheads of those people."
I heard him speak to the six men. He said, "Follow him through the city. Do not show any pity or concern.
Kill old men and women, young men and women, and children. But do not touch anyone who has the mark. Start at my temple." So they began with the elders who were in front of the temple.
Then he said to the men, "Make the temple 'unclean.' Fill the courtyards with dead bodies. Go!" So they went out and started killing people all through the city.
While they were doing it, I was left alone. I fell with my face toward the ground. I cried out, "LORD and King, are you going to destroy all of the Israelites who are still left alive? Will you pour out your burning anger on all those who remain in Jerusalem?"
He answered me, "The sin of Israel and Judah is very great. The land is full of murderers. They are not being fair to one another anywhere in Jerusalem. They say, 'The LORD has deserted the land. He doesn't see us.'
So I will not spare them or feel sorry for them. Anything that happens to them will be their own fault."
Then the man who was wearing linen clothes returned. He had the writing kit. He reported, "I've done what you commanded."