Then this message came to me from the LORD:
"Son of man, look toward Jerusalem and prophesy against Israel and her sanctuaries.
Give her this message from the LORD: I am your enemy, O Israel, and I am about to unsheath my sword to destroy your people -- the righteous and the wicked alike.
Yes, I will not spare even the righteous! I will make a clean sweep throughout the land from south to north.
All the world will know that I am the LORD. My sword is in my hand, and it will not return to its sheath until its work is finished.
"Son of man, groan before the people! Groan before them with bitter anguish and a broken heart.
When they ask you why, 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 tremble and become as weak as water. And the Sovereign LORD says: It is coming! It's on its way!'"
Then the LORD said to me,
"Son of man, give the people this message from the LORD: A sword is being sharpened and polished.
It is being prepared for terrible slaughter; it will flash like lightning! Now will you laugh? Those far stronger than you have fallen beneath its power!
Yes, the sword is now being sharpened and polished; it is being prepared for the executioner!
"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!
It will put them all to the test! So now the Sovereign LORD asks: What chance do they have?
"Son of man, prophesy to them and clap your hands vigorously. Then take the sword and brandish it twice, even three times, to symbolize the great massacre they will face!
Let their hearts melt with terror, for the sword glitters at every gate. It flashes like lightning; it is polished for slaughter!
O sword, slash to the right, and slash to the left, wherever you will, wherever you want.
I, too, will clap my hands, and I will satisfy my fury. I, the LORD, have spoken!"
Then this message came to me from the LORD:
"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 --
one road going to Ammon and its capital, Rabbah, and the other to Judah and fortified Jerusalem.
The king of Babylon now stands at the fork, uncertain whether to attack Jerusalem or Rabbah. He will call his magicians to use divination. They will cast lots by shaking arrows from the quiver. They will inspect the livers of their animal sacrifices.
Then they will decide to turn toward Jerusalem! With battering rams they will go against the gates, shouting for the kill. They will put up siege towers and build ramps against the walls to reach the top.
The people of Jerusalem will think it is a mistake, 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.
"Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Again and again your guilt cries out against you, for you are not ashamed of your sin. You don't even try to hide it! Wherever you go, whatever you do, all your actions are filled with sin. So now the time of your punishment has come!
"O you corrupt and wicked prince of Israel, your final day of reckoning is here!
Take off your jeweled crown, says the Sovereign LORD. The old order changes -- now the lowly are exalted, and the mighty are brought low.
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.
"And now, son of man, prophesy concerning the Ammonites and their mockery. Give them this message from the Sovereign LORD: My sword is drawn for your slaughter; it is sharpened to destroy, flashing like lightning!
Your magicians and false prophets have given false visions and told lies about the sword. And now it will fall with even greater force on the wicked for whom the day of final reckoning has come.
Should I return my sword to its sheath before I deal with you? No, I will destroy you in your own country, the land of your birth.
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.
You are 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. I, the LORD, have spoken!"
Now this message came to me from the LORD:
"Son of man, are you ready to judge Jerusalem? Are you ready to judge this city of murderers? Denounce her terrible deeds in public,
and give her this message from the Sovereign LORD: O city of murderers, doomed and damned -- city of idols, filthy and foul --
you are guilty of both murder and idolatry. Your day of destruction has come! You have reached the end of your years. I will make you an object of mockery throughout the world.
O infamous city, filled with confusion, you will be mocked by people both far and near.
"Every leader in Israel who lives within your walls is bent on murder.
Fathers and mothers are contemptuously ignored. Resident foreigners are forced to pay for protection. Orphans and widows are wronged and oppressed.
Inside your walls you despise my holy things and violate my Sabbath days of rest.
People accuse others falsely and send them to their death. You are filled with idol worshipers and people who take part in lewd activities.
Men sleep with their fathers' wives and have intercourse with women who are menstruating.
Within your walls live men who commit adultery with their neighbors' wives, who defile their daughters-in-law or who rape their own sisters.
There are hired murderers, loan racketeers, and extortioners everywhere! They never even think of me and my commands, says the Sovereign LORD.
"But now I clap my hands in indignation over your dishonest gain and bloodshed.
How strong and courageous will you be in my day of reckoning? I, the LORD, have spoken! I will do what I have said.
I will scatter you among the nations and purge you of your wickedness.
And when you have been dishonored among the nations, you will know that I am the LORD."
Then this message came to me from the LORD:
"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.
So give them this message from the Sovereign LORD: Because you are all worthless slag, I will bring you to my crucible in Jerusalem.
I will melt you down in the heat of my fury, just as copper, tin, iron, and lead are melted down in a furnace.
I will gather you together and blow the fire of my anger upon you,
and you will melt like silver in fierce heat. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have poured out my fury on you."
Again a message came to me from the LORD:
"Son of man, give the people of Israel this message: In the day of my indignation, you will become like an uncleared wilderness or a desert without rain.
Your princes plot conspiracies just as lions stalk their prey. They devour innocent people, seizing treasures and extorting wealth. They increase the number of widows in the land.
Your priests have violated my laws and defiled my holy things. To them there is no difference between what is holy and what is not. And they do not teach my people the difference between what is ceremonially clean and unclean. They disregard my Sabbath days so that my holy name is greatly dishonored among them.
Your leaders are like wolves, who tear apart their victims. They actually destroy people's lives for profit!
And your prophets announce false visions and speak false messages. They say, 'My message is from the Sovereign LORD,' when the LORD hasn't spoken a single word to them. They repair cracked walls with whitewash!
Even common people oppress the poor, rob the needy, and deprive foreigners of justice.
"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.
So now I will pour out my fury on them, consuming them in the fire of my anger. I will heap on them the full penalty for all their sins, says the Sovereign LORD."
This message came to me from the LORD:
"Son of man, once there were two sisters who were daughters of the same mother.
They became prostitutes in Egypt. Even as young girls, they allowed themselves to be fondled and caressed.
The older girl was named Oholah, and her sister was Oholibah. I married them, and they bore me sons and daughters. I am speaking of Samaria and Jerusalem, for Oholah is Samaria and Oholibah is Jerusalem.
"Then Oholah lusted after other lovers instead of me, and she gave her love to the Assyrians, her neighbors.
They were all attractive young men, captains and commanders dressed in handsome blue, dashing about on their horses.
And so she prostituted herself with the most desirable men of Assyria, worshiping their idols and defiling herself.
For when she left Egypt, she did not leave her spirit of prostitution behind. She was still as lewd as in her youth, when the Egyptians satisfied their lusts with her and robbed her of her virginity.
And so I handed her over to her Assyrian lovers, whom she desired so much.
They stripped her and killed her and took away her children as their slaves. Her name was known to every woman in the land as a sinner who had received what she deserved.
"Yet even though Oholibah saw what had happened to Oholah, her sister, she followed right in her footsteps. And she was even more depraved, abandoning herself to her lust and prostitution.
She fawned over her Assyrian neighbors, those handsome young men on fine horses, those captains and commanders in handsome uniforms -- all of them desirable.
I saw the way she was going, defiling herself just like her older sister.
"Then she carried her prostitution even further. She fell in love with pictures that were painted on a wall -- pictures of Babylonian military officers, outfitted in striking red uniforms.
Handsome belts encircled their waists, and flowing turbans crowned their heads. They were dressed like chariot officers from the land of Babylonia.
When she saw these paintings, she longed to give herself to them, so she sent messengers to Babylonia to invite them to come to her.
So they came and committed adultery with her, defiling her in the bed of love. But later, she became disgusted with them and broke off their relationship.
"So I became disgusted with Oholibah, just as I was with her sister, because she flaunted herself before them and gave herself to satisfy their lusts.
But that didn't bother her. She turned to even greater prostitution, remembering her youth when she was a prostitute in Egypt.
She lusted after lovers whose attentions were gross and bestial.
And so, Oholibah, you celebrated your former days as a young girl in Egypt, when you first allowed yourself to be fondled and caressed.
"Therefore, Oholibah, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will send your lovers against you -- those very nations from which you turned away in disgust.
For the Babylonians will come with all the Chaldeans from Pekod and Shoa and Koa. And all the Assyrians will come with them -- handsome young captains, commanders, chariot officers, and other high-ranking officers, riding their horses.
They will all come against you from the north with chariots, wagons, and a great army fully prepared for attack. They will take up positions on every side, surrounding you with men armed for battle. And I will hand you over to them so they can do with you as they please.
I will turn my jealous anger against you, and they will deal furiously with you. They will cut off your nose and ears, and any survivors will then be slaughtered by the sword. Your children will be taken away as captives, and everything that is left will be burned.
They will strip you of your beautiful clothes and jewels.
In this way, I will put a stop to the lewdness and prostitution you brought from Egypt. You will never again cast longing eyes on those things or fondly remember your time in Egypt.
"For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will surely hand you over to your enemies, to those you loathe.
They will deal with you in hatred and rob you of all you own, leaving you naked and bare. The shame of your prostitution will be exposed to all the world.
You brought all this on yourself by prostituting yourself to other nations, defiling yourself with all their idols.
Because you have followed in your sister's footsteps, I will punish you with the same terrors that destroyed her.
"Yes, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: You will drink from the same cup of terror as your sister -- a cup that is large and deep. And all the world will mock and scorn you in your desolation.
You will reel like a drunkard beneath the awful blows of sorrow and distress, just as your sister Samaria did.
In deep anguish you will drain that cup of terror to the very bottom. Then you will smash it to pieces and beat your breast in anguish. For I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!
And because you have forgotten me and turned your back on me, says the Sovereign LORD, you must bear the consequences of all your lewdness and prostitution."
The LORD said to me, "Son of man, you must accuse Oholah and Oholibah of all their awful deeds.
They have committed both adultery and murder -- adultery by worshiping idols and murder by burning their children as sacrifices on their altars.
Then after doing these terrible things, they defiled my Temple and violated my Sabbath day!
On the very day that they murdered their children in front of their idols, they boldly came into my Temple to worship! They came in and defiled my house!
"You sisters sent messengers to distant lands to get men. Then when they arrived, you bathed yourselves, painted your eyelids, and put on your finest jewels for them.
You sat with them on a beautifully embroidered couch and put my incense and my oil on a table that was spread before you.
From your room came the sound of many men carousing. They were lustful men and drunkards from the wilderness, who put bracelets on your wrists and beautiful crowns on your heads.
Then I said, 'If they really want to sleep with worn-out, old prostitutes like these, let them!'
And that is what they did. They slept with Oholah and Oholibah, these shameless prostitutes, with all the zest of lustful young men.
But righteous people will judge these sister cities for what they really are -- adulteresses and murderers. They will sentence them to all the punishment they deserve.
"Now this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Bring an army against them and hand them over to be terrorized and plundered.
For their enemies will stone them and kill them with swords. They will butcher their sons and daughters and burn their homes.
In this way, I will put an end to lewdness and idolatry in the land, and my judgment will be a warning to others not to follow their wicked example.
You will be fully repaid for all your prostitution -- your worship of idols. Yes, you will suffer the full penalty! Then you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD."
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)