In the first twelve chapters of Ezekiel, we have seen God call this man to the prophetic ministry. The Word of the Lord has come to Ezekiel in both vision and words, and he has been faithful to communicate these prophecies to the people in the ways that God commanded: some of it has been verbal, and the rest of it has been visual.
Ezekiel has proven to be faithful, in spite of the difficulty and personal suffering this has brought him. But in stark contrast to this faithful prophet are the false prophets. And we're going to be hearing quite a bit about them in this chapter...
The Lord tells Ezekiel to warn Israel that the false prophets will be headed towards destruction.
Notice what God says about them: They prophesy from their own inspiration (v. 2) and follow their own spirit (v. 3). In other words, their "prophecies" are stuff that they're making up in their own minds. Whatever they feel like saying, they just attribute it to God to give their words authority.
This sounds an awful lot like many "preachers" today. Men in the pulpits who are preaching their own words instead of God's Word. I never cease to be amazed at the lack of the fear of the Lord on the part of these so-called "preachers" and "prophets." They don't seem to be afraid at all of the wrath of God as they preach for the purpose of getting people to give them money, or as they propagate the most unbiblical heresies.
I think that anyone who claims to be giving God's opinion on any matter should walk with trepidation unless they are directly quoting in context from the Word of God. But especially those who have been put in a position of authority. I always have the words of James near the forefront of my mind:
James 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.
And Peter said,
2Pet. 1:20-2:3 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
Men who preach their own words in the name of God will meet a terrible end. Their destruction is certain. Remember that while Ezekiel warned the Jews in Babylon, Jeremiah was down in Jerusalem with the same message.
Jer. 14:14-15 Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who are prophesying in My name, although it was not I who sent them—yet they keep saying, 'There will be no sword or famine in this land’—by sword and famine those prophets shall meet their end!
As these false preachers and prophets proclaim their own truth, God will often bring judgment upon them that is exactly the opposite - proving that what they said was false. The man teaching the prosperity doctrine may wind up in bankruptcy. The faith healer may die of cancer. The one who claims to have prophetic knowledge will have events come upon him unawares. In this case, the false prophets were saying, "Babylon won't attack," so God would kill them at the hand of the Babylonians when they attacked.
Verses four and five are a bit hard to understand. The Lord says that the prophets are "like foxes among ruins," and that they did not go up into the breaches or build the wall. What does all this mean?
Foxes will make their dens among ruins - basically they are benefitting from someone's disaster. That's what the false prophets were doing - benefitting from impending doom, not caring about the destruction to come.
God was looking for true prophets - men who would stand in the gap and be a protection to Israel. This is what He means by, "You have not gone up into the breaches." He wanted a man like Moses. The Psalmist referred back to their rebellious days in the wilderness and said,
Psa. 106:23 Therefore He said that He would destroy them, had not Moses His chosen one stood in the breach before Him, to turn away His wrath from destroying them.
Moses stood in the breach, protecting Israel through intercession. These are the kind of guys God wants. In chapter 22, He will tell Ezekiel,
Ezek. 22:30 “I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.
These false prophets were just making things up, and hoping that enough of it came true so that their audiences would believe them. This is how our modern-day "psychics" operate as well. Each year, magazines, tabloids, and TV shows bring on so-called "expert psychics," who make their predications for the upcoming year. But how many reprint them a year later with the headline, "100% accuracy"?
With educated guessing, anyone can get some percentage of accurate predictions. For example, the 1981 "Book of Predictions," published by Amy Wallace, graduate of Berkeley (actually, a six-week program of the Berkeley Psychic Institute), had some correct predictions. Fifteen years after publication, the accuracy rate was shown to be 6%. Of course, the accurate predictions were things like, "by 1985, a bloody conflict will erupt between India and Pakistan." Predicting a conflict like that over a four-year span doesn't exactly take a psychic, however.
And so the false prophets banked on some of their words being fulfilled, to keep their audiences coming back.
God was upset with the false prophets for misleading His people. They had the attention and the audience of God's people, even though they weren't speaking the Word of God. Jeremiah quoted the Lord as saying,
Jer. 5:30-31 “An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?"
They were supposed to be God's people, but they were listening to false prophecies. The same is true in our day. Paul warned young pastor Timothy,
2Tim. 4:1-4 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
Many in the so-called "church" have turned aside to listen to teachers that will tickle their ears. But they don't realize how they are starving themselves. Instead of meat, they're eating cotton candy. Saints, the Word is where it's at, and what will give us life:
Jer. 23:29-32 “Is not My word like fire?” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock? Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the LORD, “who steal My words from each other. Behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the LORD, “who use their tongues and declare, 'The Lord declares.’ Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,” declares the LORD, “and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,” declares the LORD.
Like the "foxes" comment earlier, this statement about "plastering" has confused many. The statement is made against those who were listening to the false prophets. "Go ahead, build a wall, paint it up," they would say. "We're going to be around for a long time, we'll be safe." But they weren't safe. And those who paid heed to the false prophets and built their houses, fences, or walls would watch them be destroyed.
It was not only men that were falsely standing in the place of God's prophets. There were also women. However, they took a more mystical, magical, supernatural stance. They were more steeped in sorcery and witchcraft.
They would sew "magic bands" onto people's wrists (v. 18). While the false prophets were speaking "lying divinations," the false prophetesses were practicing divination (v. 23). They utilized the barley bread and veils of Babylonian and Egyptian witchcraft (v. 18-19).
Their prophesying was equivalent to hunting down lives (v. 18), because they would cause the deaths of those they prophesy to. Make no mistake about it - it is utterly dangerous to listen to these so-called prophetesses. God said to Jeremiah,
Jer. 14:16 “The people also to whom they are prophesying will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and there will be no one to bury them—neither them, nor their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters—for I will pour out their own wickedness on them.
Saints, Halloween has come and gone again this year. And again, we saw many Christians participating in this so-called "harmless" holiday. Witches and goblins - it's all just "fun" right? Wrong. "Harry Potter" books just encourage kids to read, right? Wrong. Oujia boards are just a party pastime, right? Wrong. Horoscopes are just something fun next to the comics page, right? Wrong. All manner of, or association with, sorcery, witchcraft, divination, etc. is a death sentence.
Deut. 18:10-12 “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD
God tells the false prophetesses that he will tear the magic bands from their arms (v. 20) and rip the veils from their heads (v. 21). For causing His people to stumble, they are going to pay dearly.
Next week, we will see God turn His attention to the leaders of the Jews.