Today: [Ezekiel 13] The Prophet Prophesies against the Prophet. In this chapter of Ezekiel, the prophet denounces his fellow prophets who are speaking in contradiction to what God is saying through Ezekiel. What constitutes a false prophet? Is a false prophet anyone who doesn’t tell you what you want to hear? Is the validity of a prophet measure by the dire nature or his message? In our chapter we get some clear insights into both true and false prophets in Ezekiel’s day and our own.
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[Eze 13:1-23 KJV] 1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the LORD; 3 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! 4 O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. 5 Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD. 6 They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made [others] to hope that they would confirm the word. 7 Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The LORD saith [it]; albeit I have not spoken? 8 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I [am] against you, saith the Lord GOD. 9 And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I [am] the Lord GOD. 10 Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and [there was] no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered [morter]: 11 Say unto them which daub [it] with untempered [morter], that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend [it]. 12 Lo, when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said unto you, Where [is] the daubing wherewith ye have daubed [it]?
In chapter 12 of Ezekiel there is a reference to prophetic voices contradicting what the Father was saying through Ezekiel. The period of time involved is apparently during the final years of Zedekiah’s reign just prior to the 3 year siege that ended with the destruction of Jerusalem and the leveling of the temple.
The opening line “the world of the Lord came unto me…” appears 46 times in the bible, the first being in Jeremiah 1:4. The remaining references are exclusively limited to Jeremiah and Ezekiel other than 2 verses in Zecheriah. Why is this important to mention? Because Jeremiah and Ezekiel both prophesied during the same period in Judah’s history. Jeremiah was in Jerusalem speaking the word of the Lord while Ezekiel was 100’s of miles away by the river Chebar in the Babylonian captivity. There is no clear evidence that they actually knew one another but due to the prominence of their ministries, they would almost certainly have been aware of each other’s pronouncements by the word of the Lord.
Ezekiel is instructed in verse 2 to speak against the prophets back in Israel that were according to the Lord prophesying out of their own hearts. In the Old Testament, the word for prophet and the word for prophesy can apply to either a true or a false prophet. The word used for prophesy in verse 2 can also mean to “sing”. Apparently it was not uncommon for a prophet to prophesy in verse or in song as well. In this verse these prophets are described as prophesying out of their own hearts. The word for heart is “leb” which is equivalent to the Greek word “psuche” for soul. Man is made up of spirit, soul and body. The soul is comprised of the mind, will and emotions. The spirit is constituted of the intuition, the conscience and the sentience, or self-awareness. There is therefore, different internal resources that one may consult within himself to extract a word or a sense of a message from God. Because of the pressures, and the upheaval in the city of Jerusalem there were many speaking up prompted by the troublesome event of the time claiming to speak for God.
Verse 3 condemns those who speak out of their own spirit (original word “rua”, a form of “ruach” which usually applies to God’s Spirit). These prophets in verse 4 are compared to foxes in the waste places, preying upon the fears and insecurities of the people. Here is the difference between a true and a false prophet. Verse 5 declares that a true prophet will go into the gaps and make up the hedge for the people of God and be prepared to stand in battle for the Lord. What do the gaps and the hedge refer to? In every life there vulnerabilities and weaknesses that create a need for us to be connected with others with compatible strengths. A true prophet according to 1 Cor. 14:3 is one who speaks by exhortation, edification and comfort to shore up areas where the enemy comes to tempt us to depart from the living God. A true prophet is like a band or a strength to help us hold ourselves together that we might not fall to temptation. Unfortunately today as in Ezekiel 13 many prophets take on the persona of stalking the aisles in our meetings to see who they are going to rebuke or “prophesy” to next, seeing their chief purpose as exposing the very vulnerabilities in the people they are called to shore up and be a strength in the midst of. In verse 9 the Father speaks that He is against all such predatory prophets in the midst of the people.
In verse 10 the Father reproves these prophets who are contradicting Jeremiah and Ezekiel during these times as speaking peace when there was no peace. Ezekiel and Jeremiah were calling upon the people to make massive changes in their thinking while these false prophets were prophesying that things were going to go on as they were and there would be nothing to fear from the Babylonians. These are compared in verse 10-11 as a mason who would daub a wall with untampered mortar, thus giving an appearance of strength when in fact when the storms would come the building would simply collapse, destroying all within.
13 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even rend [it] with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hailstones in [my] fury to consume [it]. 14 So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed with untempered [morter], and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof: and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD. 15 Thus will I accomplish my wrath upon the wall, and upon them that have daubed it with untempered [morter], and will say unto you, The wall [is] no [more], neither they that daubed it; 16 [To wit], the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and [there is] no peace, saith the Lord GOD. 17 Likewise, thou son of man, set thy face against the daughters of thy people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy thou against them, 18 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the [women] that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye save the souls alive [that come] unto you? 19 And will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear [your] lies? 20 Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I [am] against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make [them] fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, [even] the souls that ye hunt to make [them] fly. 21 Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand to be hunted; and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD. 22 Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life: 23 Therefore ye shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver my people out of your hand: and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD.
In verses 12-14 the wall built with untampered mortar is said to be torn down by God Himself. This is speaking directly to the influence of false prophets in the midst of the people. The answer from God is to say when the exact opposite happens the people will look for these prophets and be unable to find them because as verse 9 tells us they will be removed from the assembly of the people and be seen no more. These dire warnings are directed specifically at the prophets who were prophesying peace and safety to the nation of Judah and Jerusalem when in fact exactly the opposite was about to befall her. What is wrong with speaking peace and safety? There was peace and safety offered by God during this time through the prophet Jeremiah. He had called repeatedly on the people to surrender to the Babylonians and submit to the consequences of generations of idolatry and pagan worship. So, the problem is not speaking peace and safety but doing so without requiring something of the people in terms of humbling themselves and repenting.
True prophets will always present a path of greater alignment to God’s will in the lives of those they speak to. With very few exceptions all prophecy is conditional and provisional. If the conditions and provisions are not addressed by the person receiving the word, the prophecy will fail. It isn’t enough just to say, “that is the word of the Lord”. You must do something, you must address in your life issues or situations the prophecy touches on to assure you are walking circumspectly before God. Merely believing the prophet or prophecy without entailing some accountability on your part to God that needs to be buttressed or addressed, is to treat these gifts of God as though we were repairing or resorting to a psychic or a medium.
Verse 19 speaks to the motivation of the prophets to have prophesied certain things merely for the purpose of increasing the gift given in response to the word released. The issue is not that the prophets would receive a gift from those that benefited from their ministry, but that they contorted the message specifically for the purpose of enhancing the gift and taking advantage of the people financially. Many people get this wrong. They quote Matthew 10:8 where Jesus says “freely you have received, freely give” as though it is unjust to receive an offering or a donation. If this were so then the whole concept of giving and tithing would be repudiated. Taken in context in the very next sentence the apostles were instructed not to make provision ahead of time in going out to minister because the “workman is worthy of his hire…” The message of Ezekiel 10 is not that a true prophet does not receive a reward for Ezekiel and Jeremiah themselves were known to receive benefit from their prophesying. The message is not to all the fact of a gift to influence the character of the message, but to remain true to what God is actually saying and refrain from any equivocations when speaking for the Father.
The chapter ends with a further pronouncement against these prophets because they had made the people sad when God had not purposed to make them sad. This is a great problem in preaching and prophesying today. The very picture of prophets when brought up today in our minds is of a man or woman speaking dark and intimidating messages, pandering to the apocalyptic insecurities of their followers. Verse 23 declares that all such things arise from divination and vanity. The point of all prophetic gifting is to bring the kingdom, align the focus of the people to the heart of God and give them a proceeding word that brings them to the center of the Father’s plan for their life that they might avoid the difficulties and troubles that would fall out to them if they keep going their own way.
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