The Pursuit of God

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Ezekiel 13-14: Yahweh Condemns False Prophets

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In Ezekiel 13-14 we find a very intense speech from Yahweh which gives us some fabulous insights into how He views false prophets.  Since most of the prophets you come across in the Church today are complete phonies, this passage of Scripture is very relevant to you.  It’s very dangerous business to go around speaking messages for God which He hasn’t authorized you to speak.  Even when you’re spreading sunshine and cheer by promising everyone that brighter days are coming, you are personally heading towards some very dark days if you’re speaking without God’s Authorization.  God’s Name isn’t some toy that we get to play with.  When referring to Him is just some clever marketing strategy we’re using in order to boost sales and gather customers, we’re getting in line for some very nasty discipline.  When you’re messing with God, you’re messing with the Originator of concepts like vengeance and wrath.  You’re dealing with the Creator of both Heaven and Hell—a Being who has no qualms about torturing you forever if you get too attitudinal with Him.  Given the fact that God controls your quality of life, your location, and your capacity for suffering, how stupid is it for you to intentionally provoke Him?  You can’t war against God and win. 

False prophets are like a man in the woods who keeps poking an angry bear with a stick.  You don’t want to be standing next to such a man when the bear charges forward and starts mauling him, or the bear is going to take you down as well.  In the same way, we’re going to find Yahweh warning people in our Ezekiel passage that they’d better stay clear of false prophets, or they’re going to get nailed right along with those prophets when God’s wrath lashes out.  What we’re going to learn from Yahweh is that prophecy is not a game, and not something we should be treating casually.  As a Christian you really shouldn’t be asking any human prophet for guidance without first asking God what He thinks about that person.  Is God okay with you going to that person for help?  What kind of spiritual priorities is the prophet modeling?  What kinds of priorities is he teaching you to have?  Is the prophet treating God with sober respect, or is he merely using God as a tool to promote himself?  Who is the prophet encouraging you to trust in?

When God is the One speaking through a human prophet, you’ll find that God is the One being exalted.  God always pulls our attention onto Himself—He doesn’t glorify His human instruments.  There are certain soul attitudes which God wants us all to cultivate—things like reverence, submission, dependency and trust.  When God speaks to you directly, He’ll be encouraging you to cultivate these things.  When God speaks to you through a prophet, He’ll also be encouraging you to cultivate these same things.  There are very consistent themes that come up over and over again in messages from God, and true prophets stay on theme.  But false prophets are notorious for reversing God’s truths and priorities.  False prophets want you to depend on them, not God.  They want a piece of the glory.  They want credit and attention for being God’s mouthpieces.  They try to get you focused on them, instead of pushing you to focus on God.  They enjoy talking about themselves.  The more money you give them, the more pleasant their “words” from God to you become.

False prophets are famous for discouraging sincere souls from pursuing God and encouraging rebels to remain rebellious.  They discourage you from thinking for yourself, and they try to pull rank on you by insisting that they’re more dialed into God than you are.  False prophets are toxic to your spiritual health, but they are very good at hooking your ego, which is why they gather so many fans.  Everyone likes the idea of thinking they can coast into Heaven on their own terms, or defy God without consequences.  False prophets tell people what they want to hear—that’s how they become so popular and maintain large numbers of fans.  But true prophets pass on actual messages from God, and since God isn’t into stroking egos and applauding rebellion, true prophets are very off-putting to spiritual rebels.

Those who are defying God are already trying to tune out His convictions, and they get very huffy when prophets voice those same convictions out loud.  Since spiritual rebels have always outnumbered the obedient souls, true prophets have never been popular.  This is why it’s such a crock to think you can actually thrive as a full time prophet.  In the world of prophecy there are only two options: either obey God and watch your general reputation among Christians become increasingly negative, or disobey God, get famous among Christians, and then pay eternal consequences for your defiance.  Prophesying for God doesn’t come with any worldly perks: it only brings you a bunch of grief.  True prophets have to draw all of their encouragement from their personal walks with God—they won’t be able to count on human fans to keep them going.  And since God takes a very dim view of people trying to sell truth to people, the whole notion of trying to make a buck off of the messages God gives you is one that you have to scrub out of your brain.  You can’t do it for the money, because there is none. You can’t do it for the acclaim, because there won’t be any.  The only motivation true prophets have for prophesying is to obey God.  If He isn’t really your First Priority in life, then you’re going to tank Jonah style very early on.  God is notorious for putting His prophets through many hellish assignments.  He sets them up to look like idiots in the eyes of other people, He commands them to do very humiliating and degrading things, He often lets them get brutally persecuted by their human enemies, and He often keeps their material supplies down to a minimum.  So this calling isn’t for the half-committed.  You have to be all in if you’re going to succeed at being a prophet, and you have to be all about God.  If you’re doing it for yourself, you’re going to end up in a major mess.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

So now that we have an idea of what the prophetic calling is about, let’s talk about the historical context of Ezekiel 13.  At this point in history, Israel’s glory days are a nothing but a distant memory.  The once proud nation has been reduced to a tiny postage stamp of territory named Judah, and that’s about to be taken over by the rapidly expanding Babylonian Empire.  The Babylonians already consider Judah to be their territory, but so far they’ve been allowing the Jews to pay for the privilege of governing themselves.  That hefty fine is called a tribute—it’s when a stronger nation says to a weaker nation, “If you make regular payments to me, I won’t come and destroy you with my superior army.”  Of course the stronger nation decides how much the payments will be and how often those payments will be made.  And of course strong nations get greedy, and their hefty fines negatively affect the economy of the nations they are bullying.  Judah has been getting bullied by the Babylonians for quite some time, and Jewish kings have tried to revolt by making secret military alliances with other nations.  Picture the wimpy kids getting together on a schoolyard and saying, “If we team up, maybe we can finally beat up that bully who keeps hassling us and then we won’t keep having to give him our lunch money.”  This is what you do when you’re the king of a nation that’s getting hit with tributes: you try to find another king of another nation who hates your oppressor as much as you do.  For Judah, her best chance of fighting back was to reach out to the Pharaoh of Egypt.  Pharaoh had a beefy army—Judah did not.  With Pharaoh’s help, Judah had a chance of getting the Babylonians to back off.

Well, the problem with forming secret alliances is that someone always rats you out.  This was long before the days of emails and text messaging.  There’s only so secret you can be when you have to send a large caravan of folks all the way down to Egypt to try and talk Pharaoh into helping you. And of course Pharaoh won’t help for free—you have to bribe him with goodies, and those goodies have to be transported by camels and horses.  The whole thing is an awkward mess, and even if you avoid the main travel routes, someone always finds out and word gets back to Babylon.  The king of Babylon then gets ticked because you’re rebelling against his authority, and soon a massive army is invading Judah, burning towns, chopping people down with swords, and dragging a bunch more away as slaves.  By the time of Ezekiel 13, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has already attacked Judah twice as a direct response to the current Jewish king trying to organize a revolt.  In each of the two attacks, a bunch of Jews were hauled off as slaves and permanently relocated in territories within the Babylonian Empire.  It was during the first strike that the prophet Daniel was kidnapped and hauled away.  During the second strike, the prophet Ezekiel was hauled away, only he wasn’t a prophet at that time.  Daniel and Ezekiel were both relocated to the city of Babylon, which was the capital of the Babylonian Empire.  It was after Ezekiel was resettled in his miserable new home that Yahweh suddenly announced that Ezekiel was to serve as His prophet.  Talk about God complicating your life.

So now we have Ezekiel living in a community of other Jews who were also dragged off by the Babylonians.  The whole disgruntled group is now stuck living among people they hate miles and miles away from their beloved homeland.  Naturally everyone wants to know what’s happening back home.  Well, Yahweh is giving them plenty of updates through Ezekiel’s mouth.  Even though Ezekiel hasn’t been home in years, Yahweh gives him all kinds of news updates and shocking visions which help Ezekiel understand just how bad things are back in Judah.  And they are very bad.  The Jews are in a very dark place spiritually: they are fiercely devoted to false gods while they openly mock Yahweh.

The prophet Jeremiah is also alive at this time, and he’s living and preaching in the city of Jerusalem.  At the same time, miles away, Ezekiel is preaching to the Jewish exiles that he’s living with.  Jeremiah and Ezekiel are saying a lot of the same things, because the same God is addressing the same issues through both of them.  The Jews are a bunch of rebellious punks: this is the theme that Yahweh hammers over and over again.  They’ve been such unrepentant snarkers for so long, that Yahweh’s patience has come to an end. Soon He’s going to send in the Babylonian army to totally destroy Jerusalem and His Temple—burning both to the ground.  This idea is utterly shocking to the Jews.  Jerusalem has never been destroyed before and it’s been standing for centuries.  So there’s a whole lot of mockery going on when Jeremiah and Ezekiel warn of what’s coming.  The Jews just don’t want to believe that God will make good on His threats.  They scoff.  They mock the prophets.  And while they blow off what Jeremiah and Ezekiel are saying, they pay false prophets to tell them what they really want to hear: that Yahweh is going to destroy the Babylonians, free Israel, and make everything happy again.  No, He’s really not.  But the Jews like what the false prophets have to say, and new false prophets are springing up all the time.  Meanwhile, everyone knows who the real prophets are, and some Jews figure they should play it smart by pretending to respect Ezekiel while they really hate him.  And of course when people really get in a jam, they go running to the real prophets for help, and naturally they expect Yahweh to instantly give them guidance.  They figure that it shouldn’t matter how much attitude they’re giving God on a daily basis—when they ring the bell, He ought to come running, because He exists to serve them.  Sound familiar?

This kind of entitled attitude is very popular among Christians today.  We spend all week disrespecting all three of our Gods, then we go to church, fire up the music, and order the Holy Spirit to “Come and fill this place” in some snarky worship song (see Songs that God Hates: Holy Spirit Come Fill This Place).  Or maybe we tell Yahweh to let His glory fall (see Offensive Worship Songs: LORD, LET YOUR GLORY FALL by Matt Redman). Or perhaps we plead with Jesus to abide with us while we keep rejecting every truth He puts in front of us (see Faithless Worship Songs: ABIDE WITH ME by Matt Redman).  As humans, we want zero accountability and all of the control.  We want to do whatever we want, and have our Gods rush to our aid the moment we call out to Them.  And yet will we never see the day that our Gods will serve us like this.

EZEKIEL 13

So now that we understand what foul attitudes Ezekiel’s people have towards Yahweh, let’s get into the text.  It’s at the beginning of Ezekiel 13 that Yahweh begins a long speech in which He specifically addresses the issue of false prophets intentionally using His Name to promote themselves and add credibility to the lies they are telling.  Yahweh now commands Ezekiel—who He refers to by the nickname son of man—to speak out against these shameless rebels.

Then this message came to me from Yahweh: “Son of man, prophesy against the false prophets of Israel who are inventing their own prophecies. Say to them, ‘Listen to the word of Yahweh. This is what the Sovereign Yahweh says: What sorrow awaits the false prophets who are following their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all!’

O people of Israel, these prophets of yours are like jackals digging in the ruins. They have done nothing to repair the breaks in the walls around the nation. They have not helped it to stand firm in battle on the day of Yahweh. Instead, they have told lies and made false predictions. They say, ‘This message is from Yahweh,’ even though Yahweh never sent them. And yet they expect Him to fulfill their prophecies! Can your visions be anything but false if you claim, ‘This message is from Yahweh,’ when I have not even spoken to you?” (Eze. 13:1-6)

Jackals are a type of wild dog.  Jackals operate like vultures: they like to rip off prey that other animals have killed instead of going to the trouble of killing their own.  Jackals show up where the bodies are.  You’ll find many references to jackals and vultures in biblical prophecy when God is talking about mass destruction.  The idea is that you don’t want to be where the jackals are, because if the jackals are coming, then something really bad happened and there are a bunch of dead bodies lying around.  When Yahweh likens false Jewish prophets to jackals, He’s not only being insulting on purpose, but He’s also making a very sobering point that false prophets are intimately associated with spiritual destruction.  They want souls to stagnate.  They love dragging people down spiritually.  False prophets are like jackals who sniff the wind for the smell of death, then they go find some writhing soul who they can start ripping apart.  False prophets thrive off of the rebellion of others, so they are all about encouraging that rebellion to keep going.  They’ll do anything to drive souls away from things like repentance, reverence, and submission.  And while they’re encouraging people to defy God, they boldly claim to be favored by God and they tell lie after lie in His Name.

Well, it’s quite obvious to Yahweh that He is not the Source of the messages that these lying prophets are spreading.  These jackals are just making stuff up—coming up with “Divine revelations” that say what they think their customers will want to hear.  So what does Yahweh have to say to these false prophets?  He says that He’s going to destroy them.

“Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Yahweh says: Because what you say is false and your visions are a lie, I will stand against you, says the Sovereign Yahweh. I will raise My fist against all the prophets who see false visions and make lying predictions, and they will be banished from the community of Israel. I will blot their names from Israel’s record books, and they will never again set foot in their own land. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Yahweh.” (Eze. 13:8-9)

Remember that the Jews Yahweh is addressing here are stuck in Babylon: miles and miles away from their homeland.  Naturally all of these people are longing to return home very soon.  But Yahweh tells the false prophets that they will never go home again.  He is going to kill them all off.  Then He says that He’ll blot their names from the history books—meaning that He’ll make sure they’re never remembered.  You have to be an ancient Jew to appreciate how upsetting this language is.  These Jews were obsessed with ancestry and with being remembered long after they were gone.  These were silly obsessions, but it’s where they were at, and Yahweh is intentionally using their cultural values to His advantage when He says He’ll make sure these Jews are never remembered.

When God is speaking to Jews, He talks like a Jew: this is a critical point to bear in mind when you’re trying to understand a passage in the Bible.  Ethnic Jews are God’s primary audience in the Bible, so you’ll find Him frequently using Jewish sayings and referring to Jewish cultural values and superstitions.  Even though Ezekiel 13 is full of bad news, it’s very encouraging to see how much Yahweh personalizes His language to make sense to His original audience.  If God were talking to modern Americans, He would be using very different language, because modern American culture is quite different than ancient Jewish culture.  What does it tell us about God that He should go to the effort of talking to each of us within our own cultural and historical context?  How neat is it that the God of the universe even bothers to stay up to date on our cultural sayings and beliefs?  Why should He care about the details of our tiny little lives?  Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are very involved Creators.  They don’t just rule over us from afar.  They know us inside and out. They understand how we think, how we perceive the world, and what we care about.  When They speak to us, They intentionally use language and metaphors that we can easily understand.  This is how wonderful and accessible our Creators are.

Now as we said earlier, false prophets love to reverse God’s truth.  Jerusalem is about to be flattened, and Yahweh’s been warning people about this over and over again.  Sometimes averting a disaster just isn’t an option.  Sometimes God is too fed up to offer us the chance to skate out of the discipline that we deserve.  But even when He’s resolved to bring disaster down on us, He’ll still give us hope by telling us how we can thrive in the midst of the bad times.

Today we’re rapidly closing in on the end times.  It’s going to be a frightening period—there’s no getting out of that.  But when God speaks about the end times through His prophets, is He just going to scare us with a bunch of dire predictions that leave us feeling overwhelmed with anxiety and fear? Certainly not.  When God delivers bad news to souls who care about pleasing Him, He always includes a measure of hope.  He encourages us to keep pursuing Him through the tough times, and He reminds us that He will be with us at all times.  These are important principles to bear in mind the next time you hear some Christian prophet talking about the end times.  Look for the positives within the negatives.  Listen for inspiration to keep pursuing God.  Listen for hope.  If all you’re hearing is doom and gloom, then God isn’t the One talking.

Now back in Ezekiel 13, these Jews are coming up on a period that will feel like a version of the end times to them.  The fall of Jerusalem is a horrifying idea.  No one can fathom it.  Real prophets would be trying to prepare people spiritually for what’s coming by encouraging them to pursue the right spiritual priorities.  But the false prophets in Babylon are telling everyone that the destruction will never come.  They’re saying Jerusalem won’t fall and that Ezekiel is a blowhard.  They’re encouraging everyone to cling to false hopes, and Yahweh is now going to liken that hope to a weak wall which is unable to withstand any force against it.  Then He says He’s going to smash that wall of false hope and prove what liars these false prophets are.  And of course by this He is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple—events which the false prophets keep insisting won’t happen.

“This will happen because these evil prophets deceive My people by saying, ‘All is peaceful’ when there is no peace at all! It’s as if the people have built a flimsy wall, and these prophets are trying to reinforce it by covering it with whitewash!  Tell these whitewashers that their wall will soon fall down. A heavy rainstorm will undermine it; great hailstones and mighty winds will knock it down.  And when the wall falls, the people will cry out, ‘What happened to your whitewash?’

Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Yahweh says: I will sweep away your whitewashed wall with a storm of indignation, with a great flood of anger, and with hailstones of fury.  I will break down your wall right to its foundation, and when it falls, it will crush you. Then you will know that I am Yahweh.  At last My anger against the wall and those who covered it with whitewash will be satisfied. Then I will say to you: ‘The wall and those who whitewashed it are both gone.  They were lying prophets who claimed peace would come to Jerusalem when there was no peace. I, the Sovereign Yahweh, have spoken!’” (Eze. 13:10-16)

When we blow off God’s warnings and act like He can’t be serious whenever He says something we don’t want to hear, are we respecting Him?  Not hardly.  Remember that false prophets only become popular because there are a bunch of people who like what they are saying.  These Jews who have been exiled to Babylon all want to believe that somehow, someway, Yahweh will destroy the Babylonians and restore Israel to glory.  A bunch of commoners are clinging to this delusion, and false prophets are encouraging the delusion by declaring it to be true in the Name of Yahweh.  But of course it’s not, and soon everyone will be forced to face the truth when Jerusalem falls.

Now in the world of false prophecy, drama abounds.  Some false prophets like to dress up in special clothes, or use magic talismans.  And of course selling people magical props was just as popular then as it is today.  Today we’ve got Christian prophets shamelessly selling all manner of paraphernalia which they claim has been infused with supernatural power.  Whether it’s holy water, holy oil, or some sacred cross which Prophet Blowhard claims to have personally anointed with his own magic hands, the whole thing is just a scam.  Don’t ever buy something that some fathead has claimed to have breathed on, prayed over, blessed, or touched.  Stay away from people who strut around acting like they can control the flow of God’s power.  No fleck of a human tells God Almighty what to do.  Prophets, healers, and exorcists who regularly use props as a part of their shows are just encouraging you to revere inanimate things.  After you watch Exorcist Bob chasing demons away with his special jeweled cross enough times, you’ll be flocking to Bob’s internet store when he announces that he’s selling replicas of his cross that you can hang up in your house to keep those evil spirits at bay.  The problem is that Bob is rebelling against God, and the cross is just a useless bit of metal.  So when you buy Bob’s products and worship the man and his materials, you’re just getting yourself in trouble with God.  Don’t be so quick to give your awe away to every spiritual con artist who comes along.  Ask God what He thinks and wait for Him to answer you before you make a judgment.

So what does Yahweh have to say to Jewish women who are selling a bunch of magical props to the suckers around them?  What does He think about women who are actually trying to make a buck off of other people’s spiritual ignorance and willful rebellion?

“Now, son of man, speak out against the women who prophesy from their own imaginations. This is what the Sovereign Yahweh says: What sorrow awaits you women who are ensnaring the souls of My people, young and old alike. You tie magic charms on their wrists and furnish them with magic veils. Do you think you can trap others without bringing destruction on yourselves? You bring shame on Me among My people for a few handfuls of barley or a piece of bread. By lying to My people who love to listen to lies, you kill those who should not die, and you promise life to those who should not live.

This is what the Sovereign Yahweh says: I am against all your magic charms, which you use to ensnare My people like birds. I will tear them from your arms, setting My people free like birds set free from a cage. I will tear off the magic veils and save My people from your grasp. They will no longer be your victims. Then you will know that I am Yahweh.” (Eze. 13:17-21)

Notice how Yahweh says these false prophetesses are discouraging those who are sincerely seeking Him and encouraging those who are defying Him.  He says that these women “kill those who should not die and promise life to those who should not live.”  False prophets are notorious for calling down Divine curses on those who are sincerely seeking God while prophesying prosperity for those who hate God.  Why is this?  Because false prophets thrive off of spiritual rebellion.  They hate obedient souls, so they drive them away and try to make them give up in their pursuit of God by insisting that God is angry with them.

Today most Christians are very bad at spiritual discernment.  This is a learned skill which takes a lot of practice to refine.  Real spiritual discernment isn’t taught in most churches today.  Instead, like prophecy, the whole concept of spiritual discernment has been turned into a carnal game. Christians are taught to rely on their emotions to “sense” God and demons.  They are taught to stand on promises which God never gave them, and they’re armed with spiritual warfare techniques which only strengthen the advantage demons have over them.  Well, when we’re not good at discernment, we reject the truth and we embrace lies.  Here in Ezekiel 13, there are some souls with very poor discernment skills who are getting totally suckered by these lying prophetesses.  When these malicious women say “Yahweh says that He hates you,” to some sincere soul, that soul immediately accepts the message and becomes sad and discouraged in his walk with God.  Of course the prophetesses love to see how effectively they are discouraging sincere souls, but Yahweh says these women are going to be punished for what they’re doing.

“You have discouraged the righteous with your lies, but I didn’t want them to be sad. And you have encouraged the wicked by promising them life, even though they continue in their sins. Because of all this, you will no longer talk of seeing visions that you never saw, nor will you make predictions. For I will rescue My people from your grasp. Then you will know that I am Yahweh.” (Eze. 13:22-23)

Now here you might be wondering: why does Yahweh let the good guys feel so discouraged?  Well, there are two principle to bear in mind here.  One is that God teaches us all in a different order, and sometimes He has us go through a period of being deceived by lying leaders in order to teach us how important it is to depend on Him.  The second principle to bear in mind is that we often walk into these traps by refusing to ask God for discernment.  God isn’t going to just write it in the sky for us whenever we meet with some false prophet.  Often He will be quietly whispering to our souls, reminding us that we need to ask Him for His input before we make a judgment.  We then blow off His conviction only to complain later on when He allows us to be duped.  Well, why should God cover our path with rose petals when we’re refusing to respect Him?  You see, treating God as the Supreme Authority of your life has implications to it.  If He’s really the King, you need to treat Him like One, and that means you take the time to ask Him what He thinks before you just go running off in some direction that seems right to you.

Suppose you were misquoted in the news.  When your friend reads the misquote, wouldn’t you want him to check with you before just believing it?  If instead he went around spreading the misquote like it was a rock solid truth, wouldn’t you be upset?  Yes, because your friend isn’t showing you much respect by just believing any gossip that someone else is spreading about you.  In the same way, we Christians are really disrespecting God when we never give Him the chance to voice His own opinion about the things people say about Him.  So what if someone claims to be a prophet?  Any fool can attach that title to himself.  Any ego can attach the phrase “In the Name of Jesus” or “God says” to something she is saying.  God doesn’t hold you responsible for the lies other people spread about Him, but He does say that you need to ask Him yourself when you want to know if something is true or not.  He says that He is your only Source of truth.  Your pastor, some prophet, a Christian website like ours—none of these things can take God’s place in your life.  If you want to know the truth, you have to go to God.  If you’re not going to God because you’re being lazy or you don’t want to have to wait for Him to answer you, then you’re just asking for Him to set you up for a painful fall.  Yes, it’s quite true that God often doesn’t answer us as fast as we want Him to.  But He’s God—what does that mean to you?  Since when does God have to abide by your schedule?  See the problem?  All of our fussing about how long God takes to answer us comes down to an issue of submission.  God talks when He’s ready to talk.  We can’t pry His mouth open for Him.  But we’re saying a lot about how little we respect Him when we aren’t even bothering to ask Him for His opinion.

EZEKIEL 14

We’ve now made it through all of Ezekiel 13, but Yahweh is still talking about this issue of false prophets as we start Chapter 14.  So if we’re going to get the whole message, we need to keep reading.

As we start Chapter 14, the prophet Ezekiel pipes up with an explanatory note.  We learn from other passages in Ezekiel that there is a core group of leaders from the local Jewish community who are in a habit of regularly visiting Ezekiel to see if the prophet of Yahweh has received any new words.  In their guts, these men know that Ezekiel is the real deal, but after they leave his house, they like to snicker about him to others.  For them, visiting the prophet is just a pretense—a way to try and stay on good terms with Yahweh by pretending to care about Him.  After all, when things get really  bad, it will be Yahweh who the Jews call on for help.  So it’s good to keep in touch with Yahweh’s prophets.  A little schmoozing today might help get Yahweh in gear faster if a crisis comes tomorrow.

Well, at the start of Chapter 14 the regular group of hypocrites has once again shown up at Ezekiel’s place and they’re all pretending to be interested in any newsflash that Ezekiel has to give them.  To appreciate what a freakish spectacle Ezekiel is to these people, realize that Yahweh has miraculously glued Ezekiel’s tongue to the roof of his mouth (see Know Your Bible Lesson 31: Ezekiel Begins).  The man literally can’t say anything intelligible between prophecies.  It’s only when Yahweh has something to say through Ezekiel that his tongue suddenly becomes freed up.  Then, as soon as Ezekiel finishes delivering Yahweh’s message, his tongue freezes up again.  Ezekiel was stuck in this half-muted state for seven very long years, and during that time he had to endure many other miserable assignments.  Such are the challenges of being a true prophet of God.

So, is the freak going to have his tongue loosened today?  This is always what folks are wondering when they come into Ezekiel’s house and sit down to stare at him with expectant faces.  To try and get the show rolling, some of the guys ask questions that make it sound like they are looking for some advice from Yahweh.  “Ezekiel, please inquire of Yahweh for me,” is a great opening line.  But of course no one gives a hoot about what Yahweh has to say, because all of these rebels are worshiping false gods in their own homes.  At the start of Chapter 14, Ezekiel has his usual audience of gawkers trying to probe some answer out of him when suddenly his tongue becomes unglued.

Then some of the leaders of Israel visited me, and while they were sitting with me, this message came to me from Yahweh: “Son of man, these leaders have set up idols in their hearts. They have embraced things that will make them fall into sin. Why should I listen to their requests? Tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Yahweh says: The people of Israel have set up idols in their hearts and fallen into sin, and then they go to a prophet asking for a message. So I, Yahweh, will give them the kind of answer their great idolatry deserves. I will do this to capture the minds and hearts of all My people who have turned from Me to worship their detestable idols.’” (Eze. 14:1-5)

God never falls for our phony acts.  Here He accuses Ezekiel’s visitors of being a bunch of posers.  He says, “Why should I give you punks guidance when you are worshiping other gods in your hearts?  What kind of idiot do you think I am not to see through this phony act you put on?  You don’t really care about My opinion, and we both know it.  So I’ll answer you, alright—but it won’t be the kind of answer you want!”

So what kind of answer will Yahweh give these punks and all the other Jews in this community who are trying to play these games with Him?

“Therefore, tell the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Yahweh says: Repent and turn away from your idols, and stop all your detestable sins. I, Yahweh, will answer all those, both Israelites and foreigners, who reject Me and set up idols in their hearts and so fall into sin, and who then come to a prophet asking for My advice. I will turn against such people and make a terrible example of them, eliminating them from among My people. Then you will know that I am Yahweh.” (Eze. 14:6-8)

First Yahweh orders these rebels to repent while there is still time.  But if they don’t, then He says He will cut them off.  When Yahweh says He’s going to eliminate these rebels from among His people, He’s talking about eternal damnation.  It’s dangerous to play games with God.

Well what about all of the false prophets in this community?  And what about all the Jews who are keeping those false prophets in business by always going to them for advice?

“And if a prophet is deceived into giving a message, it is because I, Yahweh, have deceived that prophet. I will lift My fist against such prophets and cut them off from the community of Israel. False prophets and those who seek their guidance will all be punished for their sins. In this way, the people of Israel will learn not to stray from Me, polluting themselves with sin. They will be My people, and I will be their God. I, the Sovereign Yahweh, have spoken!’” (Eze. 14:9-11)

Wait—what happened to God never lying or deceiving people?  That’s nothing more than a Christian myth. God lies all throughout the Bible and He’s quite open about it.  Here He says quite plainly that He sometimes deceives false prophets into saying false messages just to mess with them and their followers.  You see, God isn’t like the superhero who refuses to fight dirty while his evil foe throws morals out the window. God plays dirty.  God turns the tables on us all the time.  When we try to cheat, He has us get cheated.  When we try to make a career out of lying, He delights in deceiving us.  God isn’t intimidated by anything, and there are no limits to the kinds of methods He’s willing to use to spank our rebellious behinds.  So when you provoke God, you’re not going up against Someone predictable.  There is no rulebook He is bound to which you can use to predict His next move.  These false prophets in Ezekiel’s community are forgetting how easy it is for Yahweh to scramble their brains.  They think they are so clever—so in control of the situation.  And yet Yahweh says that sometimes He tricks false prophets into passing on some lie that He puts into their brains—a lie that He wants both them and their followers to believe in and be led astray by.  He says that He’s going to make an example out of all of these rebels which will cause other souls to sober up and realize what a dangerous game it is to turn against Him.

CONCLUSION

We’ve now come to the end of the speech against false prophets.  By going through this passage, we’ve learned that false prophets aren’t getting away with anything.  God knows when we are putting words in His mouth which He never authorized us to say, and the angry tone of this passage makes us realize how strongly God feels about us abusing His Name like this.  So do you want to pal around with false prophets?  No, you want to stay far away from such people.  But how do you know who they are?  You need to ask God. 

All of the people who Yahweh is threatening to destroy and damn in this passage from Ezekiel have two things in common: they’re not really seeking God’s guidance, nor are they serious about honoring Him.  The false prophets are just interested in manipulating people for their own selfish gain.  The followers of false prophets are just paying people to tell them what they want to hear.  In our material, we are constantly telling you to talk to God directly in life.  You can’t stay on the right side of His wrath when you’re just winging it or letting your ego be your guide, or just following people who say what you want to hear.  You need to talk to God.  Even when He’s not giving you some specific answer, your soul’s receptive attitude towards Him is what will keep you on the right path.  You need to care about pleasing Him.  If you know you really don’t care very much about pleasing Him, ask Him to help you. God is so easy to succeed with, and so terrifying to cross.  Why would you want to risk provoking Him?

FURTHER READING:
Ezekiel 14: Yahweh Stands Alone
Parables of Yahweh: The Rusty Stewpot (Ezekiel 24)
Psalm 137: Dashing Infants & Disparaging Yahweh
Aligning with a God of Extremes: How should we respond to spiritual rebellion?
Metaphors from Yahweh: Rebellious Underwear (Jeremiah 13)
Jeremiah 2-3: Yahweh Justifies His Wrath
The End Time Prophet: Driving Us Closer to God
Understanding Moses: Identifying Soul Attitudes in Deuteronomy 8
The Prophetic Books of the Bible: Who’s Talking?
Guidance for Prophets: When God Destroys Your Reputation
Being the Voice of God: Guidance for Prophets
Serving a God Who Lies
Recognizing Wolves: By Their Fruits You Won’t Know Them

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