BEWARE of ‘FALSE PROPHETS’ and their ‘FALSE PROPHECIES’
August 30 Bible Reading: Ezekiel Chapters 13-15
And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy out of their own heart, ‘Hear the word of the Lord!’” Thus says the Lord God: “Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! O Israel, your prophets are like foxes in the deserts. You have not gone up into the gaps to build a wall for the house of Israel to stand in battle on the day of the Lord. They have envisioned futility and false divination, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord!’ But the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope that the word may be confirmed. Have you not seen a futile vision, and have you not spoken false divination? You say, ‘The Lord says,’ but I have not spoken.” (Ezek. 13:1-7)
The above passage details the judgment of God that Ezekiel delivers against the false prophets of Israel, both male (vv. 1–16) and female (vv. 17–23). In each case he first vividly characterizes their specific sins (vv. 1–7, 17–19), and then gives God’s verdict of condemnation against the perpetrators of these sins (vv. 8–16, 20–23). In fact, these false prophets were leading the nation of Israel astray, as their messages came from “their own imagination” and were not from God. They used the words, “The Lord says,” but it was a lie, and a false divination!
Denis Lane in his classic book "The Cloud and the Silver Lining" explains the preaching and prophesying made by these false prophets during the time of Ezekiel with these words: "It never rose higher than the preachers’ own minds. It deceptively claimed to be God’s word. It had no practical or useful effect. It offered cheap grace and a false peace. It simply endorsed the latest world view." Ezekiel’s condemnation of these “foolish prophets” was prompted by their determination to proclaim messages from “their own hearts” and to go “their own ways” (v. 17; Prov. 12:15; Isa. 53:6).
These false prophets attempted to build a false social and moral structure that will not stand up before God, who will use the storm out of the north (Babylon) to destroy it. These prophets were fools because they confused their own thoughts with God’s. They were like foxes among the ruins (v. 4) because they scavenged for themselves while causing, ignoring, and profiting from the human wreckage surrounding them. They were racketeers instead of reformers. It is not surprising that these scoundrels will have no heritage in the glorious future of Israel nor will they be able to even enter this land during the time of the resurrection. This is the fate of the false prophets and their false prophecies!
Anyone can claim to speak for God. But those whose lives and messages do not reflect the truth of God’s written Word cannot be His spokespersons. Besides being totally fabricated, their message was also dangerous. The reality was that they would fail the people when most needed. Just like the workmen would repair the physical wall of Jerusalem in order to strengthen it, the prophets of Israel should have strengthened the moral and spiritual defenses of the people. Instead of that, when the moral walls of Israel were ready to collapse, these false prophets were deceiving the people just like workmen using whitewash to hide a severely cracked wall. In fact, they were falsifying the ‘real’ situation by ‘hiding’ problems that needed to be exposed, and thus, could not be trusted!
On the other hand, the true prophet identifies with God’s people so as to expose himself to risk on their behalf. When a wall was breached by an attacking army, the assignment of greatest danger was the task of repairing the gap. At such points, the false prophets were nowhere to be found. The Hebrew term for a gap is used to describe Moses, who “stood in the breach” (Ps. 106:23) on behalf of Israel. Ultimately only Jesus Christ can stand in the breach between God and humanity (1 Tim. 2:5).
Let’s be assured that God is against those who speak falsely in His name, who speak things He has not said, and who teaches His Word falsely. They have created their so-called ‘divine’ messages through the figment of their imagination. Instead of being shepherds who faithfully lead the flock, they are like foxes living on refuse. Spiritually speaking, these false prophets were religious scavengers, living among ruins they had made themselves. Let’s beware of false prophets and their false prophecies today!
In the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves" (Matt. 7:15). In the words of Apostle John: "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1-3). In the words of Apostle Peter: "But there were also false prophets among the people...who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction" (2 Peter 2:1).