Text: Ezekiel 13-15
Observe: God tells Ezekiel to prophesy against the false prophets who were leading the people astray, by they them only what they wanted to hear. They were not speaking His word and all their visions were false and their divinations were lies. These false prophets told the people “Peace, when there was no peace”, and God denounced them for spreading lies in His name. Their prophecies were like a flimsy wall, whitewashed to give the illusion of strength, but they were empty and worthless. Because of these lies told in His name, God told Ezekiel that He would tear them down. To the women who practiced witchcraft and created charms and veils for casting their spells, God declared He would tear these charms from their wrists and the veils from their heads so the people would see the truth behind their wicked ways. If the leaders of the people sought the guidance of the false prophets, all the while harbouring idolatry in their own hearts, God would answer them in ways they deserved for their sins. By tearing down the false prophets, God would show the people that He was the Sovereign Lord, and they would bear their guilt.
God tells Ezekiel that He is so angry with the disobedient prophets, leaders and people that even if righteous men such as Noah, Daniel, and Job were to plead for them against destruction by sword, famine, wild beasts or plague, they would not be able to save even their own families from judgement. God would spare only them. That’s the judgment that awaits Jerusalem in His righteous wrath.
God then goes on to compare Jerusalem to wood taken from a vine, and how useless it is for anything except as fuel for fire, and once it is burnt, it becomes even more useless. Because of their faithlessness, God will bring about their destruction.
Interpret: God’s people had become so enmeshed in the culture of idolatry and hypocrisy, that they could no longer recognize the truth of God’s word when Ezekiel spoke it to them. They would much rather listen to the happy news spoken by the false prophets and diviners because it made them feel better. But these false prophets were morally corrupt and had no knowledge of God. They only proclaimed what they themselves wanted, and the people and their leaders only wanted to hear feel-good messages and so, were deceptively lulled into a false sense of security. They became followers of every lie that made them feel good, instead of being followers of their true God, which would make them faithful.
Application: False prophets were a constant danger to God’s people in both Jerusalem and those among the exiles in Babylon. They were bad spiritual and moral guides because they proclaimed only what the people wanted to hear, not what God wanted the people to hear. They led the people further and further away from God’s will for them. Further and further into sin.
The tendency to gloss over the hard truths of the Gospel and focus only on the happy ending of the salvation bought by Christ is an ever-present danger to us as well. It’s one thing to say we love Christ and believe He died for us, but it’s quite different to live as He commanded, because it’s not an easy or comfortable way to live. Our society continues to change and evolve, and what was right yesterday is wrong today, and what was wrong yesterday is right today. The false prophets of our cultural influencers espouse the belief that there are multiple truths, and that there is no absolute truth. My truth, your truth, their truth. They are all equally true. They tell us that morality is just a construct made to restrict our behaviours to fit someone else’s definition of acceptable, usually someone long dead. They would have us believe that doing whatever feels good in the moment is the right thing to do.
Even in the wider church, there are voices that would lead us away from the absolute truth of the Gospel, saying that there is now a more modern interpretation of it which is more informed than that which was handed down to us. Here, too, some things that were considered sinful before are acceptable now, and we must be open to incorporating new, more culturally diverse symbols into our worship. And anyone who disagrees needs to become more “enlightened”.
There are lots of opportunities for us to become like the people of Jerusalem, believing only what we want to hear, and ignoring what God is trying to tell us. He gave us His Holy Scripture to study and learn and grow in our knowledge and love of Him. He gave us His only Son as the prime example of His love and grace, and as our only option for salvation. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, (Heb 13:8), therefore whatever He tells us in Truth is the absolute truth, and it is true for all time, and for all people. We disobey it at our own peril.
Questions: Do you ever give serious thought to why you believe some of the things you believe? Or why you do some of the things you do? Do you ever consider if they really do conform to the will of God? Or are you doing them just because our culture says it is acceptable?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for Your Word handed down to us through Holy Scripture for our education and salvation. Let us not be led astray by the false prophets in the world. Give us hearts and minds to hear Your voice among the din of our lives, and the courage to follow only You. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Song: Speak, O Lord: Keith and Kristyn Getty
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.