Ezekiel 13:1-9 (NIV) 1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the LORD! 3 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! 4 Your prophets, O Israel, are like jackals among ruins. 5 You have not gone up to the breaks in the wall to repair it for the house of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the LORD. 6 Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. They say, “The LORD declares,” when the LORD has not sent them; yet they expect their words to be fulfilled. 7 Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, “The LORD declares,” though I have not spoken? 8 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because of your false words and lying visions, I am against you, declares the Sovereign LORD. 9 My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.
On verses 1-9: Here God gives Ezekiel a word to speak against the false prophets of Israel, who claim to hear from God but who actually only “prophesy out of their own imagination” (v2) and who “follow their own spirit” (v3) but “have seen nothing” (v3). God calls their visions false and their divinations (i.e. their attempts to discern God’s will) a lie (v6-7). Because of their false visions and lying divinations, God says that the false prophets will face two consequences. First, God is against them (“I am against you” – v8b; “My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations” – v9a). Second, the false prophets will ultimately be cut off from God’s people (“They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel” – v9b).
What can we learn from this?
When you hear what may be presented to you as “a prophetic word”, be careful to test it. As 1 John 4:1 says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” How do you test a prophetic word? Here are three things you can do: (1) Test what you hear against the written Word of God, for God will never say anything that contradicts what He has already said in Scripture. (2) Test what you hear by bouncing it off other believers whose relationship with God you respect. (3) Test what you hear by asking the Holy Spirit to give you peace about it if it is truly a word from God.
Be humble and careful when sharing what you think may be a prophetic word for someone else. First, make sure that your motive is to strengthen, encourage and comfort the person you are speaking to, not to tear that person down or exalt yourself. As 1 Corinthians 14:3 says, “everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort” (1 Corinthians 14:3). Second, ask the Holy Spirit to help you to hear from Him and to discern His voice correctly. Third, recognize that since we are all human, there is a chance that we could be hearing or interpreting wrong, so instead of taking a dogmatic approach and saying, “Thus saith the Lord”, take a more humble approach and say, “This is what I sense for you as I pray and I invite you to test it”.
Ezekiel 13:10-16 (NIV) 10 “‘Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, 11 therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. 12 When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?” 13 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury. 14 I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the LORD. 15 So I will spend my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, “The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it, 16 those prophets of Israel who prophesied to Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her when there was no peace, declares the Sovereign LORD.”‘
On verses 10-16: The false prophets of Israel were falsely prophesying peace over Israel. In so doing they were giving those remaining in the land of Israel a false sense of security. Relying on these false prophecies, those living in Israel did nothing to strengthen the wall protecting their city. Instead, they would just cover the wall with whitewash, making cosmetic changes to the wall to make it look better but doing nothing to actually strengthen the wall. Storms would later come (v11, 13) and show how easily the wall would break. In the end those living in Israel would pay dearly for listening to the false prophets.
What can we learn from this?
When we build our lives on lies and false visions, our lives will not stand up when the storm comes. But when we build our lives on the sure rock of God’s Word, what we build will not fall apart when the storms come (see Matthew 7:24-27).
It is in the midst of storms and attacks that you really get to see the strength or weakness of what you have built.
Ezekiel 13:17-19 (NIV) 17 “Now, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people who prophesy out of their own imagination. Prophesy against them 18 and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the women who sew magic charms on all their wrists and make veils of various lengths for their heads in order to ensnare people. Will you ensnare the lives of my people but preserve your own? 19 You have profaned me among my people for a few handfuls of barley and scraps of bread. By lying to my people, who listen to lies, you have killed those who should not have died and have spared those who should not live.
On verses 17-19: Certain women in Israel thought they could make a living by pretending to be prophets and fortune tellers (v17-18). Those who listened to them would suffer and even be killed as a result of following false advice (v19).
What can we learn from this? The ministry of prophecy is serious business. It affects people in a real way and should never be taken lightly.
Ezekiel 13:20-23 (NIV) 20 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against your magic charms with which you ensnare people like birds and I will tear them from your arms; I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds. 21 I will tear off your veils and save my people from your hands, and they will no longer fall prey to your power. Then you will know that I am the LORD. 22 Because you disheartened the righteous with your lies, when I had brought them no grief, and because you encouraged the wicked not to turn from their evil ways and so save their lives, 23 therefore you will no longer see false visions or practice divination. I will save my people from your hands. And then you will know that I am the LORD.'”
On verses 20-23: Satan loves to ensnare and enslave people by getting them to believe in a lie, whether that lie is about God, themselves, or others. As Jesus describes him, Satan is “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). What lies do you think most often trap or enslave the people around you? What lies are you most prone to being trapped or enslaved by? Satan’s goal is to trap and ensnare you with his lies, but God is passionate about rescuing you and setting you free with His truth. As Jesus says, “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) Don’t want to be enslaved by Satan’s lies? Get to know God’s truth about Himself and about you. Replace the lies you once believed with God’s truth.
Also, notice that the phrase “then you will know that I am the LORD” is repeated often in this chapter (v9, 14, 21, 23). Each time, it is mentioned in the context of God exposing the lies that the false prophets have been sharing. What can we learn from this? God reveals Himself by exposing lies with the truth, for He is the truth (John 14:6).
Heavenly Father, may we be careful to build our lives life on the truth of Your Word and not the lies of the enemy. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!