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Ezekiel has announced in the previous chapters the judgment of the LORD on Jerusalem, the leaders and the king. Now he addresses the false prophets in Jerusalem. Jeremiah also spoke frequently against the false prophets (Jer 23:13-15; 21-22). The message of the false prophets in Jerusalem that flourished for so long in Judah has blown over to Babylon and flourished among the exiles as well. This chapter is one of those important chapters in the Old Testament that deal with false prophecy and puts this false prophecy in a clear light.
Judgment on the False Prophets
The word of the LORD comes to Ezekiel again (Eze 13:1). The LORD calls him “son of man” again (Eze 13:2). He is commanded to call the false prophets, who prophesy according from their own inspiration – literally “from their own heart” (cf. Isa 59:13) – to listen to the word of the LORD for them. These prophets are not called ‘the prophets of the LORD’, but are sarcastically referred to as “the prophets of Israel”. They are the spiritual leaders to whom the rebellious people love to listen. However, their message has no higher authority that their own heart. They can be compared to the false teachers in our day (2Pet 2:1-2).
The word that follows unmasks these prophets and they hear harsh judgment pronounced on them. The “woe” sounds over those whom the LORD calls “foolish prophets” (Eze 13:3). A fool is one who says in his heart: “There is no God” (Psa 14:1b). Such a person is an arrogant person who acts unscrupulously. These prophets are foolish and act without regard to God. They are also not following the Spirit of God, but their own spirit. They have seen nothing of the word of the LORD and yet they prophesy in His Name.
The LORD speaks to Israel of those foolish prophets as “your prophets” (Eze 13:4). They are not His prophets, but those of the people (cf. Lam 2:14). He compares those prophets to the wily foxes who search among the ruins for something of their liking (cf. Lam 5:18; Song 2:15; Lk 13:32). Foxes make burrows in the ruins and undermine the foundations, making the ruins even bigger. Thus the false prophet undermines the foundations of the life of God’s people. He is the cause of the ruin that God’s people have become and is constantly making it bigger.
False prophets have not gone up into the breaches (Eze 13:5), which speaks of intercession and restoration (Eze 22:30; Psa 106:23; Isa 58:12b). Nor did they provide a wall to protect them. They have not acted for the benefit of the people, but have worked and still seek the calamity of the people. Therefore, the house of Israel cannot stand “on the day of the LORD”, which is the day when Jerusalem is taken by the enemy. This refers to the upcoming conquest by the armies of Babylon, but also to the destruction of Jerusalem in the end time.
What these false prophets are doing is passing on their own fantasies which are falsehood and lying divination. They say that they received these visions from the LORD (Eze 13:6), although they know very well that the LORD did not send them. Yet they believe that their word will come true. It is a great deception of themselves and of God’s people.
The LORD once again holds them up as being engaged in false prophecy whereby they say that the LORD has spoken, when He has not spoken (Eze 13:7). This attitude is a great insult to Him. Words are being put into His mouth that He has not spoken. To do such a thing is reprehensible. What would we say if people passed on words that we would have said, when we did not say them? Isn’t that shocking?
The Lord GOD (Adonai Yahweh) will repay them for speaking false things and for having seen lies (Eze 13:8). These sins He cannot leave unpunished. He will turn His hand in judgment against the false prophets because of their false visions and their lying divinations (Eze 13:9). They will have “no place in the council” of His people, that is, the true Israel.
The LORD knows exactly who belong to the counsel of His people, for they are all written down “in the register of the house of Israel” – cf. “the book of life” (Exo 32:32; Psa 69:28; Isa 4:3; Dan 12:1; Lk 10:20; Phil 4:3; Rev 3:5; Rev 20:12; Rev 21:27; Mal 3:16). The names of these people are not in it (cf. Rev 13:8). Therefore, they miss the ultimate blessing of the land. They will never return to the land, nor will they ever enter the land, not even in the resurrection. When they – removed from all blessing – find themselves under the eternal judgment of God, they will recognize that He is the LORD (Phil 2:10).
The false prophets have led the people astray with their nice talk of peace (Eze 13:10). There is no peace at all. How can there be peace when the people of Jerusalem live in rebellion against the LORD? But the pretty talk of the false prophets works. People think they can feel safe because of the words of the false prophets which seem like a protective wall. However, it is a shaky wall.
The listeners of the prophets do not see this, because that wall is plastered with whitewash so that it still appears strong. With fine-sounding words the false prophets cover up all the iniquity of the people: It is not all that bad; they need not worry; peace will surely come (cf. Deu 29:19-20; Jer 6:14; Jer 8:11). And this, while calamity is imminent and also announced by the true prophets of God.
The false prophets are “like whitewashed tombs” (Mt 23:27). Ezekiel must tell these whitewash specialists that the wall will fall down (Eze 13:11). For there will come “a flooding rain” with “hailstones and a violent wind”. Rain, hail and storm are symbols of the judgment (cf. Job 38:22-23; Isa 29:6) that the Babylonians will bring on the city. Then their self-made wall of fancy talk will fall down. Then it will be said to them: ‘Where are your nice talks now?’ (Eze 13:12).
The LORD declares that the violent wind that breaks out comes from Him in His wrath on them (Eze 13:13). His wrath on them is behind the all-splashing rain. The hailstones are an expression of His wrath. This violence of the enemy will lead to a devastating end of the city. These are not pretty talk, but this is raw reality. The wall with its plaster will be brought down to the ground (Eze 13:14). The words of the false prophets turn out to have been hot air. All so-called protection disappears. The city is laid in ruins and in the midst of it lie the bodies of the fallen false prophets. Thus the false prophets will know that He is the LORD, Who does what He says.
Here we see the tremendous contrast between the words of the false prophets and the words of the LORD. He will execute His wrath against all bluster about security and covering up iniquity (Eze 13:15). Then He will point to the wall and its plasterers and show that they are no more. So true are His words. How utterly opposed these words are to all the falsehoods of the false prophets of Israel who have prophesied about Jerusalem that there will be peace, but have done so from their imagination, for there is no peace at all (Eze 13:16). Only what the Lord GOD speaks is reliable. The words of God are trustworthy and come true in every detail.
Judgment on the False Prophetesses
Besides false prophets, there are also false prophetesses. About them also comes a word from the LORD to Ezekiel (Eze 13:17). They are women of the people to whom Ezekiel belongs, “the daughters of your people”, who also speak from their own inspiration (cf. Eze 13:2). He is to set his face against them and prophesy against them. These women are engaged in sorcery (Eze 13:18). With them there is no false appeal to the Name of the LORD with a statement like “the LORD declares”, but an outright preaching and practice of apostasy.
Woe is also pronounced upon them, as well as upon their male colleagues (Eze 13:3). Their business is sewing “magic bands” around “all wrists” and making large and small “veils” for large and small heads. They know exactly who fits what. The ‘outfit’ they offer is supposed to provide protection from evil spirits.
What happens in reality is that with their demonic activities they entangle souls in satan’s nets and lead them on the road to destruction. The magic bands on the wrists act like chains by which a prisoner is bound and deprived of his freedom. The veil speaks of being under the power of another, belonging to someone else (Gen 24:65). This is how these demonically controlled women capture the souls of God’s people. Let them not think that they will preserve their own souls in life.
Their demonic pursuits profane the LORD to His people (Eze 13:19). The prophetesses don’t let themselves pay fat for it either. For their obscure services they ask for only a few hands of barley and a few fragments of bread. It is a time of scarcity and everyone should be able to benefit from their ‘gift’, they think. That way, at least they have a nice supply of food. God is disgusted with them because they turn justice upside down. They lie to the people in the most terrible way. And the people listen. The lying prophets stand guilty because of their lies, and the people stand guilty because they listen to those lies. Every member of God’s people must reject the lie and seek the truth.
The work of these women results in some put to death who should not die and others being kept alive who should not live. The true prophets threaten the wicked with God’s judgment and comfort the righteous with His gracious promises. The false prophets act just the other way around. They are bent on destroying the righteous by leading them away from the straight path and keeping the souls of the wicked alive by intoxicating them with lies.
The Lord GOD will judge the lying prophets (Eze 13:20). He will tear off their magic bands from their arms. Those bands are like shackles. They are chains with which people are caught as if they were birds. The souls caught by them the LORD will set free by breaking their sorceries. The veils, by which sight is taken away, He will tear (Eze 13:21), so that they may see clearly. Thus He will rescue His people from their hand, in which they were a prey. Then those women will know that He is the LORD. He is the almighty Conqueror over all the powers of darkness.
Ties to the occult must be severed, or true freedom will never come. As long as someone maintains something of the occult in his life, he remains a prey to satan. Only God can break those bonds and give clear vision of Who He is. He wants to do that with every person who turns to Him.
The false prophetesses have acted entirely contrary to the heart of God (Eze 13:22). They have grieved the heart of the righteous, which is set on Him, by telling lies. The sorrow that this means for them does not come from Him. The heart of the righteous, which shares in the feelings of God, is also grieved because the false prophetesses have encouraged the wicked in his wickedness, so that he does not repent of his evil way and God keeps him alive.
Spreading lies causes sadness in those who want to live according to the will of the Lord for the lie itself and for the effect of the lie in those who believe and follow the lie. God wants to save people, but lie prophetesses are out to destroy people. They allow themselves to be used by the father of lies who is a murderer of people from the beginning (Jn 8:44).
God will put a stop to these dark practices and judge the practitioners of this occultism (Eze 13:23). False visions and divination He will eradicate by the judgment on its practitioners. Thus, He will rescue His people from the hand of these people. By this the prophets will know that He is the LORD. He is proving Himself to be the LORD in carrying out the judgment He has promised.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Ezekiel 13". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13