Scripture reading – Ezekiel 13; Ezekiel 14

Ezekiel 13

False Prophets Condemned (Ezekiel 13:1-16)

False prophets became Ezekiel’s focus in chapter 13, when the LORD commanded him to, “prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy” (Ezekiel 13:2). Judah and Jerusalem were cursed with prophets who deceived the people, and were guilty of preaching their thoughts and opinions as though they were from the LORD (Ezekiel 13:2-3). Like “foxes in the deserts” (scavengers, Ezekiel 13:4), though they claimed to speak the words of the LORD, they lied, for “the LORD [had] not sent them” (Ezekiel 13:5-6). The LORD questioned the false prophets and said, “Whereas ye say, The LORD saith it; albeit I have not spoken?” (Ezekiel 13:7).

Through His prophet Ezekiel, the LORD warned the false prophets, “Behold, I am against you” (Ezekiel 13:8). Because of their wickedness, the LORD declared that the false prophets would not have an inheritance in the land He promised Israel (Ezekiel 13:9). The LORD sent prophets who warned Jerusalem that the city was doomed. Still, the false prophets lied, saying, “Peace” and yet, “there was no peace” (Ezekiel 13:10a). Like a builder who cleverly conceals structural faults in a wall with plaster and whitewash, the false prophets whitewashed the sins of the people and did not speak the truth (Ezekiel 13:10-11).

Picturing His wrath as a great storm, the LORD promised He would “rend it [i.e., Jerusalem] with a stormy wind in [His] fury…to consume it” (Ezekiel 13:13). The false prophets and those who believed them would be destroyed (Ezekiel 13:13-14). The people would realize too late that they had put their faith in lying prophets (Ezekiel 13:15-16).


False Prophetesses Condemned (Ezekiel 13:17-23)

Beginning with Ezekiel 13:17, the LORD commanded Ezekiel to condemn the false prophetesses who resided in Jerusalem and Judah. The LORD said, “17Likewise, thou son of man, set thy face against the daughters of thy people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy thou against them” (Ezekiel 13:17). Like the men who were false prophets, those women prophesied “out of their own heart” (Ezekiel 13:17; note Ezekiel 13:2).

Those false prophetesses ensnared the people with charms and magical claims (Ezekiel 13:17-18). They enriched themselves by giving the people false hope (Ezekiel 13:19). Therefore, the LORD declared, “Behold, I am against your pillows” (probably a reference to cushions, Ezekiel 13:20). He would destroy their charms (Ezekiel 13:20), tear away their veils (Ezekiel 13:21), and vindicate His name (Ezekiel 13:22). All this was foretold, that some might believe and know the God of Israel was LORD (Ezekiel 13:23).

One Man’s Faith Cannot Save Another

Ezekiel 14

An Inquiry by Israel’s Elders (Ezekiel 14:1-5)

Living in Babylon among the Jews of the captivity were “certain of the elders of Israel.” Those leaders of the people came to consult with Ezekiel as God’s prophet (Ezekiel 14:1). When they sat down before Ezekiel, “the word of the Lord came unto” him and said, “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?” (Ezekiel 14:2-3)

Because He knows the secrets that lie in men’s hearts (Psalm 44:21; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Daniel 2:28; Mark 4:22; Luke 8:17; Romans 2:16), the LORD revealed to Ezekiel the secret idolatry of Jerusalem’s leaders (Ezekiel 14:3). Regardless of their pretense of coming to Ezekiel, the LORD knew their hearts. He asked Ezekiel why He should be bothered by men who had another god before Him (a violation of the Commandments; Ezekiel 14:3; Exodus 20:3-5).

The LORD commanded Ezekiel to confront the men, and say, “Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols” (Ezekiel 14:4). In other words, God would give those deceivers over to the folly of their idols (Ezekiel 14:5).


A Warning and Admonition to Israel’s Elders (Ezekiel 14:6-11)

Rather than entertain the elders’ hypocrisy, Ezekiel called them to repent of their idolatry (14:6-11). The LORD longed for the children of Israel to repent (Ezekiel 14:6; 2 Peter 3:9). However, He warned that those who cherished idols in their hearts would be judged for their abominations (Ezekiel 14:7). They would suffer the consequences of their sins, to the end that others might repent and confess Israel’s God was LORD (Ezekiel 14:8).

Ezekiel declared the LORD would destroy the false prophets “from the midst of [His] people Israel” (Ezekiel 14:9). Their hypocrisy would be recompensed upon them, as “they [would] bear the punishment of their iniquity” (Ezekiel 14:10). The evidence of God’s judgment of the false prophets would give cause for the people to turn from their sins and return to the LORD (Ezekiel 14:11).

Four Judgments

Four Judgments (Ezekiel 14:12-21)

The sins of Jerusalem had become so grievous that the LORD declared He would send four judgments upon Judah. The first was famine, for man and beast would be “cut off” (i.e., hunger; Ezekiel 14:12-13). Then the LORD declared He would send wild beasts, and the land would be “desolate, that no man may pass through because of the beasts” (Ezekiel 14:15). A sword was a symbol of a third judgment and denoted war (Ezekiel14:17). The fourth judgment was “a pestilence,” for the people would suffer disease and sickness (Ezekiel 14:19).

One Man’s Faith Cannot Save Another (Ezekiel 14:14b, 18b, 20b)

Amid the revelations of four judgments, the LORD proposed three men whom He declared righteous and were spared death (Ezekiel 14:14, 16, 18, 20).

The first was Noah, who was saved from the flood while the world of his day perished (Genesis 6:9-9:29). The prophet Daniel was the second man (he was Ezekiel’s contemporary, though we do not know if they were acquaintances). We know from the Scriptures the righteous deeds of Daniel and how he was saved from the lions because he trusted in the LORD (Daniel 6:1-28). Job, the ancient patriarch, was the third example of a man whom the LORD declared righteous and was spared death and restored.

What spiritual lesson were the elders of Israel to take from the faith of those three men? Perhaps it is that, though Noah, Daniel, and Job trusted in the LORD and were righteous in the sight of God, their faith did not save others. Their faith did not save their “sons nor daughters, but they only [were] delivered themselves” (Ezekiel 14:18). The same truth was repeated when we read, “They shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness” (Ezekiel 14:20).

The Righteousness of A Few Will Not Prevent God’s Judgment (Ezekiel 14:21-23)

If Noah, Daniel, and Job’s faith did not save their generations, the four judgments the LORD revealed would come upon Jerusalem. Ezekiel declared, “The sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence” (Ezekiel 14:21). Yet, the LORD would not forsake His covenant with Israel. A remnant would be saved in Jerusalem’s destruction, and they would be brought to Babylon (Ezekiel 14:22).

Having heard the wickedness committed in Jerusalem and God’s righteous judgment, the people would be comforted knowing that the LORD is just and merciful (Ezekiel 14:23).

Closing thoughts –

A quote from the late Dr. Robert G. Lee (1886-1974) is appropriate and applicable as I close:

“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay, Sin will cost you more than you want to pay. 

The faith of one’s parents or grandparents cannot save a sinner from the consequences of their sins and God’s judgment. Every man, woman, boy, and girl must choose to come to the LORD by faith and put their trust in Him.

Believers will “stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10), and those who reject Him will face the LORD’s eternal judgment. For “the dead [will be judged]according to their works” (Revelation 20:12, 13), and “whosoever [is] not found written in the book of life [will be] cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Remember – One man’s faith cannot save another, nor can the righteousness of a few save a nation.

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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