Ezekiel 13 & Psalm 52-54

Ezekiel 13

    The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, who are prophesying, and say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: ‘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! Your prophets have been like jackals among ruins, O Israel. You have not gone up into the breaches, or built up a wall for the house of Israel, that it might stand in battle in the day of the LORD. They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the LORD,’ when the LORD has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word. Have you not seen a false vision and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, ‘Declares the LORD,’ although I have not spoken?”

    Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord GOD. My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord GOD. Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash, say to those who smear it with whitewash that it shall fall! There will be a deluge of rain, and you, O great hailstones, will fall, and a stormy wind break out. And when the wall falls, will it not be said to you, ‘Where is the coating with which you smeared it?’ Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: I will make a stormy wind break out in my wrath, and there shall be a deluge of rain in my anger, and great hailstones in wrath to make a full end. And I will break down the wall that you have smeared with whitewash, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you shall perish in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the LORD. Thus will I spend my wrath upon the wall and upon those who have smeared it with whitewash, and I will say to you, The wall is no more, nor those who smeared it, the prophets of Israel who prophesied concerning Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her, when there was no peace, declares the Lord GOD.

    “And you, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, who prophesy out of their own hearts. Prophesy against them and say, Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the women who sew magic bands upon all wrists, and make veils for the heads of persons of every stature, in the hunt for souls! Will you hunt down souls belonging to my people and keep your own souls alive? You have profaned me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, putting to death souls who should not die and keeping alive souls who should not live, by your lying to my people, who listen to lies.

    “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against your magic bands with which you hunt the souls like birds, and I will tear them from your arms, and I will let the souls whom you hunt go free, the souls like birds. Your veils also I will tear off and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand as prey, and you shall know that I am the LORD. Because you have disheartened the righteous falsely, although I have not grieved him, and you have encouraged the wicked, that he should not turn from his evil way to save his life, therefore you shall no more see false visions nor practice divination. I will deliver my people out of your hand. And you shall know that I am the LORD.”

(Ezekiel 13 ESV)

Psalm 52

To the choirmaster. A Maskil of David, when Doeg, the Edomite, came and told Saul, “David has come to the house of Ahimelech.”

    Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man?
        The steadfast love of God endures all the day.
    Your tongue plots destruction,
        like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit.
    You love evil more than good,
        and lying more than speaking what is right. Selah
    You love all words that devour,
        O deceitful tongue.
    But God will break you down forever;
        he will snatch and tear you from your tent;
        he will uproot you from the land of the living. Selah
    The righteous shall see and fear,
        and shall laugh at him, saying,
    “See the man who would not make
        God his refuge,
    but trusted in the abundance of his riches
        and sought refuge in his own destruction!”
    But I am like a green olive tree
        in the house of God.
    I trust in the steadfast love of God
        forever and ever.
    I will thank you forever,
        because you have done it.
    I will wait for your name, for it is good,
        in the presence of the godly.

(Psalm 52 ESV)

Psalm 53

To the choirmaster: according to Mahalath. A Maskil of David.

    The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
        They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity;
        there is none who does good.
    God looks down from heaven
        on the children of man
    to see if there are any who understand,
        who seek after God.
    They have all fallen away;
        together they have become corrupt;
    there is none who does good,
        not even one.
    Have those who work evil no knowledge,
        who eat up my people as they eat bread,
        and do not call upon God?
    There they are, in great terror,
        where there is no terror!
    For God scatters the bones of him who encamps against you;
        you put them to shame, for God has rejected them.
    Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
        When God restores the fortunes of his people,
        let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

(Psalm 53 ESV)

Psalm 54

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Maskil of David, when the Ziphites went and told Saul, “Is not David hiding among us?”

    O God, save me by your name,
        and vindicate me by your might.
    O God, hear my prayer;
        give ear to the words of my mouth.
    For strangers have risen against me;
        ruthless men seek my life;
        they do not set God before themselves. Selah
    Behold, God is my helper;
        the Lord is the upholder of my life.
    He will return the evil to my enemies;
        in your faithfulness put an end to them.
    With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;
        I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good.
    For he has delivered me from every trouble,
        and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

(Psalm 54 ESV)

The following is taken from D.A. Carson's For the Love of God series...


IN ALMOST EVERY GENERATION there are both true voices and false. How can one discern between the two?

The question cannot be comprehensively answered by referring to only one passage. For instance, Deuteronomy 13 provides one framework that should be carefully thought through, but it is not the only one. Here in Ezekiel 13 the matter is cast not so much as a set of points to help the righteous discern between true prophet and false, but as a denunciation of all that is false. In so doing God provides at least a partial profile of false prophets.

(1) False prophets speak out of their own spirit, out of their own imaginations. They may think they have something from the Lord, but they do not. “Their visions are false and their divinations a lie” (13:6). This is not so much a princi- ple that the onlooker can use, as a warning to the false prophets themselves. False prophets may deceive other people; they never deceive God. And it is to God that we will one day have to give an account (13:8-9).

(2) They do not deal with the fundamental issues of sin, corruption, injustice, and covenantal faithlessness. To use the metaphor of a walled city, instead of repairing the “wall” they merely cover it with whitewash, so that it looks sturdy enough to the casual observer even though it is hopelessly compromised. “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” (13:5), Ezekiel writes. A good storm strips away the whitewash and discloses the horrible weakness. The false prophets deal in omens and end-times fancies and promises of revival, but they do not declare the holiness of God and the odiousness of sin; they fail to bring people to repentance, faith, and obedience.

(3) They are more interested in auguries, telling personal fortunes, serving as “prophetic” personal hope-spinners, than in conveying the word of the Lord. They are not really serious people—except for their seriousness when it comes to getting paid (13:17-19).

(4) One of the larger effects they have is to discourage the genuine people of God. Too many false voices in a culture and many people become confused, dis- heartened, disoriented. Instead of maintaining a moral standard that reinforces righteousness, builds character, and encourages godliness, these people pro- nounce their curses and taboos on people God himself has not condemned, and exonerate the wicked so that they do not turn from their evil ways and so save their lives (13:20-23).

Where in our culture do these characteristics thrive? Where do they thrive in the professing church?