by Jason Hardin
In God's Image
Ezekiel 13 documents a fundamental problem that plagued people thousands of years ago and continues to be a dangerous pitfall.
“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!'” (Ezekiel 13:2)
Did you catch the problem? At a crucial point in Israel’s history, some were teaching, reassuring, and encouraging the people “from their own hearts.” Their guide was “their own spirit” (Ezekiel 13:3). They were saying, “Declares the LORD,” when the LORD hadn’t sent them (Ezekiel 13:6). They were proclaiming, “Peace,” when there was no peace and “smearing” fractures that desperately needed corrective attention “with whitewash” (Ezekiel 13:10).
It doesn’t take an architect or engineer to know that you can smear spackle and paint all over a crumbling wall, but “whitewash” isn’t going to keep it from falling if the foundation is compromised.
These “prophets” were so convincing and deluded, they “expected” the LORD to “fulfill their word” (Ezekiel 13:6) even though the source of their message was their own hearts. And the impact on the people around them? Devastating.
“They have misled my people …” (Ezekiel 13:10).
“…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…” (Ezekiel 13:22).
Notice especially that last verse. What good comes from “encouraging” someone who is headed away from God if traveling that path costs them their life and possibly their soul for eternity? When God is calling someone to turn in order to save them, I shouldn’t be cheering them on in the wrong direction.
For millennia there have been messengers willing to tell us what we want to hear, but passages like Ezekiel 13 remind us to consider the source. Is what I’m hearing from the heart of God or the hearts of humans? If I follow the leading of this message, am I tracking with the spirit of the mere messenger or the Spirit of God?
Not all input is equally valid or valuable. Expecting the Almighty to fulfill my word is foolish. I was warned a long time ago that “the heart is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). I would do well, with all that I hear, to consider the source.