by Mike Ratliff
1 Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy from their own inspiration, ‘Listen to the word of the Lord! 3 Thus says the Lord God, “Woe to the foolish prophets who are following their own spirit and have seen nothing. 4 O Israel, your prophets have been like foxes among ruins. 5 You have not gone up into the breaches, nor did you build the wall around the house of Israel to stand in the battle on the day of the Lord. 6 They see falsehood and lying divination who are saying, ‘The Lord declares,’ when the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope for the fulfillment of their word. 7 Did you not see a false vision and speak a lying divination when you said, ‘The Lord declares,’ but it is not I who have spoken?”’” Ezekiel 13:1-7 (NASB)
A false prophet is one who claims to teach the truth from God and His Word, but who actually teaches from the counsel of his or her own heart. God is forever unchanging. He is immutable. His ways never change. His standards never change. At the time of Ezekiel, the kingdom of Judah had become consumed with idolatry. The people mixed Temple worship of YHWH with the worst forms of idol worship. They had taken on the culture and religion of the nations around them. Their culture had become pluralized. They were no longer a separate and unique people from the rest of the nations. The mechanism in people that powers this is compromise. The standard for God’s people has always been to be eternally focused with God in control. Compromise always moves God’s people to make decisions that are temporally focused because obedience to God is always counter to the demands of culture and the temporal.
In 1980’s I worked for a time in sales for a personal computer business. I had a client who was in the oil business. He knew a lot about drilling oil wells, but he knew very little about computers. He needed them for his office, but he did not know the first thing about that technology. He came to see me one day wanting to purchase several of the newest PCs that had just been introduced by a certain manufacturer. The product was so new that I had not even seen one yet. All I had to go on was the brochures that they had sent us. I used them to lay out the configuration for each PC based on how much memory he wanted in each one. The way the brochures were laid out, it appeared that a memory board had to be purchased separately for each computer then populated with RAM. I priced it to my client like that. He did not even blink. He signed the contract and I placed the order.
About a week later, I received a call from my manager congratulating me on that sale and for the way I had priced out those computers. It turned out that those memory boards were included in each one from the manufacturer. I had placed an order for those memory boards, which were very expensive, but they were not needed so I had unknowingly inflated the margins for that sale. However, I did not exult as my sales manger did. In fact, I knew immediately that I had to redo the contract and tell my client the truth. I had a great deal of pressure put on me by those over me to not say a word, and every one of them were professing Christians. I went home that day and told my wife about it. I prayed about it over that weekend and, by Monday morning, I knew what I had to do. I called my client first and told him the good news. The price of each of those computers he ordered was going to be about $1,000 less than my quote. I then told my manager who made it clear that he thought I was an idiot. Those over him thought so too. However, I had a clear conscience and rejoiced in the Lord even though my commission for that sale was quite a bit less than it would have been if I had said nothing.
My next job was with the FDIC as a software developer. My manager was a heathen. However, there was another developer in the office who was a professing Christian, but seemed rather flaky to me. The guy I got along best with was the lead developer who gave me all the choice assignments because they were tough and he knew I could do it. The pressure to compromise came when it soon became known that our boss was going to leave and wanted to take the best people in our office with him to start a software company in Dallas. Everyone assumed I would go. He invited me to go with him to lunch one day and I went. While we were out he hammered me about my faith. He wanted to force me to compromise, but I wouldn’t do it. When he left he took our lead guy and the flaky Christian who couldn’t program anything without me fixing it first. Why did he take him instead of me? You know the answer to that. After that fiasco the new manager who replaced the heathen made it known that he was going to rearrange things and I was no longer going to be the top programmer, et cetera. I have often wondered why that happened. However, about a week later I was offered a job to be the only software developer for an engineering company down the street and I took that job. Interestingly, I got a phone call at home the day after I started my new job from the flaky Christian wanting to tell me how sorry he was for taking my spot and how his conscience was bothering him, et cetera. He also congratulated me on the new job. I just thanked him and wished him luck. I have often wondered what he had done in order to get that heathen to hire him instead of me because his skills were marginal at best.
These types of pressures are put on us all the time to compromise. The false prophet is often the facilitator of this sort of thing. They will teach their followers things about Christianity that elevate man and demote God. They will preach and teach that salvation is a decision that can be made prior to regeneration. They will counsel their converts that they really are Christians even though there is no change in their character or in their tolerance for sin in their lives. They will point them back to that moment when they walked an aisle and said a prayer. They will point to their religiosity as proof. However, the Bible clearly teaches us that salvation is by Grace through faith and it is a gift from God so that no one may boast. Regeneration precedes faith. It must or each of us in Christ CAN boast (Ephesians 2:1-10).
8 Therefore, thus says the Lord God, “Because you have spoken falsehood and seen a lie, therefore behold, I am against you,” declares the Lord God. 9 “So My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will have no place in the council of My people, nor will they be written down in the register of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel, that you may know that I am the Lord God. 10 It is definitely because they have misled My people by saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace. And when anyone builds a wall, behold, they plaster it over with whitewash; 11 so tell those who plaster it over with whitewash, that it will fall. A flooding rain will come, and you, O hailstones, will fall; and a violent wind will break out. Ezekiel 13:8-11 (NASB)
8 I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from among My people. So you will know that I am the Lord.
9 “But if the prophet is prevailed upon to speak a word, it is I, the Lord, who have prevailed upon that prophet, and I will stretch out My hand against him and destroy him from among My people Israel. Ezekiel 14:8-9 (NASB)
The false prophets utter falsehood and God is against them. However, notice in 14:9 that the Lord has deceived them. One of the forms of God’s judgment is allowing people to believe falsehood. He actually leads them to believe that what is false is true. However, the Bible also consistently affirms the human decision to sin and human responsibility for that decision. For example, the idolatry that preceded the deception was their own decision. The punishment by God for their infidelity was just. God never speaks falsehood. In this case, what God did because of the idolatry was to not open those hearts to His truth. He did not shine His light of truth there. Idolatry always leads to spiritual blindness and God is the one who leads the idolaters to believe what they are saying is true when it is utterly false.
In the 21st Century Church, we have a tragic parallel with what was going on in Judah prior to Jerusalem being taken by Babylon. False prophets are lying to those who follow them. The lies are numerous and varied, but they all have one thing in common. They put their followers focus on either the prophet or themselves. They demote God into a helpless bystander who does nothing to save anyone because Man’s will is Sovereign. This lie is a common thread throughout all false religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. Therefore, when we see a form of Christianity that teaches the very same thing we should know immediately that we are dealing with something that is not genuine Christianity.
The proponents of this false form of Christianity are false prophets who prove this by ignoring and deliberately misinterpreting Sacred Scripture. They fool their followers with this by telling them what they want to hear. They tell them that they are Christians because they decided to be while non-Christians decide not to be. However, the Bible clearly says that God calls those who come to Christ.
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
41 Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:35-44 (NASB)
It is beyond my understanding how anyone can read this passage and not see clearly that Christians are given to the Son by God the Father who also draws them to Him. However, Jesus answers that question in v36 where He states, “But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.” Those who reject what our Lord clearly says are in unbelief. They will remain in that unbelief until and unless the Father breaks it by His Grace. The false prophets in our time are filling up the cup of God’s wrath. The form of Christianity they espouse is idolatrous. Those blinded by this are placing their trust in their own actions or what church they belong to or what ‘preacher’ they follow. The false prophets are the facilitators of this.
My brethren, let us pray that God will open the hearts and eyes of those blinded by this idolatry. Pray for our pastors and teachers that they will diligently preach and teach the truth and not what they think people want to hear. Time is short and the cup of God’s wrath is filling up fast. Let us dedicate ourselves to telling the truth, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, to all who will hear.
Soli Deo Gloria!