Today’s reading: Ezekiel 13-15.
If you’re like me, you expect the best from people. You expect them to be truthful. That has usually been my experience. But if we’re wise, we know that sometimes people, for different reasons, will lie or tell us things that are wrong. How can we discern the truth of what people say? Ezekiel gives us some pointers.
Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. They say, “The LORD declares,” when the LORD has not sent them; yet they expect their words to be fulfilled. Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, “The LORD declares,” though I have not spoken? Ezekiel 13:6-7
False prophets and mediums were busy spreading lies in the final days of Jerusalem. Their work was deadly because they gave false hope and misdirection. God condemned them and said they had no future in his plans. What matters today is knowing how to spot someone who is speaking spiritual lies.
Their words aren’t God’s words. The false prophet declared he was speaking for the LORD when, in fact, he had heard nothing from God. Today we have God’s word in print to compare with any statement of supposed spiritual truth. We must learn the Bible, however, in order to use it skillfully to refute lies and half-truths.
Their words don’t build up the church body. “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.” The liar’s words ignore problems instead of helping to fix them. Or his speech sows discord, not unity, among the congregation.
Their words paint a false picture. “Because they lead my people astray, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall.” If someone’s words don’t match with reality, they’re not telling the truth. If their words hide the truth, or make it more difficult to understand, they’re lying.
Their words are spoken for profit. The mediums in Jerusalem were not trying to spread God’s word; they were just trying to make a living. They gave messages that would thrill or tantalize their customers. The New Testament makes it clear that it is proper for pastors to be paid for their work, but their work should begin with a calling from God, and we should judge the quality of their work and words by the fruit it produces.
Their words have power. It is unfortunate, but God says the words of the false prophets disheartened the righteous and encouraged the wicked. For that reason God put an end to their speeches. For that reason we should continue to be on the lookout for people who spread spiritual lies.