False Men of God
Would you take your Bibles please and turn to Ezekiel chapter 11:1-13:
Thatís as far as we will go tonight because some of you have been waiting for a long time...
For some good news in the book of Ezekiel...
And I have some good news for you.
It begins in verse 14.
I have bad news for you.
It doesnít last very long.
But tonight we want to look at the first 13 verses...
And I would remind you that Ezekiel is still experiencing a vision of God that began back in chapter 8.
Remember that Ezekiel is in captivity over in Babylon.
But in the 8th chapter the Bible tells us that the spirit of God lifted him up...
And he is suspended, whether physically or spiritually, I do not know.
But he is suspended between heaven and earth and God is giving him this great wonderful vision of future judgment.
And so this passage of scripture Iíve read for you is simply a continuation of the vision beginning in chapter 8.
>Now these 13 verses center around three things.
First of all, I want us to think about the vision that Ezekiel saw.
And then secondly, the instructions that Ezekiel received.
And then finally, the death that Ezekiel witnessed.
>First of all, think about the vision he saw.
Now what does he see here?
When you look at these eleven verses very carefully hereís what you find.
They are the pronouncement of the judgment of God...
Not upon a nation, but upon 25 men.
Now that doesnít mean that the whole nation is not coming under the judgment of God.
God has already told the nation that judgment is coming on them.
But this special judgment is coming to 25 special men.
Now who are these 25 men?
>Well the theologians disagree on who they are.
But we shouldnít have any disagreement because those of us who understand the book of Ezekiel...
And Iím including you in that number...
We know that these guys are not strangers because weíve already seen these 25 men before.
Look back in chapter 8.
Chapter 8 is where the vision began and chapter 8 is a record of the detestable practices of the people of God in Jerusalem.
First of all, Ezekiel saw in this vision there was a very image placed right in the temple of God itself.
Right along side the worship of Jehovah, people were worshiping this image made of man.
And God will never, never allow his glory to be shared with anyone or anything.
God is a jealous God, and he does not want his children falling down and worshiping any other God...
Especially a god made with human hands.
And so God says it is "detestable to me."
>Next in that chapter, God said, "Ezekiel, I want you to tear a hole in the wall and look inside and see whatís going on."
And Ezekiel tore through that hole in the wall and saw 70 old men...
70 elders, 70 ancients they are called in the KJV of scripture.
70 old men.
Men that were old enough to know better.
Men who called themselves children of God.
And they were in a dark room where they thought nobody could see them.
But I tell you, God knows what goes on in the dark, friend.
There are no secret sins hidden from him.
And God said, "I want you to see what these old men are doing."
And all around the walls there were drawings and statues of every pagan god that lived...
That was in existence at that time.
And these old men were bowing down and worshiping those idols...
Those pictures painted on a wall.
God said, "That is an abomination."
>God then said in chapter 8: I want you to see these women that are weeping over Tammuz."
Tammuz was a pagan god who supposedly would die every fall and then would be raised every spring.
He was the god of the weather, the god of the harvest, the god of vegetation.
And here were these women weeping in the fall because it was time to worship him because he had died again.
Now next spring they would be happy because he would be raised.
But now they were caught up in this Tammuz worship.
These were Jewish women, women who had children and some of them had grandchildren...
And God said, "This is a detestable practice."
>But then God said this.
He said, "Youíve seen the image in the temple. Youíve seen these 70 men worshiping idols.
Youíve seen these women caught up in pagan worship."
But he said, "I want to show you the worst thing thatís going on."
Look again in Ezekiel chapter 8, and look with me if you will down in verse 15.
He said to me, "Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this.
(Verse 16) Then he brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord, and there at the entrance to the temple (east side) between the patio and the alter, were about 25 men with their backs toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east. They were bowing down to the sun in the east.
>Now who were these 25 men?
Well look at it very carefully in that verse.
And he brought me into the inner court of the LORDís house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD (now notice) between the porch and the altar."
Now there was only one kind of man that could go into that location between the porch and the altar.
Those were the priests of God.
No woman could go up there, and no man except for a priest could go there.
And so here in chapter 8, these 25 men are identified as the priests of God.
These were men who were supposed to be godly men.
These were men who were supposed to be preaching the word of God.
These were men that were supposed to be holding up a standard of holiness and godliness and morality.
These were men who were supposed to be the spiritual leaders of the entire nation...
And yet here we find them with their backs turned on God and they are looking toward the east.
And when the sun comes up they worship the sun.
These were the preachers.
>But now go back to chapter 11, and in verse 1 notice how these men are identified here.
Then the spirit lifted me up and brought me to the gate of the house of the Lord that faces east.
The east gate...thatís the same gate...Thatís the same direction.
There at the entrance to the gate were 25 men.
I submit to you itís the same men.
You say, "Well Bro. Joe, theyíre not between the porch and the altar. Theyíve moved closer to the door."
Thereís a reason for that.
And youíll find it as you read on this verse.
He says: and I saw among them Jaazaniah, son of Azur, and Palatiah, son of Beheiash, leaders of the people.
Now this phrase "leaders of the people", does not just refer to these two men.
It refers to all 25 of these men.
They were "leaders of the people."
In chapter 8, there between the porch and the altar they were the priests of God.
But they had become so ungodly and worldly minded...
They had left their place of spiritual service and moved over toward the gate door of the temple...
And they had become the political leaders of the nation.
They were no longer involved in spiritual things, if they ever were.
They have now become involved in temporal things, things of the flesh, government things.
Folks, I just want to be honest with you.
Having been called of God to be a preacher, a man would have to backslide to become the President of the U. S.
There is no higher calling than to be called to preach the word of God.
There is no higher calling than to deal in spiritual and eternal truths...
Rather than in temporal things that donít amount to very much anyway.
These were men that were supposed to be living their life in the service of God...
Sharing with others the service of God...
And had instead become so filthy in their corruption and so lewd in their lifestyle...
And had become so greedy in their worldliness that they no longer cared about the things of God.
They no longer cared anything about the service of God.
They no longer cared anything about the word of God.
All they wanted to do was satisfy their own flesh.
And this is the vision that he sees.
God says there in verse 2, he says: son of man, these are the men that do two things.
>#1 Ė plotting evil.
And that word "mischief" that the KJV uses doesnít mean fun behind the hen house.
That word "mischief" means evil, and the word "devise" means to plan or plot.
These were men who at one time had been the preachers of the nation.
They had now become the civic leaders of the nation.
They had abandoned God.
They had turned their back on him.
They were worshiping the sun.
And instead of serving the Lord, they were serving themselves...
And their whole life had become a lifestyle of devising, plotting, planning and wicked things.
But itís amazing how many ungodly political leaders set themselves up as great wise counselors.
Because not only did they devise mischief, he says, "and they give wicked advice in this city."
>Now what are they saying?
What was their advice?
Well thatís what the next verse says.
In verse 3, this is what they are saying.
Will it not soon be time?
What will soon be time?
The judgment of God.
Some were there wondering about the judgment of God.
Some knew that their brightest and finest young men had already been led off in captivity.
And hundreds and thousands of others had already been led off into captivity.
And the people were wondering, "Well when are the Babylonians going to come back and get us?
When are they going to come back and destroy us?"
They had already heard the preaching of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah said, "Behold the Lord God is going to come and bring judgment upon you."
But here were these so-called preacher politicals, these preacher politicians, and they were saying...
"Now donít get upset. You donít have to be upset by what Jeremiah says.
You donít have to be upset about what other prophets may say.
There may be a judgment coming someday, but itís surely not gonna be on us.
Itís gonna be way out there in the future when all these old mean, wicked people are gonna be around.
But itís not gonna come on us."
Truth of the matter is, five years from that very moment they were all destroyed.
They didnít have five years left.
But here were these political preachers saying, "You donít have to be upset.
You donít have to be alarmed.
Thereís not a judgment coming in our lifetime. Letís build houses", they say in verse 3.
Settle down...be at home in this world...build your houses...
You donít have to be afraid of God.
Why good old God is not mad at anybody.
Good old God doesnít ever lose his cool.
Good old God just winks at sin.
Good old God is not upset.
Settle down...be happy...build your houses...get to be at home in this world.
>Look at what else he says in verse 3: this city is a cooking pot, and we are the meat.
Talking about themselves, those 25 men.
Now what does that mean?
Now when youíre gonna make stew youíre gonna have all kinds of stuff in there.
Youíre gonna have water, and youíre gonna have tomatoes and peas and potatoes and corn.
I mean youíre gonna have a lot of stuff in there.
But the most important ingredient is what? The meat.
Now hereís what these guys were saying.
>"This city of Jerusalem is the cooking pot, and we 25 men are the meat.
This city is the pot but weíre the meat.
Weíre the most important men in your life.
You just listen to what we say.
Do what we tell you.
Donít worry about what the prophets of God may say.
Donít worry about judgment thatís coming.
Build your houses...settle down...be good neighbors to one another.
Do what we tell you to do because weíre the meat in the pot."
Now thatís the vision Ezekiel saw.
And this may be the invention of potted meat.
If I didnít do that every once in a while, you wouldnít get nothing out of this preaching.
>Now not only do you see the vision he saw, look at the instructions he received.
You see God has a word to say about this stuff.
I mean when folks say there is no judgment day coming...
It doesnít matter what the real prophets of God say.
Learn how to love this world and be a part of it.
God doesnít just sit idly by and take that.
God says in verse 4: therefore prophesy against them.
Jesus said, "Youíre either for me or against me."
And may I say to you, heís either for us or against us.
The book of Romans says, "What more can we say? If God be for us, who can be against us?"
Folks, I want to tell you that if you love Jesus and your sins have been washed in the blood...
And your life is indwelt by the HS of God, God is for you.
But I want you to know that if youíre not washed in the blood of the Lamb...
And youíre not indwelt by the HS of God...
If your name is not written in the book of heaven, God is against you.
And the word of God said, "I want you to preach.
I want you to prophesy against these 25 men, and I want you to tell them three things.
#1" he says, "I want you to tell them I know everything thatís going on in their little picky brains."
Thatís what verse 5 says: then the spirit of the LORD came upon me, and he told me to say, "This is what the Lord says: Ďthat is what you are saying, oh house of Israel, but I know what is going on through your mind."í
God says, "You tell Ďem I know what theyíre thinking.
You tell Ďem I know the evil they are plotting.
You tell Ďem I know the advice theyíre giving.
You tell Ďem I know everything that goes on in the inner recesses of their being.
I know their heart. I know their mind. I know their being."
God says, "You tell Ďem theyíre not hiding from me, and theyíre not deceiving me.
Iím not impressed with their flowery words.
Iím not impressed with their wicked advice."
God said, "You tell Ďem I know their mind."
>But God said secondly, "not only do I want you to tell Ďem I know what theyíre thinking...
I want you to tell Ďem I know what theyíre doing."
Look in verse 6: you have killed many people in this city, and filled its streets with dead.
What does that mean?
God says that the advice of these false preachers, the wisdom of these false preachers...
Are leading people into spiritual destruction and spiritual death.
They are blind leading the blind.
They are the dead leading the dead.
And many people who are following them are following them away from God...
And into the very pits of hell itself.
God says, "You tell Ďem, Ezekiel, I know what theyíre thinking and I know what theyíre doing."
>But then he says, "Not only do I want you to tell them that I know whatís going on"...
He says secondly, "I want you to tell Ďem whatís going to happen to them."
Look in verse 7.
Therefore this is what the sovereign Lord says. The bodies you have thrown there are the meat and this city is the pot.
Youíre right. This city is the cooking pot.
But I will drive you out of it.
He said, "I want you 25 so-called meat in the pot men to know youíre not the meat of the pot."
It is God saying, "Iím going to destroy your influence.
Iím going to take away your prestige.
No one is going to listen to you any longer."
I tell you, when a preacher doesnít have anybody that listens to him, he is totally, totally ruined.
All the money in the world would not satisfy when folks wonít come and listen.
God says, "You may be in the pot, but youíre not the meat of the pot and Iím gonna kick you out of the pot."
Thatís what God says.
>But not only does he say, "Iím going to take your influence away."
He says, "Iím going to let your greatest fear become reality."
In verse 8 he says: You fear the sword and the sword is what I will bring against you, declares the sovereign Lord.
What is the greatest fear of your life?
God says, "In judgment, the greatest fears of your life become reality."
The greatest fears of peopleís lives have become reality.
There are those who say, "There is no God."
There are those who say that God of the Bible is not the God that really exists.
There are some that say God is dead.
There are some that say God is old and senile.
And they live in terror hoping that what they are saying is really true.
They hope that the God of the Bible does not exist.
They hope there is no judgment to come.
They hope there is no hell to follow.
But God says, "I want to tell you the greatest fears of your life Iíll bring to reality."
Thatís the judgment of God.
Heíll take their influence away, and heíll bring their fears into reality.
>One last thing.
Weíve seen the vision Ezekiel saw, and weíve heard the instructions he received.
But I want to tell you now to witness the death that Ezekiel witnessed.
He started to preach.
Verse 13: Now as I was prophesying Pelatiah...
One of those 25, one of those leaders, one of those men that had been a priest, a man of God supposedly...
And yet had turned his back on God, was a sun worshiper, a man who was now corrupt morally...
Spiritually bankrupt, and he says, "Now as I was prophesying, Pelatiah died."
>If any of you have ever bought a house, you know sometimes you have to put up some earnest money.
Earnest money is a pledge that more money is on its way.
You may put up $500...$1,000...whatever you and the seller and the buyer may work out.
But thatís a pledge.
Thatís earnest money.
Thatís a little bit of the whole amount, but thereís more on the way.
You know what a lot of people believe about the Bible?
Theyíll say, "Now preacher, Iíll tell you right now, I believe the Bible is the word of God.
Yes sir, brother, Iím a fundamentalist.
I believe the whole Bible, every bit of it, cover to cover.
I even believe the leather is genuine. I believe the whole Bible."
But they believe it like they believe in Peter Pan and Mother Goose.
I mean they know the stories...
Daniel and the Lionís Den...Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego...David and Goliath...
They know the stories and somehow they kinda fit in their like the old woman in the shoe or something like that.
And they say, "Oh, yes, I believe the Bible. I believe it to be true."
And yet in reality they just donít believe it will ever come about.
>Ezekiel began to preach and old Pelatiah fell out dead.
He was the earnest of more coming later.
And I want to tell you, it scared Ezekiel.
It would scare me.
If Iím preaching and people fall out dead, it would scare me.
But it scared Ezekiel.
And he said, "Lord, are you going to destroy the whole remnant?"
And that question is the introduction to the next sermon because thatís the good news.
There is going to be a remnant, and hallelujah! Weíre it! Amen?
But God wants us to understand that when he speaks he means what he says, and he still takes sin seriously.
Thereís blessing and peace and grace upon those who love him and walk in him.
But there is still a curse and there is still judgment upon those who turn their back on him and say...
"No" to Jesus and "yes" to the flesh, the devil and the world.
>You and I live in a nation thatís in great turmoil.
I donít think Iíve ever seen America...I know Iíve never seen America like this in my life.
You and I are seeing things on TV and in the newspapers today that I never thought Iíd ever see or hear.
It makes me wonder what people are gonna write on the bathroom walls now...
Because everything that used to be on the bathroom walls is now on TV and in the newspaper.
But I want you to hear me now, the problem with America is not President Bush.
The problem of America is not congress.
The problem of America is the pulpits of America...
Men who ought to be standing and declaring, "Thus saith the Lord"...
And theyíve become spiritual prostitutes who sell their office for power, prestige and money.
And theyíll never be a restoration in the White House until there has been repentance and revival...
Behind the pulpits in the church house.
Iím not nearly concerned about the Presidentís repentance as I am about the preacherís repentance across our land.
I believe if there was a return to old-fashioned Bible preaching God would honor it once again.
I want to tell you, weíll never mail out a brochure from HCBC telling you...
"Now at our church we donít preach hellfire and brimstone...
and at our church we wonít ask you for money...
and at our church you can come dressed like you just walked in off a hay field".
Because I want you to know, friend, there are some standards in this book.
God expects things of his people.
Godís not interested in being "user friendly"...
Because God doesnít have any friends outside of those that are washed in the blood of the lamb.
If youíre not a born again child of God, you are no friend of God.
Youíre the enemy of God.
But Jesus came and died on the cross so that those of us who are the enemies of God...
Might be brought near to him and peace could be made through the blood of his cross and we become his friends.