PROPHETS THAT HAVE SEEN NOTHING
Would you take your Bibles please and turn to Ezekiel, chapter 13:1-23.
>I heard about two brothers Ė mean, wicked, vile, reprobate brothers.
They were notorious for their drinking and cussing and fighting and carousing.
They were the town outcasts and rejects, the dregs of society.
One of those two brothers was killed in a bar room fight.
The other brother went to one of the preachers in town and said...
"My brother is dead and I want you to preach his funeral, and I want you to call him a saint."
The preacher said, "Sir, there is no way that I could call your brother a saint...
Everybody knew what kind of man he was...
He was a drunkard...he was an outcast...he was a rebel rouser...
Thereís not any way in this world I could ever call him a saint."
And the brother said, "I tell you, if youíll call him a saint, Iíll give you $1,000."
The preacher thought about it and he said, "Iíll do it."
So the day of the funeral came and he said, "Folks, now you all know how John was...
One of the most vile, wicked, reprobate men that ever walked the face of the earth.
But compared to his brother, he was a saint."
>Preachers for hire.
I was 16 years old when I became aware of Godís call on my life to be a preacher.
>When God got my attention I didnít argue...
I didnít run...I didnít fight...I didnít hide...
But I didnít think God was getting much in the bargain.
I was very shy, somewhat hesitant to even want to stand before anybody, much less a congregation of people.
It was totally against my nature to do this...totally.
And I never dreamed in all my life that I would ever be anything but a small church country preacher.
I was very comfortable that time...
I say all that just to provide a backdrop for this passage of scripture.
Though Iíve had the opportunity to preach many times to large gatherings of preachers...
I have never one time had the assignment to do what Ezekiel was assigned to do.
>God said, "I want you to preach to the preachers of Israel, and I want you to prophesy against them...
And I want you to tell them that I am against them because they are false prophets."
There is not anything more insulting to the person of God and more detrimental to the people of God...
Than a preacher who earns his living by preaching what the people want to hear.
As is true today, it was true in the days of Ezekiel.
Not all who call themselves God-called preachers really were God-called preachers.
There are only 40 names of prophets listed in the Bible of the true prophets of God...40.
Not all of them wrote Bible verses...
Weíre familiar with prophets like Ezekiel and Daniel and Joel and Amos and Obadiah.
But not all of the prophets of God were writers of scripture...
But they were just as called and just as powerful men of God.
But alongside of these 40 true prophets of God whose names are recorded in the Bible...
There were variably hundreds and hundreds of other prophets and many of them were false prophets.
I do not know what it was that attracted them to the preaching profession.
Maybe they lived under the delusion that there was some kind of glory in this.
Maybe they lived under the delusion that thereís lots of money in this.
Maybe they thought that there was power and influence that came with being the preacher.
But for some reason these men who had not been called of God...
And many of them did not even know God...
Found themselves as prophets in the land of Israel Ė false preachers.
It is against the law of the land to impersonate an officer of the law.
And I tell you, itís against the law of heaven to impersonate a prophet of God.
>I want you to see first of all Godís description of these false prophets.
He says about seven things about them.
Look there in verse 2: son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who now prophesy. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination.
They prophesy out of their own imagination.
May I say to you, God has never called any preacher to preach out of his own imagination.
If you are using the KJV it uses the word "heart".
It does not refer to that physical organ that pumps the blood in your body.
Heart here means the seat of emotions, their imagination, their own personality.
The Bible reminds us in the book of Jeremiah that the heart is very, very deceitful and desperately wicked.
Godís people cannot be preached to out of a manís mind...
Especially out of the heart of a man that does not even really know God.
God has called preachers to preach something better than opinion.
God has called preachers to preach something better than politics and pleasing platitudes.
God said to Ezekiel, "You tell those that preach to people out of their own imagination, Ďhear the word of the Lord."í
But these false preachers, false prophets, were men who preached out of their own imagination.
>A second thing the Bible says about them in verse 3:
This is what the Sovereign Lord says: "Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit."
Now there is a spirit in a man.
It is a human spirit, the spirit of Adam.
It is a spirit of rebellion...it is a spirit of arrogance...
It is a spirit of "doing it my way".
But there is in the heart of every born-again believer another spirit.
It is the Holy Spirit of God.
And the OT saints were indwelt with the Holy Spirit of God just as NT saints are.
And these OT prophets that were prophets of God, they could stand and speak:
Hear the word of the Lord...
Because the Holy Spirit of God had dictated these things to their hearts.
But not these false prophets.
They did not have the Holy Spirit.
Maybe they had never even heard of the Holy Spirit.
But they certainly did not follow him.
They followed their own spirit.
>The Bible says a third thing about them in verse 3.
The last phrase: we have seen nothing.
Now thatís all right.
Itís all right for a preacher not to see anything unless he claims to have seen something.
Itís all right for a preacher to come before his congregation and say...
"Now folks, this week Iíve been in the word of God and God has taught me some truth, but Iíve not had any great vision.
Iíve not had any signs and wonders from heaven."
Itís all right for a preacher to say, "Iíve not seen anything."
But for a preacher to say, "I have seen something", when he hasnít, thatís a lie.
And these false prophets were claiming to have seen great visions from God.
"God has spoken to them," they said, "through dreams, through divinations, through signs and wonders...
We have seen something."
But God said they had not seen anything.
>God says a fourth thing about them there in verse 4:
Your prophets, O Israel, are like jackals among ruins.
Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount referred to them as "ravenous wolves."
Foxes, the jackals, were scavenger animals.
The word "desert" literally means ruins.
A desert place is a vanquished place, a ruined place.
These prophets were like scavengers that come in...
And they were feeding themselves on the heartaches and the pain and suffering and sorrow of the people.
They were lining their own pockets at the expense of those who were hurting...
And who needed to have a real word from God.
>He says a fifth thing about them in verse 5.
He says they wonít stand for anything.
He says: youíve 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.
He said, "they wonít stand for anything."
God help the preacher that wonít stand for anything.
God help the church that has a preacher that wonít stand for anything.
Friends, there are some things and they have always been right and they will always be right...
Because theyíre right.
And there are some things that are wrong.
They always have been wrong, always will be wrong, because theyíre wrong.
And the man of God must stand and say, "Right is right and wrong is wrong.
Black is black...white is white...
Heaven is heaven...hell is hell...
And the two are never mixed."
The preacher must stand if heís the preacher of God.
But these men, they would not stand for anything.
>He tells us a sixth thing there in verses 6 and 7.
They speak lies in the name of the Lord.
Their visions are false and their divination a lie, they say, "The LORD declares" when the LORD has not sent them.
(Verse 7) Have you not seen a false vision and uttered lying divination, when you say, "the LORD declares", though I have not spoken?
Here were men who were lying in the name of the Lord.
Itís bad enough to lie.
Weíre living in a day when lying has become acceptable.
Weíre living in a day when lying has become fashionable.
I donít watch Oprah, but I saw the advertisement of her program.
She devoted a whole program to the respectability of lying in todayís culture.
I want to tell you, itís not respectable now, never has been, never will be.
But here were men who were lying, and as bad as lying is...
They were lying in the name of the Lord.
>Thereís one other thing about these false prophets.
Theyíve prophesied of their own hearts.
They followed their own spirit.
Theyíve seen nothing.
Theyíre jackals in the ruins.
They wonít stand for anything.
They speak lies in the name of the Lord.
#7 Ė they seduce people with false hope.
Look in verse 10: Because they led my people astray saying, "peace" when there is no pace.
The true prophets of God were telling what God had said.
God had said, "Youíve sinned and my judgment is going to come.
Iím going to bring judgment.
The Babylonians are going to come.
Judgment is coming."
Thatís what God said.
But these false preachers were saying, "Why donít get upset...everything is all right...
Peace...peace...all is well.
Why God is too loving a God to send judgment.
God is too loving a God to send anybody to hell.
God is too loving a God to do these mean things those preachers say he is going to do."
Peace...all is well...you can sleep tonight.
But there was no peace.
They seduced the people of God with a false hope.
>Thereís Godís seven-fold description.
They had built a wall of security in the minds of the people.
I read there in those verses, 11-16, and God talks about that wall.
A wall that the stones had been stacked on each other...
But instead of putting in mortar all they had done was whitewash it.
Those of you that live in a brick house, if you live in a brick house thatís a sound brick house...
Between every brick thereís mortar.
Can you imagine how strong your house would be if there were no mortar there...
That the bricks were just stacked up one on top of the other and painted over?
Well the first real storm, whatís gonna happen?
That wall is going to come down.
You see, a wall is supposed to be something of security.
In the days of the OT most of the cities were walled cities and those walls represented safety.
God said, "These false prophets, they have built up a wall...
But it is a wall that has been daubed with mortar that is no good.
All theyíve done is white wash."
Jesus said to Ananias, the high priest of his day, "Youíre a white washed fence."
You see? False, false prophets.
>But not only do we see Godís description of these false prophets, notice Godís judgment.
In verse 13 and in verse 11, he speaks of his judgment in three metaphors.
He uses the word "wind".
He uses the word "rain" or a flood of water...
And he uses the word "hailstone."
Wind and water and hailstone.
It speaks of a terrible, terrible storm.
I tell you, friends, you cannot stand, your life cannot stand the storms of life...
If you have built your life on a false foundation.
Thatís exactly what Jesus was talking about when he said to the people of his day...
He said, "There were two men that built a house.
One built a house on this foundation...it was strong and solid.
And the other built the same kind of house over on this foundation, but it was on the sand.
Both of the houses looked alike.
They were both built out of the same kind of building material.
They both seemed to have the same durability.
But then the storms came.
The winds began to blow and the rain began to fall.
And when the storm came, the house on the solid foundation stood firm.
But when the storm came, the house that was on the sand fell flat."
You see, friends, it does matter what you believe, and it does matter who you believe.
All preachers are not the same.
All gospels are not the same.
All religions are not the same.
It makes a whale of a difference what you believe and who you believe.
>All of us know that there are times in life when the wind just seems to blow overwhelmingly.
And the rains begin to fall and the hailstones begin to crush down.
And my how quickly it can happen!
You can be walking along, living your life and everything is fine.
All the children are well...the grandchildren are well..
Everybody has a job...all is happy.
And all of a sudden, devastation can come.
An automobile accident...a plane wreck...
Or some kind of sickness can come...a loss of a job...and catastrophe can come...
And all of those false hopes and dreams crumble.
God says, "Iím going to send the flood...Iím going to send the wind, and Iím going to send the hailstones upon these false prophets."
And he says, "When those storms come, the walls that those false prophets have built are going to come crumbling down.
But not only are their walls going to come down, they themselves are going to be destroyed."
God says, "Ezekiel, you tell that bunch of renegade false preachers, Iím going to kill them."
>"Bro. Joe, thatís not the God I serve."
Then you better change Gods.
Thatís the God of the Bible.
You see? Look in verse 14.
God says: I will tear down the wall that you have covered with whitewash and I will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare.
When it falls, you will be destroyed in it, and you will know that I am the LORD.
Ah, the judgment of God against these folks.
>He says: They will not belong to the council.
They are not going to be able to speak with authority.
Theyíre not going to have the respect of the people because God says...
"Iím against you and Iím gonna bring you down."
He says there in verse 9, secondly he says: or be listed in the records of the house of Israel. Youíre going to be forgotten. Youíre going to be excommunicated from the nation.
>And then thirdly he says: nor will they enter the land.
Literally, "Youíre not going to re-enter the land of Israel."
All of them were going to be led away in captivity.
But one day, thank God, some of them are gonna come back.
But God says, "These false prophets, theyíre not coming back."
Thatís the judgment of God upon them.
>Now let me hurriedly look at verses 17-23, and Iím not going to take long on this...I promise.
So listen fast.
Because this is Godís warning, Godís judgment upon the prophetesses, the women prophets.
Now there are some who find that to be very offensive, that a woman would be a prophet.
But you donít need to be offended by that.
In the OT women were not allowed to be priests.
As a matter of fact, the Bible makes it very clear that a woman could not be a priests.
Just like in todayís spiritual economy a woman cannot be a pastor.
>"Well now, Bro. Joe, I know a church somewhere and theyíve got a woman pastor."
So be it.
The Bible says, Let the bishop be the husband of one wife.
And no woman can do that.
And if sheís a lesbian she canít be a pastor anyway.
God did not allow women to be priests in the OT.
But there were women prophetesses in the Bible.
Four of them are mentioned by name in the Bible, in the OT, and one is mentioned by name in the NT.
>The first one is found in the 15th chapter of the book of Exodus, verse 20...
A woman by the name of Miriam.
A lot of folks donít know Miriam but they know her two brothers.
She had two pretty famous brothers.
One was Aaron who was the first priest of God, and the other was Moses himself.
Moses and Aaron, their sister, Miriam, is identified in the Bible as a prophetess of the Lord.
>In the book of Judges 4:4, the Bible talks about a woman Deborah.
She was a married woman, had a husband, and she was a judge of Israel.
But the Bible also says she was a prophetess of God...Deborah.
>Over in the book of II Kings 22:14, a third woman prophetess is mentioned by name.
Her name was Huldah, the prophetess, and a prophetess of God.
>Now then in the book of Nehemiah 6:14, a woman by the name of Noadiah.
Noadiah a woman, is a prophetess of God.
Four of them mentioned by name in the OT.
>When you come to the NT in the book of Acts, the Bible tells us that Paul went to the house of Philip the evangelist.
All of us know Philip the evangelist.
Philip was one of the first of seven deacons.
He was a man greatly used of God, and the Bible tells us in Acts that he had four daughters.
They were all virgins, and they were prophetesses.
They were all prophesying for the Lord.
>In I Corinthians 11, Paul tells a woman how she is supposed to be attired...
And how sheís supposed to have her head covered in the church if she prays or prophesies.
Now that doesnít mean she can be a pastor, but a woman can prophesy.
A woman can preach in the church.
Not be a pastor, but she can preach as long as she has her head covered...
And if she is married she is under the authority of her husband.
No women libbers are allowed to preach.
I suppose whoever that was, their wife made note of that.
Thatís just what the Bible teaches.
>Over in the book of Revelation 2:20, we find the only name of a prophetess in the NT...
And she was a false prophetess, a woman whose name was Jezebel.
And that may not have been her name.
That may have been a nickname for her.
"Why you Jezebel."
The only Jezebel I know of in the bible other than her was that wicked woman who was married to Ahab.
But here in the NT, Revelation 2, that church of Thyatira, that woman, Jezebel, that prophetess.
Where there were many false prophetesses, there were some good ones, I want you to know that.
God says to Ezekiel, "I want you to prophesy against these false women prophetesses."
Now God did not say I want you to prophesy against them because theyíre women.
God is not anti-woman...God made women.
God made them...God made man...God made women.
God made them different, and thatís true.
Men are not like women and women are not like men...
Weíre different from them and theyíre different from us...
But theyíre more different from us than we are different from them.
I mean, bless God! Theyíre just different.
If something is wrong with me, all you have to do is ask me, and bless God Iíll tell you.
You ask a woman, "Whatís wrong with you?" Nothing!
I have an idea something is wrong.
You see? Theyíre different.
God does not say to Ezekiel, "I want you to prophesy against them because they are women."
But he says, "I want you to prophesy against these particular women because they are false prophetesses."
They really were witches.
They were caught up in witchcraft and divination and sorcery and black magic.
>But I tell you, youíre not gonna find anybody that is going to translate that part of scripture to satisfy you.
What are these magic charms on their wrists?
Well the word "armholes" literally means wrist, if you look at the KJV...
And the pillows seem to be some kind of little puffs or little padded amulets that they used for sorcery.
Maybe they had a fragrance about them.
Maybe they could pull out little parts of it and drop it on you.
I donít know what they were.
But they were used for divination and sorcery, black magic.
And these kerchiefs were literally veils and they were different size veils for different size people.
What they would doóyou would go into one of these prophetesses and she would put this veil on you.
And the Hebrew word for veil sounds very much like the Hebrew word for a net used to capture a bird.
Thatís why God uses this play on words here.
God says you are nothing more than people who are trying to ensnare my people.
God says, "Iím gonna get you for it...Iím against you for it."
God is not against women.
God is not even against women prophetesses.
But God is against men or women who claim to be prophets of God when they are not...
And who use the office of prophet to manipulate and abuse the people of God for their own self-centered purposes.
God said to these women, "Iím against you and Iím going to bring you down...
You are ensnaring my people...you are encouraging those who are wicked to do more wickedness...
And you are discouraging those that are mine.
You are making them sad when I havenít made them sad."
>So we find in chapter 13 of Ezekiel Godís judgment upon false preachers.
Well what does that have to do with us?
It has a lot to do with a lot of you.
We have a lot of young men and families sharing the word of God going all over the city and county...
I want you young preachers to know that God expects you to be a preacher of honor...
A preacher of integrity...a preacher who can back up what he says with a life of faithfulness to God.
God expects you to deal in truth.
Donít ever forget what God has called you to do.
God has not called you to tickle the ears of the goats.
God has not called you to preach what folks want to hear.
God has called you to preach "thus saith the Lord."
So it has a great deal of application.
But it applies to all of us.
>All of us need to be reminded that God deals in the truth.
Jesus said, "I am the truth."
The Bible he has given us is the truth.
Friends, we donít have to deal in rumor.
We donít have to deal in gossip.
We donít have to deal in backbiting or slander.
Weíve got a better word than that.
The truth of the word of God.
Letís be people of the truth, and may God bless us when we strive to do that.