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Ezekiel 13
Have Seen Nothing
In the Old Testament the test of a true prophet was: Have you had a direct encounter with Yahweh?
And then, of course, the evidence of that is what you say actually comes to pass.
You have the track record to prove this, that sort of thing.
This reference to "you have seen nothing" really refers to, "They haven't seen me.
They haven't encountered me.
I haven't come to them.
I haven't brought them into my Council.
I haven't called them."
It's interesting that the text still calls them "prophets."
Prophesying is basically preaching.
I've made this comment before.
We have a misconception of prophecy because of all the End-times interest and hubbub, really the End-times obsession.
We tend to think that prophecy in the Old Testament (or anywhere in the Bible) refers to predicting the future.
Very rarely it did that.
It certainly does do that, but that's the minority.
Most of the time it's a preacher.
It's someone who is supposedly speaking for God, that sort of thing.
So what he's saying is, "Okay, you're out there running around... these guys are running around claiming to speak for God and speaking as though they do speak for God, but they have seen nothing.
I have not called them."
And as proof of that you get verse 4, this phrase about, "Your prophets have been like jackals among the ruins."
You know, they haven't gone up into the breaches to build a wall for the house of Israel.
That's an idiomatic way, in the case of the Hebrew Bible, of saying that these people who claim to be prophets (claim to be speaking for the God of Israel) have no real concern for the people among whom they live.
They're digging around, burrowing around the foundations, like little foxes or jackals, trying to hide themselves.
Trying to get security for their own butts.
They're not taking risks for the people.
They're not telling the people what they need to hear.
If they had done that 5, 10, 15 years ago—whatever it was—that they needed to repent, that the reason that this was happening and had happened (the first couple waves of exile) was because of their idolatry.
They're not doing that.
False Security
Instead they're preaching false security and looking to protect themselves.
They're looking for a place to hide instead of fulfilling their moral responsibility of telling people the hard truth.
In the past you needed to repent; perhaps God will relent.
In the present you need to repent because maybe you'll be spared and be part of the remnant.
They're not saying any of that.
They are just being false.
They're telling people things that aren't true, and it's just self-interest.
That is not what a prophet of God does.
So that's why these thoughts are mixed here.
We have this concatenation of thoughts in these phrases.
In verse 7, what they say is referred to as "lying divination."
The word here for divination is miqsam.
If any of you have read my paper on the Old Testament response to pagan divination, where I discuss a lot of these terms, I'll just quote a little bit from that.
Miqsam is really a term that kind of casts a broad net for different practices that were prohibited in the Old Testament context.
It refers to an attempt to illicit information from a deity (just generally) or from some supernatural source through reading something like entrails or the liver or whatever—different Ancient Near Eastern stuff they would do.
Or interpreting natural events, natural resources, as meaning something.
It's very broad.
One of the more common practices that would fall under miqsam divination would be casting lots, that sort of thing.
We're not told specifically which one of those things that these false prophets were doing, but God is aware, and basically he just says here through Ezekiel, "They've seen false visions.
I don't care what they claim to have seen.
It's bogus.
And they've given lying divinations.
They've done this that and the other thing and claimed that it means this or that."
And God is saying, "Enough of this.
This is a lie.
All this is a lie.
These are not my prophets.
They have seen nothing at all.”
Now when we get beyond verse 7 in Ezekiel 13, we get to verses 8 through 16.
We sort of get a general denunciation of all of this.
It's a bit of repetition here, but in chapter 13 verses 8 through 16, we just basically get a diatribe from God denouncing the practice of preaching false security—of trying to encourage people who need to repent of their idolatry... I'll read you a little bit of it because Ezekiel uses the metaphor of the wall and whitewashing the wall.
Verse 8:
8 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions…
That's an interesting phrase.
He doesn't deny they had a vision.
He just said it was a lie.
So again, it's either something self-willed...
When I read stuff like this I think of a lot of the nonsense that goes on today either within the Church or outside the Church in pagan religions or New Age kind of stuff, where people have experiences and they can be self-induced or induced from another intelligence, another supernatural intelligence.
So yeah, they had an experience, but it's a lie.
So God says:
“Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord GOD. 9 My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations.
They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel.
And you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
Well, if they're not going to enter the land, that tells you right away they're not going to be in the remnant because the remnant is going to be brought back.
Ezekiel has talked about that, too in little places here and there.
Why? Verse 10:
10 Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash, 11 say to those who smear it with whitewash that it shall fall!
Basically, they're encouraging people to do this or that to protect themselves, but it's all a mirage.
None of it is going to matter, is basically the point of the idioms that we see here.
So we get verses 8 through 16 are just one sort of slap in the face after another toward these false prophets.
And then we get to verse 17 where there's something interesting.
God says to Ezekiel in chapter 13, verse 17:
Basically, you're not going to see any more because you're going to be dead.
You're not part of the remnant.
You are going to perish.
This section (17-23, and that's the rest of chapter 13) is interesting because it's one of the handful of passages in the Old Testament that focus on female prophets (prophetesses).
Taylor says (just a little statement he has here):
There are only a handful of passages in the Old Testament which are critical of a class of women, and this section keeps company with Isaiah 3:16–4:1; 32:9–13 and Amos 4:1–3.
The only female prophets that are known to us are women like
Deborah (Judg.
and Huldah (2 Kgs 22:14), though Moses’ sister, Miriam, merited the title (Exod.
15:20) and Nehemiah refers to ‘the prophetess Noadiah’ among his intimidators (Neh.
While recognizing therefore that prophecy was open to women as well as to men, there do not appear to have been many such women and it is probably a mistake to think of a class or order of prophetesses.
In other words, unlike the men who had schools of prophets, it probably wasn't the case with the women.
But you do have women prophetesses.
This is not something that's going to be revelatory in our context, but this is one of the few places where you get this.
In this case, while those other references (at least some of them... some were positive, but there were a couple negative ones like the one in Nehemiah) this one is really negative.
If you read (and we did) from verses 18 onward, you get the feeling that we're not dealing with normal female prophets, but something that would get filed in the drawer of witchcraft because of the way it's described: "sew magic bands upon the wrists; make veils for the heads of persons of every stature."
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