Ezekiel 12–14:11. The Days Are Prolonged and Every Vision
Comes to Nought.
The False Prophet at Work.

Key Notes: Criteria of a true prophet. A rogue's gallery of Biblical false prophets. A case study of the false prophets at work.

One of the problems of prophecy is the time-factor. The distance between the prophet's statement and the fulfillment may be hundreds of years apart. Isaiah's prophecy of Christ's birth (Isa. 9) was given 700 years before the Event. The prophecy of Israel's return a second time to the Land (Isa.11:11) was also given by Isaiah and was not fulfilled until perhaps’47AD--2600 years later. But even twenty years between 606BC, the first captivity of Jerusalem and 586BC, the final captivity, is a long time, and it is easy to rebuild and guess that everything will be all right. But in today's lesson, there is real urgency. It is now 592BC, and only 5–6 years remain before Jerusalem will be finally destroyed.

12:1–16 Ezekiel's task was to act out another prophetic pantomime: Zedekiah {"the prince") will break out of Jerusalem under cover of darkness, try to escape Nebuchadnezzar's siege, only to be caught and taken to Babylon as a blinded captive. The fulfilment is described in IIK.25:1–7.

12:17–20 Ezekiel was also to eat and drink with shaking hands to show how the people of Jerusalem would be frightened and dismayed by the siege.

12:21–28 Although the fulfillment of prophecy was often delayed to the point that it was ignored, this time God would not delay.

13:1–23 There were many false prophets (“prophesying out of their minds”), prophesying peace. They were like foxes among ruins, like plasterers who white-washed a wall that was too weak to stand up. There were also women prophets who used magic, practiced fortune-telling and made gauzy garments in their idolatrous practices, hunting for souls. They discouraged the righteous and encouraged the wicked.

14:1–8 Ezekiel, a true prophet or seer, could see through elders who came for advice but still worshiped idols in their hearts.

14:9 Prophets who were deceivers could count on the fact that God had deceived them and that both inquirer and prophet would be punished. Note that God was actively pursuing Israel:
  "...that I may lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel, who are all estranged from Me through their idols". 14:5
 "Repent and turn away from your idols." 14:6
 "...that the house of Israel may no longer go astray, that they may be my people and I may be their God." 14:11

Discussion.
The topic of this section of Ezekiel is the false prophet. There are three criteria for a true prophet.
• The true prophet never pulls people away from God. Deut.13:1–5.
*He is a forth-teller /preacher / teacher, telling the people the truth about God.
• He is a foreteller / seer, speaking of the future for God. The true prophet's word comes true. Deut.18:18–22. Christ is the ultimate Prophet. Acts 3:23–24

The false prophet is a sooth-sayer, one who tells us what we want to hear. The predictions do not always come true. Note that Ezekiel broadens the definition to include magicians and fortune-tellers. Here are some Biblical examples. Can you name false prophets of today? Some calculate events of the future. Others allure us with easy religion, slightly twisted truths or displays of power.

 A Rogue's Gallery of Biblical False Prophets.
*Balaam. (Num. 22.) [He] "loved gain for doing wrong." (II Pet. 2:15)
*The old prophet of Bethel . He betrayed a young prophet, perhaps out of jealousy. IK 13
*Zedekiah and the 400 prophets of Ahab. They assured Ahab that he would win the war with Syria, and he died in battle. IK 22
*Hananiah brought false good news to King Zedekiah during the siege of Jerusalem. Jer. 28
*Shemeiah opposed Jeremiah and his advice that Israel should settle in Babylon for the near future. Jer. 29
*Shemeiah (a different prophet) tried to intimidate Nehemiah when he was rebuilding in Jerusalem. Neh.6:10
*Elymas the magician tried to turn the proconsul of Cyprus away from the Lord and was denounced by Paul. Acts 13:8
*Simon the Sorcerer tried to buy the power of  the Holy Spirit from the apostles. Acts 9:13,19

God will work against the false prophet. IK 22 is an excellent case-study.

Ahab, the wicked king of the Northern Kingdom, wanted to recapture Ramoth-Gilead from the Syrians. He asked the help of Jehoshaphat, the godly king of Judah. Ahab's 400 prophets headed by Zedekiah (not the biblical prophet), told him to go ahead. Jehoshaphat asked for a second opinion. Micaiah, a prophet whom Ahab hated, was brought in. Ahab said Micaiah never prophesied good about him. Micaiah then said that Ahab would win the war. Ahab said he was lying. Then Micaiah said that Ahab was correct: Israel would lose and Ahab would be killed. He said that the Lord had put a lying spirit in the mouths of Ahab's prophets so that he would be deceived into going into a fatal battle. Ahab had Micaiah put in prison on bread and water until he came back victorious. Ahab died in battle.

Ahab and Jehoshaphat knew they were being deceived, even before Micaiah came in. Micaiah explained God's plan clearly to him. Ahab went ahead anyway, to do what he wanted.

This passage does not contradict, but supports James 1:13.
"Let no one say when he is tempted 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Desire when it is conceived gives birth to sin and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death."

The false prophet may believe what he is saying, but is far from God, cannot speak the truth and may be working for money. If the prophet says he will make you rich and appy, do not believe him. God directs his self-deception for his own punishment and the punishment of those who listen to him or her.

How can we keep people from being deceived? How can we keep ourselves from being deceived? How can we keep from being false prophets ourselves? Seek the face of God.