“Because, in truth, because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace. Therefore thus says the Lord God: In my wrath I will make a stormy wind break out.”
Ezekiel 13:10a, 13
Apparently there has always been a public relations industry, and spin doctors to put a positive face on a steaming pile of lies. If I read this passage correctly, that is.
Yesterday at a simple desire, we had a good look at the difference between exaggerated, metaphoric violence and actual physical violence, between “outer” peace and inner peace among the people of God. I think today’s verses make the case pretty clearly that Ezekiel’s is a story of the battle in the heavens for our souls, not the ones on earth for our property or ideologies. In verse 5 of Chapter 13, the Lord uses the image of the false prophets as those who have not repaired “the breaks in the wall”. This way of equating physical objects (a destroyed temple, a city, a whitewashed tomb) with the spiritual identity of a follower of Yahweh (one who is under threat of attack, who must guard his or her heart from sin, lies and false deities) has precedent throughout both the Old and New Testaments. For example, Nehemiah and other minor prophets put the rebuilding of Jerusalem in this same context: the city IS the people, and vice-versa.
Here, Ezekiel’s Lord talks about “flimsy” walls covered with “whitewash” (v. 10) , walls that will not be strong enough to stand in a coming battle. It’s not much of a stretch to see that they’re not talking about brick and mortar walls here, so much as a religious and political house of cards, based on lies and denial, that will not stand against the coming opponents. It reminds me of something… a battle entered into with faulty, made-up information from the leadership; a shoddy, patched-together, whitewashed mission thought to be “accomplished”; battles for which we’re not prepared… where have I heard this before? Ah well, it will come to me later.
Chapter 13 ends, on the other hand, with a merciful God, a saving Lord. He’s still angry, yes — and not only at the liars but also those foolish enough to believe them. But He just wants His people restored, his family set back on the right path. Here’s more of what He tells Ezekiel to convey to the false prophets, the pundits of that era, making up predictions off the top of their head:
19b By lying to my people, who listen to lies, you have killed those who should not have died and have spared those who should not live.
20 ” ‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against your magic charms with which you ensnare people like birds, and I will tear them from your arms; I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds. 21 I will tear off your veils and save my people from your hands, and they will no longer fall prey to your power. Then you will know that I am the LORD. 22 Because you disheartened the righteous with your lies,…
As a disheartened peacemaker in the 21st century, I take hope from this. The veil behind which a liar hides can always be torn away by our protective Father, revealing what was hidden and scurrilous (but often seductive, complete with flashing graphics and seemingly plausible statistics) about the false prophets’ message. Except nowadays, instead of “peace”, they say “War!” when there is no war… at least not the kind of war — with nukes and guns and IED’s — that they’re telling me we need to fight.
I may or may not be righteous, but at least now I know that I’m not alone and abandoned here, utterly unable to sort out the truth from the lies, on the eve of still more battles for the hearts and minds of God’s people.