Ezekiel 13:7-9 (ESV)
“Have you not seen a futile vision, and have you not spoken false divination? You say, ‘The Lord says,’ but I have not spoken.” Therefore says the Lord God: “Because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you,” says the Lord God. “My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies; they shall not be in the assembly of My people, nor be written in the record of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord God.”
I came across this passage of Old Testament Scripture while perusing the books of the prophets. It seemed to fit my theme as of late looking into the dangers of false narratives, false preachers, and false prophets. It is one thing to be wary of suspicious characters offering suspicious promises of salvation and prosperity without giving due credit to Jesus or glory to God who makes salvation and prosperity possible, but what does God say about how false preachers and false prophets are handled or dealt with?
How does God deal with the dangerous characters who use religion for personal gain or use religion to mislead people away from their spiritual growth and the Gospel truths? What response does God have for those who misuse and mistreat His word?
When you think about where extremism and religious terrorism could come from, consider how easily swayed people can be when Scripture is invoked and how willing people are to overlook its misuse and manipulation or misinterpretation. What people assume to be sacred truth goes unchallenged or untested. No one looks closely at the motivations of the speaker or preacher or so-called religious leader.
Yet God is quite observant and knowing of when His word is stripped of its true meaning and intent. And when we observe or experience the negative consequences of misguided or false theology, only then might we be reminded of the true message God intended.
God never intends to inflict tragedy upon His creations. God didn’t create us just so that He can breed jealousy, hatred, and partisanship among us. He did not intend for us to be divided and separated. Our pride and our possessiveness and desire to completely control our destiny and the destiny of others has a lot more to do with how divided we are than the works of God. We go through life with the arrogant belief that we don’t need each other or need God to achieve great things. We assume we can get by without God– yet at the same time, we latch on to charismatics who promise us what we don’t have but want.
We would foolishly prefer a charismatic leader who can talk a good talk and give rousing rhetorical speeches whether they can deliver on their promises or not, than put any trust in our Creator and the gifts He has already given us and expects us to put to good productive use.
A false prophet or false preacher would have us believe we are worthless or helpless without him. If we only dedicate ourselves to him and invest in him, somehow, all things will work out and the things we want will be handed to us or provided for us. Yet this leader or this preacher has no real power or authority beside what his or her followers enable him or her to have. Some preachers promise what really isn’t theirs to deliver or give; and they wish to gain the reputation of being a great person or humanitarian, etc. Some want to take it upon themselves to “save us” and to “convert us” and wear their accomplishments like merit badges of personal honor and prestige, taking credit for the work of the Holy Spirit (if present).
There are plenty of people who profess a religious view and offer up promises of salvation and prosperity who just want to bask in the glory of celebrity. They do what they do to boost their ego and in so doing, send the message of “without me as your guide, you are worthless scum… but look at how awesome I am… if you only do what I say, you could be just as awesome some day too.” But your day will never really come from a false prophet or false preacher or false leader.
Only someone who is humble, can be an effective leader. Only someone who starts and ends with Jesus can be taken as seriously as Jesus. Anyone who tries to rewrite the Word will ultimately fail. Anyone who tries to take away or add to the Word will fail. Why? Because in the end, the truth always comes out and reveals itself. The Word of God does not create tragedy or invoke harm upon those who follow Christ. A God of love and mercy and compassion speaks and acts out of love, mercy, patience, kindness, compassion, and generosity. If the message does not meet this criteria, the message should die. The messenger will face God’s judgment. I don’t believe God would appreciate anyone who attempts to hijack His Word for personal gain at the expense of others. I don’t think God would appreciate someone undermining His wisdom, love, and righteous authority either.
You can’t challenge your Creator and not face a severe humbling.