Excerpt From The Book, Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing
False Prophets: Their Shameless Conspiracy?
10 Secrets Help You Shatter Their Frauds
False Prophets: They Support One Another’s Iniquity
Why do false prophets survive?
Not only do they survive, they thrive.
All false prophets gather followers whom they influence with their falsehoods.
Since the beginning of mankind, false prophets have beguiled the unwary and mobilized rebels. Soon after their exodus from Egypt, false prophets arose among the Israelites and split them into factions. In Israel’s history, this pattern emerged on repeated occasions.
On one such occasion, God sent Ezekiel to prophesy to Israel and to call them to repentance for their sin. False prophets had led them to reject God and separate from Him.
False Prophets: They Form A Conspiracy To Support One Another’s Iniquity.
In his God-given message to Israel, Ezekiel identified the source of their sin.
“And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, say unto her, Thou art the land that is not cleansed, nor rained upon in the day of indignation. There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof…” (1)
Several false prophets joined together and led Israel into sin. These fraudulent leaders formed a conspiracy against God. In their treason, they agreed and performed together evil acts and led Israel to follow their wicked designs.
Because of their sin, God withheld rain from them in judgment.
False Prophets: They Conspire Together To Devour Souls.
Ezekiel said in 22:25,
“There is a conspiracy of the prophets in the midst thereof like a roaring lion ravening the prey.”
No doubt you have observed videos of lions pursuing their prey. Once they capture their prey, the pride of lions ravages the victim.
That describes the action of the false prophets in Ezekiel’s time. The history of Israel reveals several ways that they devoured souls. In the most obvious way, they destroyed true prophets. False prophets often killed true prophets who contradicted them with God’s messages.
Hebrews 11 recounts some of the ways they destroyed them with cruel mutilations:
- they cut off their heads;
- drove swords through their bodies; or
- sawed them in half.
False Prophets: They Conspire Together to Defame True Prophets of God.
False prophets defame the true prophets. They denounce their messages, mock them, banish them, and punish them for their pronouncements.
The Bible records instances when they brought God’s prophets into the public square and put them in stocks. (2) Passersby mocked them, because they had the audacity to try to proclaim the truth against the faulty leaders who controlled things.
By their actions, these false prophets deprive people of God’s truth, leading to their devastation and their lands at the hands of Israel’s enemies.
False Prophets: They Conspire Together to Deliver A False Message of Peace.
Sham prophets declare a false message of peace and prosperity in times of danger. Their troubled people need a warning, yet the misleading prophets say, “Don’t worry. Everything is fine. Everyone is doing a good job. Things are good.”
This happened in Jeremiah’s day. He said,
“For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” (3)
The false prophets declared a false message. In fact, the people faced extreme hardship, difficulty, and danger. The incorrect message of peace and prosperity ultimately led the people into destruction.
Ezekiel proclaimed a similar message.
“Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life.” (4)
False Prophets: They Conspire Together to Divest People’s Property.
The false prophets of Ezekiel’s era made a practice of divesting the people of their goods and property. Ezekiel said they had “taken the treasure and precious things.” (5)
Because of their lies and presumptions of their positions, they stole from the people. They extorted money and property from them, especially widows. By their deceits, they pillaged the land and people.
Today, many false leaders practice this same deceit. They ask members of their audiences a series of questions. For example,
- “Do you experience financial difficulty?”
- “Do you have debts that you cannot pay?”
- “Do your expenses exceed your income so that you do not have enough money to cover all of your expenses and your cost of living?”
Then they say, “If that describes you, I have wonderful news for you. If you will send me a gift in the amount of your debt, Jesus will bless you.” Some include a promise that God will send them money equal to 100 times what they send to them.
In this way, these modern day false prophets divest millions of people of their money and property.
The Lord Jesus specifically spoke about this very sin in Matthew 2. The Pharisees of His day devoured widows’ houses. These false religious leaders went to those least able to defend themselves and extorted from them their goods, lands, and their property.
These things happened in the time of Ezekiel, in the time of Jesus, and they happen today as well. Do not follow such leaders. Yes, God did promise to provide for the needs of His children. However, when you hear or read someone who makes an offer that requires you send them money, turn them off and destroy their publications. God will make a way for you, as you trust Him.
False Prophets: They Conspire Together to Disregard God’s Word.
Ezekiel described the priests’ disregard for God’s word:
“Her priests have violated my law.” (6)
They disregarded Jesus’s law and His word.
- They viewed God’s word as a history book.
- They did not regard its demands upon life as important.
- They nullified certain passages of Scripture involving the commandments.
- They set aside parts of God’s word, because it did not fit into their current culture and desire.
Their misconduct resulted in their defiance against God and the disobedience of Israel.
Many modern day false prophets follow the same pattern. They, too, disregard Jesus’s word and misrepresent its application. They relegate whole portions of Scripture as relevant for years past, but not for today in our “new era.”
A theory of progressive revelation and conformity to culture writes off fundamental doctrines. They take a part of the complete doctrine and say, “that’s the whole doctrine.” Denying part of the truth results in untruth.
Ezekiel’s explanation of the priests in his time describes errant leaders of today. They have set aside the authority of Scripture and violated God’s word.
False Prophets: They Conspire Together To Desert The Distinction Between the Holy and the Profane.
This distinction separated the clean from the unclean. God established restrictions that prevented the unclean people from entering certain sections of the Temple. The priests of Ezekiel’s day took no notice of those distinctions. Anybody, holy, clean, or unclean, could go anywhere in the Temple that they desired.
In addition, God established a series of animal sacrifices for the people to atone for their sins and to worship Him. He demanded only the clean and the best of their animals. The false priests set aside God’s rules so that the people could bring the sacrifices that they wanted to bring, sickly, lame, or malformed at birth.
The priests of Ezekiel’s day rejected God’s requirements, which distinguished between the holy and the profane sacrifices.
In our day, false prophets fail to separate the holy from the profane. Although we do not have the same set of rules for Temple worship and sacrifices, some leaders today fail to distinguish between the holy and the profane.
Specifically, they fail to identify and condemn sin. Preachers from the pulpits of our churches and from television programs, as well as popular authors, stay away from the whole issue of sin. We renamed sin and called it “a mistake or an error in judgment.”
The desire for popularity controls the issues. Some popular preachers present the gospel solely as a free pass to heaven and never even mention the sinner’s transgressions that need repentance and forgiveness. As a result of its failure to identify and condemn sin, the Church has declined into spiritual decay.
As in Ezekiel’s day, we have failed to distinguish between the holy and profane, the clean and the unclean. However, God’s demands for holiness of His people require that spiritual leaders preach on sin to lead believers to repent of their sins. We desperately need preachers who proclaim God’s holy demands.
False Prophets: They Conspire Together To Forsake True Worship Of God.
The priests of Ezekiel’s day not only desecrated God’s holy things. They failed to worship God truly.
“[They] have hid their eyes from my Sabbaths.” (7)
This sin developed because the priests rejected God’s law regarding the Sabbaths. God instituted several Sabbaths, not just the one that occurred every seventh day. He did set aside that day as a day of rest and worship.
He also established special Sabbaths associated with feasts and ceremonies, which called for the people of God to worship and celebrate His goodness to them at various times and seasons. At these times, the people honored, worshiped, and glorified God.
But, the false prophets set aside the Sabbaths that God instituted for His people to honor, glorify, and worship Him. Therefore, true worship of God disappeared. Because of the influence of false prophets, the Children of Israel in the day of Ezekiel violated God’s requirements.
In addition to hiding the Sabbaths, they rejected God’s commands regarding idols. In disobedience, they built idols and elevated altars to them. They made groves throughout the land for their special gods. They ignored God’s requirements for His people and designed methods and requirements of their own.
Jesus commanded His followers to worship Him in spirit and truth. (8) Yet counterfeit pastors and teachers of our day set aside this command. Much of what passes as worship today has become nothing more than hyped emotionalism, manufactured by stirring orchestral accompaniments led by enthusiastic choral leaders.
It differs little from what occurs at rousing motivational seminars or exciting athletic events. Some have even recommended a return to the use of objects and ceremonies as part of worship of Jesus.
The contemporary Church has set aside the importance of worship. We trivialize the manner in which we acknowledge the holy, sovereign, creator God and His Son.
Just as in Ezekiel’s day, true worship of God and Jesus has declined and virtually disappeared. We need a reformation of true worship of Jesus, giving Him the honor, glory, and praise that He deserves.
False Prophets: They Conspire Together to Dishonor God.
The priests in Ezekiel’s day set aside the distinctions between the holy and the profane, and the true worship of God. In the end, they profaned Him. By their dismissive attitudes, they diminished the sovereign God. In fact, they had established other kinds of gods that they thought were equal with the true God:
- god of harvest;
- god of seasons;
- god of reproduction; and
- god of the sun, moon, and stars.
Eventually they just designated one title that covered a whole multitude of gods. They called them the Baals.
Worship of these false gods dishonored the true God.
These characteristics of the priests in Ezekiel’s day identify them as false prophets, co-conspirators, if you will, who conspired together against God.
This same sin permeates the professing Church today. We call it pluralism, which means that each person worships his own God in his own way. We accept any form of worship. Some believe that people in other cultures may worship as they please, no matter whom they call “God.” In another way, I have often heard the phrases, “The god I worship is ……,” or “I like to think of god as…”
Some prominent preachers and teachers even state that every religion has its own “Jesus.” They proclaim that Jesus has other ways of salvation and will accept those of other religions based upon the sincerity of their beliefs, even if contrary to the truths of Scripture. They suggest that it is unnecessary to reach the followers of pagan god’s with the gospel of Jesus.
In all of these instances, the true and living God is no longer worshipped but profaned. He has revealed Himself to us in creation, our natures, and in His Son, Jesus Jesus. He disclosed Himself to us in His Word, which we can read and study to learn of Him. He reveals Himself to us and requires us to worship Him and Him alone.
False Prophets: They Conspire To Defend Evil Practices.
The false prophets of Ezekiel’s day defended evil for personal good.
“And her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar.” (9)
These fraudulent prophets daubed the executors of wicked acts with untempered mortar, whitewash.
In that day when they made plaster for walls or structures, they used straw as a binding agent to help hold the material together and provide strength to it. Untempered mortar did not contain the substances that strengthen the mortar, so it would not work. Their plaster became nothing more than whitewash.
That helps us understand Ezekiel’s picture. When he said that the prophets daubed them with untempered mortar, he meant that the false prophets propped up, supported, and defended each other and the princes of Israel and their evil actions with whitewash. They did it for their own advancement.
The rulers became like ravening wolves, shedding blood, destroying souls, and profiting from dishonest gain as they proclaimed that God had given them directions to aid them in this manner. (10) They followed the examples and teachings of the fraudulent prophets and became oppressive leaders. They developed into thieves, murderers, and deceivers who led the people into servitude, because of the sin and iniquity in their own lives.
Their degradation affected the people as well. (11) They followed the leadership of the land and became like them. They, too, became oppressors, thieves, and murderers who destroyed the poor and the needy by failing to care for them.
False Prophets: Implications
Since Israel provides a vivid picture of the Church, we can learn by studying God’s dealings with Israel. As Ezekiel explained to Israel their sinfulness, he specifically identified the presence of a conspiracy of prophets and their sinful leadership.
Ezekiel described the behavior of the false prophets, princes, leaders, and the ruling people. They
- killed many husbands, making many widows;
- violated God’s Law;
- profaned God’s holy things;
- failed to distinguish between holy and profane things;
- made no difference between clean and unclean things;
- hid their eyes from God’s Sabbaths;
- profaned God among the people; and
- like ravening wolves, they shed blood and destroyed souls for dishonest gain. (7)
As with Israel, the Church suffers from the disastrous impact of false prophets who emulate those during Ezekiel’s day. The present condition of the Church mirrors the condition of Israel described in our study passage. Like Israel, we experience a famine of spiritual rain. We experience God’s judgment for our sinfulness.
The offenses Ezekiel described sound as current as today’s television, radio, and print publications. Ungodly men and women, who proclaim themselves as God’s messengers, support one another in robbing the Church of Godly leadership.
- Boards of Directors close their eyes to sin and corruption in the ministries they direct.
- These same Boards support figureheads who dangerously weaken the Church.
- Church boards defend pastors whose lives do not do not reflect the purity and grace of Jesus.
- Incorrect messages of peace and prosperity flood our and other countries as well.
- Religious television and radio broadcasts proclaim a false message of hope.
- Books and magazines publish these misleading messages.
The false prophets of Ezekiel’s day formed a conspiracy that resulted in the destruction of the land. Their actions give us insight into similar evil practices today. They serve as a warning to help us determine the true from the false.
If the Church fails to heed the warnings from Ezekiel, we will endure a similar judgment from God that Israel experienced. In fact, spiritual decline permeates the Church today. God has withdrawn His glorious, manifest presence from the Church.
We must heed the warnings from Ezekiel. Our time of danger demands the truth. I pray that the Spirit of God will open our eyes to discern and reject the presence of the conspiracy of false prophets in the Church today.
Dear heavenly Father, I want to thank You for this record that You have provided and preserved for us from Your dealings with the Children of Israel in the time of Ezekiel. You have preserved it so that it will warn us and encourage us to examine our lives to see many of these same things present in our day as well.
I ask you, heavenly Father, to send forth Your Holy Spirit to teach us the truth, to open our eyes to see what Your Word describes for us, and to enable us to discern the false in our day, so that we may pursue after the truth. I pray that we will see how we need to conform our lives to the truth, to obey, follow, and to worship You.
May your Holy Spirit lead us to You, to an understanding and knowledge of You and the Lord Jesus. I pray, Father, that You will enable us to reject the conspiracy of false prophets to the honor and glory of Your name. Amen.
- Ezekiel 22.25.
- Jeremiah 20.7
- Jeremiah 6:13-14.
- Ezekiel 13:22.
- Ezekiel 22.25.
- Ezekiel 22:28.
- Ezekiel 22.26.
- John 4.23.
- Ezekiel 22.28.
- Ezekiel 22.27.
- Ezekiel 22.29.
Questions For Review
- What is a motive that bonds false prophets together?
- In what ways do false prophets injure the ministries and the comforts of true prophets in our time?
- What makes it easy for any Church or Bible Study Group to believe that their group is successful in their ministry for Christ, even when the evidence says the contrary?
- Do you have spiritual guidelines which determine your method of giving to the work of the Lord? What prevents you from supporting false prophets erroneously?
- What is the danger in determining that a part of holy Scripture is not relevant for this age? If it comes to that, who has been delegated by God to make such determinations?
- List several areas in which Christ followers demonstrate a lack of distinction between the holy and the profane.
- What are the requirements for worship? If you were the “worship leader” for an announced appearance of Jesus Christ, how would you design group worship of the King?
- Those who support “pluralism” (each person worships his own God in his own way) are in danger for their souls. Why?
© Thomas P Hill. Website: www.masterministries.org.
Personal Information: Thomas P. Hill, M. A. in Ministry, Luther Rice Seminary; author of 3 books: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing; Homosexuality, Christians, and the Church; and Keys To A Revolutionary Life (available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Tom’s web site). To invite Tom to speak at your college, church, or group, contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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