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Standing in the Gap (Ezekiel 13)


By Benjamin H. Liles

          And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy out of their own heart, ‘Hear the word of the Lord!’” Thus says the Lord God: “Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! Therefore you shall no longer envision futility nor practice divination; for I will deliver My people out of your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” ~ Ezekiel 13:1-23, New King James

           The first thing I want to say is that for everyone along the gulf States here in America to be prepared for Harvey 2. If Harvey wasn't enough for my State of Texas it has already gone back out to sea as of yesterday afternoon and is yet strengthening again. To which I must add I told my father a few days before it made landfall it would hit Corpus Christi, and it did. I didn't stand in that moment to tell people, "Be prepared!" I don't think I was prepared myself. At the same time I could disqualify myself as a servant of God too. I'll tell you why.

          In Ezekiel 13 God has a charge against the false prophets of Israel, "Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! O Israel, your prophets are like foxes in the deserts. You have not gone up into the gaps to build a wall for the house of Israel to stand in battle on the day of the Lord. They have envisioned futility and false divination, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord!’ But the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope that the word may be confirmed. Have you not seen a futile vision, and have you not spoken false divination? You say, ‘The Lord says,’ but I have not spoken" (Ezekiel 13:3-7). 

          Israel's true prophets weren't just given to them in the times of their celebrations and joys but also during their times of defeat, their sorrows and their coming destruction. Ezekiel's message was just as unpopular in those days as it is now to do the same. Let's see where I fell asleep in regards to Harvey's landfall. Just as false prophets weren't seeing God's vision {and how could they considering they themselves didn't belong to God or were in faithful service to Him?} after I helped my dad with his needs at his mom where my mom also lives, I didn't keep up with what God had on my heart.

          It may be true I was tired from working on the days he needed me the most, but God needs me all the time to be available to Him. I didn't stand in the gap. I was nowhere near it! However, when the time calls for it and I do hear His voice audibly enough I do arise to what God shows me. This is not what the false prophets of Ezekiel's day were doing. Check this out: "You have not gone up into the gaps to build a wall for the house of Israel to stand in battle on the day of the Lord. They have envisioned futility and false divination, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord!’ But the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope that the word may be confirmed" (Ezekiel 13:5-6). 

          Not only were the false prophets giving a false word from God, they weren't speaking the truth about what was coming! They did only the basic thing required to keep a wall intact--they plastered it! Instead of being faithful to God first and then to the people, to show them to also be faithful, they looked to their own benefit. They gloried in themselves. And yet God did this: "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.  So I will break down the wall you have plastered with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be uncovered; it will fall, and you shall be consumed in the midst of it. Then you shall know that I am the Lord. I will also tear off your veils and deliver My people out of your hand, and they shall no longer be as prey in your hand. Then you shall know that I am the Lord. Therefore you shall no longer envision futility nor practice divination; for I will deliver My people out of your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezekiel 13:9, 14, 21, 23).

          God did something to these unfaithful liars that He would do to anyone who misspoke about any kind of vision or re-telling of what they believed God gave them. He would hand them over to be destroyed. And why? Aside from being unfaithful and lying were they doing anything else wrong?

          These false prophets, instead of becoming more like those God could use, remained in their sinful rebellion against Him. They spoke about peace. They told the people of Israel not to worry as they would experience peace, not destruction from her enemies. Okay. Wow. So, how does this fit what I did or did not do?

          I had a chance for a huge part last week, even though I felt tired and didn't want to do more work, which takes how long for me to do here but a couple of extra hours? I could have had done God's will and sent up warnings but I chose not to. I told my dad and my wife, that was it. So, what happened once Harvey struck the coast is that it not only affected Corpus Christi, but ravaged parts of the South and the majority of Southeast Texas, primarily from Bastrop and La Grange down and toward Houston and Beaumont. I know I shouldn't be extremely hard on myself, but who else can be held accountable? God? I don't think so.

           What I can do now, however, is to show my care and devotion since Harvey's back in the gulf and on the move. He won't swing back around to Houston. I doubt that. More than likely Harvey will make a third landfall and somewhere in Louisiana. I believe most likely New Orleans, but then again Harvey could make landfall anywhere on the Louisiana coast. The reason I say third time is that the first time I know Harvey made landfall was in the Central America region of the Yucatan peninsula. But I digress.

          God hates, more than anything, not just people who lie and for their own profit and gain, but the fact they do nothing profitable for those they tell their dreams and visions to. The men profane God's name by claiming, "Thus says God," when even in Ezekiel 13 it says, "You say, 'The Lord says,' but I [God] have not spoken [to you]" (Ezekiel 13:7). That's one thing I will never do. I may have done a lot wrong in my life and still do from time to time, but I will not be unfaithful to my Lord and Savior, nor will I tell any lie either.

          God also did something remarkable against these false prophets: "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. Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace—and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortarsay to those who plaster it with untempered mortar, that it will fall. There will be flooding rain, and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall tear it down. Surely, when the wall has fallen, will it not be said to you, ‘Where is the mortar with which you plastered it?’” Therefore thus says the Lord God: “I will cause a stormy wind to break forth in My fury; and there shall be a flooding rain in My anger, and great hailstones in fury to consume it. So I will break down the wall you have plastered with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be uncovered; it will fall, and you shall be consumed in the midst of it. Then you shall know that I am the Lord“Thus will I accomplish My wrath on the wall and on those who have plastered it with untempered mortar; and I will say to you, ‘The wall is no more, nor those who plastered it, that is, the prophets of Israel who prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and who see visions of peace for her when there is no peace,’” says the Lord God" (Ezekiel 13:9-16).

          God removed these evil men from the midst of the assembly of Israel. They were no more. Just as the walls of Israel fell when calamity came upon them, so did it happen to them when God destroyed those who were bringing talks of rebellion against God. They too were destroyed. The walls weren't rebuilt, but only had the look of having been fixed up. It takes a great deal of work to put up an effective wall to keep invaders out and to protect a people, but these supposed men of God didn't get in there to repair the wall. They only plastered it.

          And then there were also women who falsely prophesied as well. They had sown magic charms "on their sleeves" and made "veils for the heads of people of every height" (Ezekiel 13:18a). These women went out, from what the text reads, to "hunt the souls of My people, and keep yourselves alive? And will you profane Me among My people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, killing people who should not die, and keeping people alive who should not live, by your lying to My people who listen to lies?" (Ezekiel 13:18b-19). Ezekiel 13:20-23

          It comes across that these women worked alongside the men who gave false prophecies, allowing for certain people to live and others to die. Not only did they allow for certain people to die, but they were God's people who were killed, while those who were supposed to die were allowed the right to live. Now, I ask of you is this even right in the least bit? No! They didn't even have the love of God or the fear of God to be made manifest in their lives! It is why God did this thing: "Behold, I am against your magic charms by which you hunt souls there like birds. I will tear them from your arms, and let the souls go, the souls you hunt like birds. I will also tear off your veils and deliver My people out of your hand, and they shall no longer be as prey in your hand. Then you shall know that I am the Lord. "Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and you have strengthened the hands of the wicked, so that he does not turn from his wicked way to save his life. Therefore you shall no longer envision futility nor practice divination; for I will deliver My people out of your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezekiel 13:20-23).

          Those who are righteous, in God's eyes, will be spared and yet those who ought to be put to death were so then put to death. In this way I have done what God has desired of me. I am hard on myself for a specific reason, and at the same time I believe God allowed me to be silent, too. Yes, I was silent last week when I should have spoken up, but I also have given adequate warning this week that Harvey will again make landfall. Had I known to what extent the damage would initially be I would have said something. Now that I am fully made aware of that extent I don't desire to see any more perish in this dangerous hurricane's path either. So, if the least you can do is to pray, then pray for those in the affected areas.

          And while I am thinking on it I would always want to be the kind of man who stands in the gap for others, to help rebuild in some small way as it seems fit. At the same time I also feel it is my duty out of love to God as well as for you to show you how to know when there is a false prophet.

          1) They pervert the gospel of Christ (Galatians 1:6-9). Most of the time this is done by their writing books for financial gain and not in helping those in the body of Christ. They have an appearance that they are godly in their life, but they have no visible fruit to speak thereof.

          2) That form of godliness I just spoke of in point one looks like they are doing great things for and on behalf of God, but they are immeasurably wealthy (1 Timothy 6:3-5).

          3) They captivate people with deception, lust, and man made traditions (Colossians 2:8-10). While they are busy acquiring wealth for their own means, they tell you and promise you things like "You can have this too" with a flashy and toothy grin, while sounding pleasant to the ear.

          4) They follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons (1 Timothy 4:1-3). These people only tell a portion of the gospel of Christ, not the full effect of it. And any part of the gospel that is not the full truth is not the full gospel either. As Paul said, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!" (Galatians 1:8, New American Standard).

          5) They are ashamed of and by God not handling the word correctly (2 Timothy 2:15-19). It isn't just an end times thing where false prophets don't and won't handle the sacred things of God with clarity and depth, they use it in a profane and rebellious way to incite people to follow after them and to follow in a life of sin.

          6) They follow myths and spiritual pedigrees, not a pure heart, a clean conscience and genuine faith (1 Timothy 1:3-7). Some will claim this list of a genealogy of who's who showing they have God's authority on their life to do as they will, and at the same time stir up endless myths of old.

          7) They don't consider anything as sacred (2 Timothy 3:1-9). They will treat the word of God haphazardly. The foods they are to eat they will refuse to eat. The life they say they live they will not live. Live as you say you do, both in private as well as in public.

          8) In rejecting the truth they will want to deceive and to continue in being deceived (2 Timothy 4:3-4). By doing so they acknowledge their sins and refuse to do anything to deal with them adequately. They refuse to accept God's gift of grace, believing they have access to Him through their works.

          9) All of these teachers are greedy, desiring money over doing any kind of good; teaching evil and are immoral (2 Peter 2:1-3). I heard of a supposed minister who claims they used to fight with their spouse on the way to church, but once they got out of their car were all smiles. Folks, I know I do wrong, but the chances that this couple fights constantly, both on the way to church and back home from church is evidence to me they are false prophets who stand against God.

          I'm telling you all of this to let you know you don't have to live a life sin-filled, having no life, and feeling hugely empty and void. When I use the phrase stand in the gap, it usually means that someone is there praying for you, for your needs. If you are someone in need of a Savior, don't listen to the lies telling you that you are fine. You can have peace without Jesus the Christ. That's a bunch of hooey! You can have peace! You can have a life without sin! But it means you have to put it off. It means accepting Christ as Lord and Savior. What it entails is allowing your heart to be changed. To live a changed life, showing you accepted the gift God has given through the shed blood of Christ. He died in your place! He arose from the grave so that you have access to God the Father.

          And in this way, for over a year now, even with the small breaks and all, I still do the same thing as best as I can daily. I pray for all of you who read this blog/website. I don't make anything of any means for myself. In fact, I don't get paid for the book reviews I give. The gospel I give to you as it concerns our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I give to you as Jesus gave it to me: FREE of charge! It means He does everything I need. If He wanted me to be wealthy, He'd give me those means. But I don't need wealth to prove I'm his child. I just want Him! Christ means so much more to me than obtaining this world's standard. It's like He told the rich young ruler, as I have once used in another post, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me" (Matthew 19:21, New King James).

          What I do have is Jesus Christ in my life. I live each day the way I believe He would want me to. I'm hardly perfect. But considering Jesus is who makes me perfect I have all that I need. Everything I give to all of you is what I have to give. That's what I want. I want life with God. I want Jesus Christ. Money--nope. Fame--nada. Popularity--zilch. Those last few items I have nothing of. But I have a life of Christ within me that I desire to always give regardless what happens in life. So, pray that God allows me to continue on in a daily fashion with the gospel of Christ. I pray this blesses and encourages you to do more with your life. Live for Jesus! Die to this world. I pray this blesses and encourages you in your walks with Christ our Lord. Amen.