Bible Book: Ezekiel  13 : 10
Subject: False Prophets; Truth

Rev. Peter Jeffrey, served as pastor of Bethlehem “Sandfields”, Aberavon, Port Talbot Wales (1986-1994) a church once served by his mentor, Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, shares, “When I was a boy, I lived the first ten years of my life in a decaying old terraced house. We had two rooms upstairs and two down, but could only use one up and one down because the other two were too damp. The back yard was three metres square, with high walls all around. The walls, like the house, were crumbling and decaying. To keep the back looking tidy, the walls had to be white-washed every year. When it was done it looked lovely, but we knew it only covered up the decaying walls.”[1]

We read in Ezekiel 13:10, “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 mortar.” Dr. Albert Barnes (1798-1870) explains, “Untempered morter - Or, whited plaster, employed to patch up a wall, so as to give it an appearance (without the reality) of strength and beauty. Compare Matthew 23:27. In the original there is a play upon a word rendered ‘folly’ in Jeremiah 23:13.”[2] Therefore, the English Standard Version renders Ezekiel 13:10, “Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash.”

Dr. Charles Lee Feinberg (1909-1995) explains, “This chapter may profitably be compared with Jeremiah 23.”[3] Rev. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), the famous Puritan commentator of the 17th century, divides Ezekiel 13 in the following way, “Heavy judgments against lying prophets. (1-9) The insufficiency of their work. (10-16) Woes against false prophetesses. (17-23)”[4]

Three warnings come from Ezekiel 13.

I. Don’t listen to the defective teachings of the false prophets. (Ezekiel 13:1-9)

We read in Ezekiel 13:1-9, “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! 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.’ Therefore thus 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.”

When I think about the teachings of these false prophets, the term “hogwash” comes to mind. I remember hearing Dr. Stephen F. Olford describe the false message of a certain group as “hogwash.” Plainly put “hogwash” is swill. This is not a very palatable commodity for human consumption. Remember Jesus told a parable about the prodigal son who fed the swine and desired to eat the husk that the swine eat. That was bad for someone strictly following an orthodox form of the Jewish faith. We should hold the same revulsion for the defective teaching of false prophets.

Rev. Matthew Henry comments on verses 1-9: “Where God gives a warrant to do any thing, he gives wisdom. What they delivered was not what they had seen or heard, as that is which the ministers of Christ deliver. They were not praying prophets, had no intercourse with Heaven; they contrived how to please people, not how to do them good; they stood not against sin. They flattered people into vain hopes. Such widen the breach, by causing men to think themselves deserving of eternal life, when the wrath of God abides upon them.”[5]

II. Don’t participate in the deceptive techniques of the false prophets. (Ezekiel 13:10-16)

We read in Ezekiel 13:10-16, “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 mortar say 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.”

Dr. D. Stuart Briscoe explains, “Perhaps nothing is more damaging to the people of God than a prophet who tells his hearers what they want to hear at the expense of what they need to hear. Messengers of peace who in time of conflict say what God has not said build edifices that inevitably crumble. The Lord scathingly categorizes such people’s ministry in building of shoddy flimsy, whitewashed walls (13:10). The finished effect looked great, but the Lord said He would send a downpour that would remove the whitewash, reveal the shoddy, inadequate nature of the work, and make the whole thing crumble (13:10-16).”[6]

Rev. Matthew Henry comments, “One false prophet built the wall, set up the notion that Jerusalem should be victorious, and made himself acceptable by it. Others made the matter yet more plausible and promising; they daubed the wall which the first had built; but they would, ere long, be undeceived when their work was beaten down by the storm of God's just wrath; when the Chaldean army desolated the land. Hopes of peace and happiness, not warranted by the word of God, will cheat men; like a wall well daubed, but ill built.”[7]

When I think about the techniques of these false prophets, the term “whitewash” comes to mind. Peter Jeffrey describes their techniques in Windows of Truth, “They do a whitewash job, because they always bypass the question of God’s holiness and man’s sin.”[8]

We read in the Wycliffe Bible Commentary, “and he (the people) is building a party-wall (wall of stones loosely piled together without mortar), and behold them (the prophets) daubing it with marly clay plaster, or whitewash.”[9]

The Bible Knowledge Commentary takes the symbolic approach commenting that

“Instead of calling Israel’s attention to the serious cracks (breaches) in its moral foundation, these prophets were ‘dabbing plaster’ to hide the deficiencies. A white paste, formed from the chalk deposits in Israel, was used to plaster over the rocks that formed the walls of most houses. This plaster hid uneven rocks under a smooth surface. The prophets were compounding Israel’s difficulties by hiding problems that needed to be exposed...The ‘whitewash’ was their false prophecies; and when Jerusalem was destroyed, this would be revealed.”[10]

Expositor's Bible Commentary takes a different view of this section (vv11-15) commenting, “The judgment of the prophets was described in terms of their participation in ‘whitewashing’. The prophets had implemented their proclamations of peace through helping the people remodel their homes and decorate them in this time of false security. . . . Moreover, a non-literal interpretation is not required. If the prophets were declaring a time of peace and prosperity, it was not out of line for them to encourage home building. Consequently they had gone around plastering walls and helping people decorate the thin partitions of their homes. It was the confirmation of a ‘settle down and live’ philosophy. However, God declared that these walls and their decorative plaster would fall beneath the raging rains of his anger and the hail and violent wind of his wrath. When the walls would be destroyed, so also would the prophets be consumed in the destruction. No one would be concerned about house decorations then. God would establish another new proverb: ‘The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it.’"[11]

III. Don’t fall for the destructive tenets of the false prophets. (Ezekiel 13:17-23)

According to The Reader’s Digest Encyclopedic Dictionary, the term “tenets” means, “An opinion, principle, dogma, etc., that a person or organization believes or maintains as true.”[12]

We read in Ezekiel 13:17-23, “Likewise, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, who prophesy out of their own heart; prophesy against them, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: ‘Woe to the women who sew magic charms on their sleeves and make veils for the heads of people of every height to hunt souls! Will you 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?’ ‘Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘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.’”

Rev. Matthew Henry comments, “It is ill with those who had rather hear pleasing lies than unpleasing truths. The false prophetesses tried to make people secure, signified by laying them at ease, and to make them proud, signified by the finery laid on their heads. They shall be confounded in their attempts, and God's people shall be delivered out of their hands. It behoves Christians to keep close to the word of God, and in every thing to seek the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Let us so trust the promises of God as to keep his commandments.”[13]

When I think about the tenets of these false prophets, the term “brainwash” comes to mind. From the same dictionary cited earlier, “brainwash” means, “To alter the convictions, beliefs, etc., of my means of brainwashing.” “Brainwashing” means, “The systematic alteration of personal convictions, beliefs, habits, and attitudes by means of intensive, coercive indoctrination.”[14] Someone simply put it this way, “To brainwash is persuasion by propaganda or salesmanship.”


When I hear the term “whitewash,” I think about The Adventures of Tom Sawyer written by Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910) aka Mark Twain in 1876. Someone shares the following, “After playing hooky from school on Friday and dirtying his clothes in a fight, Tom is made to whitewash the fence as punishment on Saturday. At first, Tom is disappointed by having to forfeit his day off. However, he soon cleverly persuades his friends to trade him small treasures for the privilege of doing his work.”[15]

“‘Proper prep work is essential for any painting project and for painting over natural wood surfaces it is crucial,’ said [Jennifer] McSharry [of Kurt Dwyer Painting in Quincy, Massachusetts]. ‘In order to paint any surface it must be clean, dull, and dry. That is the standard, so before a can of paint is opened, all surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned to remove contaminants like, built up dirt, grime, grease, body oils, etc. Dirtex is great for cleaning surfaces,’ she said.”[16]

Are you washed white in the blood of the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, or are you merely whitewashed? May we faithfully warn men and women, boys and girls of the danger of false prophets, who attempt to brainwash their listeners with a message of hogwash; and may their unsuspecting hearers never settle for mere whitewash.

[1]Peter Jeffrey, Windows of Truth (Edinburgh / Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1992), p. 15

[2]Available from: http://bible.cc/ezekiel/13-10.htm Accessed: 03/24/12

[3]Charles Lee Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel: The Glory of the Lord (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1969), p. 73

[4]Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible [Concise] (1710) WORDsearch Corp.

[5]Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible [Concise] (1710) WORDsearch Corp.

[6]Stuart Briscoe, All Things Weird and Wonderful (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1977), pp. 80-81

[7]Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible [Concise] (1710) WORDsearch Corp.

[8]Peter Jeffrey, Windows of Truth (Edinburgh / Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1992), p. 14

[9]Wycliffe Bible Commentary, ed. C. F. Pfeiffer, (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1981), Available from: http://preceptaustin.org/ezekiel_131-16.htm#13:10 Accessed: 03/23/12

[10]Available from: http://preceptaustin.org/ezekiel_131-16.htm#13:10 Accessed: 03/23/12

[11]Expositor's Bible Commentary OT , ed. F. Gaebelein, 7 Volume, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing), Available from: http://preceptaustin.org/ezekiel_131-16.htm#13:10 Accessed: 03/23/13

[12]The Reader’s Digest Encyclopedic Dictionary, (Pleasantville, NY: The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., 1969), p. 1380

[13]Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible [Concise] (1710) WORDsearch Corp.

[14]The Reader’s Digest Encyclopedic Dictionary, (Pleasantville, NY: The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., 1969), p. 165

[15]Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Tom_Sawyer Accessed: 03/24/12

[16]Available from: http://www.networx.com/article/painting-wood-paneling-a-pro-weighs-in Accessed: 03/24/12

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on Amazon.com and WORDsearchbible.com



e-mail: fkirksey@bellsouth.net / (251) 626-6210 © April 29, 2012 All Rights Reserved