God rebukes those who believe that they can use God as a fortune-teller without even respecting Him enough to treat Him as their God.
Ezekiel Chapter 14
Lessons from the text
Can God Deceive? Verse nine of this chapter states that “if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet.” Does God deceive people? Does He have His holy men speak lies to people so that they will be ensnared in destruction? As difficult as this may be to accept, God does allow people to be deceived so that they will be destroyed. However, this does not mean that God Himself does the deceiving. God takes responsibility for everything that happens. All the righteous works and all the evil works. Nonetheless, God Himself never commits evil. Since God has all authority, He is ultimately responsible for everything that happens, even if He Himself does not do it. In this way, God claims responsibility for the deception of a prophet even though He did not Himself tell the prophet to speak a lie. When God says in verse 7 that He will answer the wicked man Himself, notice that God answers the man with deeds and not words; God does not say that He will send words to the prophet but instead says that He will send judgments and punishments on that man for his sins. Even though God takes responsibility for any lies spoken by His prophets, He Himself does not answer the wicked with lies; He judges them.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1-5 Recognizing Ezekiel as the true prophet of God, the elders of the captives come to sit to listen to what God has to say. They foolishly believe that they can worship idols and yet receive the favor of God. God, however, knows what is in their hearts. He sees that they have placed other gods as being superior to Him and therefore refuses to respond to the elder’s desire for knowledge from God. God is basically saying that He will not be used as a fortune teller by those who do not even intend to worship Him. If one is to receive anything from God, one must come to Him with a humble, sincere heart that honestly desires to serve God and seek righteousness. See Hebrews 11:6.
6-10 Even though the elders came to Ezekiel for the wrong reasons, God in His grace extends them a message. He warns that they must remove the idols of their heart (the things they love more than God). If they fail to do so and come regardless to the presence of God, God, being holy, will judge them for their sin. Only the righteous may approach God and live. Since no man is righteous (all have broken the ten commandments at some point in his life), only those who are made righteous by faith are acceptable to God. One cannot have faith in God if one has put other desires and aspiration as more important than God in one’s heart. God even goes so far to say that He Himself will speak up to rebuke the person who sins in this manner, warning that God will send judgments and may even permit misleading information to be given to this profane inquirer that will lead to his destruction. It is a serious thing to come into the presence of a holy God. One is not to approach Him without first considering one’s own wickedness and therefore humbling oneself. Compare with I Kings 22:14-23.
11 God will perform these judgments against the idolatrous inquirer so that the Jews of the captivity will realize that there is a God in heaven and that He is the Lord. God’s purpose in all judgments is to bring people to the knowledge that He is real and therefore give them the opportunity to come to Him and His righteousness. See also Isaiah 27:9.
12-20 God vows that even if three of the most blessed by God were living among the captives, these men would save only their own souls from the judgment. This is important. With Noah, his faith saved not only himself but also his family (Gen. 6:8, 7:1). After the flood, however, one of Noah’s son exposes his sin (Gen. 9:18-25). Lot’s family was also delivered when Lot was delivered, but sin was found in his wife and daughters that lead to grievous consequences (Gen. 19:12-38). God is saying that during the time of judgment He will no longer save a whole household for the father’s faith. Each individual is now responsible for his or her own soul. Only those who are righteous in the eyes of God will be spared. 21-23 Continuing the thought about saving only Noah, Daniel, and Job, God says that He will spare only the righteous from the coming four judgments. These righteous are the children who have not yet committed the sins for which God is punishing Judah. That is, they have not turned their hearts to idols or given in to wicked deeds. When God’s judgment is poured out, these children will be a light to the previous generation; their faith and righteousness will be juxtaposed to the idolatry and sin of the previous generation, thus convicting and exposing the sins of the people. Seeing this will allow the previous generation to realize that God was just to pour out wrath on Jerusalem. This was fulfilled by the righteous generation that emerged from the captivity and who returned to Jerusalem to build the temple after the seventy years were over (Jer. 29:10, Ezra 1:1-5).
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