What does it say?
Ezekiel 13 is a strong denouncement of false prophets. They are like jackals or foxes scavenging among the ruins of Jerusalem. They are like a whitewashed wall that has no foundation and comes crumbling down. God promises judgment upon these false prophets, male and female, and the people that trust in them.
Idolatry again takes the spotlight in Ezekiel 14. Ezekiel tends to hit the same themes to the point of seeming repetitious. The reality is that they are incredibly important and deserve to be repeated. Those who put anyone or anything above the true God will be destroyed. Many Jews of the day believe that a few godly men among them would prevent judgment, but God responds that their evil is such that even a Noah, Daniel or Job could not save anyone but himself.
The vine is a well-known symbol of Israel. For those who still believe there is a chance that Jerusalem would be spared, Ezekiel 15 responds by using the vine symbol. The vine of Israel is well past bearing fruit and the wood itself is worthless. It is good for nothing but to be tossed in the fire.
What does it mean?
The description of false prophets and how they operate (Eze 13) is strikingly similar to the way that astrologers, fortune-tellers and even self-proclaimed prophets in Christian churches dupe their naïve followers today. The use of special props, blessed objects and the like is coupled with an atmosphere designed to make people susceptible to their false messages.
The Bible is written from cultures that place great emphasis on community, but the Bible also teaches individual responsibility. Just as heroes like Noah, Daniel and Job could not atone for individual responsibility of others, the mere fact of being a member of a good church with a good pastor and leaders is no protection for individual sin. Israel ignored their lack of fruit in God’s mission and trusted in outward appearance. We should be careful today to constantly evaluate our fruit in God’s mission and not how busy we are going through the motions of religious observance.
How will I respond?
In whom or what do I trust for guidance in my life apart from God himself? Checking my horoscope can be entertaining, but do I really give credence to it at the expense of faith in God? Can I honestly see missional fruit in my life, or am I merely busy doing good things?