““‘Since they have led my people astray by saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and since when a flimsy wall is being built, they plaster it with whitewash, therefore, tell those plastering it with whitewash that it will fall. Torrential rain will come, and I will send hailstones plunging down, and a whirlwind will be released. When the wall has fallen, will you not be asked, “Where’s the whitewash you plastered on it?””
Ezekiel 13:10-12 CSB
Through the Bible: Ezekiel 13-15
In one of the (very) few humorous scenes in Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, Captain Miller and his squad are under heavy fire as they sprint through the ruins of a village. As they take cover behind the remains of a brick wall, Miller begins to listen to the loudspeaker that has been blaring German propaganda throughout the scene. He chuckles as he hears The Statue of Liberty is kaput.
“That’s disconcerting,” he says.
Misinformation and disinformation have been a staple of warfare for as long as there has been war. In our heavily politicized environment today, it has led to a crisis of confidence in which many of us aren’t sure what is true anymore.
In Ezekiel’s day, fake news was as big a problem as it is today. But unlike the German army trying to discourage the American soldiers by saying things were worse than they were; there were so-called prophets telling the Jews things were better than they were. It was the same problem Jeremiah wrote about: the “prophet” Hananiah saying they would be back in Jerusalem in no time (see Jeremiah 28:1-4), even though God had decreed they would be in Babylon for seventy years (see Jeremiah 29:4-10).
Ezekiel compared these lying prophets to people who cover a broken wall with whitewash instead of plaster, making it look like the wall has been repaired when it’s not. When the rain falls, the whitewash washes away, and all those who sought shelter within the walls are left exposed and vulnerable.
Here’s what Charles Spurgeon wrote on this verse over 100 years ago:
Now in these days we are somewhat similarly circumstanced. The true servant of God in his ministry does not prophesy smooth things to unconverted men and women. To deliver these mournful warnings boldly and fearlessly is no easy work, and to bring men to receive them is a labor impossible apart from the power of the Holy Spirit.
Note on Ezekiel 13:10-12, Spurgeon Study Bible
Today, we are just as “similarly circumstanced” as people were in Spurgeon’s day, and Ezekiel’s day, and Jeremiah’s day before that. We all want our ears to be tickled (see Day 180: Tickling Itching Ears). But if we are speaking “smooth things to unconverted people,” we are spreading the worst kind of fake news. We are telling people that peace with God is possible without repentance.
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