“They have seen false visions and lying divination’s. They say, ‘Declares the Lord,’ when the Lord has not sent them, and yet they expect Him to fulfill their word.”
This whole chapter, Ezekiel 13, is God’s judgment expressed upon false prophets; prophets who claim to speak His word on His behalf. They say, “Declares the Lord.” Like they’re going out among God’s people saying, “This is what God says,” when, Ezekiel 13:6 says, the Lord has not sent them and they are only speaking their own words and not God’s word.
When we hear people declare “thus saith the Lord,” we ought to compare what they say to God’s Word.
This is serious among God’s people. God is extremely serious about leaders among His people, accurately proclaiming His word. This is why when you get to the New Testament and you see 1 Timothy 3, qualifications for pastors, elders, overseers in the church, among his people, and the list there of different qualifications really is, for the most part, things you would expect of any follower of Jesus, their character qualifications. They’re a good reminder that pastors, elders, overseers in the church are supposed to be examples of what it means to follow Jesus.
But there’s one competency qualification in 1 Timothy 3, one thing that an elder, pastor, an overseer must be able to do; 1 Timothy 3:2 he must be able to teach. Why this one thing? Because this is how God leads His people, through His word. So the pastor, elder, overseer’s primary responsibility is to faithfully and accurately teach God’s word.
I remember when I went to seminary, and the first class I took was Expository Preaching. That word expository basically means the whole goal of preaching is to expose the truth of God, the voice of God, the word of God. I remember my teacher in that class who became a mentor to me, still is a mentor to me today, Jim Shaddix, Dr. Shaddix, says, “If you’re going to stand up and say, ‘Thus, says the Lord,’ you better know what the Lord says. You better clearly represent, reflect, communicate what He says.”
So when I read it, Ezekiel 13:6, I’m reminded as a pastor, like my responsibility when I stand before the people of God’s entrusted me to shepherd, my responsibility revolves around teaching and preaching, exposing the voice of God, the truth of God, the word of God, and never speaking my own words. I want to be faithful in that, and these verses remind me that as a pastor and for any other pastors listening to this, leader in the church, that we are accountable before God for the words we speak; that we would not speak our own words; that we’d be faithful to speak His word.
So I want to lead us to pray for pastors, even as I’m praying for myself in this, and for us all as God’s people, that we would long for hunger, for desire the word of God, not our own words and not even the tendency we all have to take God’s word and twist it to make it more comfortable for us, twist it to make it mean what we want it to mean. No, God, please help us. Help us all to hear your word clearly, to understand it accurately, even as we’re reading through your word day by day by day, praying according to your word, and then when we gather in our churches to hear your word taught, God, we pray that your word would be faithfully proclaimed, and understood, and heard, and obeyed. God, I pray for every pastor listening right now, for every pastor represented in any church, even as I’m praying for myself in this, God help us all to be faithful to your word, we pray. Please keep us from standing in front of people saying, “Thus, says the Lord, declares the Lord,” and then speak our own words. God, may it not be so. God give us a constant, continual, fearful, trembling awe at this responsibility you’ve entrusted to us and help us to be faithful with it. God, I pray, please help me to be faithful with it.
And we pray God for churches all across our country, all around the world, we ought to faithfully proclaim, and receive, and obey your word. God, we pray for the proclamation of your word where it hasn’t gone, among the Rajput Muslims in India, almost 3 million of them, no followers of Jesus. Nobody has your word there. God, we pray for the spread of your word to the Rajput in India and, God, we pray for the establishment of churches and pastors to be raised up who faithfully preach your word. Oh God, keep us, we pray from false prophets, from false teaching, from listening to or becoming false teachers.
Help us, we pray, to be faithful to your word in every way in what we preach, teach, what we hear, as we read it, and as we put it into practice in our lives because your word is so good. It is so much better than our words, our thoughts, our desires. We want, we need your word, so may it reign supreme in our lives and in our churches, and specifically in the mouths of those who lead the church. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.