Is it possible in some way you might have a false belief about God? Maybe even in a very small way? I would like to suggest that not only is it possible for anyone, but that we would be wise to consider how it might be possible for us. As we saw in the previous post, God asks Ezekiel to set his face against, or to unleash the Prophetic Stare against, some women who were false prophets.
Almost as if to answer the question those women might ask, “What are you doing? Why are you staring at me?”, in Ezekiel chapter 13 verse 17, God tells Ezekiel not only to stare, but to prophesy, to tell the truth. In verses 17b-23, through the words of the prophecy, God explains why Ezekiel is staring at those women. Pause reading this post and study Ezekiel 12, verses 17b-23.
How about that? The women are practicing witchcraft, the dark arts. God describes two specific examples: they sew magic charms which they wear on their wrists, and they make veils of various lengths for their heads. We don’t know precisely what these talismans were for or how they worked. Clearly they go against God’s desires, and they deceived the people. God says they ensnared the people, meaning that the black magic purposefully turned the people away from God and toward what is false.
Interestingly, as we read in verse 19 when God mentions the barley and bread, it seems the false prophets, these women, were profiting a bit off their magic. But what they gained was so little. Just a few handfuls of barley, just scraps of bread. What was the human cost of that meager financial gain? Not only the deception of God’s people, but also the death of people who should have lived and the preservation of people who should have died! God is astounded and angry by the callousness of the false prophets when he points out the serious consequences of their lies.
God says that just as Ezekiel is to set his face against them, which is a sign that God is against them, God himself will tear off the charms and the veils. He will set his people free, he will save them! God is profoundly upset at the prophets would who deceive his people, and thus God will take drastic action to save his people. Why? First, because the people are enslaved by the false prophets and their folk theology. Second, as we read in verse 21, that God will do this because then they will know that he is the Lord!
God goes on to put the false prophets in their place, saying that he is shutting them down. In verse 23 he repeats himself: he will save his people, and they will know that he is the Lord. God doesn’t want his people to be deceived. There are many things that can lead his people astray. There are other attractive options out there. God knows that there are forces and people who want to deceive us and lead us astray. So God shines the light of truth on them, revealing them to be what they truly are: false deceivers who do not care about people. They are only in it for their own gain. So they try to turn people’s hearts and minds away from the one true God.
God strongly reacts against that, saying “No, I will save my people, so that they will know that I am God.” I love that once again we see God’s heart to be known.
So we would do well to ask if there are any ways that we are being drawn away from God, any ways that we might not know God as he truly is. Let’s try to identify false beliefs so that we can know God for real. Are there false beliefs in our Christian subculture?
Folk theology can include ideas that are commonly held as Christian, but they are not in line with biblical teaching. The net result is that, like the witchcraft of Ezekiel’s day, while seemingly spiritual and enticing, folk theology actually keeps us from knowing God. Folk theology results in us believing false things about God, and that means we are in relationship with a version of God that is not actually true. We, then, need to follow God’s example in Ezekiel’s day, when he removed the charms and veils, and we rid ourselves of any false beliefs and practices.
In the next post, I’ll give some examples of folk theology that I’ve encountered over the years.