Following the Right Leader
Following the Right Leader
“Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy from their own inspiration, ‘listen to the word of the Lord!”
Whom we listen to is who we become. The people we turn to for guidance will influence our lives and our own perspective. So where do we turn to discover the truth in an age of conflicting messages? How do we evaluate the messages we are to listen to? This is especially critical regarding the church and the pastors we follow. How do we evaluate their message?
In Ezekiel 13, where God condemns the false prophets of Israel, we find some key answers. When looking for a church, listen to the message proclaimed from the pulpit. First, look for a church where the pastor desires to be prophetic rather than popular. The false prophets were concerned about their popularity. In verse 4, God warns that the false prophets are like foxes among the ruins. The foxes loved to play among the ruins and build their own dens. They did not care about the people but were driven by their own self-interest. They desire to gain the popularity of the people by proclaiming peace. A popularity-driven preacher is driven by the crowds and what they want to hear. This contrasts with a true prophet who stands in the breaches of the wall and seeks to rebuild the wall (verse 5). In other words, true prophets rise to rebuild the broken Mosaic covenant by confronting people with the need to turn back to God. A prophetic preacher whose message is driven by Scripture calls people to obey God’s word and denounce sin even when it is not popular.
Second, look for preachers who base their words upon the scripture rather than the wisdom of men. In verse 6, God condemns the false prophets because they were “following their own spirit.” They were proclaiming their wisdom and truth rather than the wisdom and truth of God. When the Bible conflicts with popular opinion, they argue that it is outdated and needs to be deconstructed. Instead of proclaiming the word of God, they make excuses and set forth arguments about why we should reject the message. A genuine prophet is willing to confront sin. They proclaim the whole counsel of God’s word. Their message offers the sinner grace and hope of forgiveness but denounces and condemns sin. They proclaim the forgiveness of God but also warn of the judgment of God.
Third, look for preachers who tell us what we need to hear rather than what we want to hear. Their words are not harsh and judgmental. However, they call people back to a life of holiness and righteousness. They challenge us to change and conform our lives to the word of God. False teachers, on the other hand, preach what people want to hear. Their message is one of prosperity and personal happiness, making us feel good. (vs. 10). They offer a message of false security to the people. They denounce and discourage the righteous while encouraging the wicked not to turn from their sin (vs. 22). Their cry is not a call to change but to “settle down and live—build your houses for everything is OK” (vs. 10), even though God was warning the people of impending judgment (vs. 11-13). They accuse the righteous of being judgmental while encouraging the wicked to disobey God’s word.
Ultimately, the false teachers will be exposed for who they are—hypocrites who proclaim lies rather than truth (vs. 21-23). A false teacher sounds appealing, and they gather a crowd with their popular message but ultimately lead the people to destruction rather than truth. When looking for a church, look for a pastor who preaches the scripture without compromise, denounces sin without apology, and announces forgiveness and cleansing to the repentant.