Now that the Lord has established that He will be fulfilling the visions He sends to His true prophets, like Ezekiel, He proceeds to condemn the false prophets who have led Israel astray. The charges are ascribing their own made-up prophecies to the Lord to give them an air of authenticity. He describes them as jackals in the ruins and faithless soldiers who do not defend the city’s walls or try to repair the holes made in it by invading forces. This phrase about going up to the breaches is interesting because Moses is described this way when he interceded on Israel’s behalf when they made the golden image while he received the Law from God. (Psalm 106:23) Naturally, this image of a man standing in the gap in order to turn away God’s wrath points us to its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus.
Rather than protecting the people from the tides of judgement, these false prophets have been smearing whitewash, or plaster, over the walls that the people have built. While it may look good, it is a surface-level treatment that only papers over the unsoundness of their lives. Because of their lives, the false prophets will not be returning to the land, nor will they be counted among the census of Israel. The Lord is bringing about a deluge of rain and hail to batter down the walls they have built. Even though the whitewash is clearly a metaphor for the “word from the Lord” that these charlatans gave to the people, there is an ironic literalness going on too. The walls of Jerusalem did indeed get torn down when the Babylonians invaded, and they did so because the false prophets were not warning the people to repent of their sins before judgement came.
We are humbled, Jesus, that You would bear the wrath of God for our sin so that we might live within Your city.