Now we have a small interlude where the message of the Lord given through Ezekiel does not concern the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but the exiles who are there near him. In particular we have “certain of the elders of Israel” (v. 1) who have come to the prophet for a word from the Lord, and yet they have taken idols into their hearts. This could mean that they actively worship the Caananite gods like their compatriots back in Jerusalem, or have begun to follow the Babylonian gods of their conquerors, or have forsaken the Lord in a more subtle way by turning to wealth and power or putting their ethnicity and holy city before God in their hearts. Whatever the case, the Lord knows it and they stand condemned.
The Lord does not play second fiddle to anyone or anything. Just as you don’t ask your spouse what clothes to wear on a date with someone else, you don’t ask the Lord what the future holds for you when you have asked a funny looking rock to bless you as well. It’s just asking for trouble. And indeed, that is what He says He will bring to these elders: trouble enough to make everyone around them to notice and learn from their bad example until they are not around any more.
But it is not just the idolaters who are in danger here. If the prophet agrees to give them a prophetic word, the Lord will deceive him and the word he gives to the idolaters will be false. And thus he will incur the same punishment as the idolater who asked for the word in the first place. Now there’s an uncomfortable verse. The idea of God being deceptive is not a fun one, especially when remembering other verses that tell us that God loves truth and hates lies. But other translations use different words like “enticed” or “prevailed upon” instead of “deceived”. I’ll have to do a word study and figure out just what the Hebrew word really means here. But for now, we can be sure that God is against idolatry, and anyone who enables idolatry in the name of the Lord can expect judgement just as severe.
You are sovereign, and yet we are responsible for our actions, thoughts, and feelings. However, we can trust in You and Your goodness even when we don’t understand.