Does Ezekiel 14 verse 9 Mean That God Causes False Prophets to Prophesy Falsely?

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Does Ezekiel 14 verse 9 Mean That God Causes False Prophets to Prophesy Falsely?

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Does Ezekiel 14 verse 9 Mean That God Causes False Prophets to Prophesy Falsely?

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Ezekiel 14:9 Ezekiel 14:9And if the prophet be deceived when he has spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand on him, and will destroy him from the middle of my people Israel.
American King James Version×
says, “If the prophet is induced to speak anything, I the LORD have induced that prophet, and I will stretch out My hand against him and destroy him from among My people.” A surface reading of this verse, out of context from the rest of the Bible, can seem as though God caused these prophets to lie and then punished them for doing so. But this simplistic reading is incorrect.

The Bible is clear that God does not lie (Titus 1:2 Titus 1:2In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
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, Hebrews 6:18 Hebrews 6:18That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us:
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). Lying is a violation of the Ninth Commandment (Exodus 20:16 Exodus 20:16You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
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), and James 1:13 James 1:13Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man:
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plainly says, “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.” This does not contradict the statement in Ezekiel 14:9 Ezekiel 14:9And if the prophet be deceived when he has spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand on him, and will destroy him from the middle of my people Israel.
American King James Version×
, but rather it gives us a lens for understanding what is really being said.

Jesus taught that whoever seeks God will find Him (Matthew 7:8 Matthew 7:8For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.
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), and Jeremiah 29:13 Jeremiah 29:13And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.
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echoes this: “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” God reveals Himself to those who look for Him and is merciful to those who seek Him, but those who reject Him are separated from Him by their sin” (Isaiah 59:2 Isaiah 59:2But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
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).

Israel did not seek God, and false prophets continually plagued them as a result. By the time of Ezekiel’s writing, Judah’s sins had separated them from God to an extent that required severe and imminent punishment. For generations, they had beaten, scorned and killed God’s true prophets, who always brought a message of repentance that could have saved them from punishment. At the same time, Israel sought out and glorified false prophets who told them that they would not suffer, saying, “Do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits ” (Isaiah 30:10 Isaiah 30:10Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not to us right things, speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
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). Israel got exactly what they asked for, and this spirit of willful rebellion is the context of Ezekiel 14:9 Ezekiel 14:9And if the prophet be deceived when he has spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand on him, and will destroy him from the middle of my people Israel.
American King James Version×
.

Because the people had turned away from God so thoroughly and had so stubbornly refused His true prophets, God finally rejected them and turned them over to punishment. Paul’s letter to the Romans puts it this way: “God gave them up to uncleanness … who exchanged the truth of God for the lie … For this reason God gave them up to vile passions … God gave them over to a debased mind” (Romans 1:24-28 Romans 1:24-28 24 Why God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up to vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
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).

Ezekiel 14:9 Ezekiel 14:9And if the prophet be deceived when he has spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand on him, and will destroy him from the middle of my people Israel.
American King James Version×
is understood to mean that God, at that point, withdrew Himself from trying to correct the prophets and stop them from speaking lies. Rather than continuing to simply tell them that they were wrong, the time came to show them that they were wrong by carrying out the long-withheld punishment. This punishment was not a surprise—it had been clearly laid out from the beginning in Deuteronomy 28:15 Deuteronomy 28:15But it shall come to pass, if you will not listen to the voice of the LORD your God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command you this day; that all these curses shall come on you, and overtake you:
American King James Version×
and warned of repeatedly and with tears by all of God’s prophets.

The great lesson for us is that we must not allow ourselves to “only hear what we want to hear,” as Israel and Judah did to the point of destruction. Instead, we must be diligent to seek God, for He has promised that we will find Him if we truly seek Him (Jeremiah 29:13 Jeremiah 29:13And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.
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).