10 “‘Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, 11 therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. 12 When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?” “14 I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the Lord. 15 So I will pour out my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, “The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it,
Ezekiel 13:10 - 12
ESV - 10 Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, 'Peace,' when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash. 11 Say to those who smear it with whitewash that it shall fall! There will be a deluge of rain, and you, O great hailstones, will fall, and a stormy wind break out.
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I would say that the practice to which Ezekiel is referring in the passage cited in the question is that of false prophets who, when dealing with the idolatry and other sins of the people (which have erected a figurative "wall" between themselves and God), instead of condemning the people's actions and telling them to restore their fellowship with God (that is, to symbolically tear down the wall that the people have built), merely "whitewash" that wall (that is, make no fundamental change in the people's behavior) by telling the people that everything is well, giving them no reason or motivation to return to God. In response, God says that He will send a storm that will completely destroy that wall, so that the "whitewash" that the false prophets applied to the wall's surface will have been of no consequence.
Ezekiel is rebuking here the preaching of a watered-down gospel. Popular and corrupt preachers instead of warning the lost to turn from their sins, they tell people to be at peace in their sins because God is too full of grace to expect them to change their ways. They give people a water-down version of the gospel, which gives people a false sense of security. In Bible times, dishonest builders, to save money and time, would stack bricks with no mortar and then put a whitewash veneer of plaster to cover up their fraud. The whitewashed wall might have looked solid from the outside, but without the mortar had no real strength.
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