(Example: “If paying tithing means that you can’t pay for water or electricity, pay tithing. If paying tithing means that you can’t pay your rent, pay tithing. Even if paying tithing means that you don’t have enough money to feed your family, pay tithing." (Ensign, December 2012)
(2nd Example: "Bishop Caussé said . . . when people cannot afford to pay tithing and buy food, they are counseled to pay tithing and let the Church help them with food." (Church News, Feb. 14, 2020)
d."Forsaken the right way and are gone astray" (2:15)
When we are thirsty, dying of dehydration (spiritually speaking), we go to a well to find relief.
A well is a source of clean, pure drinking water.
But what a terrible tease! Imagine a well, sitting right there, pretending to be a source of life-giving water, when in fact it is empty.
We draw up the bucket and find only dust.
Notice that this well Peter describes is not just dirty, filled with dead flies floating on top, in the hopes we can filter the water and make it potable. No, the well is dried up.
Look! There are throngs of people thirsting after righteousness, lining up at the well, only to find . . . nothing.
False prophets, you see, offer truth that cannot quench our thirst; they pretend to be a source of life-giving light but their buckets run dry.
One of the reasons people are leaving the Church is because we have administrative Prophets, Seers, and Revelators who possess the title but not the gifts.
As I heard someone once remark, "So what are we paying these guys for?!"
#9. "Like foxes in the desert"
Now let's see why Ezekiel says false prophets are like "foxes in the deseret." Excuse me, I meant, "foxes in the desert."
O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts.
Ye have NOT gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord.
Notice (in the picture above) that desert foxes have huge ears. It is like they're signaling to others, "I have great hearing!"
False prophets want us to believe they hear the voice of God, so they make a big pretense of themselves, marking their territory with urine as foxes.
We all know that foxes are sly creatures, but did you know that desert foxes are nocturnal? They can't stand the heat of the day.
Maybe this is what Ezekiel is alluding to when he condemns these pretenders who "have NOT gone up into the gaps."
What Does it Mean to "Go up into the Gap?"
In battle, when there is a breach in the wall of your city, you send your best soldiers to stop the invaders from entering through the gap.
These mighty, brave men and women stand in the gap (where it is unsafe and they are vulnerable to the enemies' arrows), using their bodies as shields, willing to die in order to protect the vulnerable and powerless behind the walls.
Contrast these soldiers in Christ's army with those who recline in the castle keep, the kings and lords who let others do the hard labor and dangerous work.
I think Ezekiel is saying to the leaders of his time, "In our hour of greatest spiritual peril, you were busy flogging your critics in the dungeon while the walls were breached and the enemy was at the gates; you cast out and slew our best men and women who warned you of the danger, insisting "all is well, yea, all is well in Zion."
Foxes in the desert live by "rules for thee but not for me," eschewing the Savior's call to leave their nets and become fishers of men; to leave their fishing enterprises behind and to feed His sheep without purse or scrip or worldly entanglement.
I guess being a billionaire fisherman really is the best of all worlds!
Even though I am using modern examples, I do not wish to criticize anyone for being imperfect or human. I am a jumble of contradictions and shortcomings and consider myself chief among sinners.
As I did in my post about Brigham Young, I am trying to highlight ways we can become better in the hope we will repent and reform our doctrines and practices to better reflect the Lord's law and His gospel.
We expect a lot of ourselves. Why not expect better from our leaders?
As I wrote in my poem, Beware, I don't doubt the sincerity of the Brethren.
I believe they're doing what they think is best, though I am frequently stymied on why they've chosen this course: one in which the membership is required to be dependent upon their leadership rather than becoming spiritually self-reliant upon the Lord.
If we came to earth to learn to become like God, then why do the Brethren infantilize the faith? Why nurse us with the milk of carnal security instead of nourishing us with the beef-and-potatoes of Christ's holy word?
Anyway, this is why I try to focus on the issues and not the people.
False prophets believe, pretenders are sincere─
The best way to deceive is to make it your career.