We meet Ezekiel the prophet in the middle of his strange vision. Now the Lord is instructing him to eat a scroll! A long rolled up parchment paper is not exactly the most appetizing thing to eat but here he says, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.’ So I opened my mouth , and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.” (Ezekiel 3:1-3)
Ezekiel would have been very familiar with scrolls such as the one the Lord presented to him. Priest had to memorize and copy scrolls from a young age. He knew the value of it, the weight of it, the smell would have evoked memories of devotion to the pouring over of God’s word, but never had he thought to eat it.
So why is the Lord God almighty offering him this unseemly entree? God commanded Ezekiel to eat this scroll as the representation of the Word of God, in that he was internalizing God’s will and his words in the truest sense of the word.
There is mystery in the way our body processes what we eat. There is delight in it too. White chocolate, raspberry truffle, cheese cakes…… one of the most decadent things I can imagine putting in my mouth! The desire you feel when you see it presented on the the plate and the anticipation you have as you bring your fork to your mouth, and the elation that follows when you finally taste how sweet it is!
Ezekiel ate the scroll that God presented to him and it was sweet as honey in his mouth. This is where things get interesting, God was calling Ezekiel to speak on his behalf to the Israelites, to hold them accountable for their sins, to call them to repentance to usher in forgiveness and grace if they turn to the Lord, and destruction if they do not. God says that the people to whom Ezekiel would speak were a “obstinate and stubborn nation” (Ezekiel 2:4) and furthermore that these people would not even list to what he would say. (Ezekiel 3:7) This was the word of God represented by this scroll, one of destruction because he knew their hearts were hardened and they refused to listen. My question to you…. How can a word of destruction be sweeter than honey when eaten?
The answer points to a great truth that excites me even as I type “It is written: ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)
The Word of God, whether one of blessing or one of cursing, is the stuff of life for the believer and even more so for those who are called to minister through the Word. Ezekiel internalizes this scroll that represents God’s Word, a Word of rebuke one may consider it would taste kinda bitter. But it is sweet! Every word of God is sweet and life giving because he holds the master plan.
As Ezekiel eats the scroll as food he chews and swallows and it fills his belly and he digests it then it sustains him. It brings him energy! Energy to complete a task that is doomed from the start. The Lord tells him, My people will not listen but I will send you anyway. What does that say about God’s character and what does that say about the character of his minister Ezekiel? It says that God’s heart for his children is so full that he will continue to offer grace and call for repentance even when he knows they wont take it. And here we have Ezekiel he takes on a job title yet he is told that he will not be effective and he goes regardless. He is sent, yet they will not listen. He is sustained by God’s word of bitterness to his rebelling people yet it is as sweet as honey when he eats it.
Here is a truth we need to remember, the sweetness, the beauty the grandeur of God is not dependent upon man’s opinion of Him. Whether he speaks destruction or healing, whether he gives or takes away blessed be the Name of the Lord. (Job 1:21)