“And he said to me, “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 NIV
In the calling and commission of this great prophet, God commanded Ezekiel to do the most peculiar thing: to eat this scroll. Why would God command such a thing? Scrolls are not exactly the appetizer on the menu most people would select.
When you eat something, you are in the most profound sense making something a part of you. It is one thing to look at food, and quite another to be nourished by it, and allow it to strengthen and sustain you. God was showing Ezekiel that His words were not to only be admired or studied or glanced at, but to be partaken of, to be digested, and to provide life to those who eat of it.
Jesus called himself the “Bread of Life” (John 6:48), the solution to mankind’s ever-present problem of starvation, able to fulfill every last person who will come to Him. But as Solomon says, “One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry, even what is bitter tastes sweet.” (Proverbs 27:7)
Scrolls might at first appear to taste poorly, and at times the words of God can be somewhat bitter, but God was commanding an attitude of desperation and adoration towards the eternal Word. It was only when Ezekiel took and ate the bitter scroll that it became sweet to him, changed him, and made him able to speak the words of life to those who were dying.
It is sometimes difficult to want to eat the scroll, especially when it is at first bitter, but we cultivate appetites all the time. How many times do you find yourself or your friends wanting a certain kind of coffee or soda at specific times throughout the day or week?
Yet, do we cultivate a hunger for God? Is the Word of God like honey to us, or do we rush through our reading or dread it? Too often Jesus breaks bread for us, saying “This is my body, given for you”, but we are simply not hungry.
In the physical, to get hungry you simply have to go a period of time without eating and your hunger will return to you. But in the spiritual, you get hungry by eating. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). God promises, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). Sometimes I find myself to be like a man who after years of living in his house, finds a large treasure stored away in his own basement. As I discover the prophets, as I ponder the Psalms, and as I dig into the Epistles, with a little searching I find more of God that was always ready for me! God simply waits to be wanted. How sweet his love is!
“Eat this scroll”. Is the Bible truly precious to us above all other books? Do we recognize that no other book or source can satisfy us? Do we truly see the Bible as the only way to find answers to life’s questions and guidance for life and ministry, or do we look to something else? Are we even really truly looking?
Lord help me to take and eat this scroll, no matter how I feel, and no matter how bitter it might appear to be. Help me to take and eat, and let it be sweet and satisfying just as you promised!