1 And he said to me, "Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel."
2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat.
3 And he said to me, "Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it." Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey.
4 And he said to me, "Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them.
5 For you are not sent to a people of foreign speech and a hard language, but to the house of Israel-
6 not to many peoples of foreign speech and a hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, if I sent you to such, they would listen to you.
7 But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.
8 Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads.
9 Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house."
10 Moreover, he said to me, "Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears.
11 And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD,' whether they hear or refuse to hear."
Ezekiel has just been called by God as a prophet to speak the word of God to the exiles in Bablyon. Historically, we are near the end of the southern kingdom of Judah. Bablyon has effectively taken control of Jerusalem and ordered the capture and exile of the elite of Jerusalem. It is in this time period and to this group of people that Ezekiel is called to go. This passage marks the tail end of God's call to Ezekiel, a priest, who was called to ministry around the age of 30.
The call begins with a call to consume - "eat." Ezekiel is to eat a scroll, which represents the decree of God. And notice, the quality of this scroll - it is "sweet as honey." Before Ezekiel set out on his work, he first tasted the sweetness of the word of God.
God's word is sweet.
Psalm 34:8 exhorts us: "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!"
Psalm 63:5: "My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, "
Do you recognize that? Just as the kid's song "Milk" goes, "Eat the Word and get strong..." (there is much truth in children's songs). Yet, we fail to consume the word of God. If we are not consuming the word, how can we expect to serve God properly? We cannot expect to live for God if his word is not our source of strength. This is essential in relation to the task entrusted to him; before Ezekiel is to "go and speak," he must first "eat."
Thus, it is essential that we set aside time each day to spend with God. We properly commune with God by reading his Word and praying. Doctrinally, these are known as the means of grace. We apply God's grace into our lives by consuming the Word and praying. This time is what is known as Quiet Time, or QT's. The Daily Bible is meant to be a resource to use for your quiet times. Be in the practice of setting aside time to spend with God. It doesn't matter how busy you are; if your relationship with God is vital, you will set aside quiet time.
Martin Luther was famously quoted as saying:
"I am so busy now that if I did not spend three hours each day in prayer, I could not get through the day."
And as busy as we may be, we do well to make this time as unhurried as possible. Some of us may be in the routine of having quiet times. But you may also know that quiet times become just that - a routine. Why? We may not be savoring the word of God. I am constantly scolded for eating too fast; I barely chew my food before I swallow. For some reason, I always hurried to eat. As a result, I lose out on the tastiness of the food and maximize the nutrients that food has to offer. Similarly, even as we have quiet times, we might very well be treating the spiritual food of God, his word in this way. Slow down! Be a spiritual foodie! And you will be richly satisfied.
Lest we merely become spiritual gluttons, we recognize that we are spiritually fed for a purpose - to live for God and to make him known. And this job is not an easy job. Once Ezekiel eats of the scroll, he is commissioned to go.
Ezekiel is called to go to the house of Israel and speak the very words that he consumed. In order to carry out that task, he must first receive and digest the Word. Lest, we be guilty of hypocrisy, we must delight in God and his word before we preach his word and tell others to turn to him. But there is also another element to the importance of turning to God's word first.
The house of Israel will reject the Word of God. It is discouraging when we seem to be alone in living for God. Yet, how do we not give up. One key thing is to remain in God's word. I wish to say that there will be a great cultural revival and repentance, as I see more and more people "not knowing their right from their left". Yet, I cannot say, and more people may very well turn away from God. But, as a church, we must keep proclaiming the Word. It's not just me, but we all have a role in that call to go and speak the Word. Sometimes, it can be fun, but we will also experience discouragement and rejection. But as we remain in Christ and his Word, tasting and seeing how sweet God and his word is, we can press on in the task. Conversely, the degree to which we don't delight in God and his word, we will remain discouraged.
Certainly, there is much irony in the rejection of Israel. There is no language or cultural barrier. The message will be very plain and the people are familiar with God. However, they will reject the message. It is said that the greatest distance in the world is from the head to the heart. God is sovereign in the process of salvation. He alone is the one who overcomes that great distance to the heart. He can make the most unlikely person come to believe, but also, we may see people who seem so close to believing not coming to faith.
Dealing with unbelief and to live in a culture of unbelief is tough. Yet, God equips Ezekiel for the task. He makes Ezekiel stouthearted to deal with the hardheaded and hardhearted. And we must be equipped by God, lest we lose heart. And it can be heartbreaking. Yet, the word instructs us in Romans 12:21:
"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
Ezekiel's mission is simple - speak the Word of God and leave the results to the Sovereign God. Literally, Adoni-Yahweh. The translation in the ESV may look funny but it's pretty literal. And what a name that is! Lord Yahweh! He is in control. This Sovereign God has chosen you to know him, delight in him, go to others and speak and live out his Word that others might know him! What a God and what a task! May we be faithful to that task, as individuals and as a church.