Ezekiel 3:1-3 (NIV) 1 And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. 3 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.
On verses 1-3: Here are just a few lessons we can learn from these verses:
God gave Ezekiel an edible scroll containing His words for Ezekiel to eat. Likewise, Scripture is food for your soul. Jesus says, “Man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) Don’t starve yourself spiritually but eat of God’s Word every day.
Ezekiel was told to eat God’s Word before going to speak to the house of Israel (v1). Likewise, if we want to have something good to share with those around us, we need to eat God’s Word and fill ourselves with it.
There is something about God’s Word that is sweet and joy-bringing that is unlike anything else in this world. It’s no wonder that Psalm 19:10 describes God’s words as “sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb”. Ezekiel experiences this himself when he eats the scroll given to him and finds “it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth” (v3).
If you want to grow up spiritually, train yourself to “eat what is before you” (v1). In other words, do not be overly picky about what you will eat or not eat from Scripture. Try to read everything that God sets before us in the Bible, whether it is familiar to you or not, and whether it tastes sweet to you at first or not. That’s how you grow. If you will learn to eat what is set before you, I believe you will eventually find that, with the help of God and Christians God has placed in your life, those books that some people might label as “boring” or “impossible to understand” actually contain some very valuable and powerful lessons for your life, and your faith will deepen.
Ezekiel 3:4-6 (NIV) 4 He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them. 5 You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language, but to the house of Israel– 6 not to many peoples of obscure speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you.
On verses 4-6: From these verses I learn an important lesson about communication. If you want to effectively reach a group of people with an important message, you need to speak that group’s language and communicate your message clearly. That doesn’t just mean speaking actual words that the group can understand. Even more, it’s about using pictures, illustrations and stories that your hearers can relate to. Otherwise, they will not listen.
Ezekiel 3:7-9 (NIV) 7 But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate. 8 But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. 9 I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house.”
On verses 7-9: As He did in Ezekiel 2:3-7, God emphasizes to Ezekiel that the Israelite people He is sending Ezekiel to will not listen to him. That is not because they speak a different language, but because they are “hardened and obstinate” (v7) and “will not be willing to listen” (v7). Since Ezekiel’s hearers will be so unyielding and hardened, God tells Ezekiel that He will make Ezekiel equally unyielding and hardened too. In other words, as strong-willed and stubborn-headed as the Israelites are, God will enable Ezekiel to have such a strong will and stubborn head about reaching the Israelites that he will not give up even when he faces ongoing rejection and opposition. It’s no wonder Ezekiel’s name is often translated to mean “God will strengthen” or “God will harden”. It’s also no wonder that Ezekiel is one of the most courageous and resilient individuals you will find in the Bible.
What can we learn from this? When you have made it your mission to share God’s Word in a place that is very much opposed to it, you need to be “unyielding and hardened” (v7). That is, you must not be easily shaken by rejection, criticism, or opposition. Those things will come. If Jesus was perfect and experienced rejection, criticism and opposition, we being far from perfect will surely experience them to. To be effective witnesses in our world, we need to maintain soft hearts and a tough skin — not be easily shaken, easily terrified or easily discouraged. Be strong and courageous.
Ezekiel 3:10-11 (NIV) 10 And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. 11 Go now to your countrymen in exile and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen.”
On verses 10-11: As we saw in Ezekiel 2:3-7, Ezekiel’s measure for success is not “whether they listen or fail to listen”, but whether Ezekiel will faithfully tell the Israelites the message God has given him to speak.
Ezekiel 3:12-15 (NIV) 12 Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a loud rumbling sound–May the glory of the LORD be praised in his dwelling place!– 13 the sound of the wings of the living creatures brushing against each other and the sound of the wheels beside them, a loud rumbling sound. 14 The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of theLORD upon me. 15 I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Abib near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days–overwhelmed.
On verses 12-15: Several times in Ezekiel you will read these words, “the Spirit lifted me up”. In the chapters that follow Ezekiel will face many discouraging situations. A big reason Ezekiel can keep going is because in the midst of his discouragement Ezekiel goes back to God, humbles himself and experiences the Spirit of God lifting him up again. Through a close, intimate relationship, God lets Ezekiel experience a bit of heaven on earth when his circumstances feel like hell on earth.
What can we learn from this? When you find yourself in discouraging circumstances, the most important thing you can do is to keep going back to God for strength and inspiration. Humble yourself before God and He will lift you up. 1 Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” When by the Spirit of God you taste a bit of heaven, it helps you to go through situations that might otherwise feel like hell on earth.
Heavenly Father, thank You that when the circumstances around me are difficult, You make available to me the sweetness of Your Word, the encouragement of Your Holy Spirit and the strength of Your presence so that I will not easily be shaken. Thank You so much for Your Word, Your Holy Spirit and Your presence in my life. May I eat of Your Word and drink of Your Holy Spirit every day. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!