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.
There are 3 instances in the Bible that it was recorded where somebody ate the scroll. The scroll containing the word of God – if it wasn’t written then, but it would be somewhat equivalent to what we know today as the Bible. We have Jeremiah [Jer 15:16], Ezekiel, and John the apostle [Rev 10:9-11]. The passage on Ezekiel is from Ezekiel 2:8 – Ezekiel 3:3; which is perhaps the most detailed account out of the three. The old question is, did Ezekiel really eat the scroll? If he did, how was it possible? If he didn’t, how do you explain Ezekiel 3:2 – So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat? In reading the Bible and trying to make sense of the verses in the Bible, there are two ways to go about doing it – firstly, by using the literal meaning, secondly, by using the figurative meaning. I’m no scholar, but I’ve been taught that whenever possible, use the literal meaning to explain the words of the Bible; and if impossible, then take the arduous road of explaining it via the figurative meaning. In books like Revelations, Ezekiel and Daniel especially, there are so many imagery and symbols that one often has to adopt the figurative meaning – in fact, most of the prophets have a tendency to do that. It made sense, in a way, the apostles wrote for the lay Christians and thus used a simplified and common speech; the prophets were largely writing what they saw in their visions, which are often not meant for the all to understand in the first place. Bear with me, for in this study, we will tackle the act of eating the scroll by its figurative meaning.
Analysis – Why figurative?
The literal meaning in this would be that Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and John all ate the scroll. They put it in their mouths, bit or tore it into pieces, swallowed it and digested it. I am no scholar, and I dare not say that it is impossible that it indeed had happened – if God can make mountains move and seas split, surely God can make 3 men eat scrolls and still be perfectly fine. Yet what is the meaning of letting them eat scrolls? There is perfect meaning in splitting the seas and moving the mountains, but letting them eat the scrolls? Will they be healthier after doing that? Can they spit fire from their mouths after doing that? No – there is no literal meaning to be derived from such an act. There is only meaning in the figurative and symbolic meaning of such an act – great meaning, in fact. So whether or not you agree with me that these three men did not literally eat the scrolls or not, it probably is hard to argue against the need to use the figurative meaning of such an act.
Analysis – the process of eating
Unless you are oddly special, I’m sure you eat things in the same way as I do – first you pick up your food and place it in your mouth; then you bite it into pieces and chew repeatedly on it; you swallow it, it goes through your gullet and into your stomachs where it gets digested, where the nutrions that came with it gets dispatched into your blood… Well, that’s as much as I remember from biology class a long time ago, correct me if I was wrong, but that’s the rough idea. It’s the same thing, really. You pick up God’s words and you read it. You meditate on it repeatedly until you understand it or receive something from it – you digest it, and apply it in your daily life, living it out, and letting aspects of your being soak in God’s truths.
Analysis – The scroll
What did the scroll stand for? In Ezekiel 2:10 – On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe. It was a scroll that, was full and packed with God’s words. We generally liken the to the ancient version of what we call today our Bible – the word of God.
When Ezekiel ate it, it tasted as sweet as honey in his mouth. God’s words are sweet – why sweet? When you first eat the word of God, it is sweet, because when you understand God’s precepts, you are greatly satisfied as you stand in awe and marvel at the greatness of God and his Kingdom. The Psalmist proclaims – How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! [Psalm 119:103] Note that, like Ezekiel, it was sweet in his mouth – how was the aftertaste like? How did it taste like, after he swallowed the word? Ezekiel did not tell us, but we find a detailed account of the taste in Revelation. In Revelation 10:9, the angel told John that the scroll will turn John’s stomach sour, but in his mouth it will be as sweet as honey. In the next verse, John ate it – It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour [Rev 10:10]. I referred to the verse in Revelation because of the consistency – God’s words will always be first sweet when you first understand and come into contact with it. But when you begin to apply it, you find your stomach turning sour – God’s words are sweet to listen to, but sour to follow.
We all need God’s words – it is our daily bread, it is our spiritual food, it is our source of energy, it is a necessity. Like food we need it consistently – not once a week in church, not once a day, but repeatedly throughout each day. Are you eating the words of God? Or are you merely sniffing? Do you eat them and vomit them out like an anorexic? Are you picky with the words that you eat, ignoring those that do not wet your appetite? If you have been eating the words of God properly, there will be spiritual growth. Might not be immediately obvious, of course, but if you keep eating God’s words, keep digesting them, keep living them out – surely, one day, even if you don’t notice it yourself, someone will come up and let you know that, hey, you’ve changed. After eating God’s words, you are expected to do something about it – the 3 men were told to preach and prophesy [Rev 10:11, Eze 3:4]. And as for us, let us do what we can, let us do what we must, and let us begin by eating the word of God.
Eat God’s words. And for your own sake, I hope you don’t take me literally.