25 June 2011

"He said to me, O mortal, eat what is offered to you, eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat ... Then I ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey." (vv. 1-3)


Ezekiel was called by God to prophesy to the people who were in exile in Babylon in the sixth century BC. They were far from home and many felt that they had been abandoned by God. Ezekiel had a vision in which he saw God coming to Babylon from Jerusalem. In the presence of God, Ezekiel was aware of his own humanity and fell on his face before the throne of God. God warned Ezekiel that the people were rebellious and stubborn and would not listen to his message which is now presented to him on a scroll. Once inscribed with ink a papyrus scroll is not easily changed, and this scroll was covered on both sides with the indelible words of God. The description of the message makes it clear that it would not be easy to deliver or to receive, and it would be easy to understand if the prophet was reluctant to accept his commission.

The eating of the scroll symbolised that the prophet had taken the word of God into his very being. He was to live in relationship with the God who is by nature relational and reaches out to sustain relationship with the whole creation. Contrary to all expectation, when Ezekiel ate the scroll and consumed its bitter message, it tasted as sweet as honey. To be in a living relationship with God and to hear and respond to God's word is sweet and life-giving though it may be hard.

Ezekiel was to expect opposition from a stubborn and hard-faced people but he would be strengthened by God for the task. The name Ezekiel means 'God strengthens'.

Ezekiel was called to be both in a living relationship with God and in a living relationship with the people. If the people did not hear his words it would not be because they could not understand them because Ezekiel spoke their language and shared their culture and traditions. Rather it was because of their stubborn refusal to enter into a life-giving relationship with God.

To Ponder

Have you ever faced opposition and felt strengthened by God? What happened? How does that experience support and encourage you today?

How can you know whether you are being true to the word of God or being stubborn?

What are the hard messages that Christians have to deliver today?

Bible notes author: The Revd Ruth Gee

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