Ezekiel prophesied at a time when God's judgment of Israel was not merely impending, but had already begun; the Captivity was underway.
Eat What I Am Giving You
“Now you, son of man, listen to what I am speaking to you; do not be rebellious like that rebellious house. Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you.” (Ez. 2:8)
If we do not eat what God gives us, we too, will be counted among the rebels. What did God give Ezekiel? It was a kind of a book, a scroll.
Then He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth. (Ez.3:1-3).
Eat it. Fill your body with it. Metabolically, we are what we eat. And this is the scroll God says to eat – His Word. If we refuse to eat it, we are rebels.
What does God tell us about this scroll? It appears in many places in Scripture.
Then the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking with me, and saying, “Go, take the book…
…(i.e., the scroll)…
…which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land.” So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he said to me, “Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. And they said to me, “You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.” (Rev 10:8-11).
This scroll will always be sweet in your mouth but bitter in your stomach. We all want to know the truth; we all want to know the future. God will tell us the truth and He will even show us the future through His Word.
The True Prophets
A true prophet is, first of all, a man of the Word.
Daniel diligently studied the predictions of the prophet Jeremiah (Dan 9:2) in order to understand the future. As he studied diligently, he fasted and prayed and asked God to give him more understanding. Then God showed him visions of the future; things that are being fulfilled at this time in history. Why? Because Daniel was a man who studied the Word diligently. He fasted and prayed and asked God to show him. That is the kind of person God trusts with real revelation.
People who run around saying "Give me a word, give me a word, give me a word” and the so-called prophets who announce, "I have a word, I have a word, I have a word" are always people who do not have a word from God.
“I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’...“The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain?” declares the Lord. (Jer 23:25,28).
False prophecy is straw, but the word of the Lord is grain. When their doctrines are wrong, their prophecies will be wrong. A true prophet will first and foremost be a person of the Word, a person who eats the Word.
God tends to raise up prophets at difficult times, not good times. In both Testaments, prophets were raised up to deal with difficult issues at difficult times.
We want to know the truth and we want to know the future. It is sweet in our mouths. But once we know the truth, once we know the future, it becomes bitter in our stomachs – we are now responsible for it. Once you eat it, your eyes are opened and you begin to see things for what they really are.
You who know, O Lord, Remember me, take notice of me, And take vengeance for me on my persecutors. Do not, in view of Your patience, take me away; Know that for Your sake I endure reproach. Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts. I did not sit in the circle of merrymakers, Nor did I exult. Because of Your hand upon me I sat alone, For You filled me with indignation. (Jer 15:15-17)
What happened when Jeremiah ate the scroll? The same thing that happened to Ezekiel. It was sweet in his mouth, but bitter in his stomach; and he could no longer sit in the circle of merrymakers.
People today are turning the church into a comedy club because they do not know the Word of God. Until they eat the scroll, until they come to the Word of God, they are going to keep sitting in the circle of merrymakers. Now the same people are going around conducting seminars on how to teach "laughing in the Spirit".
Jeremiah ate the scroll. And when he ate it, he could not sit in the circle of merrymakers, nor exult. Why not? For the same reason that Ezekiel could not.
You who know, O Lord, Remember me, take notice of me, And take vengeance for me on my persecutors. Do not, in view of Your patience, take me away; Know that for Your sake I endure reproach. (Jer 15:17).
When you eat the scroll, it is sweet in your mouth because you know the truth, and even know the future, but it will be bitter in your stomach. You will not sit in the circle of merrymakers; you will sit alone. You will not be able to sit with those people who are laughing and saying "Triumph and victory." because the hand of God will be upon you.
Tell Them Anyway
When you eat the scroll, which is sweet in your mouth but bitter in your stomach, and you can no longer sit the the circle of merrymakers, and the hand of the Lord is upon you, things become very complicated for you because you sit along. The people that you are trying to give your heart for, even your life for maybe, do not want to listen. God is going to tell you ahead of time that most of them won't listen. But He still says, "Tell them anyway."
That is what happened to Ezekiel. And, if you eat the scroll, that is what will happen to you. "They won't listen to you", God says, "Because they have not listened to me." They will not listen to the true prophets because they will not listen to the Word of God. They would rather sit around and invent their own doctrines, like "laughing in the Spirit," or that somebody can predict things that do not happen and still be a "prophet".
We do not stone false prophets to death any more, but the sin is no less serious. They need to repent and they need to be taken out of prophetic ministry and leadership. The church today will not do that. The church is in rebellion. Even the people in the church who know it is wrong no longer have the courage and integrity to stand up and say it is wrong, most of the time.
God is looking for people who will eat the scroll and who will not be afraid to tell the truth because His hand will be upon them.