Ezekiel 3:1-11; Revelation 10:1-4, 8-11
October 24, 2021
- Reappreciating the Word
I must admit that I had the momentary inclination that I might step up behind this pulpit today, take a page out of a Bible (but not the pulpit Bible, mind you), and then proceed to eat the page right here before you all. That’s right – gobble it down. It would have to be a favorite passage: Romans 8 or 1 John 4 or something from Ephesians, Ecclesiastes, or one of the Psalms. There are a good number to choose from. Nevertheless, it probably all tastes about the same. If you were going to eat a passage of scripture, I wonder what passage you might eat. That is one of your kitchen table questions for homework today. If you had to pick a passage from the Bible to eat, what passage would it be and why?
Before you get too worried about me, let me just say that this crazy idea of eating Bible passages is not something that I have completely made up by myself:
Feasting in the Word continues in Revelation, chapter 10.
[Revelation 10:1-4, 8-11]
Just in case you have not noticed, today we are looking into communication and how we share and how we share (in particular) God’s Word. This seemed especially appropriate with a message from the Gideons today. If you have never run across these passages in Ezekiel and in Revelation before, it might have sounded a bit strange to have the prophet eat the message that he was supposed to proclaim, but I am going to suggest that this might, in fact, be the best way to think about whatever we have to share from God’s Word.
You are what you eat. If this were true, there are times in my life when I might have strongly resembled a walking pizza – get it? Pete-za. I guess that statement and I may have more in common than I realized. It is a cutesy thing to say and is obviously not literally true. There really are no walking piles of junk food – though people may not be in the best of health with a largely junk food diet. Whatever we eat and how we eat does play a significant role in our health and personal wellbeing. Eating the good foods will play a large role in our day-to-day health. Whatever we eat works its way into our bodies on a cellular level and supplies our cells with those vitamins and minerals and whatever other substances we need for better health. How much more amazing would it be to imagine God’s Word as engaging to us on a cellular level and filling our bodies with its richness. The more we eat a certain food, the more that food will become a part of our bodily life. This says the Type 2 diabetic…. If I had just eaten less pizza…. But that is a different sermon to a different audience.
The more we feast on God’s word and ingest it, not just memorizing passages but truly dwelling in them and inviting them to sit with us in our daily living, the more those passages will shape our behavior and daily living. Take Matthew 25, for instance, or the Sermon on the Mount or Luke’s famous parables of the Lost Son or the Samaritan neighbor, and those just scratch the surface. The more we feast and feast and ingest and ingest God’s Word, the more our lives will reflect that fact. What we share, how we live, and our relationships will all speak to the way we welcome God’s Word.
Both of the stories in my reading noted that the scrolls symbolizing God’s message or Word tasted like…. Honey. They were delicious. Who does not like honey? That was nature’s natural sweetener in ancient times, highly prized. If Scripture tells is that the scrolls tasted like honey, that means that the message was strong and agreeable to the preacher. Ezekiel and John both embraced the messages in the passages we read. The scrolls had no trouble going down once eaten. The prophets agreed with the message. BUT in Revelation, the message did not sit so well in the stomach. It starts out great, but once the difficulty, inconvenience, and flat-out trouble erupts in sharing the Good News, the ease of swallowing may lead to indigestion. It is not so pleasant, certainly not as easy, to really give ourselves to God’s Word. There are plenty of passages that hold us accountable and push us into difficult directions – directions that make us realize we might have not made the best choices or hurt others or even left whole populations out in the cold.
Still, even though it might be bitter in the stomach, that makes it no less important to eat. In fact, it might be even more important. If we only consumed passages with which we agreed, how could we possibly ever grow in our understanding of Scripture. Personally, I love passages that cause me to struggle. That struggle grows my faith and pushes me to consider things from other perspectives. There are plenty of hot-button issues in which I have changed my thinking simply because of the demands of Scripture in my life and the work of the Holy Spirit.
Please remember this point: all of scripture is acceptable for instruction and for eating (for that matter), not just the passages that are appealing or with which we agree or are easy to cling onto. We can learn from any and all of them, perhaps most profoundly from the passages that trouble us. And by the way, if you have not found passages that push you in uncomfortable directions, then you have not read very far.
Why does God even use us to convey the message? Why are people the bearers of God’s truth, the love of God and the power of the Gospel of Christ Jesus? Why are we roped into anything that angels would be better suited to perform. Quite often we do a pretty lousy job representing God’s best side in our sharing. Quite often we significantly fail to live up to the Word that has been entrusted to us. We learn to ignore the truth that troubles and demands that we change. And yet, we are the ones who record God’s story, reprint God’s story, distribute God’s story, narrate God’s story, interpret God’s story, and save God’s story for those who will follow us. This is fascinating; God believes in us.
I will never forget the first time I preached a sermon for a church that needed a preacher. I was in my third year of seminary, and Patteson Memorial Presbyterian Church in Guston, KY had no minister. That was the first time ever that I applied to be a pastor anywhere. That morning I discovered what hives were as the stress took me. Nevertheless, I was hired and was given the seven month job. That was when it hit me: what was I going to say after about three months? I was convinced that after about three months, I would run out of things to say. Boy, was I wrong. I had no idea what I was in for. Over twenty years later and I have still not run out of things to say. This is the nature of Scripture. It is so full and so engaging and so challenging and so interesting, and as we dwell in God’s Word, we change so those same passage even mean something new, again.
But we will never know if we never taste. We will never know the blessing of Scripture that we might share, if we do not give it a good chew. We will never know more the joy of people who are a part of God’s Word, if we do not invite the Word to nourish us and feed us and sink into our very DNA.
My purpose today is not to guilt anyone into reading their Bible more. This is an invitation to live in and with God’s Word by feasting on Scripture. We will all be better for it. To God be the glory. Amen
What passage would you want to eat on your scroll?
What message do you feel most important to share?