Devotional # 77. 3/11/14. Eat the Word. Jeremiah 15:16, Ezekiel 3:3 and Revelation 10:10 –
Introduction. The other day my beautiful wife, Jenna, stumbled out of bed and said, “I’m going to read my coffee and drink my Bible.” After we laughed and she corrected herself, I thought about that comment. Aside from me embarrassing her with all of you, I think we can get an important lesson from it! Did you know we are told to “eat the word” in the Bible several times? What does that mean? Read on!
Jeremiah 15:16. The context here in Jeremiah is the Lord’s anger with Judah, prophecy against Judah for what Manasseh did. In the verses prior God is telling Jeremiah what will befall the people but in verses 15–18, Jeremiah is praying to the Lord. Jeremiah talks about the difficulty and persecution that he’s gone through and in verse 16 he says “Your words were found, and I ate them“. So Jeremiah metaphorically, emotionally internalized the words of God. He has suffered but he is better for it because he has “eaten” the word of God. Why do I say that he’s better for it? Did you notice that I stopped quoting Jeremiah’s words after “ate them“? The rest of the sentence is “and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.”
Ezekiel 3:1-3. The context in Ezekiel is similar to Jeremiah: Ezekiel is sent by God to tell rebellious Israel of “lamentations, mourning and woe” (which means difficulties and judgments). But Ezekiel is different in that whereas Jeremiah told God that He “ate” God’s word, in this case, God tells Ezekiel to eat His word. Some commentators say Ezekiel did not literally eat the scroll (Source 1) but that is not correct. He did eat the paper as imagery to show rebellious Israel that “God’s messenger must first internalize God’s truth for himself, then preach it” (Source 1).
So we learn that God wants us to memorize, understand and apply His words to our life. Do you find in your life that the words of the Lord are sweet?
Revelation 10:9. The context here in Revelation is that the first “woe” has already happened (Revelation 9:3-11), and the second “woe” is under way (Revelation 9:13-11:13). So John is told by God to go get the little book from an angel, then the angel tells him to eat it. This is different from Ez. 3:3 in that there is bitterness (which is suffering) mentioned. Although “sweetness” is also mentioned here there is an expanded meaning. For John, God’s word is pleasing and satisfying but also “God’s eternal purposes will experience no further delays” (Source 2).
Conclusion. From these verses we can get much valuable insight and multiple applications for how we are to live the Christian life. I see a progression as we move through the books. From Jeremiah we see that we are to have the drive and determination to read the word and heed it. To “heed” something is to listen to it with the intent to act on it. So Jeremiah shows us that we are to absorb the Bible into our life and it’s sweetness will make our life and testimony sweet. Second, from Ezekiel, we see God has commanded us to eat the Word because it is beneficial for us but it is beneficial for others so we are to be an example. When we let the sweetness be a fragrance it is attractive to others. Finally, from Revelation, we learn that eating the word is sweet (see Ps. 19:10, 119:103) even when the content is bitter (Source 2). So regardless of how hard it is on us or difficult for others we must absorb it and give it to them.
An interesting comparison to this is Christ: He is the Word (John 1:1) which we “eat” during communion (Lk. 22:19). Are you mindful of the sweetness in God’s word even when the content is hard to hear (bitter)? Are you sharing that with others?
Source 1: MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1155.
Source 2: NASB commentary on Rev. 10:9.