I’m the leader of our Wellness Team at work, a group of people called “Vitality Champs” because we develop programs and encourage people to become involved with Vitality, a website oriented wellness program where you do a variety of things to gain points, qualifying for a lower health premium and hopefully improving your health in the process. At least that’s the goal. One of the things emphasized in Vitality is eating good balanced meals and paying attention to your nutrition. No matter how much you exercise, if you don’t eat nutritional things, you will not be in good health.
In the Old Testament book of Ezekiel we find an interesting account of God telling Ezekiel to eat a scroll. Here’s what is recorded: “And he said to me, ‘Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go speak to the house of Israel.’ So, I opened my mouth and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, ‘Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.’ Then I ate it and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey.” (Ezekiel 3:1-3) do
There is an old Jewish tradition that says when the rabbis teach their students, before the lesson begins they will put a drop of honey on the student’s tongues, to remind them of the sweetness of studying God’s Word and what it provides for them. Not a bad idea (dad and mom, with your kids). Ezekiel’s account is not the only place we see God’s Word compared to honey. Psalm 19:9, 10 says, “The rules of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” But, if we neglect them, if we claim to follow the Lord but disregard his teaching, we see something else. “And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter.” (Rev. 10:10) Here John has a revelation that is similar to what Ezekiel experienced, but for those who hear God’s Word and don’t do anything with it, God’s Word turns from life to death, from sweetness to bitterness.
Do we truly “hear” God’s Word? It’s more than just allowing words to go in our ears. In fact, the Hebrew word “Shema” is what precedes what Jesus called the greatest commandment. “Shema (hear), O Israel, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your might.” For the Israelite, “to hear” meant more than words going in your ear, it meant truly hearing, resulting in heeding the words and obeying the Lord, truly loving him. Are we exposing ourselves to the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, and are we meditating on what we learn and acting in response? Only when we do so have we truly heard. Only then are we spiritually nourished. And such defines real faith.
The writer of the book of Hebrews continues the metaphor by saying that we need the meat of God’s Word, not just the milk of a new Christian, as we mature in faith (Heb. 5:12). Yes, we need the spiritual nutrition that only comes from study and application of the Bible. Don’t neglect to eat this book!
“Your words were found and I ate them; 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.” (Jeremiah 15:16)