And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent to me; and, see, a roll of a book was therein;…
The appetites of the human body may be regarded by us as pictures and symbols of the inner hunger of the spirit. Not more surely does the body cry out for food than does the inner man crave for truth. He only who has created this complex frame can meet its varied wants.
I. THE HUNGER OF THE SOUL. As the emotional element in man cries out for friendship, as the intellectual asks for knowledge, so the spiritual element eagerly asks after God's will. "Lord, what writ thou have me to do?" To be out of harmony with God is misery to the soul. To be ignorant of God's purposes and intentions respecting us must bring perpetual disquietude. Hence the question in some form, either vague or clear, is ever rising to the surface, "What must I do to gain eternal life?"
II. DIVINE PROVISION. In order to qualify Ezekiel more fully for his undertaking, a fresh vision was vouchsafed to him. A hand was stretched out from heaven, containing a parchment roll. In form, it seemed like the "bread that perisheth;" but it was in truth the heavenly manna - the revelation of Jehovah's will. Man, at the best, is under the dominance of animal appetites; and consequently spiritual facts make most impression on him when presented under material images. But God never deceives. He unfolded the roll; showed him how full it was of instruction and meaning; explained to him its real contents, viz. "mourning, lamentations, and woe." Like unleavened bread and bitter herbs, this knowledge of God's will may be most healthful for men at certain seasons of their life. God's regard for us is too genuine and profound for him to indulge our appetites with dangerous delicacies. The bitter must come before the sweet, darkness before light, sorrow before joy.
III. PERSONAL DIGESTION REQUIRED. The command is heard, "Eat that I give thee." "Fill thy bowels with this roll." A superficial acquaintance with God's will is not enough for the prophet's equipment. He must observe, learn, masticate, digest, incorporate, the truth. Here is indeed precious counsel - a Physician's wise advice. Less food, probably, but more digestion. Heavenly counsel this, which every disciple should write in golden letters on his chamber walls. The truth which God gives to men does not become really theirs until it is assimilated into their own nature - becomes part and parcel of themselves. By examination and reflection and practical obedience, this truth passes into the very blood and nerve and fibre of our being. We become the truth - "living epistles, known and read of all men."
IV. THE TASTE PALATABLE AND PLEASANT: "It was in my mouth as honey for sweetness." The regenerate man will welcome all the truth of God. Whatever God's will be, he knows that God's will is right, and that righteousness must bring blessing and peace. He is not now so blind as to limit his vision to the narrow present; he compasses, in the sweep of his eye, the remote and the future. That the prophet learnt that lamentation and mourning were decreed, was an element of hope. Would the Divine Ruler take such pains with men if he did not intend to do them ultimate good? The very severity of the treatment implied that health would come at last. To do the will of God is always sweet to the renewed man. Unless our spiritual palate is in a diseased condition, every particle of heavenly truth will be "as honey for sweetness." "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and they were unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart." - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein;