Ezekiel 37-38, Psalm 87, Revelation 10
In Revelation 10 we catch our breath in a momentary interlude from the intensity of Revelation’s earlier judgment scenes. During this interlude, John’s prophetic commission is renewed. He must take the angel’s scroll and eat it (Revelation 10:9-10), just as Ezekiel was instructed to do in his own day (Ezekiel 2:8-3:3). The prophet is not only to hear and proclaim the Word of God, he is to ingest the prophecy. That means he is to embody it, bearing witness to everyone about how to walk faithfully in the ways of God.
Thus, the prophecy will be sweet, because speaking the Word of God brings a pleasing flavor to the prophet’s mouth. But it will also be bitter in the stomach, because when the Word is embodied, when God’s people walk according to God’s ways, they become vulnerable and exposed to opposition.
We see this unfold in Ezekiel 38. Ezekiel prophesies against Gog and the land of Magog, mythical representatives of God’s archetypal enemy among the nations. At some future time, says Ezekiel, Israel will be restored and once again living by God’s ways in the land: peacefully, quietly, without walls, and having no bars or gates. And, because the people are living vulnerably in these peaceful, unguarded ways of God, invaders will attack them (Ezekiel 38:10-16). Ultimately, though, God will save Israel and destroy the aggressors (Ezekiel 38:17-23).
This is the Ezekiel’s word of hope: by living faithfully, yet vulnerably, we bear witness to God’s ways. And God will finally deliver us, thereby vindicating God’s holy name before all the world.
Questions for Reflection:
Where are you and your church being called to “eat the scroll,” to speak and embody God’s Word that may render you vulnerable to the world around you?
What does it look like in our modern world for God’s people to live peacefully, quietly, without walls, and having no bars or gates? Do you sufficiently trust God’s word of hope to embody this way of living? Why, or why not?
O God of all creation, give us strength and courage to proclaim by word and deed your never-failing love for all people, so that by living vulnerably, peacefully, and openly toward everyone, we might bring your word of new life and hope to people throughout the world. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. John G. Lewis