Part Six, “Ezekiel’s SCROLL OF A BOOK”

A SCROLL OF A BOOK

Compiled by Editor from various commentaries and studies

“And He said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak to you.” 2 Then the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me, and set me on my feet; and I heard Him who spoke to me. 3 And He said to me: “Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. 4 For they are impudent and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ 5 As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse—for they are a rebellious house—yet they will know that a prophet has been among them.

6 “And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house. 7 You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious. 8 But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”

9 Now when I looked, there was a hand stretched out to me; and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. 10 Then He spread it before me; and there was writing on the inside and on the outside, and written on it were lamentations and mourning and woe” Ezekiel 2:1-10. Emphasis added

From Harper’s Bible dictionary:

“To make a papyrus scroll, even strips cut from the pith of the papyrus plant were laid side by side in horizontal and vertical rows, forming the front and back side of the sheet, respectively. Water and pressure were applied to make the strips adhere. After drying, the sheets were rubbed smooth with shells or stones. Leather scrolls were made of sheep, goat, or calf skin that had been dehaired, scraped, washed, stretched on a frame, and dried. The hair side, on which the writing was done, was scraped smooth and rubbed with a pumice stone.

Rectangles of prepared leather were stitched together to make a scroll. Vertical and horizontal guide lines were traced with a dry point and a straight edge. Black ink was made from carbon soot mixed with water and gum, red ink from red ocher or iron oxide. While writing could be erased from papyrus with water, errors on leather had to be marked out or scraped off. Scribes wrote with pens made from rushes, frayed at the end, and from the Hellenistic period on (after 63 BC), with pointed reed pens split at the end. Equipment was carried in a case tied to the scribe’s waist (Ezek. 9:2). Whether papyrus or leather scrolls were customarily used for writing biblical books in the pre-exilic period (prior to 586 BC) is disputed, but at least by the Hellenistic period leather was the preferred material (e.g., the Dead Sea Scrolls), and was required by rabbinic tradition.”

Ancient books and documents were written so as to be rolled on cylinders of wood or ivory. Scrolls were used before the development of the codex in the 1st-2nd century AD ( codex = writing done on flat surfaces such as boards, vellum, or parchment, which were sometimes folded once and bound or sewn ).

This particular scroll of parchment which had been rolled up, was inscribed on both front and back, indicating an extensive message, and it was a message of judgment. It was as if its divine Author had so much to say that the conventional space was insufficient; the writing must be squeezed into every blank space!

Contrary to the rolls of that time, which were written on the inside only, this roll was written on both sides, because the prophecy was long and they would see the mind of God wherever they looked.

Ezekiel had been ‘in vision’, guided by the Holy Spirit. When he comes down from this mount, he finds he dwells with scorpions. God tells him what would be their (wicked people) conduct towards him, that they would do what they could to frighten him with their looks and their words; they would threaten him, would look scornfully and spitefully at him, that they might drive him off from being a prophet, or at least from telling them of their faults and threatening them with the judgments of God…  (See also Amos 3:7).

The persecutors of God’s prophets and people, are as briers and thorns, which are hurtful to the ground, choke the good seed, and their end is to be burned

Persecutors are a generation of vipers and are of the serpent’s seed, the poison of asps is under their tongue; they are more subtle than any beast of the field.

What makes the prophet’s case even worse is that he dwells among these scorpions! They are continually all around him. Ezekiel must not be afraid of them nor dismayed, he must not be deterred from his work, or any part of it, by all their menaces, but go on in it – with resolution and cheerfulness, assuring himself of safety under the Divine protection. 

Thou shalt speak My words unto them. The honor of prophets is they are entrusted to speak God’s words, so it is their duty to hold closely to His words and to speak nothing but what is in agreement to the words of God. Ministers must always speak according to that rule. They must be faithful to the souls of those to whom they are sent: Whether they will hear or whether they refuse, he must deliver his message to them as he received it.

God’s instructions to Ezekiel were large; for the roll was written on the inside and on the outside. One side contained their sins; the other side contained the judgments of God coming upon them for those sins.

God has a great deal to say to His people when they have degenerated and become rebellious. Ezekiel was sent on a sad errand; the matter contained in the book was lamentations, and mourning, and woe.

The discoveries of sin and the denunciations of wrath are both a matter of lamentation. What could be more lamentable, more mournful, and more woeful, than to see a holy happy people sunk into a state of sin and misery such as the Jews were in at that time? Though God is rich in mercy, yet unrepentant sinners will find among His words lamentations and woe. 

Here is the command given to Ezekiel to observe the instructions – both in receiving and delivering God’s message:

1. To attend diligently to it: son of man, hear what I say unto thee. Those that speak from God to others must be sure to hear from God themselves and be obedient to His voice. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious

2. To digest it in his own mind: “Do not only hear what I say unto thee, but open thy mouth, and eat that which I give thee.”

In other words, ‘Take My word as you would take good food; receive it into your heart; ponder it there, that it may be the means of strengthening and preserving your soul, as proper nourishment will strengthen the body.’

God’s Word is to dwell in us richly… take it to heart, embrace what He said. Listen closely. (See also Zech. 5:3; Rev. 5:1)

God has much to say. And the people to whom such messages of God come should hear it, read, learn, and inwardly digest it,  that it may become efficient nourishment to their souls. He brought it to the prophet and spread it before him, that Ezekiel might now swallow it with an implicit faith, might fully understand the contents of it, and then receive it and make it his own.

3. To know that it came directly from God: God’s hand reached out to Ezekiel and gave him a roll of a book, a scroll of parchment fully written and rolled up, a book in the form of a roll was offered to him.

Divine revelation comes to us from the hand of Christ; He gave it to the prophets. We must have our eyes to the hand by which it is sent to usIf we don’t receive what Christ in His ordinances and providences allots for us, if we don’t submit to His word and rod, and don’t reconcile ourselves to both, we shall be accounted as rebellious. (See also Jer. 36:2-4)

It was offered to me by a hand sent forth, by this symbol God more clearly shows that the book was not merely formed in the air, nor was produced anywhere – but in heaven. For if the Prophet had only seen a book presented to him, he might doubt whether it was sent by God or not.

But when the hand of God which offers the book appears, and is truly sent forth from God, there can be no lack of complete certainty.

4. The instruction contained in the book was not sweet or pleasant: He says that lamentations only were written there. Full of sorrow, God here showed proofs of His anger, and this cannot be understood except by causing grief and lamentations.

J. I. Packer, in his book “Knowing God”, has this to say about God’s wrath, “The modern habit throughout the Christian church is to play the subject down. Those who still believe in the wrath of God (not all do) say little about it. To an age which has unashamedly sold itself to the gods of greed, sex, and self-will, the church mumbles about God’s kindness, but virtually says nothing about God’s judgment.”

Do you want to get the full picture of the sinfulness of man? Do you want to get the full picture of the hopeless situation of man? Do you want to get the full picture of the awesome character of God and His Holiness? Do you want to get the full picture of the wrath of God? There is no other book in the Bible that presents the sins of God’s people in as much detail as the Book of Ezekiel.

Study the Book of Ezekiel, and your life will be transformed.

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