Would you be comfortable with your surgeon if they had only played a doctor on TV? Would you trust the food of a skinny cook? Common sense tells us something is up. What are we to think about a Christian who does not read their Bible, or worse rejects its authority? Exploring Ezekiel 2:3-3:2, trying to answer the question, "Why is studying the Bible important?"Greensburg Church of the Nazarene
How important is the Bible? The answer varies from person to person, but as Christians we would say the Bible is most important book you could ever read. Who here has at least one Bible in their home? Who has their own Bible? The fact that so many of us raised our hands shows us that having a Bible is important. So many of us as believers recognize the Bible is important, enough to own one, but the real question is do we read it?
According to a 2019 study, only 32 percent of Christians read their Bible every day. 27 percent will read it at least a few times a week. We say the Bible is important, and demonstrate it by at least owning one, but only about ten of us will take time use it. A Christian who posts verses on social media but does not read their Bible is no different than a surgeon who has never gone to medical school. When a Christian wants to live a holy life but does not read their Bible, they are no different than someone who bakes a cake but refuses to read the directions.
Today’s message is title “Eat it” and the question will try to answer is: Why is studying the Bible so important?
3 The Spirit said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. 4 The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord say.’ 5 And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious house—they will know that a prophet has been among them. 6 And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. 7 You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. 8 But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” 9 Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, 10 which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe. 1 And the Spirit said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. (NIV)
This is the Word of God, for the people of God, thanks be to God.
Why is studying the Bible important? I just made a big deal about being a Christian but not taking time to read the Bible. It is true that reading the Bible will not earn you salvation, as a matter of fact salvation is something you or I could never earn. Salvation is found by faith in Christ. But after accepting His gift in faith, then you and I are supposed to spend our lives loving God and loving others. Our passage reveals why studying the Bible is important in this new life started in faith.
Verses 3-5 The Spirit said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ And whether they are listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious house—they will know that a prophet has been among them. The Israelites were God’s chosen people. He rescued them from the land of Egypt where they had been slaves and lead them to a promised land. But almost from the very beginning of that journey, the Israelites were in rebellion against God, complaining or worse. Even after receiving their promised land from God, they refused to listen to God or His messengers. They wanted and accepted the titled “chosen people,” but lived entitled rather than in obedience.
It is to these people that God was sending Ezekiel, a priest, with a message of warning. God is wanting His people to repent and live holy lives, so in His mercy He sends them warnings so they would have no excuse. But they would not listen to God through Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha, or any other messenger God sent to them. And as God is calling Ezekiel, the Lord assures him that they were not going to listen to him either.
Notice God was not going to hold Ezekiel accountable for the response of the people. Whether the people repented or rejected truth, Ezekiel’s success was not tied to that. His success was tied to, “This is what the Lord says.” Ezekiel would be judged on his own faithfulness to the message shared with a people who would most likely not listen.
Verses 6-8 “And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” Ezekiel is on an impossible mission, taking a word from God to the “people of God” who have no interest in hearing from Him. Three times in verse 6, the Spirit tells Ezekiel “do not be afraid.” The message Ezekiel had to share would not be popular, and his audience would be hostile to the words.
In Genesis 3, immediately following the fall of man, God places curses on the serpent, the woman, the man, and creation. As God curses the ground, Genesis 3:18 states, “The ground will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.” Verse 6 of our passage is captures this in the description of the “people of God.” Just as sin brought out this curse in the ground, it does the same in the hearts of people. Sin breeds contempt against God, making the sinner hostile toward God and anything that might expose their sin.
God tells Ezekiel to not be afraid of the hostility. The “people of God” were in rebellion against God, and would poke, scratch, and venomously attack anything that would force them to recognize the truth. Ezekiel was not to let their reaction distract or hinder him from speaking God’s truth.
Verses 9-2 Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe. And the Spirit said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. During this time period, a scroll was normally only written on one side. But God had so much to say to “the people of God” that the writing covered the front and back. The message on the scroll were words of “lament, mourning, and woe.” In simple terms, it was not a warm and fuzzy message.
God was calling Ezekiel to the impossible task of sharing the difficult truth with the “people of God” who had no interest in hearing from the Lord. But before Ezekiel can take that message to the people, notice what he must do first. “Eat it,” the Spirit says as He is holding out the scroll to Ezekiel. The message from God that Ezekiel was being tasked to share with the Israelites had to first be internalized in his own heart and mind. He had to eat the word of God before he could share the word of God.
Why is studying the Bible important? Because without it there is no hope for you and me as Christians to fulfill the great commission, “go make disciples of all nations.” Just like Ezekiel was being sent to a nation not interested in hearing the truth, you and I are called to take God’s truth to a world who rejects God. They are hostile and seem hopelessly lost, but God’s call on our lives is the same nevertheless. We will be judged not based on the world’s response to the message, but our faithfulness to it. How can we be faithful the Word of God if we do not study it?
The world knows what the Bible says they cannot do. We as the church have stated very clearly that their choices are sinful, quoted the verses so they know. But that is only half the message! This is weaponizing the Bible and using it like a group of fourth grade boys playing with ninja throwing stars in the backyard. They lay there bleeding on the ground as we applaud or walk of leaving them to die. In those moment, we treated the world just like the world.
Studying the Bible will bring us to the verses condemning sin, exposing the consequences of the sinful lifestyle. However, the story never ends there because God did not leave humanity to perish in its fallen state. Jesus came so we could be forgiven and set free. His love is greater than our mistakes and failures… this is the message the Bible shares. This is the message we are called to share. We must experience and internalize this message, and studying the Bible saturates our hearts and minds in God’s Word, which is the hope of salvation available to all.
Here is the real reason why the “people of God” in our day will not study the Bible. It is because we do not want to be confronted with our own sin or need to change the way we live. Studying the Bible is a commitment to personal growth, requiring surrender when we encounter God’s truth. We refuse to make time to read the Bible because we really are refusing to let the Spirit mold us.
*Not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript.
Season 1 Episode 31. "Puff the Magic Christian." The text for the message is Colossians 2:8-23. The question we are trying to answer is "How do I be a good Christian?"