“So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, ‘Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.’” Revelation 10:9 (ESV)
After being reminded of God’s power and provision in the first part of Revelation chapter 10, John is given a mission, and his mission is somehow connected to taking a scroll from an angel. Like I pointed out a few weeks ago, every indication is that this scroll is the same one we saw in chapter 5 — God’s plan to save the world and destroy sin. Therefore, in the face of tribulation, like John, we’re called to remember God and share both His judgment and hope.
However, there is some interesting imagery in this message. I mean, John is told to eat the scroll! He’s also given a warning before he does: it’s going to be sweet in his mouth but bitter in his stomach. I know this all can seem a little strange, so let me just make a couple observations.
1. God’s Word brings life, so we should love it. That doesn’t mean you’ll never struggle with it. You will. But the experience of reading His Word should be like pure water in the midst of the desert. It’s pleasing and nourishing and what prepares us to carry God’s message to the world. I know this is where you probably expect me to say, “So, you should read your Bible.” You’re not wrong. Please, don’t neglect this vital nourishment.
2. God’s Word is hard, so share it compassionately. It’s wonderful but not easy. It was bitter in John’s stomach because it reveals sin and points to the judgment we deserve. Yes, this message brings life, but coming from death to life can hurt. It won’t be easy for us because the more we dig into God’s Word, the more we will see our own sinfulness, and the more we will weep for the lost.
Furthermore, it won’t be easily received. No one is “talked into” being saved because no one naturally wants to hear this message. People don’t want to be told there is a final judgment or that accepting Jesus will change everything. The Holy Spirit transforms hearts — then people are saved. We need to be aware of this. People won’t always be excited to hear this good news, but don’t be brash or indignant. Remember, this message was probably once hard for you too.
Hold the words of Peter close: “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…” 1 Peter 3:15
This is our purpose. This is our mission. This is what our lives are supposed to be about. So, eat His word. Dive into it. Grow from it. Rejoice because it gives you life. And struggle with it as you faithfully and patiently share it with those around you.
Until next week, live every day like it’s Christmas! God bless.
Bobby Upchurch is the pastor at Providence Baptist Church in Bonne Terre where he lives with his wife, Melissa, and their four children. He is also an English teacher at Farmington High School. Bobby writes a weekly column for the Farmington Press opinion page. – Editor