The Bitterness of Eating from the Sweet Book
February 01, 2016
And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. - Revelation 10:9, 10
This order comes from Christ in heaven as He is directing every operation recorded in the Book of Revelation. He is in full charge. Revelation glorifies our wonderful Savior. He is the Judge of all the earth here, and we see Him as God has highly exalted Him and given Him a name above every name.
John becomes a participant in the great drama which is unfolding before us. He is required to eat the little book, and the results are bittersweet. Eating the little book means to receive the Word of God with faith.
The part of the Word of God taken by John was judgment. John eagerly received the Word of God, but when he saw that more judgment was to follow, it brought travail of soul and sorrow of heart. It was sweet in his mouth and bitter in his digestive system. It is sweet to know the Book of Revelation and what God intends to do, but when we find out that judgment is coming to the Christ-rejecting world around us, we cannot rejoice in that. The prophecy becomes bitter.
There is another very real application of this. Many folk begin the study of prophecy with enthusiasm, but when they find that it is applicable to their life and that it makes demands on them personally, they lose interest, and it becomes a bitter thing. But it should be in your mouth sweet as honey. There is nothing in the Word of God that ministers more to a holy life than the thoughtful study of prophecy. To be a student of prophecy and live a dirty life will only lead to abnormality. The reason we hear so much abnormality in the interpretation of prophecy in our day is that the Word of God is not having its way in the hearts and lives of the folk who study it. It is unfortunate that people will get interested in prophecy but not in Christian living.
And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. - v. 11
You can be sure of one thing, that John was properly integrated. He believed that all nations, all peoples, all tongues, and all colors ought to hear the Word of God. They need to hear it because they need to be warned that judgment is coming. If they go through the Great Tribulation, they will feel as if they have entered hell itself. This is the part that made John sad. This is the reason this little book became bitter to John: He must prophesy against many before Christ comes to His Kingdom.
- Dr. J. Vernon McGee, from Edited Messages on Revelation