The Angel with the Little Book Page 5 of 5 (series: Lessons on Revelations)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

9 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 went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me

John is then commanded to 6eat the little book—and again he obeys. This order comes from Christ in Heaven as He is directing every operation recorded in the Book of Revelation. He is in full charge.

What are we to understand from this command given to John? The Word of God is compared with food. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Jeremiah wrote, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16). The psalmist wrote, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103). “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). “For every one that useth milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:13-14).

Eating the Word is, in its more general application, appropriating and assimilating God’s truth; it is meditating in it (Psalm 1:2). No child of God will deny that the truth of the Scriptures is sweet to know. “It is sweet to know as we onward go: the way of the Cross leads home.” It is sweet to know that Satan will not hold sway over the earth forever. The prophetic Word is sweet because it talks of the blessing and glory that lie ahead. The idea is that eating the scroll is devouring the truth or taking the words to heart. Ezekiel had an experience quite similar to that of John (Ezekiel 2:9-3:4). In the same way that Ezekiel received God’s word with joy but also as an impossible mission—to proclaim judgment to a hardened people—John and his churches are called to preach a sweet and bitter gospel that offers grace yet demands repentance. In light of the Roman Empire’s increasing hostility against Christianity, theirs will be a mission embittered by suffering and even death. The trumpets by themselves cannot bring people to repentance. The trumpets only provide the context for people to see sin in its ugliest form. To repent, the world needs the church to be a prophetic witness (Ezekiel 3:6-21).

10 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.

He eats the book and in his mouth it is as sweet as honey; but the moment it reaches his innermost parts it is bitter. There is nothing sweeter than the message of grace, redemption and peace; but there is nothing quite as bitter as the judgment message that God’s messengers must deliver. To eat is to make the thing one’s own, to incorporate it into one’s being. Eating the little book means to receive the Word of God with faith. This is the teaching of the Word of God, for

in Jeremiah 15:16 we read: “Thy words were found, and I ate them, and thy words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by thy name, O Lord, God of hosts.” Jeremiah likens the appropriation of the Word to eating it.

When John eats the little book, it is exceedingly bitter in his innermost being. But why did that book which tasted so sweet leave God’s servant with the feeling of inward bitterness? The book revealed the terrible, horrible judgments of God’s holy fury. I believe that the prophecies of coming judgment leave the child of God with great heaviness of heart and bitter anguish of soul. It was so with the Apostle Paul (Romans 9:1-3). The future will be glory for the saint but grief for the sinner. God’s Word is a two-edged sword. It contains the sweet message of deliverance and the bitter message of damnation (Hebrews 4:12). He who appropriates the book cannot escape its mixture of sweet and bitter. There is nothing sweeter than the gospel to a believing soul, but, on the other hand, there is nothing more bitter than the divine pronouncement of forthcoming doom upon the unbeliever. It has been said, “Prophesy both gladdens and saddens, as it contains announcements both of joy and grief.” In Proverbs we read, “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24). But words of doom and damnation are not pleasant words. In Isaiah’s day the truth was bitter to the people, so they did not want it (Isaiah 30:8-11). Nevertheless God’s Word is His agent in salvation and in condemnation.

11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

After partaking of the Book, John was assigned the task of ministering to many more people that which he himself had heard, and seen, and received. Quite simply, he was to warn people about the bitter judgment in the seventh trumpet and the seven bowls. The believer who receives God’s truth is solemnly obligated to pass it on to others. The minister who fails to preach the whole counsel of God will be held accountable by God (Ezekiel 33:7-9). It is not easy for the minister to deal with matters of sin and judgment, but he has no choice. There are “peoples and 4nations and tongues and Kings” who must hear God’s message of salvation. John was faithful, for in the chapters which follow he prophesies of the final overthrow of the nations, the Great White Throne judgment and hell. The message may not be what the people want, but it is what God wants them to have.

This final verse of chapter 10 leads us immediately to new phases of God’s fury and judgment—new scenes and circumstances. We will see in the following chapters the appearance of new personalities not referred to up to now.

End Notes:
1 To seal means to hide what has been said.
2 He swears an oath by raising his right hand, a gesture common in both ancient and contemporary days.
3 The seventh trumpet mentioned in verse 7 is not actually blown until 11:15.
4 The word nations usually refers to the Gentile nations.
5 John saw the mighty angel come down from heaven seems too indicate that John was on the earth and that the angel went from Heaven to the earth.
6 The angel gives a “little book” to John, and he is asked to eat the book—that is, completely identify with its contents—and proclaim its message to the world (10:9-10).
7 And he had in his hand—His left hand: He swore with his right.

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