Saturday, 10 June 2017 10:31

69. Eating the little scroll: learn and preach * Revelation 10:8-11

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8 And the voice which I heard from heaven spoke unto me again, and said, Go and take the little scroll which is open in the hand of the angel who stands upon the sea and upon the earth.

9 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little scroll. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make your stomach bitter, but it shall be in your mouth sweet as honey.

10 And I took the little scroll 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 stomach was bitter.

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

 

*** A voice from Heaven ***: Up to Revelation 10:7, John still didn't know what the contents of the little scroll were. He knew where it had come from (Heaven), who had sent it (God), who had brought it (the strong angel), and that it was a message of global importance. The voice from Heaven had just spoken, telling John not to write down the words that the seven thunders had uttered (Revelation 10:4). The voice from Heaven then made an unusual request. John was expected to take an active role in the vision: "take the little scroll which is open in the hand of the angel who stands upon the sea and upon the earth" (Revelation 10:8).

*** Take it, and eat it up ***: The way that John first experienced the contents of the little scroll was indeed unusual, but not unique. Ezekiel was also instructed in a vision to eat the scroll. Here is the text from Ezekiel 2:9 to Ezekiel 3:4:

"And when I looked, behold, a hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a scroll of a book was in it; And he spread it before me; and it was written inside and outside: and there was written in it lamentations, and mourning, and woe.
Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that you find; eat this scroll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that scroll. And he said unto me, Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them."

The angel in Ezekiel's vision had also asked him to eat a scroll. Much like the sealed scroll in Revelation 5, the scroll Ezekiel was given was also written on both sides (Ezekiel 2:9,10). Ezekiel was supposed to eat the scroll before preaching a message to the people.

*** The taste of the little book ***: Ezekiel described what the experience of eating the scroll was like for him: sweet as honey in the mouth (Ezekiel 3:3). In a similar way, the symbolic imagery used in the text of Revelation 10:9-10 is strong. In both cases, the angel was not asking them to eat the actual pages of a scroll. The importance of the symbolism is in the message itself, not on the physical elements that may form the vessel that carries it. Let's not forget that both prophets were in a vision. They could not physically eat anything. In the text of Revelation, John is being asked to absorb the message in such a profound way that it would be like making God's Truth become embedded in the deepest parts of his soul. The angel was asking Ezekiel and also John to live the message fully. The taste of God's message is described in other portions of the Bible.

 

Jeremiah "Your words were found, and I did eat them; and your word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart: for I am called by your name, O LORD God of hosts."
Ezekiel 3:3 "And he said unto me, Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness."
Psalm 19:8-10 "The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb."

 

 The bitter taste came after the prophet had ingested the message. The people writing about the taste of God's message were already receptive to it, so taking in the information was a pleasant experience, "sweet as honey". However, digestion proved to be challenging. Both the eating and digesting are symbols of the message being spread throughout the world. The verse in Ezekiel 3:4 tells us that Ezekiel was supposed to go to Israel and present the truth to the people. That is a much harder scenario. Ezekiel had to preach to a group who was not going to be so receptive to what he had to say. Preaching the Gospel under this circumstance often brings in frustration, disappointment, rejection and even persecution. All these things make up the bitter taste in the stomach which the angel talked about.

*** Peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings ***: John was urged to prophesy again after eating the scroll. Two words stand out in this statement: 'again' and 'prophesy'. The word 'again' implies that John had already done that, and finished the task. But the angel told John the activity had to start once more. His work was actually not finished just yet. In the vision, John was called to prophesy during the interlude between the sixth and the seventh trumpets. The word 'prophesy' comes from the Greek prophéteuó. The HELPS word studies tell us that this word is formed by combining two other words: 'pró', which means 'before' and phēmí, which means "assert by elevating one statement over another". In other words, it means to "'speak forth' in divinely-empowered forth telling or foretelling; prophesy." John was being asked to preach God's message, and it was about "peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings" (Revelation 10:11). In Revelation 14:6-12, we see the imminent preaching of the Gospel, with the first message of the three angels: "And I saw another angel fly in midheaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment has come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." (Revelation 14:6)

Based on these texts, we can see that there will be a final proclamation of God's message. Jesus also mentioned this in Matthew 24:14: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." Only after the message is presented on a world-wide scale, the end will come. The preaching at the time of the end aims to prepare people for the last events. The message of the three angels gives people a final opportunity to listen to the Truth. It focuses on worship: the first angel was "Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment has come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." (Revelation 14:7). The third angel message reveals the character of the One we should worship: He is the Creator of the Universe. It also reveals the existence of another power who is trying to shift the focus of God-centered worship: "And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out undiluted into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb". (Revelation 14:9-10). The beast and his image want to position themselves in a way that they could receive praise and worship. This behavior is directly opposite to God's commands.

*** Overview ***: The message of the little scroll seems to deal with the end-time events concerning the issues the people living at that time will be facing: who should they choose as their source of truth? The message in the little scroll is the assurance that God will not lose this battle for the mind. God's Truth is encouraging to those who are open to hearing what God has to tell them and act on that information, allowing transformation to occur. They are prepared to let the message of God become an integral part of their existence. On the other hand, telling the inhabitants of the world that they are being deceived by false teachings and that they should abandon the practices that go against God's instructions, can be a great source of disappointment and frustration for the one bringing the message. It can leave a bitter aftertaste, which will not be avoided. The same way Ezekiel tasted it, John did as well, and so will we if we are willing to practice the message ourselves. The important thing is to be willing - willing to internalize God's message and repent. We are receiving a call for action. It is not enough to learn what God is telling us. We have to live the Truth we learn and witness to others our transforming experience with the only One who is worthy of our praise, the Lord God Almighty.

   
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