Bible · Christianity · religion · Revelation · spiritual gifts · spiritual strength

Digesting the bitter and the sweet of God’s word

When we stock our cabinets, refrigerators, and pantries with food, that food does us no good physically when we just stare at it. In order for us to thrive and gain strength to do the things we need to do throughout the day, we have to eat it so our bodies can get nutrition. So it is when it comes to our souls. If we expect to tell others about how to satisfy their hungry souls with the Lord’s spiritual food, do we really think they will view us as sincere if we fail to do more than just stare at the spiritual food ourselves? Wouldn’t our message be more effective if we actually eat and digest God’s word for ourselves–absorbing it into our own souls?

That’s the message conveyed in Revelation 10:8-11 where we find the following words:

[8] And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.
[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.
[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.
[11] And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

Many interesting things can be noted about this holy meal of God’s word that John received. For example:

  1. It came down from heaven. God’s word, even when accurately copied on Earth, is not conjured up by man but by God, despite what the critics say.
  2. It is an open book. Unlike the sealed scrolls mentioned elsewhere in Revelation which could only be opened by the Lamb, this book symbolic of the Bible is readily available to anyone willing to accept it in faith by listening to God’s voice.
  3. We are told ahead of time the effect of God’s word. Like a good server of a meal usually tells you what to expect from the meal (e.g. how it will taste), the Lord usually gives us a head’s up about how we will be affected by accepting his meal.
  4. It’s bitter, but it’s also sweet. It’s bitter in that it confronts us and others about our sins, reproves us, and can be accompanied by bitter rejection from others or by other hardships. It’s sweet in that it gives our souls peace, satisfaction, and joy knowing we are ultimately right with God.
  5. God’s word must be digested in us for us to genuinely do his work. Right after John digested it, he found out that his purpose for doing so was to be sent out by God to prophesy even more than he already had. So it is with us.

John’s digesting God’s word was a culmination of what the Lord did in the past for his followers. Psalm 19:10 says God’s judgments are “sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” Jeremiah described his feasting on God’s word as “the joy and rejoicing of mine heart,” (Jeremiah 15:16). Ezekiel also experienced the bitter and the sweet of digesting God’s word in Ezekiel 2:9-3:3 where it states:

[9] And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein;
[10] And he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe.

[1] Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel.
[2] So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll.
[3] And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.

Yes, one must take the bitter with the sweet of his holy word, but his blessings are worth it.



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