THE BOOK THAT WAS BITTER/SWEET
“And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” (Revelation 10:5-7).
The angel now lifts his hands toward heaven; this shows his harmony with Him who is in heaven. Then, “sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer.” Some reject the thought that the angel could be Christ on the grounds that He swears by One in heaven. However, the Lord has sworn by Himself before: “For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,” (Hebrews 6:13). We believe Him to be the Lord Jesus Christ.
The mighty angel declares that there will be no more delay in verse 7. The time has come, and the usurper is about to be evicted from earth to his new residence.
The mystery of God, which is about to be finished, is not an event that has been kept secret from the foundation of the world. God’s servants, the prophets, spoke of these days long ago. The only mystery was when would God judge Satan and take back the Kingdom forfeited by Adam. That mystery was about to unfold, for the time had come. The fulfillment of this mystery brings us right up to the Second Advent of Christ.
“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. 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. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” (Revelation 10:8-11).
This is the third looping parallelism and takes us back to the mid-point of the Tribulation. John is told to take the book from the right hand of the angel. He takes it, and he is instructed to eat it. In his mouth it was sweet as honey, but in his belly it was bitter. There is no mystery here.
Ezekiel was given the same commission. Only the time was different. “Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. 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. And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them” (Ezekiel 3:1-4). “So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me” (Ezekiel 3:14).
Jeremiah experiences this same bitterness of spirit as he is called upon to take a message of judgment and condemnation to his people. “Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed” (Jeremiah 20:14). He curses his day because he is the one chosen of God to carry the message of death to his own people. This caused great sorrow and bitterness of spirit. This is what John is yet to experience.
The book John eats contained the blessings and the curses, which were yet to come on John’s people. The blessings were the things associated with the glorious return and reign of Christ over Israel’s promised Kingdom. That expectation thrilled John and was indeed sweet as honey to him.
The prophetic message also carried judgments like the world had never seen and was about to come at the sound of the seventh trumpet. It was indeed grievous and bitter for him. This is the meaning of verse 11, “And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” This is fulfilled throughout the remainder of the book.
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.