Sunday, October 02, 2011

Bitter and sweet

In Revelation 10:8-11: And the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking with me, and saying, ‘Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land.’ And I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book.

And he said to me,

‘Take it, and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.’  
And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was in my mouth sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. And they said to me, ‘You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.’'

1. Here we see that when John ate the book, it was sweet as honey in his mouth.

That is a picture of the grace of God that comes to us through His Word.

2. But by the time that Word got inside him, it was bitter. This indicates that there is truth in the Word too - the truth that judges our sin

"It is not just grace but truth too"

In the Book of Revelation, we see alternate pictures of grace and of judgment. It is alternately sweet and bitter - right through the book.

We also see here the right way to prophesy (preach) God’s Word. We have to receive the Word of God from the Lord and eat it and digest it ourselves first. Only then will God give us a prophetic word for others.

This is so different from the way most preachers prepare their messages, who merely study books, listen to tapes and exercise their brains to produce an impressive sermon.
When we receive the Word of God, it is easy for us to be taken up with just the sweet part of it - “grace”. We can keep that forever in our mouth without allowing the whole counsel of God to penetrate into our system. We don’t relish this latter part, because then we have to judge the sin that we discover within us. “Judgment has to begin with us first” (1 Pet.4:17)

Most Christians chew God’s Word like chewing gum. They keep chewing it and chewing it because it is sweet. And then they spit it out!! It never gets down into their hearts to be digested. They do not take the Word of God seriously to judge themselves.

It may be through many bitter experiences that God makes the Word we hear to be digested. But in all those bitter experiences, we will experience God’s comfort too (2 Cor.1:4). Thus alone will we have a prophetic ministry to our generation.

“Now you must prophesy,” the Lord told John, after he had digested the Word. Contrast this with what the Lord told him earlier - not to write down what he had heard. We must know what to share with others and what we should not.
Paul was once taken up to the third heaven. But for fourteen years he never even mentioned that to anyone and even when he did mention it, all he said was, “I heard inexpressible words which a man is not permitted to speak” (2 Cor.12:4).


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