“The voice which I heard from heaven, again speaking with me, said, “Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land.” I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. He said to me, “Take it, and eat it up. It will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.” I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up. It was as sweet as honey in my mouth. When I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. They told me, “You must prophesy again over many peoples, nations, languages, and kings.”
The voice of the Lord tells John to take the book from the Angel of the Lord, with all authority over land and sea. The gospel of Christ is open and ready to be taken and believed. It is the open offer of the gospel to all who will come and put their hope in Christ. The work of salvation has been accomplished and Jesus stands ready to take in all who come to Him in repentance and faith.
John goes to the angel and asks for the book. The ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ must have a holy desire to preach it to the unsaved. There must be a holy calling in whatever we do for Christ and to be His servant we must have god-orientated desire and love for Him.
The receiving of the message of the gospel is sweet to the taste. It brings life to dead souls and a living relationship with the Almighty God. The Holy Spirit is given into the life of the believer and they are brought to spiritual life. This new work, this new life in Jesus Christ is the sweetness of life, for all who receive it.
But there is a cost to pay. John is alone on Patmos, away from human contact and shut up with His God to receive the Word for our sake and the comfort of Christians down through the centuries. This book of prophecy has cost him dearly, but as God’s beloved servant, he does it willingly. So with the preachers called to preach the gospel. There is a cost. They will not be popular, for the message is offensive to dead and fallen human hearts.
“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Good News—not in wisdom of words, so that the cross of Christ wouldn’t be made void. For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are dying, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:17-18
Yet the message must go out if human souls are to be saved. If we run from it, there is no other means of salvation. We are compelled to preach it, speak it, share it, but you may not have many friends! John stands alone in his exile and partakes of the vision for the sake of all who would come alter him.
“For if I preach the Good News, I have nothing to boast about; for necessity is laid on me; but woe is to me if I don’t preach the Good News. For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward. But if not of my own will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.”
1 Corinthians 9:16-17
John is also receiving a prophecy which gives him sweet consolation and comfort from the Lord, which he passes on to us, but also the grievousness of knowing the terrors of what is to come would weigh heavily on his mind and heart. The servant of the Lord enjoyed the sweetness of the message but the bitterness of rejection and hurt too. This is the price of the servant of the Lord.
The voice and the angle tell John that he must speak before many peoples as yet. The exile will be over and God has more work for him to do, as he communicates the vision and the Word revealed to him by the Lord. So the message would go out through John and the following messages of the Word to the four corners of the world.
We also are His disciples and called to spread the good news. It will cost us many sacrifices, but we will enjoy the sweetness of our precious Lord Jesus and know Him increasingly fully.
“This I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment; so that you may approve the things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offense to the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”