SWEET AND SOUR
Loving Father, in this high-tech world help me to keep my focus on you.
Read REVELATION 10
The Angel and the Little Scroll
10 Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. 2 He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, 3 and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. 4 And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.”
5 Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. 6 And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, “There will be no more delay! 7 But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.”
8 Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: “Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.”
9 So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but ‘in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.’[a]” 10 I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. 11 Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.”
- Revelation 10:9 Ezek. 3:3
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
May the Word of God become to us the very Bread of Life.
Once again there is a delay, before the sounding of the seventh trumpet, as John describes the ‘little scroll’ (v 2) brought down from heaven. This is the midpoint of the book and it is clear that we have reached a turning point when the mighty angel holding the scroll swears in God’s name that ‘There will be no more delay!’ (v 6). John is told to take the scroll and eat it and when he does so it tastes ‘as sweet as honey’, but turns sour in his stomach (v 10). The background is the experience of the Hebrew prophets, especially Ezekiel, who testified to delight in the words of God, yet discovered anguish and pain in the act of publicly proclaiming their messages. There is a lesson here for all who minister the gospel: we may not treat the Word of God as a text to be scientifically analyzed and held as an object apart from us. It must become part of our very being, a spiritual food in which we delight, even as there will be personal cost in faithfully sharing the message of grace and judgment with people reluctant to accept it.
John is given a specific commission to ‘prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages, and kings’ (v 11, italics added). This suggests the scope of the good news; it is not parochial, but embraces the world and all its peoples. This is where the bitterness comes from: the formation of a multicultural church, a new kind of human family, in a world where people are bitterly divided by nationality, class, and language, is a hard and demanding task. The issue for us is not whether there will be a multicultural church, but ‘whether those who have become accustomed to seeing the gospel expressed only or primarily in terms of dominant cultures will be able to participate in the life of the multicultural church that is already a reality’.1
Reflect on that last sentence; how might your church respond to this challenge?
Gracious God, I need your peace, the peace that centers me. The peace you give steadies and strengthens me amidst the ups and downs of life.
1 Justo Gonzalez, For the Healing of the Nations: The Book of Revelation in an Age of Cultural Conflict, Orbis Books, 1990, p91
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