Revelation 10:10(2)

Sermon preached on April 7, 2013 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

Some people really love their jobs. They get up in the morning and are excited about doing what they do. Not long ago I read a book about a guy who was a Navy Seal. It was called, "Lone Survivor". In the first part of that book he told how when he was young he dreamed of being a Navy Seal. When he actually became a seal it was a dream come true. He loved it. He loved being one of the best. He loved shooting and being a good shot. He loved the comradery involved. He loved protecting his country.

Yet there were some bad things about it. The really hard thing for him being a Seal was losing close friends in combat. The book is called, Lone Survivor for a reason. He was on a mission with 3 others of his team—and these men were like brothers to him. One was his best friend. They were involved in a fierce firefight over two hundred Taliban. During the firefight he saw each of his three other teammates get shot. Even after being shot they kept on fighting for awhile but basically he watched as each of them died. That was the real bad thing about that job.

There are other jobs like that. People that do them love most aspects of their job, but there are parts of their job that they don't like. For example, many doctors love their jobs, saving people's lives, putting people back together—but sometimes doctors have to tell family members that their loved one has died, that they were unable to save them. That has to be difficult. There's no joy in that. It's the same with policemen who have to inform family members that one of their loved ones has died in an automobile accident.

Other people are executives, which can be an exciting and fulfilling job. Yet sometimes they have to lay people off, or fire people. That has to be difficult. I know that Sydney Crosby loves playing hockey. But if you saw him getting his jaw broken by a deflected slap shot last week—you have to know that there are some things about hockey that are no fun at all. There are a great many jobs like that. They are great in most ways, yet all of them have bits of them that are very difficult, very hard.

It's that way with being a Christian. There is so much joy in being a Christian, having our sins forgiven, in having been brought into God's family, knowing Jesus—those things give us great joy. But there are some negative things about being a Christian and being a witness for Jesus. Being scorned and persecuted are two of those things. In our text John is told to be prepared to for the bitterness of rejection and persecution. He is commanded to take the scroll and eat it. He is told that it his stomach it would be sour but that in his mouth it would be as sweet as honey.

What is important to note here is that this is John's third commissioning in the book of Revelation and that his commissioning is parallel to the commissioning of the prophet Ezekiel in Ezekiel 2 and 3. The scroll that Ezekiel was given to eat was written on both sides with words of, (Ezekiel 2:10)

"lament and mourning and woe."

Yet when Ezekiel ate it, it tasted as sweet as honey in his mouth. Yet God told Ezekiel that he was sending him to the people of Israel—a rebellious, obstinate and stubborn people. He told Ezekiel that they would not listen to him, for they were hardened and obstinate. God told Ezekiel that he needed to be strong. He told the prophet that He would make him as, (Ezekiel 3:8)

"unyielding and hardened as they are."

God said to Ezekiel, (3:9)

"Do not be afraid of them
or terrified by them,
though they are a rebellious house."

John's commissioning harkens back to this. Thus we see that the angel was telling John that he needed to be strong in the face of opposition. He needed to be prepared for it.

Thus the main thing we see from our text is that if you are going to be a faithful witness for Jesus

you need to take the bitter with the sweet.

The context is about John being a witness to the nations. We see this in verse 11. John was told,

"You must prophesy again
about many peoples, nations,
languages, and kings."

You are also called to be a witness for Jesus. That's one of your primary reasons for being here on earth. In Matthew 5 Jesus told us that we were the salt of the earth. In ancient times salt was a perseverative. He told us not to lose our saltiness. We must not become like the world. No, we must be different. We must be holy. Jesus also told us that we are the light of the world and that we are to let our light shine before men. Just before He ascended into heaven Jesus told his disciples to go into all the world and make disciples. (Matthew 28:19) In Acts 1:8, again, just before He was taken up into heaven, Jesus said to His disciples,

"But you will receive power
when the Holy Spirit comes on you;
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth."

The Holy Spirit came upon the church, in great part, to empower us to be witnesses. In Philippians 2 the apostle Paul told Christians to shine as stars in the universe as they hold out the word of life. One of the great themes of the book of Revelation is that Christians are to be faithful witnesses for Jesus. The seven churches in Asia were referred to as a 'lampstands'. (Revelation 2:1) The seven churches were told to be holy, to be faithful, to remain true to Jesus' name. They were told to be faithful to death.

These things apply to you. One of your primary reasons for being here is to be a witness for Jesus. Grant R. Osborne writes, (Revelation, BECNT, p. 406)

"Through John the church is called to the same ministry of preaching repentance and judgment to a generation that has turned their backs on God. It will involve persecution and even martyrdom (the sour stomach), but God has given his people the privilege of proclaiming his Word (the sweet mouth), and that is enough."

If you're going to be faithful to Jesus—you're going to suffer persecution. In John 15:20 Jesus said to His disciples,

"Remember the words I spoke to you:
'No servant is greater than his master.'
If they persecuted me,
they will persecute you also.'"

There are three applications we can make from this.

First, it means that you need to be ready to embrace suffering for Jesus.

In Mark 8:35 Jesus said,

"For whoever wants
to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for me
and for the gospel will save it."

Michael S. Horton writes, (A Place for Weakness)

"God did not promise any of us health, wealth, and happiness. In fact, he tells us that we who expect to share in Christ's glory will also participate in his suffering—not just suffering in general, but a special kind of trial in solidarity with Christ (Romans 8:17)."

If we incorporate the sour aspects of the Word into our lives—we will not be afraid of losing our lives. Let me illustrate. A few years ago there was a TV mini-series about World War II called, "Band of Brothers". In that show there was an incident about an experienced battle-hardened American talking to a inexperienced soldier who was very afraid. Because he was afraid, the green-horn was not very effective at fighting. The battle hardened guy said to him,

"The only hope you have is to accept the fact that you're already dead. And the sooner you accept that, the sooner you'll be able to function as a soldier is supposed to function."

In a certain sense that is true of Christians. We died with Christ. As the apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 2:20,

"you died with Christ
to the basic principles of this world…"

We died, so we are not to be enthralled by the things of this world, (1 Corinthians 7:31)

"for this world in its present form
is passing away."

Michael Horton writes, (A Place for Weakness)

"A seed is sown in weakness, said Paul, but is raised from its wintry night to yield abundant fruit (see 1 Corinthians 15:42-49) The message we are given to proclaim is not that God has come to make our lives better, more interesting, more influential, more virtuous, or more successful, but to bury us and make us truly alive."

Are you dead to the world? You should be. This world in not our home. We are pilgrims and strangers here. We are not to love the world. We are not to be like Lot's wife, who looked back longingly toward Sodom. In 1 John 2:15–17, the Holy Spirit tells us,

"Do not love the world
or anything in the world.
If anyone loves the world,
the love of the Father is not in him.
For everything in the world—
the cravings of sinful man,
the lust of his eyes and the boasting
of what he has and does—
comes not from the Father
but from the world.
The world and its desires pass away,
but the man who does
the will of God lives forever."

Rather than loving the world—we are to love Jesus. We are to love Him so much that we want to know Him in His way of suffering for God's glory. As the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:10,

"I want to know Christ
and the power of his resurrection
and the fellowship of sharing
in his sufferings,
becoming like him in his death,"

There's an aspect of this bitterness that is good for us in the sense that it draws us closer to Him. It helps us to appreciate Him more. It helps us appreciate His sufferings and all that He did for us.

In Matthew 5:11–12 Jesus said,

"Blessed are you when people insult you,
persecute you and falsely say
all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
because great is your reward in heaven,
for in the same way they persecuted
the prophets who were before you."

So we should embrace suffering that comes from being faithful to Jesus.

Christian servanthood is not about getting and enjoying the material things of this life. We are servants. Are you ready to embrace the bitter aspects of the Christian life? God sometimes has purposes that are much more important than our happiness or our comfort.

The second great lesson we see from our text is that

you should be bold it telling others about Jesus and the gospel.

The world doesn't want to hear about Jesus, about righteousness, about the judgment to come. In a way they're like Felix in Acts 24. When Paul spoke to him about faith in Christ, and discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come—Felix became afraid and told Paul, (verse 25)

"That's enough for now!
You may leave.
When I find it convenient,
I will send for you."

But our society is getting worse than that. The next chapters of Revelation show us that the world will not only reject the Word, but will make war on the church. They don't like the gospel and they want the church to stop telling them about it. They're like the people of Isaiah's day we read about in Isaiah 30:10–11

"They say to the seers,
'See no more visions!' and to the prophets,
'Give us no more visions of what is right!
Tell us pleasant things,
prophesy illusions.
Leave this way,
get off this path,
and stop confronting us
with the Holy One of Israel!'"

If you're a normal person, you don't want suffering. We want the good life. We want to be comfortable. We want to fit in.

But we must not fit in. We must be bold about proclaiming Christ.

I don't know about you, but I've always been a little puzzled by the phrase by which we refer to certain churches in China. They're called 'underground churches'. Now I'm not saying this to criticize those churches because I don't know enough about them to commend or criticize. But I'm talking about the term, 'underground' and what it implies. It gives the impression that these Christians are secretive about their faith, at least in certain contexts. It implies that they try to hide it and that they are very much concerned about not being found out.

Should Christians ever be like that? Should we be ashamed of the gospel? Or should we be afraid to proclaim the gospel openly? In Romans 1:16 the apostle Paul declared,

"I am not ashamed of the gospel,
because it is the power of God for the
salvation of everyone who believes:
first for the Jew,
then for the Gentile."

In 2 Timothy 1:8 he said to Timothy,

"So do not be ashamed to testify
about our Lord,
or ashamed of me his prisoner.
But join with me in suffering
for the gospel,
by the power of God."

Simon J. Kistemaker writes, (Exposition of the Book of Revelation, Baker New Testament Commentary; Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001, p. 316-317)

"Witnessing for the Lord calls for unflinching courage and gracious tact. Anyone who speaks the Word of God in a hostile world will be opposed, scorned, and ridiculed. But that person ought to have fully absorbed the Word so that it has become an inseparable part of his or her being. He or she must appropriate God's message by faith, obey it fully, be totally controlled by it, always remain true to its message, speak judiciously, and not become silent."

As the apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:16

"However, if you suffer as a Christian,
do not be ashamed,
but praise God that you bear that name."

So I ask you—are you open about your Christianity or do you hide it? Do you boldly tell others about Jesus and the hope that they can have in Him—or do you hide it? Are you ready to embrace suffering for Jesus?

Lastly, for those of you who don't know Jesus. You may be thinking, why should I become a Christian if it involves suffering?

What you should understand is that it's the only thing to do.

In Matthew 10:39 Jesus said,

"Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life
for my sake will find it."

Before you are heaven and hell. Jesus is your only hope for heaven. All other paths lead to hell. If you care about yourself—there's only one road to take, and that's that of following Jesus, taking up your cross and following Him—to glory. Go to Jesus today.