Revelation 10:8-11

Sermon preached on March 10, 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.

When I was in university preparing to be a teacher we had this text book that gave some examples of students not really expressing themselves as they should have. One of my favorite was the guy who, on a test, was asked where Chicago was, answered,

"Chicago is nearly at the bottom of Lake Michigan."

He was obviously thinking of a picture of a north-south orientated map, and on that map, Chicago is located nearly at the bottom of Lake Michigan. But his answer just didn't sound right. He made it sound that Chicago, like the mythical city of Atlantis, had sunk underwater. To some degree the student knew the answer, but he hadn't really incorporated it into his thinking so that he could express the answer clearly.

Another answer I liked was a student's definition of the equator. He was taught that it was,

"an imaginary line drawn around the earth equally distant from both poles, dividing the earth into northern and southern hemispheres."

But when he gave the answer on the test, he said that the equator was,

"a menagerie lion running around through Africa."

I sometimes think that we Christians are like that. We know some of God's Word and we try to apply it to our lives, but when it comes to showing that Word to the world through our lives—it just doesn't come out right. We get it almost all wrong.

We see some examples of that in the New Testament. In Mark 9 Jesus was walking along with His disciples and was telling them He was going to be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be killed and after three days would rise again. As they went on Jesus noticed that they were arguing among themselves. When He asked them about it later they kept quiet because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. Jesus was giving them the greatest lesson, the greatest example about servanthood and they didn't get it at all. They were self-centered. It was all about them.

That's the exact opposite of how they were supposed to be. You'll remember how Paul described some of the Corinthian Christians. In 2 Corinthians 3:2–3 he said,

"You yourselves are our letter,
written on our hearts,
known and read by everybody.
You show that you are a letter from Christ,
the result of our ministry,
written not with ink
but with the Spirit of the living God,
not on tablets of stone
but on tablets of human hearts."

Some Christians live so that the world can clearly see 'Christ living in them'. But sometimes we don't do a good job. We're sometimes like the Corinthian Christians who were taking their disputes to non-Christians for resolution. Paul told them that this showed that they had already been defeated. He said to them, 'Don't you know that the saints will judge the world?… Don't you know that we will judge angels?'. So often it's like that. God says to us,

"Don't you know…?"

We don't fully incorporate the Word into our lives. We aren't holy like we should be. We aren't joyful like we should be. We live like everyone else here, having our minds mostly on this earth and the things of this earth. It's like we forget the Holy Spirit's words in Colossians 3:1–3,

"Since, then, you have been
raised with Christ,
set your hearts on things above,
where Christ is seated
at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things above,
not on earthly things.
For you died,
and your life is now hidden
with Christ in God."

In our text we have a very striking illustration about making the Word part of our lives.

John was told to take and eat the little scroll.

He was told that it would turn his stomach sour, but that in his mouth it would be as sweet as honey.

Eating a scroll would have been a very unusual thing. Ancient scrolls were made of parchment—processed animal hide. You're all heard the expression,

"This meat is as tough as leather."

Well, a scroll was actually like leather. So John's eating the scroll is symbolic. What does it mean? G. K. Beale writes, (Revelation: NIGTC; p. 551)

"John's eating of the scroll… represented… total identification with and submission to the divine will as a prerequisite for their service as prophetic instruments in God's hand."

John needed assimilate the content of the scroll before he communicated it to others.

There are at least two ways that we can apply what we see here.

First of all, it means that we need to assimilate God's Word into our lives so that we will be fit to bring it to others.

Part of assimilating God's Word means that we will know it. Every week before I preach my sermon I really try to know it. I try to memorize parts of it and go over and over it so that, hopefully, my delivery won't be terrible.

But that's only a part of what's in view here. Knowing the Word is important. We can't even begin to apply it if we don't know it. So we need to be reading the word, getting familiar with it so that we will know what God wants us to do. As Deuteronomy 6:6–9 tells us,

"These commandments that I give you
today are to be upon your hearts.
Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home
and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands
and bind them on your foreheads.
Write them on the doorframes
of your houses and on your gates."

But knowing the Word is not enough. I've met people who have a great knowledge of the Bible—they could quote it to you, passage after passage. But they were not believers. They didn't live according to the Word. They have a head knowledge of it but really didn't make any effort to love their enemies, they didn't attempt to get rid of greed in their lives. They lived for themselves and not for God. But they knew the word.

But head knowledge alone is no good. In being told to eat the scroll John was shown that the scroll had to become part of his inner being.

Robert Murray M'Cheyne was a great Scottish past in the 1800's. He was the only minister I've ever heard of that had a 'glow' to him. In the book of Acts (6:15) we read that when Stephen was brought before the Sanhedrin his face was,

"like the face of an angel."

Some people said that M'Cheyne was like that. I've read two different reports of it. He was a great servant of God but died when he was just 29. Regarding his congregation, he said,

"The greatest need of my people is my own holiness."

M'Cheyne said the best thing a minister can do for his congregation is to be holy. If his words were going to be effective, really hit home—they needed to be more than just words, they needed to be communicated by someone who was living them.

But that's not just true of pastors. It's also to be true of elders and deacons. The qualifications of church officers that we read in the New Testament primarily consist of moral qualities. They have to be living the Word.

The same is to be true of all Christians. We are all called to be holy. We shouldn't be hypocrites, saying one thing and doing the other. In Philippians 2:14–16 the apostle Paul wrote,

"Do everything
without complaining or arguing,
so that you may become
blameless and pure,
children of God without fault
in a crooked and depraved generation,
in which you shine like stars
in the universe as you hold out
the word of life—
in order that I may boast
on the day of Christ that I did not run
or labor for nothing."

We are all to be witness for Jesus. We need to be holy. In 1 Peter 1:14–16 the apostle wrote,

"As obedient children,
do not conform to the evil desires
you had when you lived in ignorance.
But just as he who called you is holy,
so be holy in all you do;
for it is written:
'Be holy, because I am holy."

In Matthew 5:16 Jesus told us to let our light shine before men.

So, I ask you, do you apply the Word to your life?

Are you growing in holiness like God wants you to be? Do you know the Word? Do you use it against temptation? Are you like Jesus, meeting every temptation with, "It is written…" Are you like Jacob when he wrestled with the angel and told the angel that he would not let him go until he blessed him? Are you like that when you are reading the Word? Remember how Paul told Timothy to grow in godliness so that, (1 Timothy 4:15)

"everyone may see your progress."

Does that describe you? If it doesn't, what's wrong with you? You need to smarten up. As James told Christians, (James 1:22)

"Do not merely listen to the word,
and so deceive yourselves.
Do what it says."

We're not saved by our works. We're saved by Jesus and His work and salvation is a free gift.

Yet we Christians need to live the gospel, we need to incorporate it into our lives so that we can be good witnesses. We need to be good witness, being holy as we hold out the Word of Life in order that God's grace will work through us and others will come to Jesus.

But there's a second way we need to assimilate God's will.

It's not just about applying God's Word to our lives. There's the aspect of your assimilating God's will—God's will for your future into your life.

Consider the prophets of old. They had a difficult task. They had to speak God's Word to a disobedient people. Habakkuk witnessed the destruction Judah and Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians. It was very difficult for him to take. He asked God, (Habakkuk 1:13)

"Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
Why are you silent while the wicked
swallow up those more righteous
than themselves?"

Yet he knew that it was because of the disobedience of the people of Judah. They had sinned against the Lord and the Lord was sweeping them away from his presence. They had lots of questions for God.

But for John in Revelation, there is something entirely different.
The next few chapters of Revelation show Christians suffering—not for being unfaithful—but for being faithful.

The following chapters in Revelation describe great persecution for the church. Many in the world are not going to accept the message but rather turn against the church and fight against it and kill many Christians. As we read in Revelation 13:10,

"If anyone is to go into captivity,
into captivity he will go.
If anyone is to be killed with the sword,
with the sword he will be killed.
This calls for patient endurance
and faithfulness on the part of the saints."

It's going to be exceedingly difficult for Christians to persevere in the face of such judgment and persecution.

When it comes time for judgment, will we be ready? Or will be like Lot's wife? How can we persevere? How can we avoid getting the mark of the beast?

One of the keys is assimilating God's will, whatever it may be, into your life.

The normal human expectation is that we expect God to bless us for being faithful. When that does not happen we can be disappointed and get discouraged. That should not be. As the apostle Peter told us in 1 Peter—we need to be prepared to suffer for doing good. The fact that Christians suffer for doing God's will is part of the bitterness that John felt in his stomach after he ate the scroll.

We need to be prepared for that and react in a good way. When Latimer and Ridley were being readied for their execution, Latimer said to Ridley,

"Be of good comfort…"

Meaning in part, "Be of good cheer…"

Are you ready to leave the disposal of your lives in the hands of Jesus, the Good Shepherd and praise Him, even when, in earthly terms, He doesn't bless you for being faithful to Him? In the Old Testament the priest Eli, when confronted by Samuel about his sin of failing to restrain his sons, said, (1 Samuel 3:18)

"He is the LORD;
let him do what is good in his eyes."

Eli said that in the context of him being punished for his sins. Are we ready to say that in any context?

David, because of his sin, was driven from Jerusalem by his son Absalom. Zadok the priest met him with the ark of God. But David told Zadok to take the ark back to the city, saying that if God if he found favor with God, God would bring him back to the city. But he also added that if God said, (2 Samuel 15:25–26)

"'I am not pleased with you,'
then I am ready; let him do to me
whatever seems good to him."

We should be willing to say that even in our obedience? Are you ready to be clay in God's hands and let Him use you as He sees fit? God's will sometimes has a bitter side to it—turning sour in our stomachs.

The context here in Revelation is about judgment on those that reject the Word, who refuse to repent and instead persecute Christians. In such a situation Christians need to be holy and be good witnesses. Why? Because by doing so, they show, even to obstinate, incorrigible, unrepentant sinners—that the gospel is true. Even in such a situation it shows the glory of Jesus Christ so that those who persecute the church are left without excuse. They will not be able to say that they didn't recognize the truth.

As individual Christians we must be prepared for this. As a church we must be prepared for this. The church today is at a turning point. As John predicted, the world is turning against Christ. Is the church going to be faithful to Jesus or is it going to give in to the pressures of the world? Our society doesn't like hearing about judgment. It doesn't like to hear about consequences for their behavior. They don't like it when the Bible calls their behavior sinful. Isaiah 30:10 describes some of the people of Isaiah's day,

"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."

That's what our society is like.

We must not give into that. If you look at the teaching of the Bible, especially the Book of Revelation, one of the things that is clear is that God is going to come in judgment. One of the great missions of the church is to warn them about that judgment. If you look at the preaching in the Book of Acts you'll find that one of the themes of the sermons recorded for us there is that of the coming judgment. That is part of the gospel message.

The gospel is sweet to those that hear and accept it. There's nothing like the peace and security that comes from knowing Jesus and being loved by Him.

Yet, as we go out with the gospel, if people don't accept it, it's bitter, bitter for them but also for ourselves. Bitter because we have sadness that they don't accept. Bitter because unbelievers who reject the gospel will often persecute the Christians that bring it.

This bitterness—are you willing to embrace it? Have you firmly given yourself to the will of God that you have assimilated into your life and you stand with Him as He establishes His kingdom? That's our duty. That's our calling.

For those of you who are not Christians, what this means for you is that you need to embrace Jesus. Without Him you'll be lost. Go to Him today.