A Little Book and A Bitter Belly
How would you like to eat a book! What if it tasted great? Do you think it would make your stomach hurt? In chapter 10 of Revelation, the apostle John is asked to eat a little scroll that tastes sweet but gives him a belly ache. Find out what that is all about right here!
A Little Book
A mighty strong angel or messenger comes down from Heaven with a little book open in his hand (Rev. 10:1-2). Some Bible versions say a scroll, which is just an ancient type of book that was in a roll. Then seven thunders sound, loudly – like a lion. John must have understood this thunderous roaring because he was about to write the words down when the voices said, “Do not write them!” (Rev. 10:3-4). That’s strange! So far, John’s been told to write down everything he has seen and heard. What’s going on?
First let’s explore some details.
- This strong messenger’s description is very similar to Jesus in Revelation 1:13-15. It’s either Jesus or an angel with full authority to give a message directly from Jesus. Any way you look at it, this message is from Jesus.
- A little scroll is a small part of something bigger. We know Jesus received a scroll in Heaven and was opening the seals (Rev. 5:5). Perhaps this is a portion of the scroll which God’s people need to know.
- Seven thunders are God’s voices. Apparently He has more than one voice because Psalm 29 mentions the voice of the Lord seven times with many descriptions including thunder (Ps. 29:3). Cool! Also seven is a number of completeness.
This is an important message, straight from Jesus. We can trust that it’s just what we need to know. Not too much, not too little. It is complete.
Before we explore what might be in the little book, let’s look for clues about why John was told NOT to write down what the seven thunders spoke. Here’s a big clue.
“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” – Deuteronomy 29:29
The children of Israel had everything they needed in the Torah or the law, the first five books of the Bible, to know how to follow and serve God. Yet they turned away and worshipped other Gods (Deut. 29:26).
Today, we have everything we need in the Bible – both the Old and New Testament, to follow and serve the Lord. Unfortunately some people don’t think that is enough. They want a personal word from God, some special secret just for them. Don’t be fooled by seducing spirits (1 Tim. 4:1).
When we seek more than what God has plainly given us in the Bible, we risk worshipping other gods just like the Israelites did, and we may not even know it (Deut. 32:17). As we will discover in the next chapters of Revelation, the devil is the master of deceit. We must stand firmly on the Bible and pray for the Holy Spirit to give us understanding. This is our only fire-proof defense strategy.
A Bitter Belly
The angel tells John to take the little open book and eat it. He says, “it will make your belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey” (Rev. 10:9).
Why would something that tastes sweet, make your belly bitter? This might be a clue about what’s in the little scroll. The sweetness of God’s word is a theme found in other places in the Bible. “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” exclaims David in Psalm 119:103.
When God’s word is taken in it is sweet! A joy and a delight! But when we share God’s word it can sometimes become a bitter experience. God’s prophets were often laughed at and made fun of. The prophet Jeremiah cried out because people were laughing at him and mocking him (Jer. 20:7-8). Some prophets were killed for speaking the word of God. Talk about a bitter experience!
The angel then tells John that he must prophesy again before many people, nations, tongues, and kings. Watch out John, you’ve just been warned!
Or maybe… we should get ready! We are about to discover some amazing things in the next half of Revelation. When we share these prophecies with others, they may laugh or make fun of us. We are not alone. People mocked Jesus too (Matt. 27:29). He understands us and gives us strength to stand strong for Him and his Word!
No More Time
One more thing that’s an itty bitty detail but a big, big deal. This chapter is sandwiched between the sixth and seventh trumpet. The strong angel stands on the sea and the earth and says there is no more time (Rev. 10:6). Friends, we are running out of time. The time for the end of this world as we know it is very, very near. This will become more clear exploring the second half of Revelation.
Jesus loves you so much and wants to save you from your sins and this messed up world. He has a MUCH better place and life planned for you! Even if you think you have a great life now, you haven’t seen anything yet. The time to give your life completely to Jesus is now. Don’t wait until it’s too late!