“And he said to me, ‘Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey’” (Revelation 10:9).
Sometimes doing what is right is not always the easiest way to go. There are times in life when we don’t want to go through the trouble of doing the right thing. I don’t like to go to the doctor because I don’t want to hear what he might say about my health. I have delayed taking my Jeep to the mechanic for fear of what he might say is wrong with the old clunker. But delaying these tasks does not make them go away. There are times when we must do the right thing, no matter what we might fear.
This is the experience John was going through as he feasted on God’s word (Revelation 10:10). He found that it was sweet to taste, but it was sure hard to swallow. It should be a delight to spend the precious moments of life studying God’s word. The psalmist illustrates this pleasure as he spoke of the righteous man of God (Psalm 1:2). Oh, how sweet it is to be in God’s word!
It is true that God’s word is sweet as He provides us with “training in righteousness” (1 Timothy 3:16). But we must also remember that as sweet as it is, it is also hard to digest. Although His message is full of sweetness, God’s word also carries with it the bittersweet message of judgment. I am sure that John would have loved to stay in the sweetness of the Revelation, but to be faithful to the Scriptures he had to proclaim God’s judgment also. Peter’s revelation of God’s truth would not have been effective if he did not preach the bitterness of the entire truth to those who crucified the Savior (Acts 2:36ff). There is no pleasure to be found in God’s wrath but the complete message of God’s plan must be proclaimed so that people are made aware of its power (Acts 20:26-27). Although God’s truth must be taught in love (Ephesians 4:15), it also must be taught in its entirety.
As Jesus walked this earth His message was not always sweet. He delighted in people’s acceptance of His message, but the rejection of His words did not stop Him from proclaiming the totality of God’s message: “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (John 12:48). Jesus’ love is fully expressed in His warnings of the Father’s wrath.
Now the mission that Jesus began has been handed down to us, the church. We have a bittersweet message of love and truth to proclaim. That is why Jesus said: “…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” (Matthew 28:20). We can’t go out and teach the sweet promises of God’s word without revealing His judgment. Some of God’s teachings are hard to digest. Even the faithful disciples had difficulty digesting some of His teachings, but Jesus never avoided teaching the truth. We are called to be like Christ and preach His word in full, never shying away from the bitterness that is found in truth.
In His Love,