Eat This Book
This section of Scripture punched me in the gut this week. Truly. It literally brought me to my knees as a rebuke. So today, I’m going to do you a favor and pass on the rebuke I received from God to you. And now, some of you might be really nervous about what I’m about to say. I want to pray, then we’ll jump into the text.
Pray for open hearts.
Alright. Let’s read Revelation 10:1-7 and we’ll save the rebuke for the end.
Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, surrounded by a cloud, with a rainbow over his head. His face shone like the sun, and his feet were like pillars of fire. And in his hand was a small scroll that had been opened. He stood with his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land. And he gave a great shout like the roar of a lion. And when he shouted, the seven thunders answered. When the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write. But I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Keep secret what the seven thunders said, and do not write it down.” Then the angel I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand toward heaven. He swore an oath in the name of the one who lives forever and ever, who created the heavens and everything in them, the earth and everything in it, and the sea and everything in it. He said, “There will be no more delay. When the seventh angel blows his trumpet, God’s mysterious plan will be fulfilled. It will happen just as he announced it to his servants the prophets.”
This angel looks a lot like how God is described with his rainbow and shining face, and pillars of fire and voice like a lion. He can speak on behalf of God here. He speaks with God’s authority.
Right foot on land, left foot on sea: declaring his message to the whole world.
He shouts, seven thunder sound. I think these are judgments, but honestly, I can’t prove it. Three of four sevens are judgments, what do you think this fourth seven probably is? Why? What number does this put judgments at if this is true? Why is this significant? Completion attached to the earth.
But now we’re getting into the point here. This next four verses are what punched me in the gut. Let’s read:
Then the voice from heaven spoke to me again: “Go and take the open scroll from the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” So I went to the angel and told him to give me the small scroll. “Yes, take it and eat it,” he said. “It will be sweet as honey in your mouth, but it will turn sour in your stomach!” So I took the small scroll from the hand of the angel, and I ate it! It was sweet in my mouth, but when I swallowed it, it turned sour in my stomach. Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages, and kings.”
Maybe you’re sitting there going, “what was so hard about that?” It’s all in the details. Let me set the stage here.
We’ve got this powerful angel here standing ready to proclaim a message to the whole world and John is told to take this scroll that the angel has, and when he does, he’s instructed to “take it and eat it.” That’s not exactly what he’s told, and in the original language that the Holy Spirit inspired John to write, we find the gut punch.
One of the things I do in preparation to preach my passage every week is to translate it from Greek to English. And as I was, I came across this phrase, “Take it and eat it.” In Greek, it says, “Λαβε και καταφαγη”. In my study, I’m familiar with the word “φαγη” which literally just means, “eat.” But this word is different. This word means “to ravenously devour.” Picture someone who’s starving getting their first good meal in a while. They devour it. And that’s the command of John here.
The scroll is the Gospel (the word of God). And the angel says it’s going to be sweet in his mouth, then turn his stomach sour.
Gospel is sweet and sour. Jesus comes to save.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.
By default if people are being saved, some are condemned. This is why it is sweet and sour. If there is salvation, there’s something to be saved from, and there are people who are not saved.
You are what you eat. Marinated steaks when you grill them give off the aroma of the things they soak up. What happens with you when you feel the heat in your life? Does the Gospel come out of you because that’s what you’ve soaked in? Or something else?
John is commanded to preach because he’s consumed, he marinated in the Gospel.
There are two faults we can fall into here: proclaiming without consuming, and consuming without proclaiming.
So here’s the gut punch: John’s experience should cause us to ask a question. Do I devour the Word of God like a starving person? Do I care about God’s word that much? For me, the honest answer had to be, “No, Lord. Please give me greater faith to desire the things you desire.”
Some of you might be frustrated with your lack of spiritual growth, and there’s a reaping and sowing relationship there. The decisions we make have consequences. Some people eat horribly. They’re on the “Ito” diet. Their whole diet ends in “itos”- cheetos, fritos, doritos, taquitos. It’s the itos diet. And maybe that’s your diet. And you’re going, “yeah, my health is not good, I feel like Satan is attacking me.” No this is not demonic suffering. This is self-inflicted “ito” injury. You need to eat something not cooked by a high school kid handed to you in the car after you ordered it from a talking box. You need to go find a vegetable and at least pray about consuming it. Start somewhere. Baby steps.
Some of you are on a spiritual “Itos diet”. You read a verse or chapter and you never let it get past the moment. You’re not eating a healthy diet. You just want a fast food fix. If it’s pre-packaged, even better. I don’t have time to stop and sit down and really enjoy a meal. But some of you are on this diet and you need to slow down.
You need to sit down and pour over the banquet set before you that is the word of God. One of the most frustrating thing for pastors to hear is, “I just don’t feel like I’m being fed.” It’s not my job to feed you! It’s my job to set out the banquet and teach you how to cook. YOU have to pick up your utensils and eat. I cannot shove meals down your throat. That’s not how this works! And maybe you don’t have a hunger for the whole banquet of God because you’re on the “itos” diet.
Itos diet is better than nothing. It’s better than not eating. If you’ve seen the images of some of the victims in the concentration camps after WWII. They just look so gaunt and thin and emaciated. Just skeletal in appearance. And some of you look like that spiritually. Because you NEVER open your Bible, you never eat ANYTHING! You might say, “Pastor Andrew, I don’t know. I’m just not fired up about the Gospel. I just don’t have the energy to share it with anyone.” And I would suggest to you that maybe it’s because you’re not eating. You have no energy because you’re not filling yourself up.
Let me let you in on a secret:
My job is not to fill you up with the Scriptures. Let me explain:
When Rebecca and I go to visit my family in Colorado Springs, there’s a town called Limon, and in it, we usually top off. Don’t need to. We usually stop to top off in Salina, Hays, and Colby (that’s more for my spiritual well-being because they have a play ground and a Starbucks). My purpose is not to fill you up with the Scriptures. My purpose is to top you off. You need to be filling up throughout the week. And some of you don’t, and so you’re trying to go from here to Limon, Colorado without putting any gas in your tank, and then coming on Sunday saying, “fill ‘er up.” I’m sorry, you didn’t fill up on the way, your tank ran out of gas on the side of the road somewhere around Hays and you still had 250 miles to go. It’s not enough to try to go the whole way without filling up as you go!
You need to be feeding yourself.
Statistically, only 27% of you open your Bibles during the week. And you teens, statistically, only 3% of you do. I remember being a teen thinking that the Bible was over my head. That I wasn’t accountable to what was inside it. But you know differently and so do I. I want to take away all of your excuses, because, Christians, there is nothing more important than knowing God, and how can you know him if you never study what he has to say? Honestly, when I went to Ozark, I was mostly biblically illiterate. I didn’t know how to read my Bible, I didn’t know basic facts about it, and I knew it. Some of you have said something along the lines of “you’re so smart, I could never know what you do.”
THAT’S NOT TRUE.
When I got to Ozark I didn’t know anything, but I made a covenant with God that when I didn’t understand something, I would raise my hand and ask a question. If I needed more information or had been taught differently, I would have a conversation about it. I didn’t care how stupid I looked. I didn’t care if people laughed at me. Nothing was going to separate me from knowing my God. So every conversation became an opportunity to learn and grow. And I did everything in my power to absorb everything like a sponge. Every lecture. Every book. Every conversation. And I still have large gaps that I’m trying to overcome, but by God’s grace I will and you will because we will continue to study God’s word together because it’s what FEEDS us. You and I have no excuses. We are surrounded by great resources. There’s a small library in the room behind me that you can borrow from. I’m here to answer questions. The elders can answer your questions and when they can’t they can get the answers. God has spoken to us through his word, let it not be said that we were a people who stopped up our ears! Let Isaiah 29:13 not bed true of us:
“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
If that’s you- if you call yourself a Christian and you don’t read the word of God except on slides on Sundays, you need to repent. If you call yourself Christian, you need to love the word of God.
Let us be people who could have written Psalm 42: “As the deer...”
Let us be people who could have written Psalm 119? “Your word is a lamp to my feet...”
And this message is not for the person sitting next to you. It’s for you. We can always think of other people who need to hear hard things. Maybe you’re sitting right next to them, and you’ve already nudged them. Don’t do that. Examine your own heart here! This passage of Scripture is not for them, it’s for you.
I don’t want you tender-hearted to beat yourselves up. That’s not what this is. But some of you may react to this defensively and you need to check that. Maybe you’re even angry that I would say this. You’d say, “how dare you accuse me of never opening my Bible. How dare you call me out!” I didn’t call you out. If you’re angry at these words right now, might I suggest, that’s the Holy Spirit convicting you of your sin, and that you use the energy fueling your anger to repent and turn from your sin of not caring about the Word of God.