Feeding on the Word
I heard or read this quote somewhere, “Readers are leaders, and leaders are readers.”
I know a couple of pastors who are voracious readers. They post on Facebook the various books they have read or how many books they have read so far this year. I’m always amazed at how they find the time to read so many books.
You could say that they devour or feed on books.
Many years ago, I used to read three books at a time (Leadership, Personal Growth, Fun)
I would go through quite a few books in a year
I still like to read, but I’m not reading three books at a time
I do read nine commentaries every week in preparation for God’s message for you all
I want to know what God’s Word says, so I can share it intelligently and correctly with you all
I enjoy and look forward to the task of digging deep into the passage and learning the nuances that the original Greek or Hebrew has to offer
I also find that God begins to apply His Word to my life as I’m studying and preparing
He will challenge, correct, encourage, and strengthen me through His Word, so that I’m not just telling you what God wants you to do and know, but I can tell you what God wants us to do and know
Things we feed on
Sports (statistics of the players; films and playbook)
Black Friday sales/advertisements (plan of attack)
Video games (next battle pack is coming out; community event)
Hunting (phases of the moon; movement of the deer, turkey, geese, etc.)
Do we feed on God’s Word the same way we feed on these other things?
Can we say that we pursue learning God’s Word with the passion and energy that we learn other things?
Do we even share what we’ve learned from God’s Word like we share what we’ve learned from other sources?
As we’ll see today, John had to internalize and feed on God’s Word, so he would be able to accomplish the task that God had for him. John wants us to understand that...
BIG IDEA – We have to know God’s Word to share God’s Word.
GOD (Revelation 10:8-11)
Take the Word (v. 8) [Akin, Christ-Centered Exposition, Exalting Jesus in Revelation, 194]
John again hears the voice from heaven
Last week (Rev. 10:1-7) we saw that the voice from heaven told John not to write down what the seven thunders said, but rather to seal it up
Now, the voice from heaven gives him two imperatives/commands
John is no longer a bystander
He is an active participant in the vision from Jesus
He is no longer to stand on the outside looking in at the events unfolding in the future
This first imperative command is for John to approach the mighty angel that has the little scroll in his hand
Imagine John’s potential apprehension at approaching an enormous angel
Prior to the command, he probably would have never thought about approaching this angel, because the angel represented God’s glory, majesty, and dominion over the entire earth
Yet, someone even greater (the voice of God from heaven) has commanded him to approach this angel
John is told to go to the mighty angel and take the scroll from his hand
“Take” is the second imperative command from God
Approaching the angel may have been difficult enough, but now John is to take the open scroll from his hand
A couple of significant aspects
John is worthy to take the scroll from the angel’s hand
In Rev. 5:1-5 we saw that God was holding a scroll that had seven seals on it
Another mighty angel was proclaiming in a loud voice, “who is worthy to break the seals and the open the scroll?”
No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was found worthy to open the scroll
John wept, because no one was found worthy
Yet, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David – Jesus – had triumphed and was able to open the scroll and its seven seals
There were no seals on this scroll and John is commanded to go and take it
The scroll is open and its contents are not sealed
John will be able to see, immediately, what the contents of this scroll are
God needs John to know and understand the contents of this scroll, because he has a job for him to do, pertaining to what is written on it
God has provided an open book for us also – the Bible
“As John is commanded to go and take this little scroll for his spiritual edification, God commands us to go and take His big book and explore its truths. For us there is no intimidating angel to approach. There is an open book ready for the taking. All you have to do is go and get it.” [Akin, 194]
We live in an incredible culture where God’s Word is freely available to us, in multiple translations and in multiple forms
The Gideons and their auxiliary are an incredible organization of committed business men and women who are dedicated to getting God’s Word into the hands of children, youth, young adults, and adults
Life.church developed YouVersion which is an app that can be downloaded onto any electronic device, so the Bible can be at your fingertips
The American Bible Society and the International Bible Society are dedicated to the spreading of God’s Word
The only downside to having the Bible so readily available is that we take it for granted
While it’s right there for the taking, we don’t always value it like we should
For those in second world cultures, it is a privilege just to have a portion of the Bible
They cherish that portion and devour its contents, many times putting it to memory before passing it on to others
You could say that they are devouring God’s Word or truly feeding on it
Could that be said of us?
That’s what we see happening next with John as he approaches the mighty angel
Feed on the Word (vv. 9-10) [Akin, 194]
John approaches the angel and humbly asks him for the little scroll
The angel gives John two imperatives/commands
The repeating of “take” can elude to the importance of John actively taking the little scroll as opposed to passively receiving it
This is also important for us in appropriating and assimilating God’s Word for ourselves
We should be actively pursuing the study of God’s Word for ourselves and not just passively sitting back and receiving insights from other people’s study and research
Acts 17:11, Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.’
We should follow the example of the Bereans as it pertains to hearing and receiving God’s Word
As followers of Jesus Christ we have the Holy Spirit living in us, to guide us into all truth concerning the Word of God
John wasn’t supposed to just take the scroll, but he was commanded to feed on it – to actually eat the scroll
The eating of the scroll is a clear indication that John is to assimilate the contents of the scroll into his very being – the words found there are to become a part of who he is
The message that John will be sharing, as we’ll see in v. 11, is not his own message, but rather a message from God
“In Aristotle’s canons of rhetoric, the philosopher called for ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos reflected the credibility of the witness. Johns’ venerable age, consistency of conviction, and long-term service to the Lord were sufficient ethos. Logos represented the content itself; and since the content is part of divine revelation, sufficient logos insured. Pathos referred, however, the internalizing of the message of the logos, accentuated by the ethos of the messenger, and this gives the persuasive power and the empathy needed in effective communication.” [Patterson, The New American Commentary, Revelation, 234-35]
John would need to internalize the message and allow it to transform him before he shares it with others
The same is true of preachers today – they have to internalize the message before they can effective share it with others
Has the interpretation and application of God’s Word transformed the preacher? If so, they will be able to effectively share it with their congregation
Two other prophets understood the significance of eating the Word of God (internalizing it), before sharing it
Ezekiel’s commissioning as God’s prophet is the background for John’s commissioning here
Ezekiel 2:9-3:3, Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe. And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.
Jeremiah 15:16, When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty.
In the beginning of v. 10, we see that John takes the scroll and eats it
The effects of eating the scroll
PRINCIPLE – Preaching God’s message brings both joy and sorrow.
John was told by the angel that two things would happen when he ate the scroll and John then testifies that both of those things happened to him
It tasted as sweet as honey in his mouth
Psalm 19:10, They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb (David is talking about God’s law, precepts, commands, and ordinances – His Word!)
Psalm 119:103, How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Bread – Matthew 4:4, Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Meat – 1 Corinthians 3:1-2, Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.
Milk – 1 Peter 2:2-3, Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
How many of us could say that we know what it means for God’s Word to be as sweet as honey?
Think for a moment to the last time you were reading God’s Word and it spoke directly to the situation you were going through
Perhaps you were feeling down, sad, depressed, or lonely and God’s Word encouraged you and strengthened you
Maybe you read a promise from God’s Word that you claimed concerning the circumstance you were going through
It’s during those times that we understand the sweetness of God’s Word
Sharing the Gospel with someone is another time when God’s Word is so sweet
There are other parts of Scripture that we know are hard to swallow, convicting, or difficult to read and comprehend
It turned his stomach sour
John’s current situation
He knew the message he would have to share was going to be difficult
If the contents of the scroll he ate were Rev. 11:1-19 or even Rev. 11:1-14:20, those passages refer to the suffering of God’s people
They will be pursued by Satan and alienated from the culture if they refuse to take the mark of the beast
Some will experience death
John also knew that potentially the message would include the wrath of God for those who refused to turn from their rebellion against God
The prophets of old had been marginalized and mistreated by those who refused to repent of their rebellion against God
Prophets of old
Nowhere in the Old Testament do we find the prophets of Lord sharing a feel-good message with the leaders of the people
Time and time again they were prophesying punishment for the people of God, because of their rebellion against Him
1 Kings 22:15-18, When he arrived, the king asked him, “Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?” “Attack and be victorious,” he answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.” The king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” Then Micaiah answered, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’” The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?”
Moses, Jeremiah, and Jonah were reluctant to share God’s message with their intended audiences
Elijah had just defeated the prophets of Baal and heard that Jezebel was seeking his life, so he ran for his life
1 Kings 19:3-4, Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
The prophets of old were obedient to share God’s message and it normally resulted in them being persecuted, ridiculed, and even put to death
Our modern times
Some preachers today avoid certain passages of Scripture, because they have hard sayings or cover topics that are not uplifting and positive
One of the reasons I prefer to preach verse-by-verse through books of the Bible is so that we will understand the whole will of God as Paul states in Acts 20:27
When we go verse-by-verse we will keep each passage in context rather than taking it out of context
We will also not skip over difficult passages, but address them as they come up (divorce, sexual immorality, homosexuality, gossip, etc.)
Finally, we will hit on each topic found in the Bible according to the amount of time God spends on it – we will not continue to preach the same topics over and over again (some preachers can fall into that cyclical type of preaching)
We will give each topic the same percentage of time that God gives it in His Word – not overemphasizing or underemphasizing any topic – giving it just the right amount of attention
Read 2 Timothy 4:1-5
It can be difficult to share God’s message with others
Application (Sweet and Sour)
Sharing the Gospel with someone and watching them pray to receive Christ is perhaps the sweetest experience we will ever have this side of heaven
Watching a new believer grow in their understanding of God or Jesus Christ is another sweet experience
Having a believer take the next step in their spiritual walk by participating in believer’s baptism is incredible!
2 Corinthians 2:15-16, For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?
Sharing the Gospel with a loved one and watching them refuse to repent of their sins is heart breaking (sour)
Having to talk with another believer about their attitude or a sin they have continued to pursue is definitely sour
Having to confess our own sins to those we have hurt is sour at first, but reconciliation can be so sweet
Activating church discipline for an individual in the church in order for them to repent is never fun, but definitely necessary
Confronting someone who is teaching something that is false is also not enjoyable
“Mike and Trina are the loving parents of Chris, a high-school senior, and Casey, a twelve-year-old. Casey was born with a severe case of cerebral palsy. She is mentally retarded and confined to a wheelchair. Mike and Trina, through our church, have become my good friends during the past two year.
Casey is a blessing to many who meet her. She smiles and gurgles with pleasure when people give her attention. Chris loves to light up her life. Trina, a neonatal-care nurse, has told me, ‘Because of Casey, I’ve been able to counsel many parents who have just learned that their newborn is mentally or physically handicapped. I have been able to witness to Christ’s love and grace in ways that would never have been possible without Casey. When God sent us Casey, he entrusted us with a precious treasure.’
Casey is also a great burden. She will never walk. She requires her own special caregiver when Mike and Trina are both away from home. Frankly, her distorted features are hard to look at. Mealtime is difficult. Many marriages do not survive the stress that a handicapped child brings. When I once complimented Mike for the way he has cheerfully accepted responsibility for Casey, he replied, ‘I didn’t think I had a choice. There really wasn’t an option.’ [Easley, Holman New Testament Commentary, Revelation, 179]
If you’ve ever had to take care of a special needs child, you understand the sweet and sour or the blessing and burden that John is referring to here
For some of us, we have been the care giver of a parent or spouse and know the joy and heartache that each day, or even hour can bring
In order for us to move forward, we have to internalize God’s Word – hide it in our hearts – that’s what will carry us through the difficult times
PRINCIPLE (Big Idea) – God’s people must internalize His Word, so they can proclaim it.
This was the purpose behind why John was actively involved in this part of the vision – God needed him to proclaim the word!
Proclaim the Word (v. 11) [Akin, 195]
“‘You must’ sounds a moral imperative, a moral and spiritual obligation.” [Akin, 195]
John’s message could be two-fold
Persecution of the church (Rev. 11:1-14:13)
Judgment of the unbelievers (Rev. 14:14-16:20)
Feeding on God’s Word
Are you spending time reading and studying God’s Word each day?
Are you dedicating the same amount of time feeding on God’s Word as you do other things that you enjoy?
My Next Step Today Is To: Commit to spend as much time feeding on God’s Word as I do with other activities or hobbies.
Feeding on God’s Word means that we are internalizing it, meditating on it, allowing it to transform us
Read Psalm 119:9-16
Have you hidden God’s Word in your heart?
Has it become a part of you?
My Next Step Today Is To: Begin memorizing a passage of Scripture that has been helpful for me in the past.
Sweet and Sour
We are wired to embrace the sweet and avoid the sour (except when it comes to Sour Patch Kids or WarHeads candy)
As children of God, we have to be willing to share the sweet and the sour
As followers of Jesus Christ, we know the sweetness of the Gospel
But if you’ve ever shared the Gospel with someone who has rejected it, you also know how that can make you feel sick in your stomach
We cannot allow the sour to keep us from continuing to share the Gospel (the Great Commission)
We have to accept God’s goodness and His discipline
We also know that certain portions of Scripture challenge us and confront our own sin
God’s discipline is sour, but when we repent we enjoy the sweet restoration of fellowship with God
My Next Step Today Is To: Rejoice in the sweetness of God’s Word and trust Him to transform me through the sour portions
“Just like John, we have roles to play in God’s ultimate plan. We can’t call ourselves ‘apostle,’ and we don’t receive literally visions and revelations from God. We’re not required to swallow prophetic books to utter inspired words. But each of us has been given a crucial mission to share the good news of salvation with the world (Matt 28:19-20). Yet just like John, we must first internalize the message, allowing it to become a part of our own lives.
It’s true that the gospel of Jesus Christ involves both bad news and good news – bad news about lost humans subject to divine judgment but good news about the righteous Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who paid the complete penalty for us and saves us when we simply trust in Him. As ambassadors for Christ in this age, we must not only understand and accept the gospel ourselves, but we must also be able to communicate that message to others.
Have you accepted God’s commission on your life?
Or, like John, are you ready for a recommissioning from God? (Insights, 151)”