And I took the little book from the hand of the angel and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter.
Here the apostle obeys what at face value seems to be a very strange instruction indeed–to eat the little book of God! To compound the issue, the action has two contrasting effects, which we shall consider briefly below.
In the first place, to eat God’s book is a metaphor for receiving the Word of God. Beloved, we cannot be effective communicators for God without being eager consumers of God’s Word. True followers of Christ do not live on natural food alone, but live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Mat 4:4).
Secondly, the sweetness of the book in the mouth speaks of enjoyment of the Word we ingest. Indeed, the psalmist declares, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Ps 119:103).
Beloved, that should be our attitude to the Word of God. We must savour every morsel of truth we hear, read or study. We must relish every revelation we partake of daily. We must enthusiastically embrace and appreciate every message our Lord’s ministers bring.
Thirdly, the bitterness of the book in the stomach speaks of the gravity and implications of the message. Once we assimilate the Word of God into our hearts, it will demand changes in our lives. It confronts our errant ways. It challenges our pride, fears and all iniquity. It judges the thoughts and intents of our hearts (Heb. 4:12).
The authentic Gospel will comfort the afflicted. But it will often also afflict the comfortable! It mustn’t always make us glad, without making us sad or even mad sometimes. That’s how you know it’s genuine–it’s sweet and chilly!