In the book of Revelation, there is an interval in chapter ten between the sounding of the sixth and the seventh trumpet. God makes a statement about a “Little Book.” In fact, this entire chapter centers on this little book. God could have used verbal commands in this scene, but He speaks about something that people can read—a book. In Revelation 10:8, John is told to “Go take the book.” Though no one knows what this book contains but God Himself, for our purposes we will assume it represents the Bible.
John said to the angel in verse 9, “Give me the book.” The angel said to John “Take it and eat it, in your mouth it will be sweet, but it will make your stomach bitter.” To “eat” something is to symbolically take it deep inside you. Jesus made use of the same analogy of eating and digesting when He spoke of Himself as the Bread of Life in John 6. In that chapter, Jesus invites us to partake of Him and have everlasting life. We are told in Proverbs 19 that God’s Word is “sweeter than honey.”
The little book in Revelation 10 is meant to accomplish some important purpose, but the full symbolism is unclear. For our purposes, the point is that we must digest the entire Word of God. The Bible was given to us by God, represented by the angel and must be received as something given to us straight from God. We must display the reverence that John showed for the “little book” before we reach for it every day.
Notice in verse two that the little book is open. The Bible is open and available to all who will take it. In the medieval ages, man tried to keep the Bible closed, locked up and reserved only for the elite in religious circles. But note that in verse two, the angel has his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land. This seems to symbolize that this little book is universal—available to all the nations on earth.
Notice that the book is from heaven, for the voice from heaven spoke about it (v. 8). Since it comes from heaven, the Word has heavenly power and authority. No human could have conceived the Bible and no human should add or subtract from its contents (22:18-19). John was not afraid to take the book, symbolizing the desire to obtain the Word of God. The angel told John to take the book, for God’s book is freely given to those who want it. When John knew the book was available, he went after it – and there was no hesitation on the part of God’s representative to give it. There is a willingness on God’s part to give you His Word. But as soon as you take it, your have responsibilities. When you digest His Word, you find it to be bitter-sweet, for it sets forth both freedoms and restrictions.
The Word must be ingested to be of value. Jeremiah said that God’s Word was like a fire in his bones – an internal part of himself. Jeremiah wrote in 15:16, “Thy words were found, and I ate them.” In Ezekiel 3:1-3, we find yet another symbolic “eating of the book” which Ezekiel found to be sweet as honey. Throughout our Christian life, we will find God’s little bittersweet book will be there to guide us in every situation. Learn to love His Word and digest a bit each day and grow stronger.
When we eat portions of God’s Word, the effects can be immediate. John’s interaction with the “little book” brought a reaction (verse 10). As soon as you start to use the Word of God, it affects you. Devouring the book and obeying its doctrines will bring you trouble and persecution. But they will also bring you great blessings. Jesus answered Satan in Matthew 4:4 by telling him that “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word of God.”
Note in Revelation 10:11 that the angel says to John, “You must prophecy!” The Greek term here points to sharing the Word of God, not just predictive prophecy. But John had to “eat the book” first, for you cannot teach what you have not yet digested. After the Book was eaten, John is told to preach, not before. You cannot feed to others what you have not made a part of your own life. Note also in verse 11 that John is encouraged to preach yet again. We need encouragement to preach more of God’s Word. The more you “eat the book,” the more effective your ministry will be. It is a book to be used in universal preaching, for John is commanded to prophecy again to all peoples. The key to the spread of evangelical Christianity has always been the consistent preaching of God’s “little book”.
Note that John did not receive the “little book” and the Book of Mormon or the Koran. God has given us just one little book—the Word of God. We can preach nothing that is effective for the salvation of humankind except that book. Jesus’ Great Commission commands us to go into all the world and teach the Word. There is nothing sweeter to the saints than God’s Word, and nothing more bitter to the sinner. John delivered us the entire book of Revelation and we must read it all—bitter or sweet. In fact, it is the refusal of the world to digest the Word of God that ushers in the Tribulation period that John is writing about. If the world would have eaten, digested and accepted the Word from God, there would be no global punishment as is predicted during the Tribulation period.
It was handed to John as an open book. Keep your “little book” open. You cannot teach an open Bible with a closed mind. John was qualified to preach to all peoples only because he obeyed and ate the bittersweet Word of God. What can we learn from this? God has the Book. We are told to take the Book. We are to eat the Book. The book came from heaven itself. The angel placed the book in John’s human hands. God has delivered His Word to the human race. You cannot teach it faithfully until you digest it willingly. All you need in life is contained in this one little book. Now that you have received it, are you devouring it? Do you study it? Open it now, and feast on the truth contained in Revelation chapter ten.