Read: Revelation 10
Once again our little pattern repeats itself. Six trumpets have sounded. You’re ready to hear number 7 and be done with it all. But first there is an interlude–a time-out before the action resumes. Your sense of suspense has been aroused only to be left unrelieved.
In this interlude we see some odd images. An angel stands there holding a little scroll. The scroll is open but then it gets shut; as opposed to the scroll with the seven seals that the Lamb had then opened in an earlier chapter. This book is being shut, not opened. Something is being hidden.
Then John is ordered to eat the scroll. (Without ketchup!) The image of scroll-eating is found in a few Old Testament prophetic works. It’s a symbol that is familiar to John’s readers. It’s like ingesting a book; devouring its contents.
The scroll is sweet to the tongue but turns the stomach. The scroll is tasty at first but ends up making the scroll-eater sick. What an odd image. The scroll is the gospel.
The gospel is sweet. The word of forgiveness is like honey to the ears. That part makes sense. What about its sickening aspect?
I think what is sickening about the gospel message is the fact that the gospel does not go forth without having ill effects. It goes down smooth, but it leaves some lingering discomfort. The gospel incites strife and consternation.
Jesus has a great line when he states, in reference to the end of the world, “but first the gospel must be preached in all the world.”
And people think that that means that the preaching of the gospel is a prerequisite to the end of the world in the sense that God won’t let the circus close until everyone has a chance to have a good time. I think it’s more like this: the gospel must be preached first before the world’s end because it is the gospel that stimulates the conflicts that will result in the world’s end. The gospel doesn’t just precede the end chronologically. The gospel precedes the end in a logical fashion. The gospel causes the end to be brought about.
Why does good news produce conflict that leads to crisis and destruction? Because the good news also produces an awareness of sin. The gospel confronts us so that it can comfort us. But people don’t want the disturbance of dealing with their own failings. People prefer smooth sailing. So they resist the gospel.
The gospel is good news. But it insists on total honesty in the process.
The world resists this truth and so the gospel causes discomfort. The gospel sets the stage for the end of the world.