The Little Apocalypse

In Chapter 10, John sees an angel holding a bibliridion — a small book or booklet. This was in the day when scrolls were common and small books of flat pages pasted together were just coming into use, so “a small scroll” is an appropriate translation. Some call it the little apocalypse, because it appears to contain much the same message as the entire Revelation. John writes:

Revelation 10:8-11 Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: “Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.” I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.”

Each week, we conclude our study by asking ourselves, “what will be my response as a disciple of Jesus?” In these few verses there is a powerful message for every believer who desires to overcome the world and be a faithful witness of Jesus. We bring a message of grace to the world, but that message is contrasted against the backdrop of God’s holiness and justice, which will one day be seen in judgment on the “earthdwellers” — those who are bound up with the world and it’s deadly philosophies, pleasures and idolatry.

We hold out the Word of God to people who are perishing and we can only do that effectively if we love his Word better than food and, in the words of the angel, devour it ourselves. John Owen said it like this:

If the word do not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us.

When we take in the Bible, it is sweet to the taste and some portions, like the judgments of the Revelation, go to our inward parts and cause us deep anguish and pain for the judgment that awaits those who reject God, including many of our friends and family. This is a sour, bitter pill to swallow. But without it, the gospel or good news, may be lost among the thousands of Pollyanna-ish prescriptions and self-help techniques on the market, promising health, wealth and happiness to a hurting world:

…until we learn how to wound consciences, we shall have no wounds to bind with Gospel bandages.

Walter Chantry

We cannot wound consciences unless we are wounded daily by reminders in the Bible that our loved ones are perishing, even though they are anesthetized and may not feel any pangs of conscience or pain. We are not merely messsage boys, but witnesses of the risen Lamb, Who takes away the sins of the world. If our message is to be believed, it must be seasoned with both sorrow and joy, pleasure and pain, passion and humility. We begin by devouring God’s Word.

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