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Eat it --- it's good for you

The messenger identified as “another mighty angel,” looks exactly like what we’ve come to expect someone who is speaking for God to look like in the book of Revelation.  There is sun, cloud, rainbow and fire.  He straddles the earth and gives a loud shout that is like “the roar of a lion,” (v. 3).  He raises his right hand to heaven and makes an oath by God that, “There will be no more delay!” (v. 10).  This is in response to the unrighteous refusing to repent and turn to God in 9:20-21.  Now the window on that opportunity is closed and final judgment upon Rome is about to transpire.

There’s something indescribably sad about people continually choosing to turn their backs upon their Father until they reach a point of no return. It’s Jesus crying outside Jerusalem.  It’s heaven weeping for forty days in the time of Noah.  It’s God looking for enough righteous people to spare Sodom and Gomorrah.  We learn from those events as well as from this picture that God’s patience is quite remarkable --- but it is not infinite. More to the point, sin is a spiritual black hole that sucks us in and eats away at our desire to do good and follow God. This is where hope can be destroyed.

All of this John is to continue boldly proclaiming (note the “again,” of v. 11).  In a picture reminiscent of Ezekiel (chapters 2-3), he is told to take the scroll from the angel’s hand and eat it.  It is sweet in his mouth because it is the word of God, but bitter in his stomach because it is a message of judgment.  In eating it, John is submitting himself to God’s mission for him (Ezekiel 2:8). 
 
There’s a message here for disciples.  If we’re to be salt and light, we too must internalize God’s message.  The fast food approach to Scripture of many creates faith a mile long and an inch deep --- doing little for its practitioners and nothing for the world.  If we are to engage the world, we must engage the word. 

And if we are to engage the world, we must not marginalize them into positions, issues, or lifestyles.  Instead, we must see them as God does --- as people made in His image and deeply loved.  We’re not to back off truth in any way, shape, or form (that wouldn’t be healthy or Christ-like), but we must learn to listen empathically if we are to share effectively.  Too many times believers are content to speak at the level of conclusions to a world that hasn’t heard the premises and the results are predictable.  We must start where people are.

Sadly, not everyone will respond.  The flagrantly rebellious will appreciate neither the message nor the messenger.  Rather than over-react to their reaction, disciples must stay the course of kindness, goodness, and self-control. If people are to reject Christ, let it be about Him and not about us.    
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