John the Apostle saw many things, more than any other man really. Consider that he walked with Jesus and was part of the inner circle with Peter and James, his brother. He witnessed the raising of Jairus’ daughter, the Transfiguration of Jesus on the Mount, and the agony of the Savior in Gethsemane.
John saw so much that he found it impossible to put down all that Jesus did in writing. The world could not hold the books it would take to record all that Christ said and did, he wrote (John 21:25).
Yes, John saw Jesus and His work in the present tense, as the miracles and wonders and lessons were done and said. Toward the end of his life, John got something more. He was given a glimpse of Jesus in the future tense. The things that John saw and heard show us the realities to come.
In the midst of his tour of the future, John was called to take a “little scroll” and eat it in Revelation 10. The command came with a word of warning and of promise — the scroll would make his “belly bitter” but it would be sweet in his mouth.
What a picture this is of the ministry that we have as believers. We have wisdom, a way of understanding and discernment that comes with the fear of the Lord. We possess the insight and truth that God has given us through the Scriptures. We learn wondrous things as the Spirit guides us.
Still, what we have been given amounts to something of a “little scroll.” God has let us in on only a fraction of all that comprises the mind and heart and reality of Himself and His purposes. What has been shown to us is sweet indeed. We can really learn to love the taste of truth. There are remarkable and heart-lifting promises. We can discover over and over the stories of redemption, rescue, and resurrection.
Even the few pages that we do get to read contain things hard to digest. There are passages that are difficult to stomach. The torturous ministry of Jeremiah, for instance, baffles me. A man follows God wholeheartedly, one who preaches faithfully as he is directed, and yet he seems to see very little success during his days on earth.
How we approach these difficult things is most important. Heresy and error are most often formed when human intellects try to wrestle passages into boxes of reason and logic. From the earliest days of the Church, there have been those who have sought to manage mystery. These ones twist the Scriptures and contrive solutions that make things easier for them to stomach. They try to force an expansion of the little scroll, rather rejoicing in its sweetness.Heresy and error are most often formed when human intellects try to wrestle passages into boxes of reason and logic. Click To Tweet
John himself wrote to counter the error that Jesus did not come to earth as a real man. Some could not fathom that God Almighty would clothe Himself in flesh. Yet, the Son testifies that He is the Son sent from above who is One with the Father.
We have to come to accept that there are secret things that belong to God.
Not all of what John encountered in the Revelation moments could be passed along. There were seven thunders that he heard in Revelation 10. This Apostle was at the ready to write them down as he had written down all the other visions. These thunders, however, he was commanded to leave out of his journal. There’s not a hint about what these thunders might indicate to us.
John learned early that some things must remain hidden. He, James, and Peter saw Jesus transfigured in glory, with Elijah and Moses by His side. What a sight that was. I am sure that they couldn’t wait to tell the others about it. But Jesus told them to keep quiet about it until after His resurrection.
“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted over the earth” (Psalm 46:10).
Stillness involves a cease of striving in mind and heart. Sometimes we just have to stop and reconsider who God is. We know Him and He knows us. We have to return to these kinds of thoughts when confusion comes to swamp us with trouble and discouragement.
This is a promise. The nations will exalt Him. The earth will bow before the Maker of all things.
It is from Jeremiah, the troubled, weeping, and often weary prophet, that we get real instruction on how to think when all collapses around us:
“This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him” (Lamentations 3:21-25).
This “little scroll” that God has given us is enough because words like these are in it. Yes, there are things hard to understand, but these truths are certain and eternal: God’s our portion, our hope, our faithful and merciful true Friend.