And the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again, and said…
The consolation of an assured end having been given, the holy seer, and in him the Church in all ages, becomes prepared to receive tidings that shall prove "bitter" and painful. The final victory is assured. The word is "sweet as honey" in the mouth of him who receives it, which reception is represented by the figure of "eating the little book." It is sweet, for it is impossible to be an agent of God for any work without a certain pleasurableness. But the sweetness is temporary. So is it a pleasant thing to receive a message from the Lord, but it may be a very painful thing to communicate it to men. The reception of "the little book," whatever that book may mean, is a preparation to prophesying "again concerning many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings." The words which follow are mingled words of sadness and comfort - comfort for the Church in her obedience; sadness for the ungodly, rebellious, and opposing nations. In the symbol before us there seems to shine out from the midst of many teachings one respecting the prophetic office itself. For a moment attention is directed to the seer himself and his own states. Thus have we set forth the prophetic office - the honourableness of its calling; the painfulness of its duties. Nothing is said as to the twofold character of the message - "the little book" - but only the twofold effect upon the seer. Our thoughts, then, are upon him.
I. THE HOLY OFFICE OF PROPHET IS THE MOST HONOURABLE AND EXALTED AMONGST MEN. To speak for God, as his agent; to declare his message; to receive the Word from his lips, by his inspiration; to be entrusted with his Word to men - be it a word of condemnation, of warning, of promise, of mercy, or hope - is a most sacred, hallowed burden. To speak to men in God's Name is higher than to speak for kings. The "ambassador for Christ" stands at the head of diplomatic agents. How holy, how awful, how responsible, his office! The calling to such office cannot but have its sweetness to the faithful servant.
II. OF ALL OFFICES THIS, WHEN RIGHTLY COMPREHENDED, IS THE MOST PAINFUL. To deal with words of judgment and threatening; to speak of sin; to warn of punishment; to have close alliance with righteousness amongst men who reject it; to he burdened with spiritual care; to stand in antagonism to prevalent sentiment, and strive to raise men to altitudes of goodness; - cannot but be a burden too heavy to be borne were the prophet unaided. He is in error who views the calling to the prophetic office too lightly; he is also in error who thinks triflingly of the painfulness of its responsibilities. - R. G.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.