The Making of a Minister
Revelation 10:8-11
And the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again, and said…

(with Ezekiel 2:8-10; Ezekiel 3:1-3): — The symbolical scene in the case of Ezekiel was enacted over again in the case of John; only with such surroundings of majesty and magnificence as were but befitting after John's humiliated but glorified Master had sat down on His throne in heaven. Now, in the first place, we see in that fine symbolical scene God's own immediate way of making a minister — a book. A book plays a great part in the salvation of men. A book is brought down from heaven to earth — a book written in heaven lies open in the hand of the heavenly messenger, and the salvation "of many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings" lies wrapped up in that little book. "Go thou," said the voice from heaven to John, "Go thou and take the book." Now that is being both said and done every day among ourselves. There is the Book, and there are the people, and there somewhere among the people is the man chosen of God to take the Book, and to make the Book his own, and then to carry it to the people; "Go," the Spirit of God says to that man, "Go, leave all other occupations and all other pursuits; give thyself, body and soul, day and night, and all the days of thy life, to that Book." "Take the book and eat it," said the angel to the seer. You will observe that the angel did not say, "Take the book and read it." Had it been any other book but the Book it was, to read it himself and to have it written out and sent to all the Churches would have been enough. But that was not enough for this Book. Interpret the Bible like any other book, it is the fashion of our day to say, and in some senses that is an excellent enough rule; but that was not the angel's rule that day to John, All other books in John's day were to be read, but this Book was to be eaten. Yes, eaten. Clearly, then, this is not an ordinary Book. Clearly this is like no other book. Job said: "Neither have I gone back from the commandment of His lips. I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food." Eat, then, this same meal; eat it both minister and people; and eat it for your first food every morning. It will do for you what no earthly food, the best and the most necessary, can do; see that all its strength and all its sweetness fills your heart before you eat any other meat; read God's Book, and have it next your heart to defend yourself against the influences of men that attempt to overthrow you. "Enough of that; bring me my Bible," his widow told me one of my old elders used to say, as they read to him the morning newspaper; "enough of that; bring me my Bible." The Word of God was more to that saint than all else, and his widow and I rejoice to tell the story after he has gone home to his rest. The Word of God was more to him than that which is to some of you your necessary food. But what does this mean — this extraordinary thing, "It was in my mouth sweet as honey, but as soon as I had eaten it my belly was bitter"? The best way, the only way indeed to find out all that means is to eat the same roll ourselves, and then to observe what passes within ourselves. Religion is an experimental science. Just you eat the Book now before you as Ezekiel and John ate it, and then tell us what takes place with you. I will tell you what will take place. The Word of God will be bitter in your mouth every morning, bitter with memories of yesterday and yester-night. Yes, the grace of God, and the abiding and abounding mercy of God, they are in His blessed Word always passing sweet to a penitent sinner. Ah, the truth is that the power, and the holiness, and the heavenly beauty of God's Word is the daily and the sweet experience of all those who make the Word of God their earliest and their most necessary food. But after this, when this sweet Book descends into what David calls our "inward parts"; when the holy, and the just, and the good Word of God enters our guilty conscience and our corrupt heart, then there is bitterness indeed; for a sense of sin, as we so lightly speak, is then awakened in the soul, and with that new sense comes a new bitterness, compared with which the waters of Marah are milk and honey. "Son of man, eat that thou findest," says Jehovah to Ezekiel in the vision. "Take it, and eat it up," said the angel in like manner to John. Neither the prophet nor the apostle was asked or allowed to pick and choose, as we say. They were not to eat the sweet, and spit out the bitter. They were not to keep rolling the sweet morsels under their tongue, and to keep their inward parts strangers to their inward share of the Divine Book. I know this Scripture will not be sweet to all who hear it; but if it is at first bitter it must not be cast out. We must allow ourselves to read and preach and hear the whole Word of God. "Son of man, eat that thou findest"; and again, "Take the roll and eat it up." It is a fine study to take up the Old Testament, and to trace all through it how prophet follows prophet, and psalmist follows psalmist, each several prophet and psalmist taking home to himself all that the prophets and the psalmist had said and sung before him; and then, having made the Book their own by reading it, by praying ever it, by singing it, by eating it, as the figure is, then when their own call came they prophesied prophecies, and sang psalms, new psalms, new prophecies as the people's need was — never contenting themselves with just countersigning and repeating what any former prophet had said, what any former psalmist had sung, however great and however good in his time that prophet and psalmist had been.

(A. Whyte, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: The voice which I heard from heaven, again speaking with me, said, "Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land."

The Little Book
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