Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. And he said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.” Revelation 10:10-11
The Word of God
The Apostle John is given a ‘little book’ to digest and I believe the contents of that tome are the recorded and/or witnessed words of God, given to John, and now revealed to us in the New Testament, specifically the Book of Revelation. The fact that after John consumes it he is told to regurgitate it (prophesy again) gives legitimacy to that claim.
Have You Digested His Word
How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103
John records for us how we might know for certain if we are digesting God’s Word or merely reading words off a page, for the duly consumed word will be sweet on the lips and bitter in the belly. As we read through Revelation (for an example), pure sweetness is the certainty of our Heavenly home, but bitter is the reality (that) hell awaits the unsaved soul, particularly those who we love and cherish. Our aching stomachs inducing compassion within us for the lost is a sure sign we are digesting properly (*If you have the time or the gumption, read chapters two and three of Ezekiel for a parallel narrative).
We then delve deeper into the Word, asking the Lord to search our hearts by the light it omits and as a result we are convicted by the sins uncovered, again, leaving a bitterness in our bowels. We have for another example a story from the Old Testament concerning an (alleged) cheating wife for which there was no apparent evidence (other than the suspicion) against her. In Numbers 5:27 we see that she is given bitter water to drink.
When he has made her drink the water, then it shall be, if she has defiled herself and behaved unfaithfully toward her husband, that the water that brings a curse will enter her and become bitter, and her belly will swell, her thigh will rot, and the woman will become a curse among her people. But if the woman has not defiled herself, and is clean, then she shall be free and may conceive children. Numbers 5:27
Was this an intervention by God to identify the guilt and/or the innocence of the woman or the woman merely be made sick (or not sick) by her own convictions? To both those questions I would say yes. God gave us both His Word and consciousness, and given the opportunity they work quite well together.
Back to Sweetness
“Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” …But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear…”He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst…”Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:4-11 (various)
It is true: conviction of the Holy Spirit and by the Holy Spirit will draw us closer to God, while the condemnation of evil will drive us away. Understand the difference—digest the Word of God.