The Preterist view: They see this passage as a reference to Ezekiel and his prophecy of the downfall of Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem (Ezek. 3:1-14). However, Jerusalem was destroyed shortly after his prediction in 586 BC by the Babylonians, so others in this camp say it is a template to the Roman invasion or that John is making a similar prophecy to Ezekiel’s. Sweet and sour is seen to mean that some things that come to us will be sweet—things such as that we are glad when God intervenes and His hand gives us hope—and other times, things will be sour, as in those who refuse Him and stay in their sins and experience suffering. The Little Book is seen as more prophecy and from this some say it is the second half of Revelation, while others see it as extra information of and dimension into the coming events already told to us. Many peoples, nations, is seen as the New Covenant of Christ being offered to all people.
The Futurist view: They see “eat this book” as John’s allowing God’s Word to transform and affect him before he prophesies to others. God’s Word is sweet as is His promise; however, it will be bitter when God’s judgments commence. God will deal with the sins of humanity. Be warned; there will be a time when the delay is over and the judgments commence, so be warned and be prepared! This view on this passage is very insightful!
The Idealist view: They see this passage as an introduction to the prophecy John utters in chapters 11 and 12. The “sweet” is the sweetness of the Gospel’s proclamation and meaning while the “bitterness” is the persecution that arises from judgment. Others in this camp place the focus on John’s grasping and digesting the Word himself before he can be used to proclaim it. We experience its sweetness and its bitterness. The gospel must be qualified in us first before is can be impacting on others. This view also places the emphasis on our effectual Christian walk in Christ remaining trusting and faithful with our obedience. For a preacher, it does no good to proclaim a sermon when he is not impacted by the words he says or does not walk in what he asks of others. The woes of bitterness are from the reactions of others who hear our convicting words and instead of accepting them, they hate and persecute the faithful. The message is to go to all of humanity.
The Historicist view: They see this passage as the time period of the Reformation. The “little scroll” is the Reformation of the Bible and God’s principles to the Church from the Reformers. The “sweetness” is the message of the gospel in understandable language to those who receive it and the “bitterness” is the reception and opposition the Church gave to it. Prophesy means to preach; prior to this, the Church only used meaningless rituals in a language unknown to the audience, making Christianity meaningless and unattainable as well as a tool of manipulation. Now, the call is to preach the Word, not as a performance, but as a means of communicating to people His Word, with understanding, for conviction and application.