I offer once again the quote I gave a couple of days ago from the late pastor and Southern Baptist preacher Dr. W.A Criswell: No other book in the Bible has as much circumference and height and depth as does the apocalypse of Jesus Christ. It describes the great consummation of the age, and we are in the plan and that program and that unfolding now. We are involved in it. It is a part of our life and ultimately a part of our destiny. When we read the Book of Revelation, we read about ourselves. When we scan the vistas of the ages in this book, we are looking at the destiny of our own souls. It is not something far off; the time is at hand. It concerns us."1
For the past couple of days we have been interested in understanding why the Book of Revelation is so important for the Christian. So far we considered the reasons of the Person of Christ being revealed and the prophecies of things to come. In today's post we want to look at one more reason to study Revelation from Revelation 1:3 - namely the Promises of Blessing.
Promises of Blessing. 1:3
Revelation 1:3 states - "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near." What does it mean to be "blessed"? According to Greek Scholar W.E Vine, the word translated "bless" speaks of "the nature of that which is the highest good".2 Whenever you and I think of "blessing", we conceive of blessings mainly having to do with "material things" or "spiritual highs". Though such realities can flow from blessing, the true heart of blessing is having more of God's Power and Presence in your life.
You and I as Christians are in desperate need of the vertical in order to impact the horizontal. What do I mean by that? Whenever you are exposed for any length of time to this world, your way of living quickly becomes horizontal, meaning that all that matters is what you see in front of you and around you. However the Book of Revelation is refreshing because it presents all of life as being about the vertical - that is God centered, Christ exalting and Spirit saturated. Only when we are vertical in our vision can we affect the horizontal around us. Revelation starts off with the vertical and reveals how the horizontal world right now and will be impacted by Christ's return.
According to Revelation 1:3, a three-fold vertical promise of "blessing" is given. First it starts with the blessing to the one who "reads". That word translated "read" speaks of public reading, preaching or teaching of the scriptures. Whenever Jesus entered into the synagogue at Nazareth to preach his first sermon in Luke 4:16, that word "read" was used. When the Apostle Paul was writing instructions to the young pastor Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:13, he said to give himself to "public reading, exhortation and teaching." Revelation is meant to be preached, and thus we see a promise of more of God's power and presence in the preacher.
But notice also two other blessings: namely to those who "hear" and those who "heed". Those who "hear" obviously refers to the ones who are listening to the preaching of the Book. Remember, by Divine inspiration John wrote this book to seven churches in Asia Minor. The Book of Revelation was meant to be circulated, preached and heard in the churches. Then that third word "heed" refers to the obedience and embracing of Revelation's message by both the preacher and the person in the pew. All Christians know that it is not enough to be a mere hearer of the Word, but also a doer thereof. (James 1:22-25)
Conclusion So then it is important for the Christian to hear and heed the words of Revelation? We know that the Person of Christ is revealed, that prophecies about the future are given and that promises of blessing abound in Revelation. John punctuates these reasons with the final little phrase at the end of Revelation 1:3 "the end is near". Quite literally, this particular present age is drawing to a close. The final tick of the final second of God's prophetic clock is about to go to twelve. History as we know it is ready to exhale and give away to Christ's return, Millennial reign and New Heavens and new Earth. My prayer is dear friend that you are read to be met by the Master of the Book of Revelation - Jesus Christ. I close with these words from Romans 10:9 "If you will confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
1. W.A Criswell. Expository Sermons on Revelation. Pages 13-14
2. W.E Vine. Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Page 133