Shelby G. Floyd
The last word God has delivered to man is found in the last book of the New Testament—the book of Revelation. It is sometimes called the Apocalypse since this is the first word in the Greek text: (αποκαλυψις-apokalupsis). Literally, the word means that which is laid bare, and in the New Testament, it refers to the divine disclosure of truth concerning salvation from sin and proper living. This last revelation is a disclosure of the things relating to Christ and the church, and the struggle between darkness and light until the Lord comes again.
We are told plainly how the transmission of this document came to us. God the Father gave it to Christ, who in turn gave it to an angel, and the angel signified it to his servant John:
“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John” (Revelation 1:1 ESV).
Thus God has spoken to us in these last days by his Son (Hebrews 1:1-2).
It is generally believed that this book was written down by John the apostle, during the reign of the ruthless Roman ruler Domitian (81-96 A.D.). According to tradition, he banished John to a little island off the coast of Asia called Patmos. This was a common practice of Domitian. While John never mentions his name as the writer of the gospel of John, nor the three short letters that bear his name, in Revelation he affirms four times his authorship (Revelation 1:1, 4, 9; 22:8). We are blessed by this revelation vouchsafed to us.
When we think of the beatitudes our minds generally drift back to Matthew the fifth chapter, when in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared: “Blessed are the poor in spirit…etc. (Matthew 5:1-12). But there are other Beatitudes throughout the New Testament, such as Paul’s admonition to remember the words of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Therefore, in the opening words of the Revelation we have another Beatitude, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3 ESV). “Blessed” is translated from (makarios-μακαριος), which means to be happy! “Blessed” originated from an old Anglo-Saxon word, meaning to consecrate one’s spiritual happiness with blood. This is certainly the case with Christians, for all our happiness and spiritual well-being comes from the blood of Christ: “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Revelation 1:5 NKJV).
THE CONDITIONAL BLESSING
Some of God’s blessings are unconditional, such as the sun and rain that come down on the just and unjust. But for the spiritual joy and well-being of mankind, his promised blessings are conditional. God’s part is huge, but man cannot expect God to do it all. God gives us all good things to enjoy, but we still must labor under the sun to be benefited. So it is concerning the Beatitude under consideration.
There are several responsibilities incumbent on us in order to receive the promised blessing of Christ: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3 ESV). According to this promise, there are three things that God’s people must do, in order to be blessed by the last revelation to man.
1. READ—“reads aloud,” ESV. We need to read God’s word privately and publicly. In the Old Testament worship, the Books of Moses were read aloud every Sabbath day (Acts 15:21). But it is not enough to just read aloud the word, for the Jews read it out loud with a vail upon their heart (2 Corinthians 3:15). Therefore, they did not understand it. We must keep on reading the word of God accurately, so we can comprehend what it says.
2. HEAR. “Hear is in the present tense from (akouo—ακουω), from which we get our word acoustic. The idea is that we are to hear not just the sound of the word, but we are to hear it in the sense that we understand and perceive the sense of what is being heard. If we do not understand what we hear, it can be said of us, what Isaiah and Jesus said about the people who heard the teaching of the matchless Son of God:
This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
There is yet a third condition of receiving the Blessing of the Apocalypse.
3. KEEP. “Blessed are those…who keep what is written in it…” (Revelation 1:3). Other translations say “take it to heart.” The idea is that we must keep on reading, hearing and keeping the word of God, in order to be blessed by the blood of Christ and his last message to man. Christ is the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him (Hebrews 5:9).
FOR THE TIME IS NEAR
Finally, the reason to act upon what has been said is assigned—“for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3). “For” is from the preposition (gar-γαρ), the force of which is to assign the reason for what has just been said. The reason then why we should read aloud, hear, and heed the words of John’s Revelation, is because “the time is near.” “Time” here refers to a measure of time (kairos-καιρος), the time when all things earthly will be brought to an end. This time will be when Christ shall return at his second coming (Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). John said it is “near,” yet it has been some 2,000 years, and we still look for his return. No man knows when he will come (Matthew 24:36). He will come as a thief in the night and catch many asleep. It may be another 2,000 or twenty thousand years. It does not matter—it is near for each of us because our life is short and ephemeral. Michael the arch-angel will one day shout, “Time was, time is, but time shall be no more!” And the curtain will be drawn on the great drama of human redemption. Will you be ready?
Copyright © 2011-2016 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142