Revelation's Reader Blessings
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6. Revelation's Reader Blessings
Revelation 1.1b-3

"He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw, that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it because the time is near." (Revelation 1.1b-3)

Jesus and Children

Blessed in Chinese lettersThe Book of Revelation is the only book in the Bible that promises special blessings to its readers. John of Patmos who is also identified as the Apostle John, the writer of the Gospel and Epistles writes, "Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy." It is interesting to note that experts today believe that reading quietly to oneself is a modern development, hence the blessing on reading aloud which is the norm in ancient times. John of Patmos goes on to affirm that those who listen to its words and do what it says will be favored by God.

Blessings Today

Jesus Blessing ChildrenThen, as if John of Patmos lifts his eyes to you and I and other Third Millennium readers he adds, "Blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it." God gives you Revelation's reader blessings because you are reading Jesus's special book. The book of Revelation was copied along with the four Gospels and letters and read out aloud in first and second-century household churches. Revelation's message of special blessings would be an encouragement to Christians everywhere in the Roman Empire and Christians today especially those who are being or have been persecuted.

Stand Firm

BibleToday, as in every century, the Book of Revelation encourages Christians to stand firm in their faith. John the Apostle also called John the Evangelist, the disciple of Jesus, is described as "his servant John." This is affirmed by the Early Church Fathers, who are eminent church leaders, some of whom were ordained and some named as saints from the time of Jesus up to 700 AD. They affirm that this same Apostle John wrote the book of Revelation. He is also believed by the early church leaders and today to have written the Gospel of John and the three Epistles bearing his name.

Nicaea Affirmation

John of PatmosThe First Council of Nicaea, in 325 AD a gathering of church leaders from all around the Roman empire, which was promoted by Emperor Constantine and at his own cost, confirms again this truth by including Revelation, the Gospel of John and the Epistles of John in the approved Biblical Canon. John of Patmos is also referred to as John the Evangelist and the fourth of the Gospel evangelists after Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The tone of the letters to the seven churches shows the author's authority as a respected leader of the Christian community in Ephesus in Asia in the early part of the Second Century AD.

Read Christ's Revelation

BlessingAs you read the Revelation of Christ, God will bring a special blessing upon you as well as special insights about the nature and work of Jesus and the other members of the Trinity. "Christ's servant John," is venerated for his wisdom as one of the closest disciples to Jesus himself. From as early as Justin Martyr in the second century AD, it has been believed that this John was the apostle, the son of Zebedee according to Matthew 10.2, which reads, "These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John." John is an eyewitness of Jesus' ministry and friend of Jesus in Israel as a young man and now in Revelation, as an elder statesman has a remarkable vision of the same Jesus but this time glorified in Heaven. John urges his followers to read the Revelation of Christ as a book of "prophecy." He says, "Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy." A "prophecy" means "a vision given by God of what lies ahead in both the immediate and long-term future."

Know Jesus Personally

Trinity Sign Three CornersSaint John further emphasizes the need to read Christ's Revelation and not reconstruct it into our own human words. A prophecy is more than telling the future, for behind the predictions are important principles about God's character. We can lose some of the meaning if we omit certain words, phrases, sentences or even whole chapters to suit our own devices. As we read of Christ in Revelation, God intends that we will get to know him personally more and more and in this way receive his Revelation's reader blessing.

Words of This Prophecy

Open BibleThe one who can read the words of this Biblical book is blessed. The reader mentioned here is not just the private reader, but primarily the person who publicly reads the Revelation scripture out loud in the presence of a congregation. The Bible reading is the center of any worship service. Such an early service is described in Acts 13.14b-15, "On the Sabbath, they entered the synagogue and sat down. After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue rulers sent word to them, saying, Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak." Here Saint Paul and his companions are asked to explain the Scriptures they have all heard together. In the Jewish synagogue, Scripture is read to the congregation by seven ordinary members, although if a Priest or Levite is present he took precedence. The later Christian Church took much of its order of service from the synagogue. The order and the reading of Scripture remain the central essential part of every worship in any Christian Communion today.

Reading Apostles' Memoirs

ScripturesBlessed by God is the one who reads the revelation words of this prophecy aloud and blessed are those who hear it and take heart from it. Justin Martyr (100-160 AD) is an early Christian apologist who gives us the oldest known account of what a Christian worship service is like. He says that it includes the reading of "the memoirs of the apostles" that is the Gospels as well as the "writings of the prophets" taken from the Old Testaments." The "Reader" of these Scripture passages becomes in time a very important official office in the Church, even greater than the Priest or the Deacon! One of Tertullian's (160-220 AD) complaints against heretical sects in "On Prescription against Heretics 41," is how a man can so speedily attain an office as a Reader without any training for it. Tertullian is a respected church leader, apologist and famous for being the earliest writer to use the term "Trinity." He writes, "And so it comes to pass that today one man is their Bishop and tomorrow another. Today, he is a Deacon who tomorrow is a Reader."

Read Aloud

A small dog who is obedientJohn of Patmos writes that to "hear Revelation's words" is to be "blessed." How great a privilege it is to hear the Book of Revelation indeed the whole Bible read and studied in our languages. Men and women have died at the stake, been tortured and persecuted in so many awful ways because they sought to hand on this wonderful Word of God including the Book of Revelation to us. To this day, the task of translating the Scriptures into other languages goes on sometimes in remote and dangerous places. I read the other day of a Bible translation underway into the Inuktitut language by the Canadian Diocese of the Arctic. A new Syllabic Cree Bible for Nunavut is also being created in conjunction with the Bible Society. According to Revelation, people who "hear the words" whether, in English, French, Cree or whatever language and who keep them are "blessed." It is a great privilege to hear the Scriptures and to obey. It is our duty, but to receive a personal blessing for doing it is the icing on the cake. There can be no real Christianity or indeed a blessing for the one who hears and forgets or deliberately disregards the message of Scripture. Some heretics today contend that the Scriptures are not the Word of God, but that only some parts like the sayings of Jesus are. The words of the Holy Scriptures themselves in 2 Timothy 3.16-17 reassure us, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." "The servant of God" in this verse may be translated as "you, a man of God." Those who deny that the Bible is the true Word of God will receive no salvation or any blessing from God. We have God's word on that!✞

Read Revelation's Words

I'm BlessedChristians are urged to read Revelation's words, to hear and take to heart the seven blessings there and to be filled with holiness by Jesus Christ himself. To read Revelation words is to be "Blessed," which means "to be made holy or consecrated." "The Blessed" is defined as "those who live with God in heaven." This verse in Revelation 21.1b-3 is the first of seven blessings in Revelation which are like the "beatitude" or as Robert Schuller (1926-2015) the pastor, author and evangelist called them, the "Be-Happy Attitudes!"

Be Happy Attitudes

The blessings of Revelation are reminiscent of Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount" which says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." Here are the seven blessings drawn from different parts of the Book of Revelation.

Seven Revelation Blessings

1. "Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it because the time is near." Revelation 1.1b-3

2. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. 'Yes,' says the Spirit, 'they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.'" Revelation 14.12-13

3. "Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed." Revelation 16.15

4. "Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!' And he added, 'These are the true words of God." Revelation 19.9

5. "Blessed and holy is he who has a part in the first resurrection." Revelation 20.6

6. "Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll." Revelation 22.7

7. "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city." Revelation 22.14

These seven Revelation blessings also remind us of an old Celtic Benediction, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless his holy name." Blessed are they who read these words.

"Revelation's Reader Blessings"
by Ron Meacock © 2019

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