I have written nine other lessons stating how we can incorporate certain characteristics of Heaven into our home in order that our homes might be blessed with a taste of what Heaven will be like. But for this lesson, I want to focus on a specific blessing in the Book of Revelation that God promises to give to us. If you notice in Revelation 1:3, it states: “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of THIS prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” Also, look at Revelation 22:7, “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of prophecy of THIS book.” I added the emphasis in both those verses for one simple reason…this blessing speaks specifically to the Book of Revelation, and not the entire Bible…and I’ll show you why I believe that to be true.
Ask many Christians which book of the Bible they read the least, or maybe even have never read before, and more than likely you will hear them respond that the Book of Revelation has been the book they have avoided the most. That’s interesting, and certainly was the case with me. In fact, any time a preacher would tell us to open to the Book of Revelation, I got a bit more comfortable in my seat, because I just felt it was going to be something special and new to me…because I myself would avoid that book. In my thinking, and in the minds of many others, it was filled with hard to understand symbolism and cloaked truths and hidden meanings, that to read it, we would probably not understand it, and even if we tried to study it out, we’d lack the confidence in our ability to interpret things properly…so what was the point?
The devil is very coy in putting those thoughts in our heads, because more than any other book of the Bible, he doesn’t want Christians reading the Book of Revelation for a few reasons. But the number one reason is that it’s the only book of the Bible that God promises to bless us if we read, hear, and keep what’s written therein. The devil doesn’t want Christians blessed, so he puts the thought in people’s minds that the Book of Revelation is simply something we can get nothing out of…ever…so why bother reading it. But just like the promise to be blessed by adhering to the beatitudes, reading, hearing, and keeping the truths of the Book of Revelation will also bless us.
I don’t believe we will have to do all three aspects of verses 1:3 (read, hear, and keep) before we can be blessed, because as we will see in more detail…one involves teaching, the other learning, and the last relates to applying what we learn. So I believe that God will bless obedience as He has called you into each phase. For instance, you will be blessed if you obey the Lord in learning the prophecy (and we’ll speak what that means in a moment). Then, as the Lord leads you, if you obey the Lord’s will, and teach others the prophecy, you will be blessed. And certainly, if you are obedient and keep the words of the prophecy, you will be blessed. I believe God rewards each step of obedience, so ANY Christian on ANY level can be blessed by God for delving into the Book of Revelation. So I hope the Holy Spirit convinces you by the end of this that the Book of Revelation is for us the same way Genesis through Jude is for us.
The word read in verse 1:3 means to read aloud…in other words, to teach. So we’re to share this book and what is contained in this prophecy with others. It can be a powerful evangelism tool, for those whose hearts are softened by the Holy Spirit towards where this world is headed and the horrors that await the unsaved. Also, in order for more disciples to be made, other potential teachers need to be taught, so that they, in turn, will go out and teach others. That is God’s plan according to 2nd Timothy 2:2. It’s what God expected out of Moses when He took him up the mountain and told him to teach the law and commandments to the people (Exodus 24:12). So why teach? Because God promised to bless the learner (Revelation 1:3) and that concept was well established in Deuteronomy 4:1, where we see that it is the teacher that enables the learner to be blessed, which in that case, concerned the Israelites going in and possessing the Promised Land. Yes, the learner has to do what he is taught to be blessed, but how can one be taught except a teacher teach them? So we have a responsibility to teach and God has the responsibility to bless us for it.
The word hear in verse 1:3 means to listen to the teaching of God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit directly, or through their appointed servants. One of the sweetest experiences any Christian can have is to learn something from the direct teaching of God through divine revelation by way of spiritual discernment. It’s like God sitting beside you and telling you, “Bob…I want to show you something I want you to know about.” That’s one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit, to make our hearts sensitive to the teachings of God. In the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke appears the phrase “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.” This certainly does not speak to those with the sense of hearing perfectly intact, as that would negate all the deaf people in the world from learning God’s Word. No, this speaks to our hearts being sensitive to the urging of the Holy Spirit. According to Romans 10:17, what God wants us to know comes from the Bible, straight into hearts made ready to hear by the Holy Spirit. Look at the one phrase used in each of the following verses: Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29 & 3:6, 13, 22. The one phrase is “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the SPIRIT saith…” So we have a responsibility to learn, and God has the responsibility to bless us for it.
But for teacher and learner, we have the responsibility to keep the words of this prophecy. In the particular verses we are looking at (Revelation 1:3 & 22:7) the word keep is translated from the Greek word TEREO. It means to observe or to give heed to…as of keeping commandments. There is also a translation from the Greek word POIEO that means “doeth.” Together, these two variations appear several times in the Book of Revelation…stressing that there are things about this prophecy we are to keep. But what are we to keep and do? There are two answers. First, there are commands to each of the seven churches in Revelation 2 & 3. Then, there is the rest of the prophecy from chapters 4 through 22. Each one is different in nature, but each is equally compelling. We will very BRIEFLY review each of the seven churches to see what God commanded of them (and of us) and then we will review IN GENERAL the prophecy we are to keep. Because, after all, we have a responsibility to keep the prophecy, and God has the responsibility to bless us for it.
The church at Ephesus left their first love, so God commanded them to do the first works by getting back to basics (Revelation 2:5). The church at Smyrna endured persecution and the reproach of Christ, so God wants them, and us, to continue and to not quit out of fear (Revelation 2:10). The problem with the church at Pergamos was that it needed to be reminded of God to not fall for false doctrines, but to stay true to the gospel of Christ (Revelation 2:14-16). As for the church in Thyatira, Christ asked them not to compromise with the world (Revelation 2:20). The church at Sardis had a problem that needed God’s addressing because they were only playing church and going through the motions. God commanded them to wake up and strengthen those weaker members (Revelation 3:2-3). God commanded the church at Philadelphia to endure in all things until He returns (Revelation 3:11). The Laodiceans were commanded to be zealous (Revelation 3:19).
Now, a church is made up of families, and these families are made up of individual members. So…the strength or weakness of a church largely depends on the strength or weakness of its individual members. Therefore, we can extrapolate from that truth that God wants us, as individuals, to do what He commanded those churches to do. For instance, we need to get back to basics and remember what Christ did for us, thereby making us love Christ more and putting Him back in first place in our lives. Of course, that could bring unwanted persecution from family, friends, and co-workers, but we should not fear those things, but rather still put Christ first. We must be true to the gospel and not stand with, nor fall for any other false doctrine that comes our way. We should never compromise with the world, and these are areas that you will have to allow God to deal with you, as some aspects of compromise are a matter of personal conviction. But the more we allow the world to influence us, the less we will allow church to influence us, and thus we will simply go through the motions of playing church with no real spiritual power behind it…so wake up and strengthen what little bit of your spirit and love for God is alive in you still, and cultivate it. There are many things yet to be endured as we near the end times, but keep seeking to be available for God until Christ’s return. And with all that…be zealous and avail yourself to God.
Now that is, I believe, only half of the words of the prophecy we are to keep. The other half is Revelation 4 through 22. Now, to the well-trained eye, and to the one who has a heart very sensitive to the Holy Spirit allowing for high levels of spiritual discernment, there may be found spiritual application to each and every portion of this prophecy from chapters 4-22. However, we can look generally at what the prophecy in these 18 chapters teaches as a whole body of truth. See, the things written in Revelation will happen like the Bible says regardless of who believes it to be true and who doesn’t. So the best way to approach these chapters is to say to yourself, “Assuming these things are true…” and then begin to read.
It doesn’t matter if you can understand fully the demonic trinity, or whether you can fathom the how and why behind the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven bowl judgments. The important thing to understand throughout Revelation 4-22 is how God’s mercy and love is shown upon those who believe in Him and trust in His Son for salvation, and juxtapose that with how God will deal with the unbelievers in these final days. It’s easy to see that it’s beautiful on the one hand (for the saved) and it’s horrible on the other hand (for the unsaved). This will reveal to us the command we need to keep, even though God did not implicitly state it. The truth is, if we are saved, then we should have a love for people, and who can claim to love others if we don’t involve ourselves in evangelism to save them from Hell and the wrath of God we read of in Revelation.
The command then that we should follow that God implies but doesn’t explicitly state is this: We should be laboring for others while there is still time. Jesus said there would come a time when it would be too late to work (John 9:4). Those “works” Jesus is speaking of refers to our lights. Our works are the lights that will attract others to Christ in this sin darkened world…therefore…let’s shine and let others see such a level of blessedness that those unbelievers will glorify our God (Matthew 5:16) because they’ll have no other explanation for the difference in our lives…thus giving us an opportunity to minister the truth to them. Paul puts it this way, and it echoes the sentiment of Revelation 4-22, and that is this: “…it is high time to awake out of our sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Romans 13:11).
So that brings us to the two blessings we get out of this book, and why the devil doesn’t want us to read, follow, learn and teach it to others. First, we see the final victory of the saints of God and what awaits us. We see that despite all the horrible things that will befall the unbelievers, we will be taken away first, and spared the wrath of God. Those two things should give us the blessing of peace in our hearts as we recognize that God is in control and we just need to have faith and trust him. The second blessing comes from being obedient to God and obeying Him as He leads us to minister to others with a newfound concern for the fate of people, as we read what awaits the unbelievers. There is a joy that comes with being used of God, and to have joy in this life is truly a blessing. Whether we are actually planting gospel seeds, or watering them in prayer, we are laboring with God for the souls of others.
That’s why the devil has kept the Book of Revelation a mystery to so many Christians, and why God promises to bless us if we read, learn, and keep the things contained therein. It’s a book that will give us peace and spur us into action for God…two things the devil wants to avoid. So don’t fall for the lie that the Book of Revelation isn’t for you…it’s for you and for those who you will help because of it.