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Blessings Through God's Word

Revelation 1:3
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. (NIVUK)

Christians often talk about being blessed, and they should because it is a recurring idea through the Bible - used almost 7 thousand times. The word used here means to be truly happy; experiencing the deep pleasure of being in good relationship with God, contented and having all that is needed (Matthew 5:1-12). That is God's character. When He blesses people, He provides another opportunity for us to share in His nature, as we receive His goodness and respond in praise. God is the originator of blessing. He is the contenter of souls (Psalm 131:2), the shelter in the storm (Isaiah 4:5-6) and the only One whose love is constant and unconditional all the time (Lamentations 3:22).

There is a special blessing in reading Revelation. It is not just knowledge about the future, but it unpacks how our God and Saviour Jesus Christ will finally be exalted, although the world despises Him now: how He will bring justice to the oppressed (Revelation 19:11), vindication for His people (Revelation 19:2) and the total downfall and eternal destruction of Satan (Revelation 20:10). The prophecy gives glimpses of heaven (Revelation 4:1) and hell (Revelation 20:12-15), and proclaims the authority of the Lord Jesus over everything (Revelation 20:4). It is a book of hope for the weary, comfort to the persecuted and strength for those who daily battle with their own fallen nature. It is also a reminder that the old order of pain, sickness, death and tears is only temporary (Revelation 21:4). It will not be long before the Lord comes to sort it all out. Until then we trust Him and rest in the blessing of His love and hope of His final triumph.

Reading aloud is common in some cultures, but not so much in the West, except to check that children are learning to read properly. Revelation was originally intended to be read aloud to church congregations, but the reader needed to appreciate that the words were a message from Jesus Christ Himself. To read them was an awesome privilege: not just thinking the words in their minds but physically engaging with what the Lord had commanded for our blessing.

It is said that a preacher is more enriched than the congregation, and a writer more enlightened than the readers: that is probably true. But here we have divine authority to expect that the Lord will bring true happiness to the Scripture reader, as well as to the hearers, if both 'take it to heart', 'making it clear and giving the meaning' (Nehemiah 8:3-8). It is an insult to God to skim-read or rush through without taking in the significance of what He is saying. Reading aloud will slow us down: use the commas and full stops to pause and think. In Revelation, the language is graphic, intended to produce a video in your mind, and the minds of those who hear you read. Remember that it takes a few moments between listening and 'seeing' the pictures in your mind. So, give it time. God wants to talk to you and through you: listen well.

Prayer 
Holy God. Thank You for wanting to talk to me, to give me hope and encourage me to keep trusting Jesus. I repent of my careless habits in reading, not giving enough time to listen, nor even thinking that You are talking to me. Please help me to appreciate the privilege of reading Your Word and give me the discipline to read sufficiently slowly that I can see what the text is describing, and realise how loved and safe I am. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams

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