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The blessing of revelation (Revelation 1:3)

As John continues the introduction to this apocalypse (a genre of writing), he writes,

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)

We see here that the intention of the author was that this book should be read aloud in the churches, probably the seven churches we're about to see in this book in particular, though it doesn't need to be limited to them. We see that "blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy" (v. 3). So, the person who reads it aloud is blessed. But we also see in verse 3, "blessed are those who hear." Not only is the reader blessed, but so is the listener.

Notice, also, that the listener isn't meant to only listen but also to act on the information received. Verse 3 continues, "and who keep what is written in it." We'll see specific exhortations to the seven churches in the coming weeks, but even the sections of the book that aren't specifically giving instructions should prompt action from the church. We live according to what we know.

Finally, he says in this verse, "for the time is near." That's the reason that the people who read, hear, and keep this book are blessed. What he's about to write is about to start happening.

This is the basis for a lot of our interpretation of this book going forward. Revelation isn't just about what would happen in history thousands of years in the future. It's about what the original audience would start experiencing soon. That doesn't mean that everything in this book has happened already (a heretical doctrine called "full preterism" or "hyper-preterism"), but it does seem to suggest that these events would start to happen even in their day. We'll get into that more as we go along.

For now, let's focus on the fact that whoever hears this book is blessed. This is true about all of Scripture, but the particular focus of this verse is on this specific book. And it truly is a blessing to read and hear and keep. Many Christians steer away from Revelation for fear of not understanding, but they're missing out on great blessings. So, we keep going forward in our studies. And may we experience the blessings that God has intended through it.

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