John Carter – December 31, 2015 – The Book of Revelation – End Times
The Blessings (Benefits) of the Book of Revelation
It seems that the Book of Revelation has become the poster child book for end of year sermons or studies. And rightly so because Revelation is the last book of the Bible and it also speaks of the last things to take place before the glorious (and long awaited) return of Jesus Christ. At the outset of this particular study I must confess that I do have a pet peeve about most studies on the Book of Revelation. Namely they are heavy on timelines and light on the actual subject of the Book which is the Churches eagerly anticipated return of her Groom.
To prove my point look at the 8 clearly identified blessing found throughout this book.
The 8 Blessings in the Book of the Revelation
Blessing 1: Those who Publicly Read the words of this book (1:3)
Blessing 2: Those who Hear & Keep the words (1:3)
Blessing 3: Those who Die in the Lord (14:13)
Blessing 4: Those who Stay awake (16:15)
Blessing 5: Those who are Invited to the Marriage Dinner (19:9)
Blessing 6: Those who Share in the First Resurrection (20:6)
Blessing 7: Those who Keep the Words (22:7)
Blessing 8: Those who Wash their Robes (22:14)
Not a single one of these blessings requires a fantastic or elaborate understanding of this book. Rather, the blessings are reserved for the obedient Christian and for the Church, who is also the Bride of Christ. That is why it is my aim is to encourage the Church of Rollingview Baptist Church to keep the words of the book of Revelation by focusing on and worshiping Jesus Christ.
Although we are not going to look at each of these 8 blessings in detail, we will be touching on a few of them.
It is interesting to note that the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ starts with a blessing for the Public reader and not the hearer. The importance of publically speaking the word of God is not unique to the book of Revelation. Rather, the falls in line with the oral nature of the Gospel and the word of God. The Old Testament required the public reading of the Law of Moses (Exodus 24:3). Jesus is referred to as the word of God (John 1:1). The Gospel message of salvation is an oral message that we are commanded to publicly and verbally speak (Romans 10:5-17). Even Paul Command Timothy to not neglect the public reading of the Scriptures; which is the Old Testament (1 Timothy 4:13). There is a special blessing to be had for those who would read out loud the entirety of this book. That is why I read the entire book to the 0-5 class last Sunday. At a brisk rate it took me about an hour and ten minutes.
This Blessing for the reader is followed by a blessing for the hearer and keeper of what is heard. It is not accident that eight times the phrase “if anyone has an ear, let him hear” is found in this book (2:7 – Ephesus, 2:11 – Smyrna, 2:17 – Pergamum, 2:29 – Thyatira, 3:6 – Sardis, 3:13 – Philadelphia, 3:22 – Laodicea, 13:9 – The Beast and His war on the Saints). In the Old Testament you will come across the word hear. Often the implications of this word are not just a passive hearing but an incentive to actively obey what is heard. Deuteronomy 6:4 would be an excellent example of this when Moses ways ‘Hear, O Israel.’ The goal is that Israel would act upon what they are going to hear.
It is insufficient to read Revelation and seek to establish a timeline for the day and hour of Christ’s return. To do this would be an exercise in futility (Matthew 24:36) and would also be entirely missing the point. We are not being called to know something but to keep something. This means that there are implicit commands to be kept. Revelation 1:3; 2:26; 3:3; 3:10; 12:17; 14:12; 22:7; 22:9 all mentioning this keeping. And to use the analogy of 12:17, just as one is blessed for keeping on his or her clothes in preparation for unforeseen action so is one blessed for keeping the words of this book. This keeping requires endurance.
That is why in light of Blessing about Reading, Hearing, and Keeping the words of this book we should take notice of the two times that there is a call for endurance (13:10; 14:12). This should cause us to ask endure what? and what is the reward of our endurance? The first call is for the endurance and faith of the saints. The second call is for those who keep the commands of God and their faith in Jesus. This message is far from unique to Revelation. A cursory study of the New Testament will show that endurance is a daily activity in the life of the Christian: Luke 21:19; Romans 5:3-5; 2 Corinthians 6:4; Colossians 1:11; Hebrews 10:36; Hebrews 12:1; Revelation 1:9; Rev 2:2; Rev 2:19; Rev 3:10; and the entire letter of Jude.
Reading through Revelation and these passages mentioned reveals that the Christian is to endure the hardships and sufferings of this life- Hardships and sufferings which have been promised by Christ (John 15:21). The third and fourth blessings of Revelation relate to enduring even in the face of death and adversity (14:13; 16:15). Now this all answers what we are to endure, but you and I should still ask, what is the reward?
The fifth blessing is the answer to this question. The reward is an open invitation to the marriage dinner between the Christ and his bride, the Church. Revelation 19:9 says “and the angel said to me, ‘write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God.’” Think back to the parable of the Wedding Feast for a King’s son in Mathew 22:1-14. Or the parable of the Great Banquet in Luke 14:16-24. In the first parable many are called but few are chosen, and in the second parable there were those who were invited but never tasted.
God has not called his saints to endure for the sake of endurance. He has called for endurance for the sake of a great reward. Although we may not fully comprehend the intricacies of this Wedding Dinner we can certainly conclude that is a privilege to be there and correlates with the sixth blessing of partaking in the first resurrection. However, this still does not entirely answer our earlier question of what are we keeping?
Looking at the seventh Blessing we are again asking, what word are we to keep? Among other things, the most important words to keep in all of Revelation are also the most important point of the Book of Revelation: Worship Jesus Christ as God!
Think about this, Jesus says in 22:7, “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” Compare that with 19:10 where we find out that, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Jesus’ Revelation to John is not just about the things that will takes place in these last days. Jesus’ Revelation to John is a call to worship Jesus, himself as God.
Moving quickly through Revelation we find out the true worship of God includes a recognition of his triune nature (1:4-5). We discover that intentional worship of Satan or any false God is met with death (9:20; 13:4; 13:8; 13:12; 13:15; 14:9; 14:11; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4). Then we find out that accidentally worshiping a messenger of God results in an immediate rebuke and correction (19:10; 22:8). But only through the true worship of Jesus Christ as God results in eternal life (4:10; 7:11; 5:8; 5:14; 11:16; 14:7; 15:4;19:4; 19:10; 22:3; 22:9).
Biblical Christian Worship is not a man centered endeavor. It is a God centered endeavor. More specifically trinity worship is commanded by the Ancient of Days, empowered and regulated by the Holy Spirit and an exaltation of Jesus of Nazareth as the eternal God who became forever man. If you hear this but do not keep this then you are at best missing out on a blessing and at worst taking away from the words of this revelation and therefore taking away from your share in the tree of life and from the Holy City (22:18-19) Do not limit yourself to hearing the words of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, but exult, rejoice, in keeping the words of his Revelation.
As we end this encouragement from the Book of Revelation I want to end by asking this final question. How does a bride keep her wedding dress clean? Is it not with great care and attention to her surroundings to keep her dress clean? Brides are not known for playing tackle football on their wedding day in their wedding dresses because it would certainly result in a dirty and damaged dress. So when Jesus tells us to keep the words of the His Revelation, should we not be more diligent in keeping these words then a Bride keeps her dress?
But just because great care is made to keep the wedding dress clean, this is not done for the sake of cleanliness. There is a bigger picture. A bigger goal. A bigger purpose. Namely, the Bride wants to meet her Groom in splendid and beautiful perfection. In the same way we are not to keep the words of this book to be legalistic. Even here there is a bigger picture. The goal and purpose of the keeping of these words is for the true and proper worship of Jesus Christ and the entire triune Godhead.
This year as we hear and keep the words of the book of Revelation and the Bible as a whole, let us keep our eye on the prize; never wavering but seeking the exaltation of Jesus Christ now and forever!