Author: Ron Graham
The Revelation of Christ (Revelation 1-5) >The Prologue >The Introduction >The benediction
Most of us, when we try to read the book of Revelation, give up. Our feeling is, “This is not for me!” I hope to change your mind, and show you how to value this mysterious book in a more personal way.
At the outset of our studies, I would like to focus on the benediction, or word of blessing, as follows:
¶“3Blessed is the one who reads 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 1:3, NIV).
If you think about it, that benediction is addressed to anyone, including you and me —just like the beatitudes that Jesus uttered in Matthew 5:1-12.
blessed John says that one will be blessed in reading this book of prophecy. But how does that apply to you? It surely must be more than the blessing of a stimulated scalp through scratching your head in puzzlement as you read the book! The book of Revelation is a blessing to each of us, because of the valuable information and the tremendous motivation we can get from it. We are blessed by the immediacy and relevance of its lessons to each one of us personally, in our daily lives.
In Joel 2:28, the Lord promises a gift of latter-day visions. As you know, this came true in the first century of the Christian era (Acts 2:16-17). The Lord knew that people such as you might be curious to know what these visions were like, so he provided the book of Revelation.
No other New Testament book substantially describes a Christian's visions. That alone makes the book of Revelation a considerable blessing. Yet this is not the only blessing.
It would hardly satisfy your curiosity merely to be given a detailed account of an early Christian's visions. You would only say, "Thanks, but now I want to know exactly what all these visions mean!" God, however, has not seen fit to provide you with more than a little explanation of the visions. Instead, he has left you a great deal to ponder. You exercise your heart and mind in beneficial ways when you try to make sense of the heavenly visions.
We give babies milk, but as they grow we give them food they have to chew and labour to digest. We know that this stimulates health in their developing bodies. In the same way, the book of Revelation is food to stimulate the growth of your spirit.
The imagery of Revelation is motivating and liberating. God has reached beyond your curiosity into your deepest yearnings. Human nature seems to have a strong attraction to symbols. Just look at the way Australians connect with entertainment and sport, or science and technology. That connection is not merely symbolic, however the symbolic elements are obvious.
There is definitely something very real inside each one of us that is seeking release and fulfillment. Many Australians won't admit it, but we all have a yearning or a "dreaming". In the book of Revelation the Christian may find his dreaming in the symbols of his spiritual origin, struggle, and destiny.
The benediction upon the reader comes with a condition that readers must hear and keep the words John has written (Revelation 1:3). These words proclaim the gospel, and the gospel must be obeyed without delay. John emphasizes the importance and urgency of this, by repeating that "the time is near" (Revelation 1:3).
This statement, "the time is near", is very important, and we will consider it carefully in later lessons. Revelation is relevant for us because it is about things present or imminent for us, things at hand, not dusty history or distant future. It is about our living by the gospel's power right here and now (Romans 1:16, 12:1).