We are familiar with the beatitudes in Matthew 5 from verse 3 to verse 10 and perhaps even include verses 11-12. These form part of the Sermon on the Mount spreading over chapters 5 to 7.
Whilst an ordinate in training at Bible School, I preached almost every Sunday at a Church in Saldanha. It was at this time I stumbled upon the Beatitudes in the Book of Revelation. This was almost 40 years ago when I preached through them. I thought it might be a good idea to look at these Beatitudes in our Daily Notes.
You will see that as in Matthew, these in Revelation all start with the word “blessed”. This word literally means “happy, fortunate or blissful”. It has in mind far more than a surface emotion of joy. Rather, our Lord is describing believers as blessed because of what God has granted them, bestowed upon them and guaranteed them for both the present and in eternity.
Although I can’t remember the source, one commentator described “blessed” as “congratulations” in the sense that the believer in congratulated because of the Divine Blessings poured out upon him or her. The first Beatitude in the Book of Revelation comes from chapter 1:3 … “Blessed 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.” Immediately, you see the blessing is related to God’s Word. Remember that even though the immediate blessings are related to the Book of Revelation, the deeper understanding is that it applies to all of the Bible as we have it.
1) The blessings of reading.
Although many see weird and wonderful out of body, away from earth experiences and cataclysmic events in the Book of Revelation relating to certain eschatological events, this Book is easy to read and understand as long as you have the rights keys to unlock it. Those keys relate to understanding what certain colours, animals, symbols and types meant in the First Century, when the apostle John wrote. In essence, the Book covers the period from the First Coming of Jesus (God Incarnate) to His Second Coming (In Judgment). So, whether it is the Book of Revelation or the whole Bible, the story line is all about God’s Rescue Plan through the Lord Jesus. That is the message of the Bible, therefore it ought to be obvious that when you read about Jesus you are going to be blessed. You are reading about the Divine Being who alone is the One, True, Living God who came to this planet to substitute for man on the Cross at Calvary. His substitution was intentional because mankind could never reconcile themselves to God because of their sinful, wicked, depraved disposition passed on from Adam throughout all the generations to us … and until the end of the world. One of the great problems in the Church today is that we don’t read the Bible … or we only read the passages we tend to like and skip over the passages we don’t like forgetting that
2 Tim 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
May I use this opportunity to call you to read and read and read God’s Word, for through it you will profit your soul and be blessed!
2) The blessings of hearing.
Although John is referring to hearing the Word of God audibly … meaning when it is preached or taught … hearing also applies to when we read the Bible. I’m sure we have all heard people saying … “I know you hear what I say but are you listening to me?” I feel that the word “hearing” here encompasses both concepts of hearing and listening. You see, whether it is you reading the Bible or you listening to an exposition from God’s Word … you need to hear in the soul. The spiritual ear must also hear otherwise what you hear audibly will only give academic stimulation. The intent of God’s Word is that it reaches the heart. Unless it hits the target it will sadly not accomplish its task.
It is for this reason that you need to hear in the soul because it is there that the written words (Bible) and the spoken words (preacher) are received as sensible and making sense to your inner man. What fulfilment is there to the dart player or the marksman when he can’t hit the bullseye? The target is big but the bullseye is small, in the center and hitting it receives the greatest score. Spiritually this is true with the Word of God. You are the target … you mind sees the Word on paper or hears it with the ear. It might be transferred to the brain causing the mind to grasp academic facts … but until that Word hits the soul it will never accomplish spiritual truth and realities. It needs to hit bullseye and bullseye is your soul. Then beloved you are blessed.
3) The blessings of taking to heart.
It’s so wonderful to see how this verse flows from reading to hearing to application! This is the reason the Word must hit bullseye. It must hit the soul because only the soul can “take the Word of God to heart!” Taking to heart means to think through and meditate upon the Word carefully and thoughtfully to find and understand the message God is intending for you. It is almost useless to think the Word you heard was a good Word and you don’t apply it to your life. That is what taking to heart means. It is deliberately seeking life transformation through doing what that Word requires. Is there a sin to avoid, an emotion to prevent, a lesson to learn, a blessings to receive, a task to perform … and most importantly to make certain you are on the Lord’s side, progressing towards Glory, growing in holiness and Christlikeness … for that is that goal of Christ redeeming you from your lost estate. The beatitude ends by wanting us to get the spiritual and eternal urgency of the moment … “because the time is near.” To receive the blessing of the beatitude requires that you are right with God and continuing to walk with Jesus in obedience to His Word without wasting your energy, resources or time because time is running out!
O Lord God Almighty, we praise and thank You for leaving us Your Word to learn and hang onto in the heart. Amen.