“Blessed is he who reads Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (Rev. 1:3)
In 2 Peter 3:12, Peter commends us to both look for and hasten the coming Day of God. He commends us to do more than wait for it. He exhorts us to hasten it – that is to speed it up. Our choices in faith and for righteousness really do affect the timing of the coming of the Lord. We have the capacity to either partner with the Lord for the speeding up of the coming of the Lord or through compromise to slow down His return.
However, the Body of Christ is presently only in tune with a quantitative hastening of the Lord. The missions’ movement within the Church is aware of the Matthew 24:14 promise – “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Presently, the missions’ world is rallying for the last great thrust of the gospel among the nations.
At the Call-to-All Conference in Orlando, Florida in 2008, Steve Douglas, the president of Campus Crusade for Christ declared that the Great Commission could be realized within the next ten years. Wow! What an amazing time we are living in! What an honor that we are part of the move of God on the earth which can hasten the Day of the Lord.
However, hastening the Day of the Lord is not merely a numbers game. There is also a qualitative dimension to it. Ephesians 4:13 informs us that we will come “to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
Revelation 19:7 tells us that the Bride has made herself ready, dressed in the white linen of righteous deeds. Again, Revelation 5:8 – 10 and 22:17 reveal the Church in a bridal identity functioning as a House of Prayer in full agreement with God’s Spirit for Jesus to open the scroll and loose its seals.
One of the major points of revealing Jesus’ majesty and glory in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 1:1) is to create desire in the hearts of His believers for His return. Jesus will only return to a people from every nation who cries out for Him to come. In His first coming, Jesus revealed Himself in such a way that created a longing for Him above all earthly pleasures and ambitions. They considered the honor and delight of loving Him and knowing Him to be above all earthly honors and joys. They labored only to bring Him back to the earth, for it would be better if He were there. Such was the power of His revelation and their witness that the first two centuries of the Church longed for His appearing.
In Acts 3, Peter appealed to Jerusalem to repent. If they repented, the times of refreshing would come, and God would send Jesus back (Acts 3:19 – 20). We were made for the presence of Jesus, specifically designed for intimate communion with the God-Man and when He’s not here, we feel it. Jesus’ strategy was to addict them to His presence so that they would do anything to get Him back.
In Titus 2:11 – 14, Paul called the second coming of the Lord Jesus the Church’s blessed hope, and at the close of his life, promised the crown of righteousness to all who longed for and loved the Lord’s appearing.
However, Wayne Grudem states in his book, Systematic Theology,
“The more Christians are caught up in enjoying the good things of this life, and the more they neglect genuine Christian fellowship and their personal relationship with Christ, the less they will long for his return. To some extent, then, the degree to which we actually long for Christ’s return is a measure of the spiritual condition of our own lives at the moment. It also gives some measure of the degree to which we see the world as it really is, as God sees it, in bondage to sin and rebellion against God, and in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19).”
The propensity of fallen human beings is to want God out of our immediate proximity so that we can enjoy our temporary lives and our temporary stuff. John warns us against this natural love for the things of this world in 1 John 2:15 – 17. But, the Book of Revelation contains within it the necessary revelation of Jesus to overcome the greatest obstacle to Jesus’ return – the lack of desire by His Church for Him to come.
To many believers, the return of Jesus is merely a doctrine. It is not personal. But the second coming of Jesus was highly personal for the disciples and soon will be for the church worldwide in our generation. Revelation 22:17 speaks of a time when the Spirit and the Bride will be in complete unity in their desire for Jesus to return and rule on the earth.
At the End-of-the-Age, the heart cry of believers will be one of longing for their King and their God. God will release revelation about His Son that will produce the highest expressions of longing and love from the Church. John closed Revelation with this divine dialogue. Jesus gives the revelation of His coming with the specific battle plan to establish the Kingdom of God among the nations. For John receives the revelation and responds back with the cry of yearning, the heart given to love: “Come, Jesus! I miss you!” in Revelation 22:20.
The Invitation to Read the Book of Revelation – Revelation 1:3
The Book of Revelation contains seven beatitudes or blessings (1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14). The other five encourage faithfulness in the face of fear, persecution, and deception in order to receive the blessings of the marriage supper of the Lamb, the millennial reign, and the New Jerusalem.
Two of these (i.e. Rev. 1:3 and Rev. 22:7) deal specifically with the blessing that comes to the person who keeps the words of the prophecy. For the prophecy is an encouragement to believers to take the prophecy serious, to receive the revelation of Jesus’ majestic personality and plan, and to engage the content of the book in active partnership.
This verse contains a threefold path for eating the scroll, for digesting the message at a level which brings change and produces the faith necessary to live out and bring forth the content of the book (read Rev. 10).
He who reads – Revelation 1:3
Most commentators point out the public reading aspect of this verse. The charge to read the book publicly was a statement about the book’s rightful place of being in the center of the community. The content of the book is vital for godliness and the formation of genuine Christian community. The Church must read, study, and meditate upon this wonderful gift given to the Body of Christ.
Christian community is severely hindered by the loss of this prophecy. The Church’s view of Jesus diminishes. Jesus as the Word of God and Lord of lords is replaced with an unusual spiritual man who gave a unique but not supreme revelation of God. As the sovereignty and supremacy of Jesus fades to more sensible modern notions, singing from an overflowing heart gives way to intellectualism and stale religion.
Then Jesus’ return becomes an abstract concept not a concrete plan to hasten His coming through dynamic partnership. An eternal perspective gives way to the increase of temporal pleasures. The centrality of prayer and worship and its governmental role is exchanged for leaders with natural talent and gifting. Strategizing, rather than intercession, becomes the tool for Church growth.
The fear of the Lord and His judgments are forgotten and the scandal of sin is replaced with sociological and psychological reasoning. Perseverance is no longer necessary as evangelism gives way to syncretistic notions of all religious ideas and expressions are equal.
He who hears – Revelation 1:3
This is the reception of divine insight by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Hearing takes place when the spiritual senses of the person are awakened to the truths contained in the book and suddenly the content shifts from the realm of principles to be pondered to the place of living understanding that demands a response.
In Isaiah 50:4 – 5, Jesus is described in this servant song as having an awakened ear. The awakening enables Him to hear as the learned. Immediately, the verse connects the listening ear with right response. What you hear and how you hear will always display itself in behavior. Why? Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
Mark 4:24 points to the importance of what you hear and Luke 8:18 points to the importance of how you hear. Seven times in the gospels (Matt. 11:15; 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9, 23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35) and once in Revelation 13:9 Jesus exhorts, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” Eight times in the Book of Revelation Jesus exhorts, “If anyone has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.”
Along with the parable of the sower, Jesus quotes Isaiah 6:9 – 10. In it, Jesus sets forth the value of God’s Word. Have you considered the infinite value of the revelation of God? It is to be cherished, pursued, and sought after like hidden treasure. Those who attain through hunger will always receive more and those who do not treasure what they have received; even what they have will be taken away.
For God gives more to the hungry. To those who scorn His wisdom and His Word, even what they have will be taken away from them. Wisdom is given to the wise, not the foolish who scorn the treasure of God’s counsel (Dan. 2:20 – 22).
He who keeps – Revelation 1:3
God’s word is not simply meant to be understood; it is to be kept. The Greek word means “to guard from loss”. Blessed is the one who guards the content of the book in a way which takes the details seriously. The content of God’s word is to be activated in the life of the believer (John 14:23 – 24).
Blessed is the one who hears and keeps the word of God. Blessed is the one who takes the details seriously, who searches enough to understand in a way that impacts behavior (Luke 11:27 – 28).
The keeping in this passage is not associated with a general obedience to the general commands of God. A general keeping of the God’s commandments is quite clearly stated in Revelation 22:14, but this keeping is specifically related to the words of the prophecy.
This prophecy is an invitation for hastening the day of the Lord through active participation. Which generation will read, hear, and then keep the prophecy? Which generation will come into the revelation of Christ that produces the faith to keep the prophecy? The End-Time generation!
Thus, Jesus reiterates the invitation in Revelation 22:7 again. Who will come into agreement concerning the time is at hand and will embrace the Lord’s desire to come establish justice on the earth? One generation will come into faith concerning the person and work of Jesus presented in this prophecy.
The Invitation Restated and a Severe Warning Given – Rev. 22:7 and 22:18 – 19
In Revelation 22:7, 18 – 19, Jesus reiterates His quick return, and invites a generation to believe the prophecy and keep its content. When John falls down to worship the angel in the next verse, the angel stops him and announces that he is John’s fellow servant, and of his brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. He then commands the book not to be sealed. The book remains unsealed. The understanding is available, yet who will read, hear, and activate the End-Time plan through prayer and obedience.
John ends the Revelation with a sober warning concerning the content of the book. He warns of two types of corruption to the book.
Firstly, He warns against those who would add to the content of the prophecy – either changing the revelation of Jesus or making the book too complex for the common person to understand.
Then he warns against those who would take away or diminish the content of the prophecy, thus relegating to basic good versus evil principles while neglecting the specifics which may have eternal consequences.
Why is the warning so severe? There are two reasons for such severe warning.
Firstly, doing so will leave the Body of Christ unprepared for its greatest threat and most intense persecution (2 Thes. 2:1 – 10).
Secondly, the Book of Revelation contains within it the necessary revelation of Jesus to overcome the greatest obstacle to Jesus’ return – the lack of desire by His Church for Him to come. There are 79 descriptions of Jesus in Revelation 1 – 5 and within it, His person and work are set forth. For the Book is rightly titled the Revelation of Christ (Rev. 1:1).
Currently, very few persons in the Body of Christ want Him to come back and make all things new. Presently, the Body of Christ is so inundated and perverted by the spirit of this age that they have no desire for His return. This is only because they have not received a revelation of Christ and His glory. This is going to change and the place of prayer and worship is going to escort us into this bright revelation of Christ and His glory.
If the Church does not read, hear, and get a vision to keep the content of this prophecy, it will continue to be malnourished on the very revelation of Jesus which creates the longing for Him to come and will leave portions of the Church vulnerable to the deceptive schemes of the enemy.
The Praying Church hastens the Day of the Lord and Keeps His Word
The prayer and worship movement is springing up all over the earth precisely because the end is near. The Lord’s Prayer for His Father’s kingdom and will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven” is coming forth. Heaven has both unceasing prayer and adoration in the context of unending enjoyment of Jesus. As the veil is beginning to diminishing between this age and the next, the earth finds itself in transition. Revelation 5 gives us a glance of this transition.
Revelation 4 and 5 gives us a view into the government of God and how His rule is released. This passage gives John and us a picture of how God will administrate His government in closing out this age and ushering in the next.
In it, the Book displays the heavenly throne room as Jesus takes the Scroll from His Father. The scene begins with a view into the One who sits on the throne, the Father of glory and ends with the worship of the Holy, Holy, Holy and the proclamation of the worth of the Father in creating all things for His pleasure.
Revelation 5 begins with the question of who is worthy to open the scroll and loose its seals. Who is worthy to administrate the Father’s plan to liberate the earth and release the judgments necessary to do so? Just as the Father is worthy of all glory and honor in creating and sustaining all things, so too the Son will be seen as worthy to recreate and restore all things.
The Lion of the tribe of Judah prevails, and as a Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes who is in the midst of the throne, Jesus takes the scroll and prepares to administrate the Father’s plan. This Lamb has seven horns and seven eyes. He is perfect power and perfect wisdom, yet before He opens the scrolls and looses its seals, something on earth must be in place. Something must be offered up to heaven from the saints on the earth.
Revelation 5:8 – 10 gives us insight into what is necessary to come forth from the Church before the Lamb transitions the age – identity of the Church as a House of Prayer. The 24 Elders and 4 Living Creatures offer to the Lamb harps and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. The Church has to come into her identity as a House of Worship and Prayer (Rev. 5:8).
The highest identity of the redeemed throughout all eternity is to walk as a House of Prayer or in intimacy-based intercession as sons of God and as the Bride of Christ ruling with Jesus. Worship and prayer are eternal realities. Intercession is the primary means that God has chosen to release His government both in His relationship with Jesus within the fellowship of the Trinity and with His people now and forever. The majesty and mystery of intercession is seen first and most in Jesus’ relationship with the Father in Psalm 2:8.
God is waiting for our persistency in prayer before Him. Isaiah taught that He longs to release His grace and power, but actually waits until He hears the cry of His people in intercession (Isa. 30:18 – 19). God is going to take prayer meetings out of the Church and put within it a prayer lifestyle and culture. Currently, Islam has a prayer culture and the Church only have occasional prayer meetings. Maybe the more radical ones have a prayer event.
But the Spirit is producing a great hunger in the Body of Christ for intimate fellowship and ruling effectiveness through prayer and worship.
The Church will sing a new song and come into an intercessory cry of the worth of Jesus to administrate the close of this present age and usher in the new age as set forth in Ephesians 1:9 – 10. The Church will come into a revelation of Christ’s worth specifically concerning His need to return and loose the judgments necessary to fulfill the Father’s plan for world redemption.
One generation will read, hear, and keep the words of this prophecy. One generation will read and hear Jesus saying, “Behold, I am coming quickly!” and have the revelation of Him necessary to engage the content of the book and activate the battle plan of our Lord as set forth in the prophecy.
May it be said of our generation that we hastened the day of the Lord and joined the chorus of Peter, Paul, and John, “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
“If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.” (1 Cor. 16:22 – 24)