The book of Revelation is one of the most important books of the Bible. It reveals to us the culmination of God’s plan of redemption like no other portion of scripture, referencing nearly every single book of the Old Testament and bringing them together in a clear, understandable way.
Revelation is the only book in the Bible which pronounces a special blessing to the readers of it. John tells us, “Blessed is he that is reading, and they that are hearing the words of this prophecy, and guarding/observing those things having been written therein: for the time is at hand.” The Holy Spirit urges us with this blessing to continually read and hear and guard the words written within Jesus’ Revelation. With such a special word from our God we would be foolish to ignore this prophetic book, for we are also told later “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
The importance of the words Jesus has expounded to us in His revelation is underscored severely in the last words from John, who solemnly warns, “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the Holy City, and from the things which are written in this book.”
And so, with the promise of a blessing, which in Christ Jesus is “yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us,” and with the warning to take these words very seriously, let us press on in the power of The Holy Spirit, of whom Jesus Christ has promised, “He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come. He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you.”
“The uncovering belonging to Jesus Christ, which God [The Father] gave unto Him, to shew unto His bond-slaves which things of Him are necessary to emerge in quickness; and He made it known, having sent it through His angel unto His bond-slave John:”
In the first verse, the word “Revelation” is the Greek word “Apocolypse.” It means to uncover. Think of an artist uncovering a painting for the first time to an audience, uncovering the artwork which had previously been shrouded by cloth. That is what is happening here. Through the entirety of the Bible, The LORD has revealed to us bits and pieces of His plan, of the future woes and blessings to come, every letter pointing to a person: Jesus Christ. Portions of His great painting have been shown, but now The Father sends Jesus who sends an Angel, who speaks to John, to uncover His work of art so that we may more perfectly behold Jesus Christ. This is, after all, His revelation – He owns it and it is regarding Him.
The word “shortly” in verse one means “in quickness.” It does not mean that these things, from the time John writes, were to happen shortly thereafter; no, but it means that when they begin to happen, they will happen quickly (i.e., in quickness).
“Who bare record of The Word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, as much as he perceived.”
The Apostle John faithfully records what he perceived. We have an accurate record of the visions and revelations which John has perceived.
“Blessed is he that is reading, and they that are hearing the words of this prophecy, and guarding/observing those things having been written therein: for the time is at hand.”
As stated above, there is a special blessing pronounced upon those reading, hearing, and guarding/observing these words. The verbs reading and hearing are quite obvious, but lets look a little deeper into the word, “keep” in the original KJV.
The word keep can mean three things: to watch, observe, or guard. Here I believe it is used three-fold. All three work in unison for us to properly “keep” Jesus’ words. An important foundation to be sure, for we want to to have the promise of a blessing fulfilled in our lives. A blessing which is truly and perfectly manifested in a greater comprehension of Jesus Christ’s glory as revealed through the scriptures.
- To watch we must be awake, vigilant. Being cognizant of the happenings around us so that we might more perfectly carry out our faith. Take example from the sons of Issachar, “which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do…”
- To observe we must obey Jesus’ commands found in His revelation. Most apparent, the ones within His seven epistles to the selected Asian churches. Jesus says in John 15, “If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.”
- To guard we must not let the meaning, interpretation, nor application of Jesus’ words become corrupted. As Paul exhorts, “In all things offering thyself as a model forged by the repetition of good works: in doctrine not affected by decay/uncorrupted, serious, sincere, sound/healthy/pure speech, not open to just rebuke; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”
Another application we can draw from verse three is the last phrase: “for the time is at hand.” John wrote these words a little over nineteen hundred years ago, saying that Jesus’ coming was near to come, so how much more for us who live in these last days? The question arises, then: if the time is at hand, what are we to be doing? Here are a few observations.
- We ought to be moderate in judgment towards others, that is, gentle to all, not always exercising the strictest punishment or judgment. For Paul states, “Let your moderation in judgment/gentleness be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” We ought therefore to err on the side of grace as Jesus did. Even Jesus waited long, after much observation and patience, before rebuking the Pharisees.
- We should be gathering together. Assembling in person as the body of Christ. “…Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” For to perform the doctrines of Christ completely requires us to be in person in order to practice, “…baptisms, and of laying on of hands.”
- Endure in hope for “we are saved by hope” and as John tells us in his other letter, “every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” This admonition is clearly stated in Hebrews, The Holy Spirit urging us “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.”
- Complementary to point one, James tells us, “Do not sigh deeply/groan with frustration against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. Jesus stands at the door, ready to open it up and pour His wrath upon the earth. We ought therefore to exemplify the forbearance and long-suffering of our savior to our brethren.
- An admonition from Peter speaks to every hour, but especially the end. He says, “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober-minded, and stay away/be vigilant for the purpose of prayers.” We must stay awake. As the bride earnestly expects her groom to announce His coming, we too are to stay awake with sober minds, vigilant in prayers as we await “that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”
- The day of Jesus Christ is at hand. The sun has almost risen upon the earth, ushering in that glorious age for which we long. “Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in partying and drunkenness, not in lewd sexual behavior and unrestrained behavior, not in strife and envying. But put ye on The Lord Jesus Christ, and make not foresight for the lusts of the flesh.” Put the deeds of the body to death, bear Jesus’ dying in your body that His life might be manifest.
- Finally, Jesus warns us, “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be burdened with over consumption, and drunkenness, and anxieties of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.”
In these few verses of introduction, we, even here, according to the unfathomable depth of God’s eternal, living word, find application. As we venture into the apocolypse of Jesus Christ let us be ever watching for His return, gentle and moderate towards our brethren, gathering as The Body of Christ, sober, vigilant, praying, putting on Jesus Christ, enduring in the hope of His promise: “Surely I come quickly.”