Saturday, May 10, 2014

Faithful Until Death

3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near. – Revelation 1:3 (NASB95)

It is the desire for God which is the most fundamental appetite of all, and it is an appetite we can never eliminate. We may seek to disown it, but it will not go away. If we deny that it is there, we shall in fact only divert it to some other object or range of objects. And that will mean that we invest some creature or creatures with the full burden of our need for God, a burden which no creature can carry. — Simon Tugwell, The Beatitudes

We usually think of beatitudes as that collection of verses in Matthew chapter five. Each one begins, “Blessed is. . . .” But there are a lot more beatitudes. Basically, it’s a statement of blessing, based on a particular reason. That’s my definition, but I think it will hold up. That makes the verse from Revelation 1:3 a beatitude.

There is a promised blessing that comes to those who will spend the time and put forth the effort with the book we know as the book of Revelation. That’s makes it doubly sad when people avoid that book because it’s controversial, or difficult to understand, or filled with confusing symbolism, or deemed unimportant. That last one is a conclusion reached because of all the other reasons. If it were important, it wouldn’t be all that other stuff. Surely!

Evidently John didn’t think that way. We may avoid it, ignore it, and refuse to study it, but the book itself still claims a blessing for those willing to dig in.

We need to address an important mistake, however. Sometimes, people will acknowledge there is a blessing, but it’s said to be for those who read it. Please read the verse again. There are two items that make up the basis for the blessing, and they are in the words, “read” and “heed” (in the New American Standard). Both work together. One must read, and then obey what he reads. The book of Revelation is to be obeyed, not just studied.

Perhaps this is another reason Revelation is an avoided book. Many have read enough to know that it says things like, “Be faithful until death. . . .” Somehow, we sense that this is a book that doesn’t gloss over the realities of life. It asks us to be honest with them, and to realize that Christians must sometimes endure great suffering because they are Christians. Revelation asks us to be faithful regardless what happens.

That’s not what we want to hear. We want to know everything will be alright. Stay with the book! It has that message too. We endure all that the world throws at us because in the end, everything is just like it ought to be. God has already won the victory for us.