As most of you know we are currently between churches and are attending a small Wesleyan church in the area and helping out with the worship and children’s ministry. As part of that we attend Sunday School and they use the Wesley Bible Curriculum. This past quarter was a study on Revelation. I really enjoyed this study – because it concentrated on the bigger picture – that the Lamb of God overcomes! I like the fact that the study avoided the speculation that typically happens during a study of Revelation.
It was really interesting as it all worked out that Reign of Christ Sunday fell on the Sunday we studied the New Heaven and New Earth, and the First Sunday of Advent fell on the Sunday we studied Maranatha or Come, Lord Jesus.
What caught my attention though – and the reason for this post was what are called the Seven Beatitudes – or Seven Blessings. We are very familiar with the Beatitudes or blessings that were given to us during Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount.” But listed in Revelation – although scattered throughout the book are seven blessings that pertain to those who follow Jesus and keep His commandments.
- God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near. – Revelation 1:3
- And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!” – Revelation 14:13
- “Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, who keep their clothing ready so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed.” – Revelation 16:15
- And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” – Revelation 19:9
- Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years. – Revelation 20:6
- “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book.” – Revelation 22:7
- Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. – Revelation 22:14
It’s interesting how these verse parallel Psalm 1 – Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.
The traditional translation of Psalm 1 is blessed is the man.
Here is what I find interesting, most look at the book of Revelation as a book of Prophecy – which it is, but over the years, I have looked at Revelation as a:
- Book of Worship – through the book of Revelation, we get but a dim reflection of what the worship in heaven will look like. One of the reasons I love “Revelation Song” is that it paints the picture for us. When we gather for worship on Sunday, it is just a rehearsal for what we are going to do forever when we get to heaven – worship the eternal, timeless God – worship the Lamb who was slain for us. It is going to be pretty amazing – and that doesn’t even begin to describe it.
- Book of Hope – we must remember that this book initially was written to the First Century Church. This is a church that was going through intense persecution. We get a glimpse of that in each of the letters to the seven churches. Jesus speaks to the church at Smyrna and says, “I know about your affliction…” The best way to describe this is being crushed beneath a weight. Jesus has a message to each of the churches – sometimes those messages contain a warning, but each message ends with some variation of “to the one who is victorious…” If you are going through some tough times…THERE.IS.HOPE!
- Book of Holiness – That is where these seven blessings lead us. Each of the above blessings are only in effect if we read the words and obey them. God told the people of Israel – Be holy because I am holy. Time and time again, God reminded his people that he wanted them to be holy and to show the nations their holiness. In the New Testament, the believers are given this command again, “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must be holy because I am holy.’” – 1 Peter 1:16. Why would God command us to be holy, if it wasn’t possible in this life? Since God has commanded it, it must be possible. We are not a people of good works-we are not saved by our good works, but because Christ has saved us – we want to obey him – and our works are the fruit of our love for him.
Back at the beginning of last year, our church went through a series called “Downpour” by James McDonald. One of the things that I loved about the series was this emphasis on holiness. God is holy and he calls his people to be holy and to obey his commandments – and if we obey his commandments, just like in the Old Testament – we will be blessed. We won’t be prosperous – everything won’t go just the way we want it. But we will be blessed far beyond the riches of this world – with the riches of the eternal world.