The One Who is Blessed

The One Who is Blessed

Rev. 1:3 … “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.”

To most people the Book of Revelation is a very mysterious volume, full of cryptic passages. Some despair of understanding it, and consequently seldom read it. Others, however, look upon this terminal portion of the Bible as the key to understanding all the rest. Among these students one finds diversity of interpretation to the point of utter confusion, so that the advice is sometimes offered, “When you under-take a study of Revelation, be sure to use only one commentary.”

The purpose here is not to critique all these diverse interpretations, since a task that great is defi-nitely beyond this undertaking and its purpose. Nevertheless, this writer insists that God gave us this book to read, to understand, and to obey. The text above indicates this clearly when it pronounces a blessing upon those who -1- read, -2- hear (understand), and -3- “heed” (obey) the things that are written in it.” The Lord has given us many commands in Revelation, and we ignore them only to our own hurt. We cannot, therefore, avoid this book as if it were a great cavern in which grotesque images move strangely in near darkness. Neither can we circumvent it as a maelstrom of confusion wherein the venturous traveler is soon lost in the countless crosscurrents of absurd conjecture.

Some of the modern English versions (e.g., NEB and TEV) translate the Greek Makarios as “happy” rather than “blessed.” In doing so there is a great loss of meaning, so much so in this writer’s estimation that damage is done to the message which the Lord seeks to convey. The word happy is derived from the root “hap” which denotes chance or luck. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “happy” as an emotional response to be favored by circumstances. The adverb “haply,” which comes from the same root and is used a half-dozen times in the KJV, means “by chance or accident.” All this means that being happy is the feeling we experience when situations in life turn out in our favor. The configuration of such advantageous circumstances, however, seldom last long. Like a beautiful cloud in the sky, they are soon transformed into something less, or even vanish entirely. This is why happiness is a fleeting thing; it lifts us up for a while only to drop us into melancholy before long. Those who pursue only happiness always in the end find disappointment.

But it is not so with being blessed!, for God and not man is the origin of blessing. A blessing does not fall apart as components gradually drift away from one another, leaving only a fond memory with respect to the past and sorrow in the present. The blessings of God endure and are not consumed by one’s rejoicing in them. The things that make us happy soon disappear, but the God who blesses us will sustain us therein as long as we maintain eligibility. This applies to the blessing of Rev. 1:3, to the famous blessings (or beatitudes) of Jesus in Mat. 5:1-12, and to all other blessings mentioned in the Bible. We should never substitute the word “happy” for blessed in God’s word.

Revelation is a book of sevens, a number which seems to indicate completeness, or perfection. One of its several sets of sevens is a collection of seven blessings. Our text, the second sentence in the book, is the first of these blessings, which in their scope suggest the fullness of God’s grace bestowed upon those who believe, reverence, and obey Him. Although the blessing here is referred to the Book of Revelation, it is not difficult to recognize also the entire Bible within its compass. For the Bible in its entirety is from God, who likewise gave each of the other sixty-five books to be read, understood, and obeyed. (See II Tim. 3:14-17).

-Burton Whited


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