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Posted by Randy Anderson on

Among the traditions of summer is the tradition of summer reading – books that are good for taking to the beach – you find lists of such books in the early summer editions of weekend newspapers.  Our own church library hosts a summer reading challenge. There are worse things that we might spend our summers on than a little extra reading.

This fall, which already feels like it is just around the corner, one of our Sunday School classes for adults will finish off the study of the book of Revelation that Dr. Rainbow got us started in last fall. This fall we will begin where he left off – picking things up in the middle of Revelation 19 and making our way to the end of the book. I mention this because the book of Revelation opens with a call to a certain kind of reading – making its most central promise to a certain kind of reader, of all things. Remember how John expressed it.

ESV  Revelation 1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (Rev 1:3 ESV)

Now in the case of the book of Revelation in its original historical setting, there are two groups of people being referred to here. There is someone reading aloud and there is a group of people hearing – listening to what is being read. If the readers in question take to heart what is read and if the hearers do the same, they will each find this reading bringing them great blessing. And this blessing is the first of seven such blessing statements found in the book of Revelation.

Among the most widely acclaimed students of the book of Revelation in the 20th and into the 21st centuries is a scholar by the name of Richard Bauckham. Dr. Bauckham, in a book bearing the title “The Climax of Prophecy,” notes that the careful reader of the book of Revelation is probably meant to notice that Revelation 1:3 is the first of seven such blessing statements in the book. And in the book of Revelation where the number of times something occurs is often of great significance, Dr. Bauckham argues that these seven blessing statements are made yet more significant and bear more weight by there being precisely seven of them (Revelation 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14).

Dr. Bauckham refers to those who carefully read the book of Revelation this way,

For those who read the book of Revelation most carefully “…it would also have much more to offer those…who pondered it with prayerful and scripturally learned attention…”

Of course this isn’t only true with regard to the book of Revelation – here is an opportunity we all have this summer – an opportunity as part of our summer reading to make a fresh effort to read scripture so as to “…ponder it with prayerful and scripturally learned attention…”

Bauckham writes of the seven blessings listed above,

“The Seven beatitudes comprise a kind of summary of Revelation’s message.”

 We read here of a summary of profound blessing: a summary of divinely grounded happiness, available for the reading/hearing/obeying that leads to eternally significant divine favor. It is available to any and all who will read and listen in this way – it leads to this ultimate depth of blessing.

ESV  Revelation 1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (Rev 1:3 ESV)

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