When the apostle John wrote the book of Revelation, Christians were distracted by the growing threat of Roman persecution. In it he faithfully recorded “all that he saw” from the great visions communicated to him by Jesus (1:2). These changed him, and he wanted his letter to comfort and change the brotherhood. So in his opening words he gave them a simple plan: “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.” (v3)
Perhaps it’s a bit trite to call this a “three-step plan,” but there is great wisdom in its tri-fold way. He speaks of those who read and those who hear the words of the message. In an illiterate world, it was necessary for someone to read to a group gathered to hear it, and this was done carefully. There is an art to listening to God’s word, and it involves respect, openness and determination. The final piece of the plan was to “heed the things which are written,” which is arguably the most difficult. But the urgency of this is emphasized with the phrase, “the time is near.” Dramatic trials lay ahead, and these people needed to take action quickly. The careful work of obedience is the only thing that will save lives and produce results. John implies that all three parts of the plan must take place before one is blessed.
While this is a simple plan, we need it today as much as our early brethren needed it in the past. Summertime tends to distract us, but the time could be near for many dramatic changes in our lives. We gain a blessing when we determine to read God’s word, hear the message, and heed what it says.
– Tim Johnson