Summary: It probably surprises you to learn that a book like Revelation begins with the word blessed. How in the world can this prophetic book make us happy? Revelation makes Christ’s Church happy because it reminds us that our King is on His throne.
“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1:3-7)
Happiness is an illusive thing and hard to hold on to. Tim Hansel observed, “If you have to move even ten inches from where you are now in order to be happy, you never will be.” Another writer quipped, “You should do something every day to make other people happy, even if it’s only to leave them alone.”
It probably surprises you to learn that a book like Revelation begins with the word blessed. How in the world can this prophetic book make us happy? Revelation makes Christ’s Church happy because it reminds us that our King is on His throne. That is why William Knight said, “Joy is the flag that flies over the castle of our hearts announcing that the king is in residence today.”
I. Joy In Knowing His Person (vv.3-5a)
A. His Revelation (vv.4-5)
Believers are made happy by this book because it is God’s revelation (vv.4-5). God is going to show us Himself in this Book. What is God like to most people? He is either the “big-guy upstairs” or He is the dark and brooding one who is out to get us if we mess up. But the God of Revelation greets His Church with grace and peace (v.4) .That phrase is used eighteen times in the Epistles and Revelation. Grace is the unmerited or undeserved love of God. Peace is exemption from the ravages of war. Revelation covers the greatest war Creation will ever know yet Believers are exempt from that war. Matthew Henry rightly notes that grace must come before peace. People who lack peace in their relationship to God have either never experienced or not understood the grace of God.
God speaks to His Church in His fullness in these opening words of Revelation. God the Father is the one who is and who was and who is to come (v.4). Literally our Father is “the one being, the one who always was, and the one who keeps on coming to be.”
God the Holy Spirit is described as the seven spirits who are before His throne (v.4). The number seven is a number of perfection and completion. There are seven days in a week, seven notes in an octave, and seven primary colors. Revelation has forty-nine sevens (seven sevens). This is figurative language for the fullness of God’s Spirit (see Isaiah 11:2).
God the Son is Jesus Christ the faithful witness (v.5; 3:14). Christ is the only true witness of who God is. “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18). He is also called the firstborn from the dead. Firstborn often describes a position of authority rather than an order of physical birth. Christ is called the firstborn of all creation in Colossians 1:15-18 and Christians are called the church of the firstborn in Hebrews 12:23.
B. Our Response (v.3)
God has revealed Himself in His fullness and His Church responds with joy (v.3). Our joy (blessedness) come from understanding and practicing what God has to say about Himself.
We are blessed when we read … the words. The word read comes from a word meaning to know accurately or certainly and is often used in the New Testament for reading the Bible in public worship. 1 Timothy 4:13 says, “I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” This is not reading for the sake of reading. Years ago we had a Weekly Reader program in school and earned points for the most books read. Since volume was all that mattered we picked all the short books we could find. We weren’t reading for understanding. Christ’s Church is blessed when it reads His words carefully. In the same way we are blessed when we hear the words. That word means to hear with understanding (see Matthew 13:13-17). We are also to keep those things which are written. The church at Sardis read and heard God’s Word but failed to keep it (Revelation 3:3).