Summary: The only parts of the Bible we believe are the parts we DO. As we read God's word with humility and awe (and a willingness to obey) we are transformed.
Kathleen Norris tells the story of a South Dakota rancher and his bride who received a leather-bound Bible as a wedding gift from the groom’s grandfather. They wrote a thank-you note and stowed the Bible away on a closet shelf, out of the way. As time passed, the grandfather repeatedly asked the couple how they liked the Bible. The rancher was confused as to how to respond. Hadn’t he already expressed his appreciation? But the grandfather persisted. Eventually the young man dug out the gift; as he leafed through it, $20 bills fluttered out, 66 in all--one at the beginning of Genesis, and in each succeeding book. But that wasn’t the only treasure, or the best; the spiritual riches of Scripture transform our lives when we read and heed God’s word (Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith).
This is the first of seven blessings in the Book of Revelation, not counting the blessings to the seven churches in chapters 2-3. This list appears apart from those, and unlike most groups of seven, they do not appear together, they’re scattered throughout this book…but make no mistake, it is not coincidental that there are seven, because seven is a key number in Revelation. There are sevens on nearly every page--seven seals, trumpets, lampstands, churches, kings, mountains, and so on. Seven reflects the order and perfection of Creation, and is regarded as the number of completion.
Scholars may debate the timing of the tribulations, the identity of the antichrist, whether or not there’s a Rapture, but there’s no controversy over the Blessings of Revelation. A “blessing” is a pronouncement of God’s favor. The word can mean “happy” or even “congratulations!” We are praised for living God’s way. The world urges us to seek happiness in self-destructive ways, with selfish priorities and often unhealthy practices. When we stop believing lies, stop living for self, we discover the path of delight, which is spelled out in Scripture.
The Bible is God’s love letter to us. In college, we had a system of sending notes to and from the guys and girls’ dorms each evening (obviously long before email). One evening I hid my roommate’s letter from his girlfriend and it’s the nearest I ever came to being murdered!
The Bible is a loving invitation to know God. This blessing for the reading, hearing, and keeping of God’s word is the only time such a promise is made in Scripture. And while it refers to this particular book, it applies to all of Scripture. The average church-going family has plenty of Bibles, but they do little good unless they’re used and taken seriously.
This blessing stresses the importance of the public reading of Scripture. Some churches have an office of lector. It is one thing to read words, entirely another to read with meaning. I recall hearing Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe read a lengthy passage of Scripture; when he finished, I understood the passage better, even before he began to teach. He read with meaning. For those of you who enjoy recorded books, you know the difference a gifted reader can make.