Daily Bread # 24
Do you have a copy of God’s word? Treasure it!
“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).
Imagine living in a time when the only way you could hear the Bible read is when you attend the synagogue on the Sabbath Day. This was the world of Jesus’ day. Luke 4:16 sets the stage for us. Jesus, as His custom was, enters the synagogue and stood up to read. Why is this important? Take another gaze at the passage above. It says “blessed is the one who reads aloud…” This was a reference to the way the Old Testament was communicated to the audience who showed up for synagogue worship. The designated reader would stand up and read aloud into the hearing of the listening audience, and from a seated position he expounds on the passage read. For such a person a benediction of good will is pronounced upon him.
The beatitude has a double blessing in it unlike any of the beatitudes we looked at so far. One blessing is for the reader, and the second goes to those who hear the words and keep them. By the way, the statement did not originate with the apostle John. Our Lord says it first in Luke 11:28, “Blessed… are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” The backdrop to this passage tells us of a woman who cried out from the crowed that followed Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed” (v. 27). While Jesus is in no way downplaying the importance of motherhood, He is emphasizing something of a far greater blessing and it has to do with reading the word of God, hearing the word of God and obeying the word of God. John’s three action verbs – read, hear, and keep – are very important to the person who will translate all three verbs into action. In what way is one blessed when he reads? In what way a person is blessed if he hears the word of God? In what way are we going to be blessed if we indeed keep the word of God?
A few Wednesday nights ago I illustrated in Bible class what it means when we say the Bible is its best commentary. I gave two illustrations – one from the OT, the other from the New. Paul provides a perfect commentary on what John means when he says “Blessed is the one…, and blessed are those…” He tells the Philippians church: “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me– practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you”
(Phi 4:9). Paul was the walking Bible and he wanted the young evangelist, Timothy, not to emulate him per se, but the word of God that Paul was living out in his life. Don’t overlook the blessedness follows when one reads, hears and does what the word commands: THE GOD OF PEACE WILL BE WITH YOU!
- The world of Jesus and Paul’s day had to go to a synagogue to listen to the reading of the word. Today each one of us has a copy of that word for ourselves.
- If the word of God is an extension God, then the word is pure, holy, authoritative, good, truthful, faithful, unchanging, and eternal, and God cannot be far from us when we read it, hear it, and when we put it into practice. The God of peace will be with us.
The Beltway Church of Christ is located in the Washington, DC metropolitan area in Prince George’s County, MD near Joint Base Andrews.