“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” (Revelation 1:3).
The book of Revelation contains seven beatitudes (Revelation 1:3; 14:12-13; 16:15; 19:6-9; 20:6; 22:7, 12; 22:14). These seven passages tell us how to find true, lasting happiness with God.
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear. Let it be observed that “he” is singular, and “those” is plural. “He” likely refers to the one who publicly reads the scripture before the congregation (e.g. Deuteronomy 31:9-11; Nehemiah 8:1-3; Jeremiah 36:5-6, 13; Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27; 1 Timothy 4:13); “those” likely refers to the listeners in the assembly. God’s word is designed to bless man. The blessed open their ears to hear God’s instructions. Eight times there is the exhortation “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says,” or equivalent (Revelation 2:7; 2:11; 2:17; 2:29; 3:6; 3:13; 3:22; 13:9).
The blessed – not only reading or hearing – but also, keep (follow, live by, practice) God’s word. Teaching the truth is not enough. “You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?” (Romans 2:21). Hearing the truth preached is not enough. “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22 cf. Romans 2:13). Jesus said, “Whoever hears these sayings of Mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock… But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand” (Matthew 7:24, 26).
The time is near. These Christians were facing some imminent difficulties (cf. Revelation 2:10). It was important that they heeded the message of this book.
Is there an application for us? Certainly, there is. Each day we live we are one day closer to death and judgment (James 4:13-17). It is important that we listen to God’s word before it is too late. Let us live like we are dying. “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).