Then in the 3rd verse follows a beatitude. We find seven beatitudes in the
book of Revelation. Seven for a reason. The numbers in the book of
Revelation have meaning. Seven is the number of fullness. Seven is the sum
of three and four. Three looks at the vertical triad: heaven, earth, and what
is under the earth. Four sees at the cardinal directions: north, east, south,
and west. Seven is thus all-encompassing, a total fullness. God's children
who persevere await total, full blessing. Therefore, there are seven
Beatitudes in the book of Revelation.
But, back to verse 3. Who are truly happy, and in what ways? We read,
“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy,
and keep those things which are written therein.” In other words, truly
happy, are those who read, hear, and retain what is about to be revealed.
The words that are now going to be spoken, the revelation that comes from
God, is prophecy. Now we must properly grasp what a prophecy is. A
prophecy is not, first and foremost, meant to be a prediction of the future, a
track record of the future. All too often, the prophets and the book of
Revelation are read that way. No, a prophecy, is a heavenly utterance
intended to be meaningful to the hearer at that moment in his or her
circumstances: comforting, encouraging, admonishing, exhorting, etc. And
as part of that, indeed, God also regularly lets us hear and see what He is
doing in the future. He shows us who He is and what is going on. But it is
first and foremost about Him. A prophecy shows God in who He is and
what He is doing!
Now truly happy are those who keep God's words: read, hear, and keep
them. In the New Testamentic congregations, the books of the Bible were
read by a reader. The congregation heard and was also called to keep the
words read and heard. And in that keeping, there is a double meaning. To
keep is to hold like a treasure. To cherish like a rich possession and to live
from that treasure. But to keep is also to guard. Guarding against attacks
from the prince of darkness, such as false prophets, mixing with the world,
etc. The latter was the greatest danger at the time of Revelation: throwing in
a deal with the world. But times are not different today. And so, the
message of Revelation 1:3 contains an important message for us.