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Follow Me: The Seven Beatitudes of Revelation

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The Seven Beatitudes of Revelation

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An eager young man asked God, “What’s a million years like to you?” God patiently replied, “My son, it’s like one second in time.” The man then inquired, “And, what’s a million dollars like to you?” Once again, God complied, “A million dollars is but like a penny.”

The young man, thinking he had put two and two together, went for the bonus question and asked, “God, can you give me just one of Your pennies?” God smiled and replied, “Yes, my son, but you’ll have to wait a second!”

Just like that young man, all of us responding to Christ’s invitation of “Follow Me” would sincerely love to possess one of “God’s pennies” in recognizing the unfathomable spiritual riches of God’s Kingdom. Truth be told, just like the young man, we too have to wait out that “second.”

God knows that. Likewise we need to recognize that, as human beings, we want everything now! But God in His awesome wisdom is allowing something special to develop in us—His love, His patience and the same faith exhibited by Jesus when walking this earth. There’s no getting around the fact that such desired outcomes require those age-lasting “seconds.”

Many of us are familiar with the beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-11 Matthew 5:1-11 1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came to him: 2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
American King James Version×
) from Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount. These are the statements beginning with the words “Blessed are …” or, literally, “How made happy are … ,” such as “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8 Matthew 5:8Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
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). Jesus recognized what lay ahead for those heeding His call, so he shared the incredibly high standards reflecting the character of His Kingdom. He offered rich blessings for those taking Him at His word and following.

Jesus recognized that the proverbial “second” would seem so long to His followers that there was the potential for them to become disappointed with each other, despair over external pressures and, yes, even ultimately depart. So Christ in essence told them, “How made happy are you if you do these things—stay with it, for indeed there is a blessing when that eon of a second expires.”

But did you realize that nearly 60 years later, the ascended Jesus Christ once again offered additional beatitudes to reinvigorate His followers to stick with it, to hold on and to realize that, while it wouldn’t be easy to be a Christian in A.D. 90 or A.D. 2015 , it would, yes, nevertheless be worth it.

As a student of the Scriptures, perhaps you’ve never noticed it, but stuck right in the midst of this blueprint of biblical prophecy with its mention of seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets and seven last plagues are the seven last recorded beatitudes that Christ wants us to apply in our walk with Him.

Seven jewels wrapped in encouragement

Long ago, Jesus recognized that His followers down through the ages would need some signposts along the way to guide and encourage them through the minefields of everyday human nature—and even more so the prophesied comings of false teachers, warring beast-like worldly kingdoms, famines, epidemics and natural disasters. So He offers us seven jewels of challenge and responsibility wrapped in encouragement.

Seven is often considered the biblical number that symbolizes completion, so let’s go through a thumbnail sketch of what God says we need to do to be complete as we look forward to that day when He grants us His “pennies.”

1. “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 Revelation 1:3Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
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).

Reading God’s Word or hearing it spoken by another person is much different from deeply embedding it within our hearts and allowing it to be our life’s compass. The “things which are written in it” are about the very real return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of God’s Kingdom. Knowing this and believing this with all your heart will draw you closer to God and change everything about your life.

Psalms 119:9-11 Psalms 119:9-11 9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to your word. 10 With my whole heart have I sought you: O let me not wander from your commandments. 11 Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
American King James Version×
speaks of a wholeheartedness in which we hide God’s Word in our heart that we might not turn away. When the book of Revelation was initially written, the Roman Emperor Domitian was persecuting the Church— the hour was indeed near! But whatever age we live in, as mortal men and women, we are but one breath away from the ultimate establishment of God’s everlasting Kingdom. As Christians, God has offered us a head start, but we need a heart-set to match the revelation we have been granted.

2. “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them’ ” (Revelation 14:13 Revelation 14:13And I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from now on: Yes, said the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.
American King James Version×
).

Hearing a voice from heavenamidst the roar of self and the distractions of this world is a constant challenge. And yet when we do hear it, we are reminded this life is not an end in itself. Death, whether to our mortal actions or as martyrs for Jesus Christ, is not a stranger to the Christian experience. But understanding that is central to Christianity.

Jesus’ own death paved the way for this understanding. Even so, if this is required of us, we are promised that what we have done will not be forgotten. The pharaohs of Egypt tried in vain to take their earthly possessions with them to the next world. The truth is when we give our world to Jesus Christ, He promises to remember that and give us something so much richer and more meaningful that we could not possibly store up in this lifetime.

He is the One who declared Himself to be “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25 John 11:25Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
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). He jolts us into His understanding that life and death are not two different worlds, but one world in His hands—and that on the other side of this life we will be repaid for what we did for Him!

3. “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame” (Revelation 16:15 Revelation 16:15Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
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).

It’s important to realize that Christ never stated that the end is here, but rather that the end is near. His followers in every age have felt the tension between their present world and the end of the age. Most had a sense that Christ’s return in their lifetime was imminent. So they watched for it and prayed about it, but Christ says no one knows when—just as when a thief bursts into a home in the middle of the night (Matthew 24:42-44 Matthew 24:42-44 42 Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord does come. 43 But know this, that if the manager of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes.
American King James Version×
).

While we observe the times and events around us, Christ reminds His followers that it’s equally important to look inside of ourselves and be sure that our inward person reflects the values brought at His second coming. Otherwise, all of our efforts in proclaiming His Kingdom lie bare before the weighty evidence of the fact that we are not striving to incorporate the first set of beatitudes found in Matthew 5.

4. “Then he said to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true sayings of God’ ” (Revelation 19:9 Revelation 19:9And he said to me, Write, Blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me, These are the true sayings of God.
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).

God never said it would be easy, but He did promise it would be worth it. He likens His second coming to a festive wedding supper. In ancient times this high point of village life would go on for days. It was deeply anticipated, diligently prepared for in every detail, and enjoyed to the full.

Likewise this invitation does not come without forethought from God or counting the cost by the recipient. The apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:2 2 Corinthians 11:2For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
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: “For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” At our resurrection at His second coming, Christ intends to consummate this engagement by not only offering us His hand, but granting us entrance into His Kingdom, which will indeed be an incredible time of joy and celebration!

5. “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6 Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
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) .

When this was first written, many Christians were being slain under Domitian’s persecution. Since then, many others of Christ’s followers have been slain. The words of Revelation indicate more will join them (Revelation 6:9-11 Revelation 6:9-11 9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, do you not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given to every one of them; and it was said to them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brothers, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
American King James Version×
).

But here Christ provides a measurable contrast to let His followers know that, if they were true to Him through those painful moments, they could match those excruciating minutes, hours and days with an amazing, joyful stretch of time (1,000 years) plus eternity beyond it (no second death). Yes, He promises a reward extending far beyond their greatest moment of human trial!

6. “Behold I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:7 Revelation 22:7Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keeps the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
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).

This beatitude completely mirrors the first at the beginning of the book. But what is noteworthy in the text is that it appears as a personal interruption by none other than Jesus Christ—and His own messenger angel is put on hold. Christ wants to make a personal emphatic point.

While that proverbial “second” of God may seem like forever, it really isn’t! Now, at the closing chapter, the informed reader of Revelation recognizes nothing stands in the way of Christ—be it death, beasts, false prophets, Satan or time. Why would he not want to “keep the words of this prophecy”central to his life? The God who owns eternity—past, present and future—always operates in the immediacy of now when it comes to His followers. Now is the time to surrender to Him. Now is the time to treat your fellow man differently. Now is the time to prepare for eternity— quickly, not tomorrow!

7. “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14 Revelation 22:14Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
American King James Version×
).

The end of God’s Word returns to where it began at the Garden of Eden in Genesis 1-3. God is desiring to plant something incredible in our lives, but we have to reach for the right source. We have to reach for the tree of life grounded in God’s commandments and with the reality of “waiting on the Lord” rather than following Adam and Eve’s example of seizing for ourselves counterfeit treasures that can only follow us to the grave and come to an end.

How many have succumbed to that moment by holding on to as much as they can in this life rather than waiting on one of God’s pennies? Don’t you be one!

Pennies or eternity?

The conversation that began this column was of course fictional, but it’s hopefully helpful in capturing our attention. The following admonition of Jesus Christ is not made up, but is deeply personal advice to guide us in responding to His invitation of “Follow Me”:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21 Matthew 6:19-21 19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust does corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
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).

The question lies before you: Pennies now or eternity? The choice is yours!

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