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Revelation 1:3

Introduction

Rev 1:3  Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
We will see in this study of the revelation of Jesus Christ, that "Keep those things which are written therein" means that we will all live out all the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

To "keep" or not to keep? It is a question of life and death.

I closed our study last week promising that if the Lord willed we would cover the meaning of the word 'keep' in verse 3. This will be very elementary for some in our audience, but it will be revolutionary for many others.

John's own gospel proves that what is said in the book of Revelation is not unique to that book, but is actually common to the word of God. Look at this similarity between John's gospel and the book of revelation:
Joh 8:51  Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. ["keep" is tereo, the same Greek word used in Rev 1:3]
Now  let's look again at verse three of chapter one and verse seven of chapter 22 of the book of Revelation.
Rev 1:3  Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

Rev 22:7  Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
"The time is at hand... Behold I come quickly." Both verses are saying the same thing. "Blessed is he that reads and hears and keeps those things which are written therein... Keep the sayings of the prophecy of this book." Again, both verses say the same thing.

The book of Revelation is full of many great evils and many great sins, and all of those evils and all of those sins are all in the church of God. But sin and evil in the church is an integral part of the revelation of Jesus Christ. Everything in this book is addressed "to the seven churches..." It is the inability to understand that "God is working all things [including the sins and evils of the church] after the counsel of His own will," that keeps so many orthodox Christians from seeing that the revelation of Jesus Christ begins in Genesis 1:1 and ends in Revelation 22:21. Everything we learn about the gospel is "by the revelation of Jesus Christ:"
Gal 1:12  For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1Pe 1:13  Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

Rev 1:1  The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified [it] by his angel unto his servant John:
All of the apostles learned of the gospel through the revelation of  Jesus Christ, because the revelation of Jesus Christ is throughout scripture. So all of the apostles "kept the sayings of the prophecy of this book."

It is taught by many in Babylon that the Greek word for 'keep' in Rev 1:3 and 22:7, quoted above means 'to guard.' The argument is that since there are so many blasphemous actions recorded therein that God cannot possibly be telling us that we must keep evil, sinful and blasphemous deeds. Therefore, it is argued, we are not being told to "keep the things that are written" in the sense of observing and actually living out what is written in the book of Revelation, but rather we are actually being admonished to "guard what is written therein". It is inferred that we are to guard against living out what is written in the book of Revelation. The inference is that we keep the sayings of this book only as we understand them as admonitions against those evils. In other words, we ought to see the sayings of the prophecy of this book as blasphemous actions to be avoided.

Clark's Commentary on this verse is typical of most:
"Rev 1:3  Blessed is he that readeth - This is to be understood of the happiness or security of the persons who, reading and hearing the prophecies of those things which were to come to pass shortly, took proper measures to escape from the impending evils."
Henry does the same:
"It is not sufficient to our blessedness that we read and hear the scriptures, but we must keep the things that are written; we must keep them in our memories, in our minds, in our affections, and in practice, and we shall be blessed in the deed."
There is only one thing wrong with that interpretation of this Greek word 'tereo' translated as 'keep' in Rev 1:3 and Rev 22:7. In the 74 times it is used in the New Testament, it is never once used in the sense of guarding against doing anything, but is always used in the sense of living and doing and observing to do whatever is under discussion, just as it is used here in Joh 8:51, "If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death."

The first two times this word is used in scripture will be sufficient to demonstrate this point:
Mat 19:17  And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep [Greek, tereo] the commandments.
Is Christ telling the rich young ruler to guard against obeying the commandments? That is absurd! He is doing the exact opposite, and yet we are told by many that we are to guard against doing what is written in the prophecies of the book of Revelation. Neither we nor the prophecies of the book of Revelation, are encouraging anyone to "leave their first love, suffer Jezebel to teach, tolerate the Nicolaitans in our midst, become spiritually dead and yet have a name that we live, nor any of the other dreadful sins of the churches. But those with ears to hear and eyes to see can read that John is "looking behind " him as he witnesses this vision. This means he has already lived this vision and is seated with Christ in the heavens 'looking behind himself to see all that is entailed in the revelation of Jesus Christ. What John sees is that "every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God" is entailed in the revelation of Jesus Christ. What John is given to see is that we all learn of Christ and His father only through "keeping the sayings of the prophecy of this book. But the "keeping of the things written therein" are seen only in hindsight.
Rev 1:10  I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
This is what is missing in all the commentaries which see what this verse says, but cannot understand how we could possibly be admonished to keep the sins of the churches or the blasphemies resulting from all of all the judgments of the seals, the trumpets and the plagues. What verse three is saying is that this is what will be lived in all who ever live. That is why John "was in spirit on the Lord's day, and heard a voice behind him." It wasn't until he turned to see the voice behind him that he saw that he had indeed lived the life of Adam, left his first love and crucified his own savior and kept all the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

Our challenge in this study is to expunge the orthodox Christian idea that this is primarily a book about eschatological, end time events. The only eschatology in this book is the eschatology in the vaporous lives of all men of every generation. The sayings of this book were as applicable the day they were written as they are today. Those who cannot seen this truth have not yet been given eyes that see or ears that hear.

Do not add to or take away from God's Words


John is shown is that if he, or we, were to add to or to leave out any part of the sayings of the prophecy of this book then he, and we, will not have known the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Rev 22:18  For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
Rev 22:19  And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
The revelation of Jesus Christ is seen only in hindsight. We see ourselves as Adam because that is what we are. We see ourselves as The Second Adam, only after Christ has dethroned the first Adam and destroyed that first Adam "with the word of His mouth and the brightness of his coming."

It is a very serious matter to "speak above what is written" teaching a false 'fullness now' doctrine." Those who are mature enough to be weaned from "the sincere milk of God's Word" do not "exercise themselves in things that are too high for them," and they are humble enough to be able to admit that there are things "too high for me."
Psa 131:1  <A Song of degrees of David.> LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.
Psa 131:2  Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.
What typifies a child who has just been weaned it the fact that he has yet so much to learn, and yet he thinks he is able to do anything and everything on his own.
1Co 4:6  And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think [of men- 'of men' is added to the text.] above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. 
One of the most insidious and dangerous doctrines in God's church is the doctrine of 'fullness now,' which teaches that we are now living, in spirit, on a level which is independent of God's written word.  The Bible itself is denigrated as mere "dead ink on paper.' Nothing is farther from the Truth. Let us, in this study of this book, stick closely to "what is written" as we seek to understand "the sayings of the prophecy of this book."

Here now is the second time this Greek word 'tereo' appears in the New Testament.
Mar 7:9  And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
Were the Pharisees rejecting the commandment of God by ignoring their traditions and guarding against observing those traditions. Such a suggestion is preposterous and absurd in the extreme. We "look behind us and see that we have kept the things written therein," and we did it all in a very short lifetime.

Where all the symbols are given their meanings


While there are many differences between Christ's "But I say unto you..." reforms and "the law and the prophets," those differences cannot be called contradictions because those differences were all foretold to come with the coming of the Messiah. Christ did not destroy the law He Himself gave to Moses for the carnal nation of Israel, but He did fulfill all the types and shadows of  the Old Testament. It is in those types and shadows, found throughout the Old Testament, that all the meanings of all the symbols and parables of this book of symbols and parables are to be found. Without this witness, apart from scripture being used to interpret scripture, there is no Truth in any interpretation of the symbols and parables of this mysterious book. But with this witness, with God's own words telling us what His symbolic words mean, we see how each symbol was used in the Old Testament. Only then can we rest assured that God Himself has given us the mind of His own spirit. Only when we see scripture telling us what scripture means, will we have the peace of mind that what we see and hear and read is true.

An example of applying this principle would be very much in line at this moment. In Revelation 11 we are told that the bodies of the two witnesses "lie in the streets of that great city where also our Lord was crucified."
Rev 11:8  And their dead bodies [shall lie] in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified
While it might seem indisputable that our Lord was crucified in Jerusalem, literally tried and condemned to death in Jerusalem, yet very few commentators can bring themselves to acknowledge the Truth that it was Christ's own people who crucified Him. Here are a few of typical comments on this verse:
(VWS) "The great city..." Jerusalem is never called by this name. Different expositors refer it to Rome or Babylon. Milligan to Jerusalem.

(Barnes)  "Where also our Lord was crucified - If this refers to Jerusalem, it is to be taken literally; if to another city, it is to be understood as meaning that he was practically crucified there: that is, that the treatment of his friends - his church - was such that it might be said that he was "crucified afresh" there; for what is done to his church may be said to be done to him. Either of these interpretations would be justified by the use of the language. Thus in Heb_6:6, it is said of apostates from the true faith (compare the notes on the passage), that "they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh." If the passage before us is to be taken figuratively, the meaning is, that acts would be performed which might properly be represented as crucifying' the Son of God; that, as he lives in his church, the acts of perverting his doctrines, and persecuting his people, would be, in fact, an act of crucifying the Lord again. Thus understood, the language is strictly applicable to Rome; that is, if it is admitted that John meant to characterize that city, he has employed such language as a Jewish Christian would naturally use. While, therefore, it must be admitted that the language is such as could be literally applied only to Jerusalem, it is still true that it is such language as might be figuratively applied to any other city strongly resembling that, and that in this sense it would characterize Rome above all other cities of the world."

(Scofield) Rev 11:8  "great city... That is, Jerusalem."

(Clark) Rev 11:8 
"The great city - Some say Rome, which may be spiritually called Sodom for its abominations, Egypt for its tyrannous cruelty, and the place where our Lord was crucified, because of its persecution of the members of Christ; but Jerusalem itself may be intended. All these things I must leave to others."
There are four examples which I have chosen at random from the commentaries I have downloaded in my e-sword. Scofield is the only one which states, in any dogmatic way, that our Lord was crucified in Jerusalem. The other three try to make "the city where also our Lord was crucified" appear to be Rome or Babylon or Egypt. The one thing all four commentators have in common is that they are all attempting to understand the words of the holy spirit by comparing spiritual things with physical things. Not a single commentary sees Christ as being crucified within each of us. God's Word will never be understood with this type of exegesis. And this method is universal in us all while we are in the churches and seminaries of Babylon. Here is how we are to go about our task of understanding this book called "the revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave to Him..."
1Co 2:13  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
1Co 2:14  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
How are we then to "spiritually discern" the meaning of all the symbols of this book? The only way to understand this book, or any of the words of God, is to "compare spiritual things with spiritual." Understanding this Truth flies in the face of the the 'context, context, context,' oriented approach to understanding the Word of God that is taught in virtually every Seminary in the world. There is not asingle  commentary by any Christian scholar who understands and faithfully adheres to this spiritual principle. As demonstrated above, they all compare spiritual things to physical things, all the while believing they are comparing spiritual things to spiritual.

"The great city where also our Lord was crucified" is neither physical Jerusalem, Rome, Babylon nor Egypt nor any other outward physical place. "The great city where also our Lord was crucified" is within each and every man who has ever lived or ever will live. That 'crucifixion' is done "afresh"  after he "leaves his first love" in every man who professes to know Christ. We all "keep the sayings of the prophecy of this book" within each of us, and we understand that Truth only as we "look behind us," seeing that we have indeed "lived by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God."

It has been given to very few at this time to realize the depth and extent of the Truth of these words of our Lord:
Joh 6:63  It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
It has been given to even fewer to understand that all of God's Words are Christ's "words that I speak unto you."
Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Joh 1:2  The same was in the beginning with God.
Christ is "the Word" of God, and He says"the words that I speak are spirit..." It is for this reason, that every account of every story in scripture, is to be understood as a parable of some much deeper and much higher spiritual truth.

How can we know we are getting the proper interpretation?

So how can  we know  that we have any more understanding of the symbols of this book, than the great Christian scholar Mr Clark  who humbly admits, "All these things I must leave to others"?   One thing is certain, no one of whom God would say, "let him that reads understand," would ever make such a lukewarm statement. God's words of spirit do not "leave to others" what is the scriptural meaning of one single symbol in this book of symbols and parables. It is God's own word which will reveal the meaning of every single symbol of this "signified" book.

As with every verse from verse one here in chapter one, to verse 21 in chapter 22, we will apply the principles of the following verses and comment on how these principles affect each verse. Here now are the verses with the principles which will guide us throughout this study of this book of signs and symbols. Here is how we can know that we are being given the proper understanding of the symbols of this book. It is given to but very few to be able to discern the meaning of these verses, and even fewer are given the spiritual backbone to faithfully apply these words to the rest of God's Word.
Mat 4:4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
This verse in repeated almost verbatim in Luke 4:4.
Luk 4:4  And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."  Does the book of Revelation "proceed out of the mouth of God?" Verse one tells us that "God gave it to Christ" so, Yes, "every word of  the book of Revelation proceeds out of the mouth of God and  is to be "lived by man."

The next question we need to ask and answer is, Which men shall live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God? The answer is, "every man's works will be tried of what sort they are... each man in his own order... every knee shall bow and every tongue confess...
Isa 45:23  I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.
Here is the New Testament version of Isa 45:23:
Rom 14:11  For it is written, [As] I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
What is it that "every tongue will someday confess to God?" Here is what "every tongue will confess to God... each in his own order."
Php 2:11  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
We can neither "confess" nor "swear" to anything which has not yet been revealed to us, and yet we are told that "every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." It follows then, that "every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God" is for "any man... [and] every man... each in his own order."
1Co 3:13  Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
1Co 3:14  If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
1Co 3:15  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

1Co 15:22  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
1Co 15:23  But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
So "every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God" will be "kept" and "lived" by "every man in his own order."

Conclusion

We have learned that the words 'keep' means to live and experience the sayings of the prophecy. We have learned that we do this in hindsight only.

We have seen that the revelation of Jesus Christ is more than the book of Revelation. It is rather "the sum of thy word." Paul informs us all that the gospel preached is learned "only through the revelation of Jesus Christ." Both Paul and Peter, and all the apostles, learned about Christ through "the revelation of Jesus Christ" because that revelation is throughout the Bible and in every story and in every word.
Gal 1:11  But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
Gal 1:12  For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Peter tells us that grace comes only at the revelation of Jesus Christ, who has been revealed to us, but was not revealed to the Old Testament prophets and saints.
1Pe 1:9  Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
1Pe 1:10  Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace [that should come] unto you:
1Pe 1:11  Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
1Pe 1:12  Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
1Pe 1:13  Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
Finally, we have seen that the signs and symbols of God's Word are to be interpreted only by "what is written," and that any other manner amounts to "adding to or taking away from the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

Next week, Lord willing we will see that the seven churches are merely the spiritual symbol for the complete church..