Blessed Is He Who Reads

“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 NKJV]”

The admonition in this passage refers specifically to the book of Revelation and those to whom the letter was written. However, throughout the Bible we see an emphasis on reading God’s word and the impact of reading God’s word in the lives of those who take the time to read it.

  • One of the first things Moses did after coming down from the mountain was read God’s covenant to the Israelites. – “Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, ‘All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient.’ [Exodus 24:7 NKJV]”
  • Moses emphasized to the people that once they had a king, the king should always keep a copy of the law handy and read it. – “When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that [are] around me,’ … Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from [the one] before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment [to] the right hand or [to] the left, and that he may prolong [his] days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel. [Deuteronomy 17:14, 18-20 NKJV]”
  • They were commanded to read the law publicly every seven years at the feat of Tabernacles. – “And Moses commanded them, saying: ‘At the end of [every] seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing.’ [Deuteronomy 31:10-11 NKJV]”
  • Joshua made a point to read the law to the people once they entered Canaan. – “And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them. [Joshua 8:34-35 NKJV]”
  • The reading of the Law during King Josiah’s reign led to the observance of the Passover as it had not been observed since the days of the judges. – “Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, ‘I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.’ And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. … Then Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, ‘Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.’ And Shaphan read it before the king. Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he tore his clothes. [2 Kings 22:8, 10-11 NKJV] … The king went up to the house of the LORD with all the men of Judah, and with him all the inhabitants of Jerusalem–the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the house of the LORD. … Then the king commanded all the people, saying, ‘Keep the Passover to the LORD your God, as [it is] written in this Book of the Covenant.’ Such a Passover surely had never been held since the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah. [2 Kings 23:2, 21-22 NKJV]”
  • After returning to the land after 70 years of captivity, Ezra read the Law to the people. – “Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that [was] in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who [could] hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that [was] in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people [were attentive] to the Book of the Law. [Nehemiah 8:1-3 NKJV]”

But what about in the New Testament? Is there any emphasis on reading there?

  • In the book of Matthew alone, we have at least six times where Jesus asked the scribes and Pharisees and those who questioned him, “Have you not read?” (Mat. 12:3, 5; 19:4; 21:16, 42; 22:31) He expected them to have read the word and have a working knowledge of it. And this was in a day and time where the written word was not readily available as it is today.
  • In Acts 8, the Ethiopian Eunuch was reading and it led to his salvation: “The place in the Scripture which he read was this: ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth.’ [Acts 8:32 NKJV]”
  • In Acts 15, the Apostles expressed that they expected to Jews to be familiar with the Law because it was supposed to be read in the synagogues on the Sabbath: “For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath. [Acts 15:21 NKJV]”
  • Paul wrote his epistles with the expectation that they would be read:
    • “…by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, [Ephesians 3:4 NKJV]”
    • “Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the [epistle] from Laodicea. [Colossians 4:16 NKJV]”
    • “I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren. [1 Thessalonians 5:27 NKJV]”

God has always delivered His word with the expectation that it be read, heard, and obeyed.

  • Shouldn’t we be reading and listening to what God has to say?
  • Shouldn’t we be ashamed when we don’t read it instead of bragging when we do?
  • Shouldn’t reading God’s word be our norm instead of the unusual thing we do occasionally when it’s convenient?

A final thought: How do we know what impact God’s word can have in our lives if we never open it and read it?

Dan Fontenot

(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)

How Much Better To Get Wisdom Than Gold!

Proverbs 16:16 states: “How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” (NKJV)

Over the last few days, I have been thinking about this very concept so it was interesting that it came up in my Bible study today. I have been examining the value placed on different things in our life based on the amount of time spent in each activity. With this on my mind it has been interesting to begin reading and studying Proverbs for some upcoming classes I am scheduled to teach. This is not the only reference to this concept in the book. Consider another:

“My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, [And] apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, [And] lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as [for] hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God.” [Proverbs 2:1-5 NKJV]

People say they “treasure” the word of God, but consider…

  • Receive my words…Incline your ear to wisdom”: How can we receive the words of God’s wisdom if we rarely, if ever, open our Bibles to hear what God has to say. Inclining suggests putting forth effort to hear, not just hearing when it might be convenient or easy.
  • Apply your heart to understanding”: How many times have we heard someone say about a person, “Oh what they could be if they would just apply themselves?” Are we really working to understand God’s word and try to know what He wants us to know? Or are we satisfied just skimming by?
  • Cry out for discernment…lift up your voice for understanding”: Are we so eager to know the wisdom of God that we will cry out for help and lift up our voice to ask for guidance and counsel? Proverbs is filled with admonitions to heed the wisdom of the wise, but do we ask for help gaining that wisdom and knowledge?
  • Seek her as silversearch for her as for hidden treasures“: People go to seminars all the time or buy books to find out how to become wealthy or great leaders or successful in business. They will spend hours reading and listening because of the perceived value of the knowledge being imparted. How much do we value the wisdom of God. How much effort and time are we willing to put forth to gain God’s wisdom that he freely imparts!
  • Note that only when these attitudes are applied will wisdom come: “Then you will understand … and find …”. Sadly, some think that time alone will make them wise. But, it won’t. Only a diligent, determined effort to come to know the will of God will lead us to this wisdom.
  • Also, it is not just any wisdom we should seek: “…understand the fear of the Lord … find the knowledge of God”. Reading secular books and gaining secular wisdom is OK, but it is not the wisdom that provides eternal life and rewards.

But, what do we really treasure? Where is our time spent that shows our real desire?

  • I recently applied this concept to my own spare time. I found that when I had few spare minutes I would immediately turn to social media or the internet or to games on my phone. But, how often did I turn to the word of God? How often did I use that precious time to seek more understanding of God’s will?
  • Our society has unprecedented access to God’s word through the internet, mobile devices, etc. But, are we using that to seek God’s wisdom?
  • There is nothing inherently sinful about social media, games, or the internet. But, what are we seeking, crying out for?

Other verses in Proverbs challenge us to think about the value of wisdom over the things of this world:

  • “Happy [is] the man [who] finds wisdom, And the man [who] gains understanding; For her proceeds [are] better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold. She [is] more precious than rubies, And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Length of days [is] in her right hand, In her left hand riches and honor. Her ways [are] ways of pleasantness, And all her paths [are] peace. She [is] a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy [are all] who retain her.” [Proverbs 3:13-18 NKJV]
  • “Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you. Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [Therefore] get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honor, when you embrace her. She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you. Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, And the years of your life will be many. I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, And when you run, you will not stumble. Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; Keep her, for she [is] your life.” [Proverbs 4:5-13 NKJV]
  • “Receive my instruction, and not silver, And knowledge rather than choice gold; For wisdom [is] better than rubies, And all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her. … My fruit [is] better than gold, yes, than fine gold, And my revenue than choice silver.” [Proverbs 8:10-11, 19 NKJV]

So, ask yourself, do spend hours everyday in the things of the world only to “squeeze in” a few minutes for God’s word each day (if at all)? What does that suggest that we really treasure?

Dan Fontenot

(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)

I Will Mock When Your Terror Comes

{20} Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. {21} She cries out in the chief concourses, At the openings of the gates in the city She speaks her words: {22} “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, And fools hate knowledge. {23} Turn at my rebuke; Surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. {24} Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, {25} Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke, {26} I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, {27} When your terror comes like a storm, And your destruction comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. {28} “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. {29} Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD, {30} They would have none of my counsel [And] despised my every rebuke. {31} Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, And be filled to the full with their own fancies. {32} For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them; {33} But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil.” [Proverbs 1:20-33 NKJV]

Years ago (true story) a family was buying a house. It was an older house and all the appliances were used. The real estate agent suggested that the new owner purchase a home warranty to cover if any of the appliances should break. The purchasers decided that it was highly unlikely that more than one of the appliances would break any time in the near future and thus the cost of the warranty wasn’t justified. As luck would have it, in the first year every major appliance in the house died and had to be replaced. However, now that calamity had struck, it was too late to buy the protection.

What does this have to with Proverbs 1? In this passage wisdom is picture as woman calling out to those who are sure to face trials and trouble ahead:

{20} Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. {21} She cries out in the chief concourses, At the openings of the gates in the city She speaks her words: {22} “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, And fools hate knowledge. {23} Turn at my rebuke; Surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. [Proverbs 1:20-23 NKJV]

However, those who are passing by refuse to stop and take heed:

{24} Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, {25} Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke, [Proverbs 1:24-25 NKJV]

How many reasons do we have for not gaining the wisdom of God’s word today?

  • We are too busy.
  • We aren’t having any real problems right now.
  • Our marriages are OK or we aren’t married yet.
  • Our kids are still young or we don’t have kids yet.
  • Things are good at church.
  • We don’t know (or aren’t looking for) anybody to talk to about the gospel.
  • And on and on and on…

But, then calamity strikes:

  • We are stressed out over problems at work.
  • Our relationships with our friends are struggling.
  • We are married to someone who is tearing us down spiritually.
  • Our marriage is falling apart.
  • We can’t agree on how to the raise kids.
  • Our kids behavior is terrible or they have become unfaithful to the Lord.
  • There is strife in the church.
  • I need to talk to a close friend about why what they believe and I don’t know what to say.
  • And on and on and on…

Suddenly, in the midst of the storm we need wisdom, but we aren’t prepared. Now what?

{25} Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke, {26} I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, {27} When your terror comes like a storm, And your destruction comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. {28} “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. {29} Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD, {30} They would have none of my counsel [And] despised my every rebuke. {31} Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, And be filled to the full with their own fancies. {32} For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them; [Proverbs 1:25-32 NKJV]

Now, it’s too late. It’s too late to board up the windows of a home after the hurricane is blowing rain into the broken windows of the house. It’s too late to buy the warranty after the appliances are broken. And, too many times, it is too late to seek wisdom when the storms of life hit. What was needed to avoid the issues was the wisdom beforehand. Wisdom to…

  • Recognize that spiritual wealth is more important than the wealth of the world.
  • Build relationships and friendships built on a common faith in the Lord instead of the transient pleasures of this world.
  • Not marry someone with different spiritual goals in life.
  • Discover if your spouse will share your views on child rearing and assure those views are built on the principles of God’s word.
  • Raise your children from infancy on the principles of God’s word instead of waiting until their hearts are hardened to serve the devil. (Note: Even children raised correctly can go astray, but too many times the foundation is not laid until far too late.)
  • Set an example of faithfulness, service, and love for children instead of only paying lip service to honoring the Lord in our lives.
  • Study God’s word to have the wisdom to know what is opinion versus what is truth and know when the truth must be defended and when opinion must sacrificed in love.
  • Study God’s word to make our faith our own and not just something we heard at church all of our lives.

The beauty of the advice comes in the final line for those who will seek wisdom ahead of time before the storm hits:

{33} But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil.” [Proverbs 1:33 NKJV]

Will you stop and listen to wisdom’s call before the storm hits and it’s too late?

Dan Fontenot

(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)