1:3: Hear: “Blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written therein,” (RSV).
Just as God does not speak without results, so in Biblical thought, man does not truly hear without keeping, or observing, what has been heard. To “keep” that which was heard requires an appropriate response. In Biblical communication, if the response is lacking, one has not completed the act of hearing. The Hebrew meaning of “hear” is more like our word “heed;” that is, you become a doer of the word.
The hearing of the ears initiates a challenge to the will. The will then must either assent or dissent. To assent is to accept or comply passively. This is the first step toward “keeping” or “doing” the Word. However, according to opportunity there must also be, not only the readiness to will, but also a performance of the deeds. Only with the performance is the act of “hearing” complete.
The great shema to Israel was not only an admonition to “hear” but also to “do”: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might,” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).
The controversy concerning faith versus works is due to the lack of understanding, amongst the Christians from gentile backgrounds, of the Biblical meaning of “hearing.” James taught the true sense of the word, declaring that “…faith without works is dead,” (James 2:26). And: “Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves,” (James 1:22).
Blessing Of Deliverance Promised
The message of Revelation gives the blessed assurance of Christ’s deliverance, reminiscent of Christ’s words in Luke 21:28: “Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near,” (RSV).
The passage in Luke 17:34-37 seems to indicate that deliverance is not to be merely a matter of one’s own volition, or watchfulness, but that some “will be taken” while others “will be left.” In reading Josephus’ account it seems that indeed there were people who did escape the City and others who could not. These passages themselves would have been sufficient to warn the Christians to avoid the City, or flee from it where possible.
The End Of The Age For The Whole Earth? Objections
Some will object that the “end of the age” does not pertain only to the fall of Judea and Jerusalem but to the whole earth. For example, “for it (that day) will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth,” (Luke 21:35 RSV). There are two things that must be pointed out in this regard:
(l) the word ‘earth,’ in the Hebrew is ’eretz which is sometimes translated “earth” and sometimes “land.” It could therefore refer to the whole land of Judea, or to the whole planet earth.
(2) It may in fact refer to both in their proper time and order; that is, first to the whole land of Judea in the first century, then to the whole planet after the Gospel has gone to the whole world. This is according to the pattern: “The Jew first and also the Greek (Gentile),” (Rom. 2:9-10).
A further objection is that, at His “coming,” Christ is to establish His Kingdom in the earth. This may be answered by pointing out that, at the destruction of the fleshly nation, Christ’s Kingdom fully replaced it in the earth. After that time, there was no other nation of Israel, no other heirs to the promises. We find in Revelation chapter 22 that the New Jerusalem has come down to the earth and God is again dwelling in the midst of His people.
But just as the physical nation had occupied a limited space in the world, so Christ’s kingdom at that time was not all-pervasive of the world systems. His kingdom has, however, like the little stone cut out by no human hands that broke in pieces the great kingdoms of the earth in Daniel 2:34, continually increased and will ultimately fill all the earth and replace every kingdom of this world, the Blessed Kingdom of those who hear the message of Revelation.
“Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will do this,” Isaiah 9:7.
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