BLESSED IS HE WHO READS

Gary Henry

       Reading is a lost art, I fear.  It’s a very ancient art, of course,
but in our multimedia age, many have forgotten the importance
of it.  The skill of reading, the value of reading, and even the en-
joyment of reading are lost on most of us nowadays.
       But developing a deeper devotion to God is impossible with-
out a good bit of reading: we must either read the Scriptures for
ourselves or have them read to us.  As John began the great
prophecy of Revelation, he wrote:  Blessed is he who reads and
those who hear the words of this prophecy” (1:3).  There is a
blessing that comes from the reading and hearing of God’s Word that can’t
be gained by any other means.
Private Reading: — There are very few of us who are reading the
Scriptures privately as often as we used to.  We may study a
Bible lesson or two for attendance at the local congregation, and we may
follow along as the preacher reads a passage from
the Bible now and then, but not many of us make the reading of
God’s Word a regular part of our daily routine.
       If you’re serious about spiritual growth, you need to read the
Bible every day.  You need to read through the entire Bible on a
regular basis, at least once a year.  You need to read longer sect-
ions of the text, taking in whole books of the Bible at one or two
sittings whenever possible.  And while a detailed “study” of the
Bible is also important, you need to simply read the Bible as often as you
can, so that the sense of the text as a whole can
make its proper impression on you.
       In addition to your reading, you will also profit from listening
to recordings of the Bible being read by readers who really know how to
read out loud.  Audio recordings of the entire Bible
are readily available, and if you’ll learn to use thse regularly, you
may find that you enjoy hearing God’s Word read while you’re
driving, doing chores aroung the house, and so forth.
Public Reading: — When John said:  “Blessed is he who reads
and those who hear the words of this prophecy,” he probably
had in mind the public reading of inspired writings in the Christ-
ian assembly.  And when Paul directed Timothy to “give attent-
ion to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:13), he may
also have had in mind the reading of trhe Scriptures when the saints
assembled.
       Today, many congregations include a Scripture reading as a
part of their assembly, but unfortunately, the reading rarely in-
cludes more than a few verses.  Wouldn’t it be profitable to have
longer readings, even if it means the preacher had to abbreviate
hsi lesson to make room for the reading?  And wouldn’t it also
be profitable if those who accepted the responsibility to read took that
duty more seriously, carefully preparing and practicing
the reading so that  the real meaning of the text was made evid-
ent to the hearers by the manner in which it was read?
       As a preacher, I’ve  decided to slow down and actually turn
to more of the passages that  I cite.  I urge my listeners to turn to
the passages in their own Bibles, and I read not only the verse
that pertains to my point but also the surrounding context, with
as little comment from me as possible.  I believe that  I’ve been
depriving my hearers of hearing the text read, and I’ve decided
to rectify that .  I’ve actually come around to this radical position
neither quoting the passage from memory nor projecting it on
a PowerPoint slide is a good substitute for the preacher and the
audience both turning to the text and reading it together in their
own Bibles.
       “Blessed is he who reads and he who hears.” said John.  Personally,
I’m going to do more reading from God’s Word, both
privately and publicly; and I’m going to seek out more opportuni-
ties to hear God’s Word read by others.  How about you?
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