Alpha and Omega

““I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.””
Revelation‬ ‭1:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

This verse is a direct message from God Himself, recorded by John to establish irrefutably God’s  absolute and eternal status in His created universe. It appears between a verse about Jesus’ second coming and John informing us about his exile on Patmos. But its content is so profound that it can stand alone in any context.

The Alpha and Omega, two letters from the Greek alphabet. One at the beginning and one at the end. They portray a message of completeness, something confirmed with the statement that God has always been around. In our human thinking, bounded by time, the concept of eternity is something that really is mind boggling. We are imprisoned by our clocks. We get up at a certain time. Our daily events are all timed. Seconds tick by, unstoppable. We celebrate our birthdays every year. We record the time and date of our births, marriages and deaths. Young people behave as thought they will live forever, but the oldies amongst us become aware of their mortality, a state compounded by increasing aches and pains and visits to medical facilities. But God lives outside of time. He lives in another universe, Heaven itself. The phrase in our verse today, “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come”, defines His eternal state.

As humans, we have a tendency to look back, into our “was”. Our lives are shaped by what has gone on before in our lives. Choices and decisions made in years past define who we are now. And what the rest of our lives will be, our “still to come”. But it is not possible to apply the same concepts to our eternal God. Living in an eternal state is totally incomprehensible to us. And it certainly confuses the evolutionists and educationalists in our societies, who try to apply time-based principles to an eternal, timeless universe. A universe created by “the Alpha and the Omega”, the “Almighty One”

So where does this verse fit into the pilgrim’s mindset? It once again reminds us of the God we worship. We can only wonder about this Eternal Creator, who cared so much for us, that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die for us, as a sacrifice for our sins, and restore to us the status He designed into us from the very beginning. What else can we do other than praise Him forever?

Father God. We join together in praise to You. You are the Almighty God and our loving Heavenly Father. We are so grateful. Amen.

Seen By Everyone

“Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him— even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen! “
Revelation 1:7 NLT

John would have been in the little group of disciples who stood with Jesus on the Mount of Olives, just outside Jerusalem, as He provided their final instructions and answered their last questions. And then, as they were speaking with Him, He was taken up from their presence into the clouds. They strained to see Him go, but as they were doing so, two angels suddenly turned up, wearing white robes, telling them that Jesus had gone up into Heaven, but would return the same way at some future date. We can read the story in Acts 1:6-12.

So John would have been very certain of his facts when he said Jesus “comes with the clouds of Heaven“. And John goes on to tell his readers that everyone will see Jesus when He returns, including those who crucified Him. John may have been confirming Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 7:13, “As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence“. He would also have been aware of the prophetic words in Zechariah 12:10, “Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died“. But John’s words were very clear. Jesus will return one day, and there will be a global outbreak of mourning for what sinful men and women did to Him. And still do, come to that.

How does all that matter for today’s pilgrims? Surely we just continue as normal, interested and even excited by the Second Coming of Jesus, but not considering it as an event all that relevant. After all, the chances of it happening in our lifetimes must be pretty remote. 

In Matthew 25, Jesus told the story of the wise and foolish virgins. Five of them were prepared for the coming of the bridegroom. They had enough oil for their lamps, so they were the wise ones. But the other five didn’t have enough oil, and in the process of trying to buy some they missed out on celebrating the marriage feast with the bridal party. These were the foolish ones because they weren’t ready for the bridegroom’s coming. Jesus ended the parable with these words, “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.” (Matthew‬ ‭25:13‬ ‭NLT‬). The meaning of this parable was that wise people are always ready for the Lord’s return, whenever that might be, while the unwise, the foolish, put off their readiness until it is too late.

Today’s pilgrims must live as though Jesus was coming today. So we keep spiritual short accounts, confessing our sins. We encourage one another. We continue to help each other. We look for opportunities to share our messages of hope with those around us. Today’s pilgrims want to be found by Jesus as faithful servants – Jesus graphically told the story of a faithful servant, and the consequences of being unfaithful, in Matthew 24:45-51. 

But moving on out of negative territory, the second coming of Jesus will be amazing. Words cannot described the wonder of that event. The excitement for those ready and waiting. After all, His first coming was full of wonder and amazing things, with visions of singing angels, stars and all. His second coming will, in some ways, be the opposite to His first – everyone will see Him coming as a King, in all His Heavenly majesty, not just a select few witnessing the events around the birth of the son of God. And we read in Philippians 2:10-11, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”. That’s pretty inclusive, folks. He will be seen by everyone.

Father God. Today we enter Your presence with deeply grateful hearts, for all You have done for us. We echo the words at the end of this book, “Come Lord Jesus”. Amen.

Greetings

“John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood,”
Revelation‬ ‭1:4-5‬ ‭NIVUK

John starts his writings with an introduction explaining who the letter is for and who it is from. It is addressed to “the seven churches in the province of Asia“. They are all listed later in the book. And then we have a detailed explanation of the contributors to his Revelation. For me, John’s words describe the everlasting God, because His throne is mentioned. And then we have the seven spirits. That can only be the Holy Spirit, the number “seven” denoting perfection or completeness, as it does in other parts of the Bible. And then we have a reference to Jesus, acknowledging Him as the faithful witness behind John’s Revelation. For good measure, we then are reminded of His death and resurrection, and His status as Lord of all.

John starts with announcing God’s grace and peace to “you”, who are the churches, the fellowships that he founded or spiritually fathered in the “province of Asia”. Again, the number “seven” is mentioned, perhaps indicating that it applies to all churches everywhere. There is no better introduction than speaking out a blessing of grace and peace. Oh, don’t we need both these qualities in our war-ravaged world. We need all the grace and peace that God has for us. Starting a letter or, to bring it up to date, an email or message, using a greeting, especially one including the words “grace and peace” is not a usual convention these days. But what a wonderful way to start. At a stroke of the pen, or tap of a key, it sets the scene for what is to come in the communication. It elevates the subject matter into Heavenly places, away from the mundane worldliness burdening our lives. Perhaps I’ll break with convention and start to use it more in my emails and messages, smiling at the thought of the quizzical smiles that will appear as the missive is read.

John finishes his greeting with a dedication, “to Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood”. We must never forget to dedicate all we do in our service to God to Jesus and all He has done for us. His love knows no bounds. His willingness to die for each one of us echoes through past, present and future generations, bringing salvation to all.

Heavenly Father, we pray for more of Your presence in this sinful world, bringing grace and peace where there is anger and strife. In Jesus’ name, Amen.