Alpha and Omega

December 30, 2012 / No. 3652

Dear Radio Friends,
The verse we consider today is found in Revelation 1:8. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”
This verse of Scripture does not seem to say all that much. All it really does is give us a name of Christ. He is Alpha and Omega. As we stand at the beginning of the year 2013, we need something to guide us through this year to come. We need a Word of God that will give us good, sound instruction as we walk through this year to come. This verse really does not seem to do that. We just receive a name. What practical good will just the name be to us? This: It will serve to give you and me hope. That is really what we need. The word that we need to hear as the new year dawns must be a word of hope. We need bright hope for today and for tomorrow. And that hope is given us in the name that we receive in this verse.
You see, this world in which we live is always changing. Time is like an ever-rolling stream. In this year to come all of us will become another year older. In this year to come Christ’s coming will be just another year closer. In this year to come there will be new events that take place in our lives. In this year to come God will take some of His people home to be with Him; others will be given affliction and sorrow. Some will be given new joy, a reason to laugh and rejoice. Time always changes things.
But there is one thing in our lives that will never change. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the One who is and was and is to come. And for that reason our Lord and Savior is the rock to which we can cling again in this year to come for comfort and strength. We do not fret about what will happen in this new year because we know that our Lord is here to lead and protect us. He will guard through dangers all; He will not suffer me to fall. He will keep us day-by-day.
All of that is found in a name. What name? Alpha and Omega. This is the name that is unique to the book of Revelation. It is mentioned twice in this chapter, here and in verse 11, and once in chapter 21, and a last time in chapter 22. In all four of these occurrences in Revelation, Christ calls Himself by this name. No one addresses Him as such. No one calls Him Alpha and Omega. It is a name that Christ uses to speak of Himself. And for that reason it is a special name. It is a name that Christ sets aside to encourage us as He does in each verse where He speaks. This name of Christ, then, we wish to have on our lips throughout the new year to come, a name we can call upon for our hope and our strength.
We take special note, then, first of all, that the One who calls Himself Alpha and Omega is none other than Christ. This is obvious from the context. In verse 1 we learn that we receive in this book the “revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him.” The salutation that is given to us, beginning in verses 4 and 5, is from John and from Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness. In verse 7 we read this of the Alpha and Omega, “behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.” That is an obvious reference to Jesus. So when the verse we are studying informs us that the Lord is the Alpha and Omega, we know that the name refers specifically to Christ.
I make an effort to make this clear because, remember, it is in this name alone that we are going to find hope for this year to come. And to find that hope, we must know exactly, without a doubt, who it is that is going to give us that hope. It is Christ who is the Lord, who calls Himself the Alpha and Omega. The risen and ascended Lord who sits at the right hand of God and rules in the heavens today says, “I am Alpha and Omega.” That is the truth that stands out here. Christ is Lord.
You see, Christ was anointed of God to function in the threefold office—that of Prophet, Priest, and King. He was ordained of God from eternity and anointed by the Holy Spirit at the time of His baptism to function as Prophet, Priest, and King. The particular office of Christ that stands on the foreground in this text, however, is that of King. That is why the name Lord is used. A lord is a man having power and authority over others. He is a man of rank and high position. A lord exercises leadership and great power. Those under him must render him honor, service, and obedience. As we enter into the year 2013, it is encouraging to know that Christ is such a lord. In fact, He is the Lord. There is no one of higher power and rank, no one of higher authority and honor than Christ. He is the sovereign Lord who rules over all. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
I say here, friends, there is nothing more encouraging in this year to come than to know that! Christ’s rank and position is His by hereditary right. He is the very Son of God. And by virtue of His divinity alone Christ rules. But Christ has also earned that position and power. He earned it on the cross, where He defeated His enemies and ours. There He overcame sin and death. There He conquered Satan. He did battle against the wicked world and He has overcome these enemies of the church. Because of the work Christ has accomplished on the cross, God has given Him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. Christ sits at God’s right hand, right now, and He rules over all creatures great and small, in heaven and on earth. And everyone is called to render service, obedience, and honor to Him. Christ sits on His throne at the right hand of God in heaven. And He is Lord.
This gives His chosen people hope for the year to come because this Lord who sovereignly reigns in the heavens is also their Savior. When He went to the cross He did so on behalf of every one of God’s people. He conquered sin, Satan, and death for you and me, believing saint. He now sits in heaven and He reigns over all things for the church. In other words, His rule in heaven right now is for our benefit. And that, in turn, means that whatever may befall you and me or the church in the year to come is all in Christ’s hands. How often we have to remind ourselves of that! When life does not go the way we want it to, then we can quickly blame it on someone or something that is in our life. We forget that our Lord is sitting in heaven directing our lives and that of the church unto His own perfect end.
So, as we stand at the very beginning of a new year, let us remind ourselves of the truth that is before us. In the year to come, Christ is Lord. He lives, and He reigns over all things—the creation, the governments of this world, and what transpires in the churches of today. He directs our lives and everything in them in His great love for us. If that is true, then we need not fear or worry because He will work all things together for our good.
There are two virtues mentioned here that characterize our Lord, which should give to us great comfort. The first is that He is Almighty. An earthly lord or king may be powerful and may exert much authority and sway over his people. But there is one thing he is not. He is not almighty. As mighty as he might seem, his authority and power can be challenged and even taken away by another. How many times that has happened in the kingdoms of men. We may have a president now that exerts all kinds of influence in government. But he does not remain president forever. His power and influence are but a breath. He is here today and in a few short years he will be gone forever. As much power and ability an earthly ruler may wield, he is never almighty.
The same is not true of our King, our Lord Jesus Christ. He is all-powerful in His control over all creatures. The heathen may rage, and the kings of the earth may set themselves against God and His anointed to break away from Their rule. These wicked people of the earth even imagine a vain thing, which is that they have somehow successfully broken away from the sovereign rule of Christ over them. But they have not. They have not because they cannot. Unbelieving men have come to believe that they have set their own course in this world. In the year before us, man will go his merry way and increase in his wickedness, ignoring God and His commandments. We have been appalled in the year 2012 to what great lengths man has developed in his sin. We will probably be even more appalled at the further development of sin in the year to come. The wicked will increase in their wickedness, they will mock Christ, they will do what is right in their own eyes, all because of their foolish imagination. They think Christ does not see from His throne in heaven. They think they are in control and not Christ.
But, believers, Christ reigns. He even now, in His power and might, directs the nations and the peoples of this earth. Christ is directing the affairs of this world and of our nation exactly in the way He intends. Natural catastrophes, presidential elections, threats of war—all are under His control. All things take place in order that Christ might bring about His second coming. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.” Every man will give account to this Lord of heaven and earth. In the year 2013 we need not fear the wicked. Though he is loud and boastful, though he is filled with rage against God, our Lord is almighty. He reigns over the wicked with a rod of iron and will dash him in pieces.
There is one other virtue of Christ that gives us great comfort in the year to come. Christ is unchangeable. Our Lord is He who is and was and is to come almighty. That means that Christ is ever the same in His might. There is great comfort in that for believers, you know. When we look back across the year that now has disappeared, there are so many things that happened to us and our loved ones. The prospect of another year can be frightening. What will become of me and my family in the new year? It is disconcerting when we really sit back and think about it. Everything is constantly changing. What curveball is going to be thrown at me in the year to come? What will I or my family have to endure? The future is unknown. And so, so uncertain!
But there is one thing we can be sure of in this year to come. Jesus was and is and is to come the same. He is the same in His great love toward us. That love never changes. God has chosen us in Christ from eternity and we have been saved in Christ. Christ is not going to turn away from that love for us. Neither will Christ allow His chosen people to walk away from Him. We might walk in sin for a time, but if Christ has died for us, we cannot go lost. We are His. We are held in His almighty hand. He loves us and will love us in the year to come, too.
And, remember, Christ is and was and is to come almighty, too. That means His power and authority over all things will never diminish in this year to come. He will direct all the affairs of 2013 for our good and our salvation. Even when life seems so chaotic, even when all the events of our lives seem to swirl around us or are upside-down, Christ is there. And He holds these events of our lives in His hand and they take place with perfect rhyme and reason. We must believe that in this year to come.
It is for this reason He gives us this name: I am Alpha and Omega. That name gives us all the reason to be filled with hope in this year to come. Christ is Alpha and Omega.
These two words are the names of two letters of the Greek alphabet. Alpha is comparable to our “A” and Omega is comparable to our “Z.” In other words, these two Greek letters are the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet, just like our A and Z are in the English alphabet. By using these two letters of the Greek alphabet as a name, Christ in essence is saying this of Himself: “I am the first and the last.” This is further explained by Him in our text when He attaches to this name “the beginning and the ending.”
There are several interrelated ideas expressed in Scripture that ought to be applied to this name of Christ. The first is this: Christ is God. Christ is divine. This means that Christ is first, just as God is first. God is from eternity and to all eternity, and the divine Son of God is from eternity to all eternity as well. We read of this in John 1:1 and 2. Christ was with God and is God in the beginning of all things. And since all things are to God, that is, they find their end in God and His glory, so also is this true of Christ according to His divinity. God is not only first but last. So is Christ. That, then, in the Scriptures is ascribed to Christ: He is before all things and by Him all things consist and to Him are all things. That truth, first of all.
But there are two other truths concerning Christ that the Scriptures present that are really on the foreground in this name. The first of these two truths is this: Christ is the first and the last in the counsel of God. Before time began in eternity, God in His counsel willed or decreed Christ as the firstborn among many brethren. Christ is first. He is the beginning of all things. All things in history center, therefore, in Christ. He was the reason all things were created. He was the reason that we were chosen as God’s elect people. He is first in the eternal counsel of God with respect to our salvation. And that is why Christ has the preeminence. Christ is the firstborn of the church.
What practical significance does that have for you and me in the year 2013? This. Never, never will God view you and me, believers, apart from Jesus Christ this year. Christ is our Lord. God has chosen us in Him and has saved us in Him. We are always and ever in Him. That we need to know when troubled with our sins in this year to come. Our sins at times can overwhelm us. When we examine ourselves and find so much sin in us, then we can be assured that we are always viewed by God in Christ. When the troubles of this life threaten to take away our joy and our happiness; when circumstances of life threaten to rob us of our contentment and peace of heart, we must remember this: Just as this day is the first of the year, so also is Christ first. And just as this year will end 365 days later, so Christ is the end of it all. All things are for Christ. And if we be Christ’s, then all things are for us, too.
That brings us to the final idea expressed here in this name. Christ is the beginning of our salvation and the end of that salvation, too. This truth stares us in the face, so to speak, in the verse that we consider. Christ came in His first advent to bring us salvation. He has accomplished this on the cross and in His resurrection. He began the work of salvation at that time. At the end of time, in His second coming, Christ will bring that salvation to its perfect end. He is the beginning of our salvation; He is the end of it. And He is everything in between, too. He that has begun a good work in us will be faithful to complete that work.
His promise to you and to me is sure. He is coming. And He carries with Him the final work of the salvation of the church. When He comes, He will dispel all night for us and He will usher us into that kingdom where God and the Lamb are the light of it. All sin will be gone! And we will be perfect. No more sin. All our enemies will be destroyed. That kingdom of heaven will be a kingdom of peace and true happiness. That kingdom is coming in 2013. Christ even now is establishing His kingdom in the hearts of His elect people all over the world. And that kingdom will be brought to its completion soon, when Jesus Christ returns to usher in the new heavens and new earth.
That gives us the hope necessary to carry on in this year to come. Our King, our Lord, is coming. He is directing everything that is taking place in our lives and in the church and in the world. He did this in the year gone by; He will do it in the year to come. He is the first of this year; He is the end of this year. He is beginning of time, He will be here at the end of time when the years will cease to exist. We look for Him with a patient waiting for and longing after Christ’s return.
That must characterize us as we look for Christ’s return. We must be anxious and yet patient. That must motivate you and me in our homes and families in this year to come. That must give us the zeal to carry on the work of the church in the year to come. We may not look at life and become down-cast because of it. We must be zealous. Christ is coming. What great reason for joy in the year to come. Christ places you and me in this world for a reason. We must rejoice, therefore, in this year to come because God will preserve our going out and our coming in. The hope that is ours is given us by God. And it gives us incentive to live and be fruitful in God’s kingdom.
Christ is our King. Onward, Christian soldiers! Onward into this new year we go. We fight against all evil and we stand for the right. And when Christ comes again, we will be found standing in faithfulness to Him.
Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!
Let us pray.
Father in heaven, indeed we pray with this hope: Come, Lord Jesus, yea, come quickly. Teach us to look for that coming of Christ in this new year to come. For Christ’s sake we pray, Amen.