Dear Radio Friends,
In this first broadcast of the new year we are going to consider Revelation 1:8. They are words of Jesus. “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 much about a new year. All it really does is give us a name of Christ. He is Alpha and Omega. But as we stand at the beginning of a new year—the year 2014—we need something to guide us through the year ahead. This verse will do that. How? It will serve to give you and me hope in this year to come. That is really what we need. The Word we need to hear as the new year dawns must be a Word of hope. That hope is given us in the name of Christ that we receive in this verse.
You see, the world in which we live is always changing. Time is like an ever-rolling stream. In the year to come all of us will become another year older. There will be new events that take place in our lives. In this year God will choose to 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 to 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 will cling again in this year to come for comfort and strength. He will guard through dangers all, will not suffer me to fall.
All this is found in a name. What name? Alpha and Omega. This is a name that is unique to the book of Revelation. It is mentioned four times in this book of the Bible, and each time it is Christ Himself who calls Himself by that name. No one addresses Him by this name. It is a name that Christ uses to speak of Himself. For that reason, it is a special name. It is a name that Christ sets aside to encourage us.
It is this name of Christ that we wish to have on our lips throughout the new year to come—a name we can call upon for our hope and strength.
The One who calls Himself Alpha and Omega in our text is none other than Christ. But what is on the foreground regarding Christ is that He is Lord. In other words, the Lord calls Himself the Alpha and Omega. I am Alpha and Omega, saith the Lord. The risen and ascended Lord, who sits at the right hand of God and rules in the heavens, says: I am Alpha and Omega. That is the truth that stands out here in this verse. Christ is Lord!
A lord is a man having power and authority over others. He is a man of rank and high position. That position of authority over others belongs to that lord by virtue of hereditary right and/or because he has earned that position of honor and power. For that reason, one who is a lord exercises leadership and exercises great power, and those under him must render him honor, service, and obedience.
As we enter into the year 2014, 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! For those who believe in this Lord, 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. By virtue of His divinity alone Christ rules. But Christ has also earned this position and power on the cross, where He defeated His enemies and ours. There He overcame sin and death. He conquered Satan. He did battle against the wicked world and He overcame.
Because of what Christ accomplished on the cross, God gave 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 and rules over all creatures great and small, in heaven and on earth! And everyone is called to render service, obedience, and honor. Christ sits on His throne in heaven right now. He is Lord!
This gives the believer hope for the year to come because this Lord who sovereignly reigns in the heavens is our Savior! When He went to the cross, He did so on our behalf. He conquered sin and Satan for you and me. He now sits in heaven and reigns over all things for the church. His rule is for our benefit. That in turn means that whatever may befall you, or me, or the church in the year to come is all in His hands.
How often we have to remind ourselves of that, do we not? When life does not always go the way we want it to, then we can quickly blame it on someone or something. We forget that our Lord is sitting in heaven directing our lives and that of the church unto His 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: Christ is Lord!
There are two virtues mentioned in the verse we consider that characterize our Lord and that give us great comfort. The first is: 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 all mighty. As mighty as he may seem, his authority and his power can be challenged and taken away by another. How many times that has happened in the kingdoms of men. As much power and ability an earthly ruler may wield, he is never all mighty.
Well, the same is not true of our King, our Lord Jesus Christ. He is all powerful. The heathen may rage, 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, that they have successfully broken away from the sovereign rule of Christ over them. But they have not. They have not because they cannot! The unbelieving world around us imagines that it has set its own course in this world. In the year before us man will go his merry way and increase in his wickedness. We will be appalled once again as we observe what great lengths man will develop in his sin in this 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 Christ reigns, dear believer. He even now, in His power and might, directs the nations and the peoples of this earth. Does Christ even direct them in their way of foolishness and sin? Yes, He does! All in order that the world might become ripe for judgment! All of these things take place in order that Christ might bring about His second coming. “Behold, He cometh with the clouds, and every eye shall see Him someday!” Every man will give account to this Lord of heaven and earth.
In the year 2014 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 man with a rod of iron and will dash him in pieces.
There is one other virtue that gives us great comfort in the year to come. Christ is unchangeable in His might. The Lord is He which is and was and is to come almighty! That means that Christ is ever the same. There is great comfort in that for us, you know! When we look back over the year that now has disappeared, we see that there were so many things that happened to us and our loved ones. There has been so much development of sin in this world. The world increases in sin so rapidly! To look to another year really can be frightening. What will become of me and my children and my brothers and sisters? What will become of my fellow members in the church in the year to come? It is frightening when we really sit back and think about it! Everything is constantly changing. What curve ball am I going to get thrown at me in this 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 the year to come: Jesus is and was 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 are held in His almighty hand. He loves us and He will love us in this year to come too. And remember, beloved saint, Christ is and was and is to come almighty too! That means His power and authority over all things will never diminish. He will direct all the affairs of 2014 for our good and our salvation. When we see the frightening events of our lives unfold in the year to come, we look at them by faith and not by sight. Not one event of our lives or of this world will slip by Christ and His rule. He has them under His control. Even when life seems so chaotic, even when all the events of our lives seem to swirl around us, Christ is there and He holds these events of our lives in His hand. And they take place with perfect rhyme and reason. Christ never changes in all these things. He loves us and He controls all things always and ever the same.
It is for this reason He gives us His name: I am Alpha and Omega. That name gives us all the reason to be filled with hope in the 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 is saying in essence 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 words, “the beginning and the ending.”
Since we have already found out that Christ the Lord is the Alpha and Omega, it is left to us to find the meaning of this name. What message is Christ conveying to us this new year when He says to us: I am the Alpha and Omega? And what assurance can we derive from this name in the year to come?
There are several different ideas expressed in Scripture that ought to be applied to the thought given us in 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. We read of this in John 1:1, 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, the Scriptures ascribe to Christ. He is before all things, by Him all things consist, and to Him are all things! He is the first and the last according to His godhead. 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 verse. 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 therefore center in Christ. He was the reason all things were created. He was the reason we were chosen as God’s elect people. He is first in the eternal counsel of God with respect to our salvation. This 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 2014? This. Never—never—will God view His people apart from Jesus Christ this year. God has chosen us in Him and has saved us in Him. We are His always and ever. That we need to know when we sin in this year that is to come. Our sins at times can overwhelm us. When we are called to examine ourselves and find so much sin in us, we are apt to say: I cannot be a child of God! But we are! Christ is first and we are in Him. When the troubles of this life threaten to take away our joy and 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 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 in this name. Christ is the beginning of our salvation and the end of it too! And it is really this idea that stares us in the face in this passage of God’s Word. 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. And at the end of time, in His return, Christ will bring that salvation to its perfect end. He is the beginning of our salvation and He is the ending 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—which means once again that Christ will preserve us in the year to come. His promise to you and 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 usher us into that kingdom where God and the Lamb are the light of it. And the light that shall shine will be the perfection of that kingdom. All sin will be gone, and all our enemies will be destroyed. It will be a kingdom of peace and true joy and happiness! That kingdom is coming, people of God! It is coming again in 2014. Christ even now is establishing His kingdom all over this world—in the hearts of His elect people. And that kingdom will be brought to its completion soon enough!
And that is what gives us the hope necessary to carry on again in the 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 that in the year gone by, and He will do it in the year to come! He is the first of this year and He is the end of this year. He is in the beginning of time, and He will be here at the end of time, when the years will cease to exist for us.
We must look for Him with that hope too. Hope is a patient waiting for and longing after something that is to come. That is what must characterize us as we look for Christ’s return. We must be anxious and yet patient. That is what motivates you and me in our homes and families in the year to come. That is what must give us the zeal to carry on the work of the church. That is what must motivate us in our individual lives. We may not wallow in our troubles! We may not look at life and become cast down about it! We must be zealous! Christ is coming! What reason for joy in the year to come.
We may not say: “Oh Lord, just take me out of this world! I just want to go to heaven!” Christ places you and me in this world for a reason! It would be wrong for us to sit and mope in the year to come and be miserable! That is not why God has you and me born into this world—to sit about and say how much we do not want to be here. We must rejoice in the year to come! We must approach this year with zeal! Christ is coming. And I represent His cause and His kingdom in this world! He is the beginning of this year and He is the end of it and He is everything in between! He will preserve my going out and my coming in! Praise His name! The hope that is mine gives me incentive to live and be fruitful in God’s kingdom! God give us that hope in the year to come.
Christ is our King. Onward Christian soldiers—onward into this new year we go! We fight against all evil and stand for the right! And when Christ comes again we will be found standing in faithfulness to Him. Come Lord Jesus—come quickly!
Dear Radio Friends,