Dear radio friends,
The verse of Scripture we consider in our broadcast today does not seem to say much. It is Revelation 1:8, which reads, “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.” All it really does is give us a name of Christ. He is Alpha and Omega. But as we stand on the first day of the year 2017 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 another year. This verse does not seem to do that. We are told a name.
What practical good will just a name give us? This: it will serve to give you and me hope in this year to come. That is really what we need. Oh, we will receive the Word of God all year long. That Word will certainly instruct us in the way we should walk. That Word will admonish and encourage us. But 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 tomorrow. That hope is given us in the name of Christ we read here in Revelation 1.
You see, life in this world is always changing. Time is like an ever rolling stream. In the year to come all of us will become another year older. In this year to come Christ’s coming will be another year closer. In the 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 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.
All of that 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 all four of these occurrences Christ calls Himself by this name. No one addresses Him and calls Him by this name. It is a name Christ uses to speak of Himself. For that reason, it is a special name—a name set aside by Christ to encourage us. It is this name of Christ we wish to have on our lips throughout the new year to come—a name we can call upon for our hope and strength.
ALPHA AND OMEGA
I. The Identity
In this verse we read that it is the Lord who calls Himself the Alpha and Omega. In other words, Jesus Christ as the Lord calls Himself by this name. As the risen and ascended Lord who sits at the right hand of God and rules in the heavens, He says, “I am Alpha and Omega.” That is the truth that stands out in this verse. Christ is Lord! He rules in heaven over all things. Christ 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. In the verse before us, Christ speaks to us in particular as King. That is why the name Lord is used. You see, 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 a 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 great power. Those under him must render him honor, service, and obedience.
As we enter into the year 2017, 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! There is nothing more encouraging in the 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 He rules.
But Christ has also earned this position and power. He has earned that 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 the work Christ accomplished in His death, 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 and rules over all creatures great and small, in heaven and on earth! And everyone is called to render Him service, obedience, and honor. Christ sits on His throne in heaven right now. He is Lord! This gives us 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, Satan, and death for His people chosen of God! 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 us as His children is for our good.
How often we have to remind ourselves of that, do we not? When life does not always go the way we want it to, we can quickly blame it on someone or something. And we forget that our Lord is sitting in heaven directing our lives and the life of the church unto His perfect end. So, as we stand at the very beginning of a new year let’s remind ourselves of the truth that is before us: in this year to come Christ is Lord! He lives and reigns over all things! 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.
There are two virtues mentioned here in Revelation 1:8 that characterize our Lord. These virtues should give to us great comfort too. 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 king may wield, he is never all mighty. Well, 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, the kings of the earth may set themselves against God and His anointed to break away from His rule. These wicked people of the earth even imagine a vain thing, which is 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 has convinced itself that man can set his own course in this world. In the year before us, man will go his merry way and increase in his wickedness. The wicked will ignore Christ and do what is right in their own eyes, all because of their foolish imagination! They will continue to think they are in control and not Christ.
But Christ reigns, fellow believers! 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 2017 we need not fear the wicked, though they are loud and boastful, though they are filled with rage against God. Our Lord is almighty! He reigns over the wicked with a rod of iron.
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 across the year that now has disappeared, we see that so many things happened to us and our loves 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. Everything is constantly changing. What will I or may 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 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 His. We are held in His almighty hand. He loves us, and He will love us in this year to come too. And remember, saints of God, 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 2017 for our good and our salvation. That we cling to in faith. Not one event of our lives or of this world will slip by Christ and His rule. He has them in 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.
II. The Meaning
It is for this reason He gives us His name: I am Alpha and Omega. That name gives us every reason to be filled with hope in the year to come. Christ is Alpha and Omega. These 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 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 therefore.
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 ideas expressed in Scripture itself 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. As the divine Son of God, so is Christ. We read of this in John 1:1, 2. Christ is God and was with 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 are really on the foreground in our text. 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 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 pre-eminence. Christ is the firstborn of the church. From eternity God electd His people in Christ.
What practical significance does that have for you and me in the year 2017? This. Never—never—will God view you and me apart from Jesus Christ this year. God has chosen us in Him and saved us in Him. We are His always and ever. That we need to know when we confront sin in our lives in this year to come. Our sins rise up against us, prevailing day by day. We can become so weary in our battle against sin. But we must cling to the truth that we belong to Jesus Christ. Christ is first, and we are chosen in Him. When the troubles of this life threaten to take away our joy and happiness, and 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!
But 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 the verse 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. And at the end of time, in His Parousia, 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 too—which means once again that Christ will preserve us in this 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 2017. 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!
III. The Hope
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 is the first this year and He is the end of this year. He is there 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. 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 in the year to come. That is what must motivate us in our individual lives in this year to come. 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 mope about in the year to come and be miserable! That is not why God has placed you and me in 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. 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 this 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,