“I AM…” – How Jesus Meets Our Deepest Needs
7. The Alpha and Omega
Revelation 1: 8; 21: 6; 22: 13
Today we’re going to pick up 1 more metaphor of the Messiah that is found not in the Gospel of John but in the Book of Revelation where Jesus declared 3 times that He is the “Alpha and the Omega.” We have been going through the “I am” statements of Jesus from the Gospel of John in preparation for Easter. We’ve learned that Jesus is the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the Door, the Good Shepherd, the Way and the Vine. On Easter Sunday, we’ll deal with what Jesus meant when He said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”
The Book of Revelation is filled with twists and turns but the main character is the glorious and majestic Jesus Christ, the conquering King. “There is absolutely no book like it. It is loaded with drama…with suspense…with mystery, passion, horror and disaster. It tells…of the coming story of the apostasy of the church…the collapse of world economics…the final war of the world… unparalleled natural disasters. It tells of the final judgments of the wrath of God. It speaks of bloodbaths, political conflict that opens the way for a wicked, hellish, world ruler to take over. It speaks of the total destruction of the entire universe and the damnation of both the bodies and souls of people to eternal hell. It is a book of unbelievable excitement, and yet amazingly it is a book of hope and a book of joy and a book with a happy ending.”
The Apostle John has been exiled to the rocky island of Patmos. It makes me think of Robben Island. His fellow disciples have been martyred. Christians are being persecuted and in the midst of all the bad news, he is given an unforgettable vision of Jesus Christ. By the way, we’re told that blessing comes when we read and pay attention to this book – 1: 3. Then we get a sneak peak of what is going to happen – 1: 7, 8.
His Second Coming
We’re to pay attention and to look expectantly.This is good for us because we get so caught up in what’s happening in the here and now. What are we to pay attention to? “He is coming…” This is in the present tense, meaning that Jesus is on the way. It’s not that He shall come or might come but that right now He is in the process of coming. Jesus declares, “Behold, I am coming soon…”
His coming will be “with the clouds.” Don’t think of white and wispy clouds but rather of God’s shekinah glory on full display. After the resurrection Jesus ascended into heaven and “a cloud took him out of sight.” He will descend in the same way that He ascended. While the first coming of Jesus was veiled, His second coming will be visible to the whole world: “every eye will see Him.” v. 7 describes the second coming of Jesus and v. 8 gives us the certainty of it. How do we know for sure that it will happen?
The Certainty of His Coming
In our me-centered society and churches filled with shallow spirituality, we don’t stop often enough and reflect deeply enough on who Jesus Christ is. He wasn’t just a good man or a great teacher, or a miracle-worker or a prophet. He was, and is, so much more! We see 3 attributes of Jesus -
1. Jesus is Omniscient – All-Knowing.
“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God.” These are the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet. An alphabet for a language contains and conveys all ideas and knowledge. Jesus sees and knows all. When someone used this expression, they were also including everything in between. It would be like us saying, “from A to Z.”
The name Alpha means first in rank and also signifies the best. He is “A1,” meaning there is nothing higher or better. The name Omega reminds us that Jesus became last when He became a man and died on a cruel cross as a common criminal. Jesus is the Alpha of salvation and the Omega, or ending, of the sacrificial system when he cried: “It is finished.”
Greeks often used symbolic letters to describe their deities. By describing Himself as the Alpha and Omega, Jesus is claiming superiority over any so-called god.
Jesus is declaring Himself to be God. Isaiah 41: 4, “Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he.”
This shows that Jesus is bigger than time. He’s the beginning and the end. Jesus is the “be-all and end-all.” What He started in Genesis, He finishes in Revelation.
This phrase was used to communicate that something was complete. Jesus is the initiator and the one who finishes, the cause and the completer, the foremost and the utmost. Hebrews 12: 2: “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” What He begins, He completes.
In every alphabet there’s something that corresponds to an ‘A’ and a ‘Z,’ showing how every culture is included in God’s plan of redemption. The shortest alphabet in the world is the Rotokas alphabet from Papua New Guinea, containing only 12 letters and the language with the most letters is Khmer from Cambodia with 74. Jesus is the beginning letter and the ending letter, and everything in between in every language, tribe and tongue…and alphabet. Did you know there are over 1 million words in the English language and they all come from arranging the 26 letters of our alphabet? There are few doctrines that are so explicitly taught in Scripture as that of God’s omniscience.
2. Jesus is Omnipresent – He is Everywhere.
Jesus knows everything and next we see that He is everywhere present at the same time: “Who is and who was and who is to come…” He is, right now in the present. He came in the past at His first coming and He is coming again! He is past, present and future. He has come, He is coming and He will come!
Revelation 4: 8: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” The truth of God’s omnipresence can be soothing or unsettling. To some, it brings comfort. Others find it very convicting. The fact that God is everywhere present at the same time can be a disturbing doctrine.
A. Omnipresence Brings Conviction. Like Jonah, is God calling you to do something right now that you want nothing to do with? Don’t wait until God sends a storm into your life, or you end up with a whale of a problem. Are you involved in something that you’re trying to keep secret? Listen. There is no way you can avoid the presence of God. The reason Christ convicts is so that He can get our attention. He loves us too much to let us keep running or hiding from Him.
B. Omnipresence Brings Comfort. God’s presence also brings comfort. Isaiah 41: 10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Because God is always with us, we do not have to be dismayed.I’m thankful that God is an ever-present help in trouble today, and I’m also glad that He has the future covered. Jesus is, He was and He is to come. In every situation of life God is already at work before I get there. He is working creatively, strategically and redemptively for my good and His glory in order to accomplish His purposes.
While I am struggling with the problems of today, Jesus is at work providing solutions for the things I’m going to face tomorrow. He’s working in situations right now that I haven’t even faced yet. He’s preparing them for me and me for them. Are you worried about next week? Chill out. He’s already there. How about next year? Don’t sweat. He’s got it covered. Since Jesus is already in the future, you can trust Him today and put your hope in Him for tomorrow, even if trials come your way (and they will).
It would be enough if Jesus simply walked with you through the events of life. But He does much more than that. He goes ahead of you, clearing the way, arranging the details of life, so that when you get there, you can have confidence that God has already been there before you.
Jesus is Omniscient – He is the Alpha and the Omega.
Jesus is Omnipresent – He is, He was and He is to come.
3. He is Omnipotent – He is All-Powerful.
“…the Almighty.” Jesus is totally sovereign and in complete control. In Revelation 19 the Apostle John heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and loud peals of thunder shouting out. “For the Lord God omnipotent reigns.” Handel composed his majestic Hallelujah Chorus around this verse.
The word omnipotent refers to God’s power as infinite and unlimited. It’s defined by the biblical word, “Almighty,” which occurs 345 times in the Bible. He can do with power anything that power can do because He has the strength to do all He wills to do. He has all the resources and the ability to work His will in every circumstance in the universe.
In the divisive political season that we’re in as a country, it’s good to remember that Jesus Christ is Almighty. “When it comes to politics, the Bible gives us no reason to believe Jesus would side completely with one political viewpoint over another. Rather, when it comes to kings and kingdoms, Jesus sides with Himself…The question we should be asking, then, isn’t whether Jesus is on our side, but whether we’re on His. This is the appropriate question not only for politics and government, but also every other concern.”
When John caught a glimpse of Christ, he hit the ground. There is no question who the Alpha and the Omega is, is there? We can try to fight Him, which won’t work because we’ll lose, or we can submit and surrender to Him right now. Every knee will eventually bow to Him. Why not do it now willingly instead of doing it later when it will be too late? “We should live every day as though it were the day that Christ would come.”
1. Purify yourself today. 1 John 2: 28: “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.” Make Jesus your everything because He is Alpha - make Him your end and your aim because He is Omega.
2. Proclaim the gospel every day. When Jesus starting talking about His return His followers wanted to know all about dates and timelines. It’s interesting that instead of giving them that, He said these words in Acts 1: 8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
In His first coming, Jesus came with humility to deal with sin. At His second coming, He will come in power to deal with sinners. On Palm Sunday He came into Jerusalem on a humble colt. He will come again in victory on a white horse.
The phrase “Alpha and Omega” is used twice more at the end of the Book of Revelation. One passage has to do with mercy and the other with judgment.
1. MERCY Revelation 21: 5, 6: “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.’”
2. JUDGEMENT Revelation 22: 12, 13: “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
What will it be for you? Will you acknowledge Him as your Alpha and Omega so you receive mercy instead of judgment? Purify yourself today and then proclaim Christ every day.
“God You Reign”