"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."
Revelations is both a fascinating and frustrating book to study. It’s imagery and prophetic promise weave together to create a text which promises much wisdom and knowledge but only allows the most dedicated of reader to even begin to scratch the surface. It is not a book to be skimmed through or read lightly.
Found at the very end of the Christian Bible, Revelations speaks of what it yet to come. It is the record of a vision given to the apostle John by an angel while he was banished to an Island in the Mediterranean Sea. Contained within the vision is this dramatic, final battle between the powers of heaven and hell, good and bad, God and Satan. A battle which is waged on earth with the souls of all of humanity hanging in the balance.
This cosmic battle is a significant reason why the book of Revelations seems so full of fantasy and beyond our ability to ever fully comprehend. It is attempting to describe something for which there are no human words to describe. No one has ever seen the beasts and events which John is glimpsing in this vision he must then record. Imagine trying to describe color to a person who was born blind. Or snow to a person who has always lived in a desert. Where do you even begin?
Thus, I find it rather comforting that, at the end of it all, we are reminded of a very important truth about who God is when the dust settles. After the warnings to the seven churches. After the horsemen of the apocalypse, the trumpets, the destruction, and the judgement, God is still there. And he is still the same as when the battle began. He is the same as when the world first began.
Yesterday, today, and forever.
He is the Alpha and the Omega.
Referring to God as the Alpha and the Omega reminds us that all of the language we create, and all of the created language we have ever used to communicate and discover the secrets of the world, belong to God. Therefore, the discoveries humanity has made, and will continue to make, belong to God as well. God is part of all we do from start to finish, both in our own individual lives and in regards to all humankind.
He is the Beginning and the End.
God was there at the moment the universe was created and he will be there at the moment it perishes and ceases to exist. In fact, He was there before there was anything and will continue on long after a time we can even begin to imagine in our limited experience and perspective because He is not bound by time. God dwells in eternity, a place where time has no beginning and no ending and can therefore be both the beginning and the end simultaneously and continuously.
He is the First and the Last.
God is the one God over all other gods. He is the first to ever hold the title of God. He will be the last to ever hold the title because all other gods are earthly gods and they will perish with the earth someday. When it comes to power and authority in this world, and the spiritual world, he is the first to ever have any and will be the last to ever have any.
These are important statements about who God is as both the book of Revelations draws to a close as well as the Bible. They remind us that God spoke creation into being in Genesis, that he breathed life into us, that He gave us power over creation and the ability to make a choice: to follow his commands or not. From Adam and Eve, to Noah, to Pharoah, to Moses, to Jesus, to the first century Christians, all the way up to you and me, each person is given a choice each and every day: to follow the commands of God or not.
The only person who ever got it 100% right is Jesus.
The rest of us have been less than perfect. We have messed up. But God still loves us. God still allows us another day, another moment to try again. God has not yet given up on humanity which reminds us that we should not yet give up on ourselves either.
It’s easy to feel like the world is coming to an end with the 24-hour news cycle of our world today. We constantly bombarded with images of destruction, depravity, and despair. But take heart, when it is all over and the dust has settled, remember that God wins. God, in the end, is still God. He will still be a God of love, mercy, justice, peace, kindness and gentleness. Remember all God has done, not only for you, but all of humanity throughout history and rejoice that He will be one who has all authority and power when this world fades away.
1. We have put this verse to music and added actions! It's a great way to help kids of all ages memorize scripture. Click on the video below to have some of our summer staff teach it to you!
2. Think about those things which you get most anxious about. How can embracing the knowledge that God has always been, is now, and forever will be in the midst of that situation help you let go of a bit of your anxiety today? Challenge yourself to take a breath and turn to God with those moments of fear find you. Day by day, bit by bit, it will become more and more of a habit and those fears will lose some of their power over you.
3. While the imagery of Revelations can be a bit alarming at time, it is amazing to realize that heaven is also beyond our ability to find human words to describe. Go ahead, imagine heaven. Imagine a place with no sin and therefore, no consequences of sin. Write it out. Draw or paint it out. Ask your friends and family what they envision. And then embrace the knowledge that you still have not come close to truly envisioning how glorious heaven will actually be.