Revelation 22: I Am the Alpha and Omega

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From Adam and Eve to you and me, we can chant the psalm.  “Behold, how pleasant and sweet for brothers to dwell together….  The Lord decreed this blessing of life for eternity” (Psalm 133:1, 4).  Yes, God desires such unity, but we, instead, clutch and grab in our discord and disunity!  So soon did we fall for the primordial lie, no longer to walk in the way of truth. 

In God’s mercy, however, the story doesn’t end with our demise.  No, He loves us too much to abandon us to our delusional deceptions (John 14:18).  Once again, God will make us His people and draw us to Himself.  Well, if so, how will everything end? 

Among the many in John’s vision, the ascended and reigning Jesus arises to speak.  So much imagery swirls about, both frightening and inspiring.  Amid a multitude of images we cannot comprehend, Jesus moves toward certainty.  So, sit up and be alert. 

Like bookends, Jesus initiates and concludes these apocalyptic visions with the same truth.  The opening pronouncement sounds, “I am the First and Last” in Revelation 1:7.  At Revelation’s end, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End”—final words for the finish (Revelation 22:13). 

The seals opened, and trumpets sounded.  The bowls of wrath are empty, for the Foe from of old is now fallen.  The Lord unveils the history of salvation in vivid and haunting images, including what will arise on the Last Day.  A preview for the new earth and the heavenly Jerusalem flash inside our mind’s eye.  Left only is a concluding word between the angel and the Author, who showed everything to His Apostle.

So, John plummets back to the present.  Through him, the resurrected Lord will extend His last invitation to all people so they, too, may enter the celestial, sacred city and drink of the water of life.  “The time for this event is near,” so are words written into our English tongue.  Do not assume these are hours, days, months, or years.  To do so is to fail at understanding God.  No, cling, instead, to John’s original inscribing on the parchment, “the appointed and the proper time,” which means the opportune moment, the correct season.  This timeline does not march in step with our vagaries or whims but only in God’s ordering of time. 

Only Someone with such totality can speak with authority about this chosen and proper moment.  With divine foresight, Jesus speaks, “To each person, I will give my reward according to his work” (Revelation 22:12).  So, the incarnate God descends to judge and reward, connecting one’s faith to the life he leads. 

In this phrase, Jesus teaches true faith is something real, which changes someone’s life.  A person with genuine trust doesn’t seek loopholes to excuse immoral and selfish behavior.  No, in Christ, he lives by faith, united to His Savior, the One who will return.

Don’t miss this—Jesus says He will bring to His own: “my reward,” not the person’s.  A small word with an everlasting difference.  The reward Jesus brings is the One He earned and gives.  So, this isn’t the payment of a sinful human entering heaven.  No, salvation is by grace and not because of anyone’s supposed righteous deeds, which Jesus’ use of “my” hammers home.  Only Jesus accomplished this by His perfect life, sinless suffering, and redeeming death, which He gives as He desires to believers.

The core of His reward is the gift of eternal life in God’s holy presence, secured by His the cross and defeat of death.  The tree of life represents this (Revelation 22:2, 14).  So, what’s so important about this tree?  Go back to the creation and our fall into sin. 

After receiving God’s living breath, Adam brings ruin into this world by choosing his path, defying his Creator and eating something forbidden from a tree.  In Revelation, however, Jesus returns to restore and make all things new.  Through another tree, one with life, the divine love story of redemption history comes full circle. 

The Bible begins with a “wedding,” Adam and Eve’s in the Garden of Eden, flowing with four rivers (Genesis 2-3).  Now, another “wedding” closes the Scriptures.  This one is of Jesus and His bride, the Church, in a new Eden watered by heaven’s “river of life.” 

Picturesque language unfolds the most profound mystery of time’s grand finale.  The eternal marriage of God and His people in the new Jerusalem with Christ Jesus.  The result?  A people, once fallen, are now flawless and complete, who glimmer in pure resplendence, in the glow of their loving Bridegroom.

Now, this future reality can only be real if the risen Son is also God.  For this celebrating and living in God cannot be so without Jesus also being God.  So, He will let all realize He is God, bringing out several descriptive titles—all pointing to the infinite and eternal magnitude of His essence and being. 

In Revelation’s opening chapter, the Lord God decrees He is “the Alpha and the Omega.”  In Isaiah, God describes Himself with similar language (Isaiah 41:4; 44:6; 48:12).  To bring everything home, Jesus uses this same term for Himself (Revelation 22:13).  For both the Father and the Son?  Yes!  The glorious Father is above and beyond all creation—and so is Jesus, which declares He is divine, as well (John 1:3). 

“The Beginning and the End” repeats what Jesus reveals about Himself.  Now, to be what He says He is, He must be God.  The Ending, because Christ will close down everything fallen and corrupted.  The Beginning, since He not only created this world with the Father and Spirit but because He will also call into being the creation to come.

Yes, Jesus takes the “I AM” statement to affirm His divinity, describing this as being Alpha but also Omega.  At the burning bush, God used this term to describe Himself to Moses (Exodus 3:14).  Now, Jesus does so, which tells us of His eternal nature.  Now, if you think I’m making too much of this, listen to what else Jesus calls Himself: “The First and the Last” (Revelation 1:17; 2:8, 22:13). 

In Revelation 2:8, Jesus helps us understand what He means.  In His death and resurrection, Christ becomes the First, the first for those who die in Him.  For where He ascends, His believers will follow.  Why the Last?   All Christians, whom the Spirit will raise from death, will be with Him forever, at the close of this age.  So, Jesus, both first and last for God’s people, is their Death-Destroyer and Life-Giver.

The sacred pages unfurl Jesus as the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).  On the Final Day, all Christ’s promises become complete, as the angel announced to John.  Now, this can only be true if Christ is the Creator and the Consummation of all history, the One from whom and to whom are all things (Colossians 1:16). 

So, John records Jesus, “These words are true and trustworthy” (Revelation 22:6).  Now comes the triple punch.  Oh, Jesus does voice the truth when He claims what He says is trustworthy.  Still, let’s explore some more, for if you understand Old-Testament Hebrew, Jesus is also unveiling another truth. 

“Trustworthy” is a translation of ‘emeth.  Only three letters compose the word, ‘emeth; the first is aleph, the initial letter in Hebrew’s ancient alphabet.  The word’s concluding letter is taw, the ending letter for the Hebrew language.  So, our Savior speaks a word, which both begins and ends with starting and ending letters.  Does this matter? 

In the original language of the New Testament, alpha is the beginning letter of the Greek alphabet, with omega as the last.  So, when Jesus vows He is trustworthy, He is hijacking the “alpha” and “omega” of Hebrew to reinforce the point He makes.  So, if one “I AM” isn’t enough, Jesus outflanks the listener.  The first “I AM” is obvious, punching you in the face; this one, sneaks up, restating Jesus’ status as God.

Only Someone who is Truth can state, “I am coming soon,” referring to the end of time.  Those with faith, trust this is true because Jesus says so (Revelation 22:7, 12, 20).  In response, an awestruck John replies, “Come, Lord Jesus!”  So, too, does this become our prayer, here and now, as we cry out in unison with Christ’s Church of every age. 

The mysterious message ends—the culmination of the Almighty unwrapping His written Word for you and me.  The One who will call forth His ending act, Jesus, will also return to gather His own to bring them into a better beginning.  After this, everything will be different: A new heaven and earth. 

Ponder what this means for you, today.  The faith-bestowing Spirit works through the Word, uniting you to Jesus in baptism.  Joined to Him, He is your saving Shepherd, who carries you over every craggy mountain and through each darkened valley—to take you to the other side.  Trustworthy is our Lord, so rely on Him, not yourself.

In endless joy, your life will center on Your Savior and His promises.  Today, His death, resurrection, and ascension become yours (Acts 1:22).  Soon, Christ returns—and you will again possess the image of God, to reign with Him in eternity (Revelation 22:5).

Still, the end is not now, but ahead.  So, as you wait in expectation, invite others into this life, to share in Christ and the waters of life (Revelation 22:17).  Proclaim the life-giving Lord and, in faith, who He is as the life-granting Word.  All the while, we pray through Christ, to the Father, in the Spirit: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).

Such is the Easter life we are to live.  For Jesus’ conquest of the tomb does more than tell you He rose from the dead.  The Lord’s “trustworthy” Word also gives you purpose now, shaping your life here for the forever to come.  Amen.

Comments

  1. Pastor Rich, This is an excellent paper with great truths in it that not everyone sees. I grew up Lutheran and came to your page just looking for the Apostles’ Creed, so I can explain it to someone. … I study Bible prophecy, prophets, Bible Codes, etc. If you want to read what I post, ask me to be your Facebook friend (you can always unfriend me) (I also like Pres. Trump. 🙂 ) … So anyway, good insights and understandings of the Word. May God be with you. Frances Saylors from Smithville, TN

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