************ Sermon on Revelation 1:8 ************


By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman


This sermon was preached on June 17, 2007


Revelation 1:1-8
Revelation 1:8
"The Alpha and Omega"

Introduction
I want to remind you, very briefly, of what we learned about Revelation the last two weeks:
1. The title is the "Revelation of Jesus Christ."
2. The author is God.
3. It is a revelation, an apocalypse, meant to reveal Jesus Christ. It is not meant to conceal or hide.
4. Revelation is a book to be seen, full of symbols and visions.
5. Numbers count in Revelation. They are loaded with significance and meaning.
6. Revelation is for a church under attack. It warns us about the great enemy and his strategies.
7. Revelation concerns "what must soon take place" that is, between the first and second comings of Jesus.
8. Revelation makes sense only in light of the Old Testament.
9. Revelation tells us that victory belongs to God and His Christ.
10. You cannot understand and appreciate Revelation unless you love the church.

Today, we will see some more things to keep in mind as we look at and interpret "the revelation of Jesus Christ."

As we again look at Revelation we want to ask Who is this God Who authored the "revelation of Jesus Christ"? Who is this God Who promises victory for a church under attack? Who is this God Whom Charlotte and Christopher professed faith in?

I A Triune God
A John, like Paul often does, starts off his letter with the phrase "grace and peace." We are so used to this phrase that we no longer hear what it meant to the original audience. "Grace" was the common greeting among the Greeks. "Peace" (or "shalom") was the common greeting among the Hebrews. Why two greetings? John wants to starts off his letter talking to the two major groups within the Christian church. John wants to greet all of God's children. John wants to greet Charlotte & Christopher. John wants to greet each and every member of Trinity United Reformed Church. John wants to greet every believing visitor. John is anxious to exclude no one and to include everyone in his greeting. "Grace and peace to you ..."

For the Christian, however, "grace and peace" are far more than just words of greeting. They are filled with theological significance. Grace and peace together include all the promises of God for His children. Grace and peace point to the past the forgiveness of sin by the blood of the Lamb on the cross. Grace and peace point to the present the gift of the Holy Spirit and new life in Christ. Grace and peace point to the future the coming of Christ and the full establishment of His Kingdom. It is grace and peace that makes profession of faith possible this morning. It is grace and peace that leads God's people to be faithful in the face of persecution. It is grace and peace that makes life worth living. It is grace and peace that allows God's people to look forward to the triumph of the Lamb.

B When you compare John's greeting to Paul's greeting, however, you notice that John has adapted the conventional greeting among Christians. Paul's normal greeting is: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2). This greeting has an important place in the life of the church because it clearly identifies Jesus as being God.

John, however, goes further than this. John has thought about the divine being of God. John is very conscious of God, His being, His character, His ways. So notice John's greeting:
(Rev 1:4-5) ... Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, (5) and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
John uses a description of God the Father "him who is, and who was, and who is to come." John uses a description of the Lord Jesus Christ "who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth." And, John also includes the Spirit "the seven spirits before his throne."

It is very clear right at the outset of John's letter that John's God is trinitarian, that He is triune. It is doubtful if John would use or even knew this word "triune," yet this is how John presents God at the opening of his greeting to the seven churches in the province of Asia. John's God is definitely trinitarian. The God Who promises victory to the church is a triune God. The God Who is confessed this morning is the triune God of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

C We notice here another characteristic of Revelation. John has distinctive ways of speaking of God. I don't mean new ways; John doesn't teach anything new about God. What I mean is that John doesn't just take over the old and conventional ways of speaking of God, or Christ, or the Spirit. John has thought about things, he has searched the Old Testament Scriptures, he has listened to fellow Christians, and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he has forged his own distinctive forms of God-talk. So, when we look at Revelation we must take note of what John says about God.

D When we look at our text for this morning we see that John repeats the description of God he has already used in his greeting. In verses 4 & 8 God is described as Him "who is, and who was, and who is to come." This tells us another important feature of Revelation that we need to keep in mind: John loves repetition. We will notice repetition not just in the names of God but also in John's visions and elsewhere. Repetition is used by John to get across his message about the triumph of the Lamb. Repetition is used by John to get across his message that Jesus is coming in victory.

II The Alpha and the Omega
A Who is this God Who authored the "revelation of Jesus Christ"? Who is this God Who promises victory for a church under attack? Who is this God Whom Charlotte and Christopher professed faith in?

John quotes God Himself talking in our text. God identifies Himself as "the Alpha and the Omega." This is not the only time we come across this designation for God in Revelation:
(Rev 1:8) God: "I am the Alpha and the Omega."
(Rev 1:17) Christ: "I am the first and the last."
(Rev 21:6) God: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end."
(Rev 22:13) Christ: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." [Three ways of saying the same thing.]
Notice the repetition?! Revelation contains this self-declaration by God and Christ seven times. Seven, if you remember, is the number of completeness, of fullness. So, in Revelation we see seven spirits, seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls, seven beatitudes. By the use of repetition John is reminding us that both the Father and the Son are complete and perfect in every way.

The fact that we hear both God and Christ calling themselves the Alpha and the Omega is a statement that Christ is God's equal, of the same substance as the Father, and so on.

B "I am the Alpha and the Omega." This title or designation of God comes from Isaiah. There, God says,
(Is 44:6) "This is what the LORD says-- Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.
(Is 48:12-13) "Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am he; I am the first and I am the last. (13) My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together.
Through Isaiah, God is saying that He is the Creator of all things and the sovereign Lord of history. Unlike the idol gods of the heathen, this God is the utterly incomparable One, to whom all nations are subject, whose purposes no one can frustrate (cf Is 40:12-26). Unlike the idol gods of the heathen, this God has always existed and will always exist. The idols that tempted Israel were recent novelties, not the ancient Creator. The idols were not there at the beginning, nor will they last to the end. They did not give the universe its existence, nor can they control its destiny. They cannot be trusted and need not be feared. The Lord is God from start to finish.

C "I am the Alpha and the Omega." These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. God is saying "I am the first letter and the last letter and every letter in between." "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."
Topic: Prayer
Subtopic:
Index: 2816-2841
Date: 2/1994.6
Title:

Grandpa was going by his little granddaughter's room one night when he saw her kneeling beside her bed, head bowed and hands folded, repeating the alphabet.
"What are you doing?" he asked her. She explained, "I'm praying to God, but I couldn't think of what I wanted to say. So I'm just saying all the letters."
He is the Alpha and the Omega. God is saying He is before and after all things. God precedes all things, as their Creator, and He will bring all things to conclusion and fulfilment. He is the origin and goal of history. He has the first word in creation and the last word in the new creation. He is "over all and through all and in all" (Eph 4:6). He sovereignly controls and guides the destiny of men and nations. He is the eternal.

"I am the Alpha and the Omega." Who, other than God, is able to guarantee the visions and promises of Revelation? Because God is the Alpha and the Omega we know Jesus is coming again. Because God is the Alpha and the Omega we know Christ will win the final victory, believers will be vindicated, sin will be destroyed, the new Jerusalem will come, there will be a new heaven and a new earth, we will eat from the tree of life, and we will live with Jesus forever. That is guaranteed to happen because it is promised by the Alpha and the Omega.

Because God is the Alpha and the Omega we know the wicked will be judged, the seven bowls of wrath will be emptied, the fires of hell will never be extinguished, and the beast and the dragon and the serpent will be thrown into the lake of fire.

III Who Is, Who Was, Who Is To Come
A Who is this God Who authored the "revelation of Jesus Christ"? Who is this God Who promises victory for a church under attack? Who is this God Whom Charlotte and Christopher professed faith in?

According to John, God describes Himself as He "who is, and who was, and who is to come." This title is repeated five times throughout Revelation (1:4,8; 4:8; 11:17; 16:5).

B "I am ... who is, and who was, and who is to come." Like the Alpha and the Omega this title too has its roots in the Old Testament. Remember, John has thought about God's being in the light of the Old Testament?! This title is the result of John's reflection on the burning bush when God said to Moses,
(Ex 3:14) "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'"
God is the great "I AM." He is Yahweh. He is the source and root.

C "I am ... who is, and who was, and who is to come." God reminds the churches that in Christ He is Lord of all of history: past, present, future. First, God in Christ is at work in the present: He is the One "who is," He is the "faithful witness," He is the "ruler of the kings of the earth," He "loves us" (Rev 1:5).

God also reminds us of what has been done in the past: He is the One "who was," He is the "first-born of the dead," He has "freed us from our sins by his blood," and He has "made us a kingdom" (Rev 1:4-6).

And, God in Christ will continue His work of grace in the future: He is the One "who is to come," He is "coming with the clouds," and "all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him" (Rev 1:4-7).

"I am ... who is, and who was, and who is to come." Sometimes we have the idea that Revelation deals only with the very end of history. This is a mistake. God is the God of all of history. He is involved and at work in all of history. That's what this title tell us.

"I am ... who is, and who was, and who is to come." Think of what this title means to a church under attack: God is always present to rescue and to rule. He was present to rescue and to rule in Egypt. He was present to rescue and to rule in the wilderness and the Promised Land. He was present to rescue and to rule in Bethlehem. He is present to rescue and to rule as the church faces the power of the beast and the dragon and the harlot. God is with His people every step of the way.

IV The Almighty
A Who is this God Who authored the "revelation of Jesus Christ"? Who is this God Who promises victory for a church under attack? Who is this God Whom Charlotte and Christopher professed faith in?

God also describes Himself in our text as "the Almighty." Here is another description of God that is repeated seven times in Revelation (1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7; 19:6; 21:22). He is perfect and complete in His power and might.

B God is "the Almighty." This title too has its roots in the Old Testament. In the Greek language the phrase "the Almighty" translates the Hebrew phrase "Lord of Hosts." Our God is "the Almighty," He is the "Lord of Hosts." Wind, earthquake, and lightning obey His command. Heathen kings and prophets obey His commands and carry out His purposes. He has a thousand times ten-thousand angels doing His every bidding. All the forces and powers of the universe are at His disposal. God's power and control and authority in this world and the next are absolute.

C God is "the Almighty." The persecuted churches of Asia Minor might think that ultimate power and authority lies in the dragon and the beast. Listen to what John says about these two creatures:
(Rev 13:1-8) And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. (2) The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. (3) One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. (4) Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?" (5) The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. (6) He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. (7) He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. (8) All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

"Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?" We know, don't we?! The Lord God Almighty, the Lord of Hosts, He is like the beast. He can make war against the beast. In fact, He has power over the beast and the dragon. What comfort a persecuted church can find in "the Almighty," the Lord of Hosts!

Conclusion
Who is this God Who authored the "revelation of Jesus Christ"? Who is this God Who promises victory for a church under attack? Who is this God Whom Charlotte and Christopher professed faith in? He tells us:
(Rev 1:8) "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."

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