A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, and Z.” Hailey looked at her three-year-old brother. “Okay, Curtis, now you try.”
Curtis looked like he was thinking intensely. “A!” he suddenly shouted, and then, after a pause, “Z!”
“Ugh!” Hailey put her hand on her head in frustration.
Dad, who was watching the whole thing, began to laugh.
“I’m glad you think this is funny,” Hailey said. “I’ve been working with him for an hour, and he’s just not getting it.”
“Why is it so important that he know the alphabet right now anyway?” asked Dad.
“Jenny and I are having a race,” replied Hailey. “I’m trying to get Curtis to learn the alphabet before she teaches her dog to sit and roll over. If Curtis learns the alphabet first, I get to pick the movie we watch this weekend.”
Dad chuckled and shook his head. “You guys are silly.”
Hailey laughed. “Yeah, I guess.” She put her head in her hands and sighed. “Yesterday Jenny asked me a question that made me feel really silly. She asked me how old God is. I didn’t know what to say.”
Curtis walked over to where Dad was sitting, and Dad picked him up and put him in his lap. “Well, Curtis just told you the answer,” he said.
Hailey gave her dad a confused look. “But all he said was, ‘A, Z.’ That’s not a number.”
“In the Bible, Jesus says He’s the Alpha and Omega–the beginning and end. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, like our A and Z. God is A to Z, just like Curtis said. He always was, is, and will be. He doesn’t have an age.”
“So God has no beginning or end?” Hailey asked.
“That’s right.” Dad’s eyes twinkled. “And yet, He was born–and also died.”
“But wait, you just said…” It took Hailey a moment to realize what Dad meant. “Oh, I get it–you’re talking about Jesus! He was born as a baby and died on the cross for us.”
Dad nodded. “Jesus is God, who is eternal with no beginning or end, but He was willing to become human and die for us so we could have eternal life.”
“Wow,” said Hailey. “He really sacrificed a lot to save us!”
All three members of the Trinity-Father (“Him who is and who was and who is to come”), Son (“Jesus Christ”) and Holy Spirit (“seven Spirits”)-were involved in creating the Book of Revelation. They were present at the beginning of time, and they will be there at the end of time. God is Lord over all of history-past, present and future. There is more to be expected from Him than what we have experienced so far. God the Father is described as Yahweh, the One who ultimately is, and who makes Himself known, the One who is author of grace and peace. The Holy Spirt is described as being in fellowship with the Father and Son, and who from that presence also sends grace and peace to the churches and to us.
The words “Alpha” and “Omega” are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. In this passage they point to the eternity of Christ and to His all-inclusive power. Jesus is the boundless, timeless and powerful One. Unlike humans and everything else, God doesn’t have an age–there was never a time when He didn’t exist! But even though He has no beginning or end, He still chose to be born on earth and die on the cross so we could be saved. He made that sacrifice so we could be with Him forever.
Although each of the seven churches received a special letter from Christ through John, each congregation could read what was written to the others because everything was contained in this one, larger letter. God’s people have the same advantage today. To have the perspective of the divine Head of the church is convicting. Modern churches could solve some of the problems they face by reading the Lord’s recommendations to these New Testament congregations.
How do we hear a word for us even though the letter is clearly addressed to them? We don’t need to be persecuted or enslaved by temporal powers like the early Christians were in order to desire freedom. We are all in bondage to sin and can’t free ourselves. Wholesome people may face an imminent end. All of us will eventually die and will find comfort in the knowledge that Jesus opened a way for those who believe in Him. The promise of Jesus’ return is a promise that the sufferings in this world will come to and end and a world of peace, joy and love will take its place.
Both John and Paul use the phrase “grace and peace” in their letters. John makes the connection that grace and peace come from God. Grace is the surprise gift from Him. Peace is wholeness and health. The result of grace is peace whereby the walls of hostility are broken and we see ourselves as belonging to a new world view ruled by all three members of the Trinity.
Jesus Christ is described as the one who loved His people, freed them from the bondage of sin and lifted His people up. The term “washed” could more literally be translated as “loosed” or “freed.” John 11:44 describes Lazarus as being loosed from his grave clothes. The word also recalls that the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. Jesus has likewise freed believers from their sin!
Only in the Book of Revelation is Christ given the title of “faithful witness”. He was a genuine martyr, faithful unto death. The phrase “ruler over the kings of the earth” refers to Christ’s present reign, not His future one. He is now the King of Kings.
Revelation identifies Jesus as a faithful witness as the “firstborn of the dead.” Revelation ties Jesus’ glorious reign to his most inglorious death. If Jesus reigns through His faithfulness, His followers will inherit His kingdom through their own faithful testimony.
Verses 7 and 8 present the theme of the entire Book of Revelation: the return of the King and establishment of His rule over the kingdom. The word “coming” expresses Christ’s return. It describes the arrival of the King and the changes in the situation that His return produces. Jesus is the most important person in the universe. He thinks we are so important He gave His life for us. In His eyes we are important.
In Revelation we are introduced to ourselves and we learn of our own worth, the meaning of our lives and the task of our living in the world. We also learn about the meaning of history, which is one of the theses of Revelation. We also learn about God’s love. When we see God’s love for creation, we see what we have to do to care for creation as His priests. When we see how God controls the future, we don’t have to worry about our own future. We are encouraged to take hold of our time as followers of Jesus. What we do and say has lasting significance because of Jesus.
Priests are mediators between people and God. They represent humanity to God and God to humanity. That’s our role on earth. We introduce to people to God and help them grow in their relationship with God. Jesus will return to earth and make all things new. It’s an exciting message. Until He returns, we have to tell the world that there is a God, we matter to Him, and He has a plan for our lives. If we cooperate with Him and serve Him, He will change our lives for the better.
God’s grace has set us free from our sins by Christ’s costly grace. This gift of freedom is a daily experience and obligation for those who receive it. People who receive this gift are the ones who are willing to become Christ’s servants and His kingdom in the world.
In our pleasure-driven society, guilt is frowned upon. We try to avoid it through frantic activity, alcohol, entertainment, talking to a therapist or blaming someone else, but we can’t get rid of it. It’s like a stain in our clothes that we can’t get rid of no matter how many times we wash it. The stain has become part of our fabric. The only way we can wash away our sin and guilt before God is through Christ’s shed blood. God has given us a conscience with a guilt alarm that goes off when sin enters so that we can go to Christ for cleansing.
Will all of our problems vanish if we give our lives to Christ? No, not necessarily. But we will no longer be alone. Christ will give us wisdom and courage to tackle our problems. We are on a journey where we will encounter cancer, death, hunger, wars, terrorism, AIDS and other dangers. We will be tested with idols. At times we will be tempted to compromise with the world, but if we put our trust in God, He will lead us to a place where He lives.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; pp.1838)
- “How Old Is God? (Part 1)” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Palmer, E.F. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 35: 1,2&3 John/Revelation (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982; pp. 110-114)
- Dale Melenberg, “A Kingdom and Priests.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Anne Graham Lotz, “Just Think on Jesus.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Pastor Allen Jackson, “An Exciting Message.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Rev. Billy Graham, “Will Jesus Make My Problems Go Away?” Retrieved from arcamax.com
- Anne Graham Lotz, “Washed in the Blood.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Israel Kamudzandu, “Commentary on Revelation 1:4-8.” Retrieved from workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2825
- Greg Carey, “Commentary on Revelation 1:4-8.” Retrieved from workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2683