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The Alpha & the Omega. Revelation 1:7-8
January 21, 2018

Productivity experts advise clients on ways to efficiently operate to maximize effectiveness. Stephen Covey, in his work: “The 7 habits of Highly Effectively People”, in habit 2, notes that people should: “Begin with the end in mind”. He said that “if your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster”. If we don’t have a purpose and end goal for our actions, then regardless of how cleaver we are or how hard we work, our effort will not effect lasting change. We all need to understand our activities from the beginning to the end. (


In Revelation chapter 1 and 21, God identifies himself as "Alpha and Omega." Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and omega is the last letter of the alphabet. In other words God is "the beginning and the end." But God isn't speaking about alphabets. He is speaking of reality. God is absolutely the beginning and absolutely the end. Everything that is originates ultimately in him. And everything will somehow end with him. Isaiah puts it like this: "Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god" (Isa. 44:6). In other words, since everything comes from God and nothing will outlast God, therefore God has no final competitors. "Besides me there is no god!" God has the first word and the last word in history. All other attempts to have the last word will fail. (


We exist in time considering were we’ve been and were we are going. If we presumptuously make our plans assuming all the variables or arrogantly thinking we can control all the variables, we are destined for disappointment and ruin. Yet if we cower in fear thinking luck, world forces, or the evil realm will determine our path and problems we are mistaken. God’s sovereignly as the beginning and end, is the one who determines, controls and enables all His holy will. When we understand and submit to Him in this regard, we will lead more fruitful, satisfying and God glorifying lives.


In Revelation 1:7-8 John presents five truths of God that display His control and sovereignty over what was, what is and what will be. The beginning and the end can be seen through the: 1) Necessity (Revelation 1:7a), 2) Glory (Revelation 1:7b), 3) Scope, Response (Revelation 1:7c), and 4) Certainty (Revelation 1:8) of the Alpha & the Omega.


The beginning and the end can be seen through the:

1) The Necessity of the Alpha & the Omega (Revelation 1:7a)

Revelation 1:7a Behold, he is coming (with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.)


After the introduction and greetings (vv. 1–6), verse 7 begins the first great prophetic oracle in the book of Revelation. This verse is composed of two OT citations. The first is from Dan. 7:13, which in its OT context refers to the enthronement of the “son of man” over all the nations (cf. Dan. 7:14) after God’s judgment of evil empires (Dan. 7:9–12) (Beale, G. K., & Carson, D. A. (2007). Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament (p. 1090). Grand Rapids, MI;  Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic;  Apollos.).


The exclamation idou (Behold) is an arresting call to attention. It is intended to arouse the mind and heart to consider what follows. Fittingly, the first thing John calls attention to is the glorious truth that He [Jesus] is coming. The present tense of erchomai (is coming) suggests that Christ is already on the way, and thus that His coming is certain. The present tense also emphasizes the imminency of His coming.


Please turn to Matthew 26 (p.833)


The “coming (or expected) One” was a title for the Messiah (Matt. 11:2–3; cf. Luke 7:19–20; John 3:31; 6:14; 11:27). There are many reasons why Jesus will return. The promises of the Father, Jesus, and the guarantee of the Holy Spirit all require that Jesus return. His  program for the church, Israel, unbelieving nations, Satan and His reward for faithful service to Him,  all require that Jesus return. But just his humiliation demands that He return. At His first coming, He was rejected, reviled, abused, and executed as a common criminal. But that cannot be the way the story ends. At His sham trial:

Matt. 26:62–68 62 And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?” (ESV)

  • Here Caiaphas wants Jesus to admit to this charge so that he can be accused of insurrection against Rome and tried before Pilate for treason.In verse 64 Jesus declares that he is not only the human Messiah anticipated by the Jews but also the divine Son of Man (cf. Dan. 7:13–14; note on Matt. 8:20) who sits at the right hand of God (Ps. 110:1–2) and who will come on the clouds in power to reign over the earth (Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1883). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.).


It is inconceivable that the last view the world will have of the Son of God is that of a bleeding, dying, crucified criminal. Jesus Christ must return to reveal His glory.

Illustration:5464 My Boy In America Coming

There is a story of some year back when a man left from Australia and said to his mother: “Mother, if God spares me, I will come back to see you.” For years she waited. Had anyone said to her, “Mrs. Talbot, what are you waiting for?” she would have said, “My boy in America is coming back.” And suppose this person said to her, “Coming back? What do you mean? Surely you don’t expect a personal, visible, actual coming!”Yes,” she would have replied, “that’s the way he is coming.” Possibly her friend might have said, “Did you ever get letters from him? Do you ever receive gifts? Well, that is what he meanthe is coming in all these things.” My mother would have answered, “Why, that isn’t what he meant, for he said that he would come back!” Some years afterward, the man did cross the ocean, walked down the gangplank from the steamer, and said, “Mother, here I am.” (Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (p. 1240). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.)


The beginning and the end can be seen through the:

2) The Glory of the Alpha & the Omega (Revelation 1:7b)

Revelation 1:7b (Behold, he is coming) with the clouds, (and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. )


Clouds in Scripture frequently symbolize God’s presence. A cloud was used as the visible manifestation of God’s presence with Israel during the wilderness wandering (Ex. 13:21–22; 16:10; Num. 10:34). At the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai, “a thick cloud upon the mountain” symbolized God’s presence (Ex. 19:16; cf. 20:21; 24:15–18). When the Lord communicated with Moses at the Tent of Meeting (the tabernacle), “the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent; and the Lord would speak with Moses” (Ex. 33:9; cf. 34:5). Both the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34–38) and the temple (1 Kings 8:10–12) were filled with a cloud symbolizing God’s glory at their dedications. Jesus ascended to heaven on a cloud (Acts 1:9); believers will ascend with clouds at the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:17).


Please turn to Matthew 24 (p.830)


The clouds picture Christ’s descent from heaven. More significantly, they symbolize the brilliant light that accompanies God’s presencea light so powerful that no one could see it and live (Ex. 33:20). The appearance of the blazing glory of Jesus Christ, “the radiance of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Heb. 1:3), and the lesser brilliance of the innumerable angels and the redeemed who accompany Him, will be both an indescribable and terrifying pageant. The imagery of coming in the clouds is probably a military picture, alluding to the clouds of dust kicked up by the war chariots, the ultimate war machines in ancient times. When Christ is pictured this way, he is coming as the ultimate Victor and conquering King (cf.  Daniel 7:13) (Barton, B. B. (2000). Revelation. (G. R. Osborne, Ed.) (p. 7). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.).


Notice the picture of this in Matthew 24

Matthew 24:29-31 29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (ESV)

  • These will be “earth-shattering” events, through which all creation will be radically transformed at the return of Christ. For people there will be sorrow, either a sorrow that produces repentance, or a great sadness of regret in light of coming judgment. (Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1874). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.)

Illustration:5470 Who Was The Most Worthy

During one of the Crusades, Philip Auguste, King of France, before he went into one of his battles, removed his royal crown from his head and, setting it on a table with the inscription,To the most worthy,”. He asked his nobles, knights, and men to forget that he was their king and commander, and to consider that the crown which he had laid aside for the battle would be the prize of the one who carried himself most worthily and bravely and contributed most to their victory. They entered the battle and returned victorious. All gathered round the table on which the crown had been placed. One of the nobles, stepping forward, took the crown and, advancing toward the monarch, placed it on his head, sayingThou, O king, art the most worthy.”( Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (p. 1241). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.)

  • In repentance of sin, we see that we are not worthy to take the crown, but see the glory of Christ. When He returns we will see that glory and lay the crowns given to us at His feet in humble adoration and praise.


The beginning and the end can be seen through the:

3) The Scope & Response to the Alpha & the Omega (Revelation 1:7c)

Revelation 1:7c (Behold, he is coming with the clouds), and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. (ESV)


During the incarnation, Christ’s glory was veiled. Only Peter, James, and John caught a glimpse of it at the Transfiguration. But at His second coming every eye will see Him; His glory will be obvious to the entire human race. Here John quotes Zechariah 12:10 in order to put the idea of a suffering Messiah side by side with the idea of a conquering and ruling Messiah. This part of the Old Testament’s messianic proclamation seems to have been overlooked in Jesus’ day, and it seems from some things that Paul wrote that the dying and rising Messiah was a “mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints” (Colossians 1:26) (Hamilton, J. M., Jr. (2012). Preaching the Word: Revelation—The Spirit Speaks to the Churches. (R. K. Hughes, Ed.) (p. 38). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.).


Please turn to Acts 2 (p.910)


John divides those who will see the Second Coming into two groups. Those who pierced Him does not refer to the Roman soldiers involved in Christ’s crucifixion but to the unbelieving Jews who instigated His death. Peter affirmed that the Jewish people were responsible for Christ’s execution, boldly declaring:

Acts 2:22-28 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,  “ ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ (ESV) (cf. 3:14–15)

  • Peter combines a clear affirmation of God’s sovereignty over world events and human responsibility for evil deeds. Peter quoted Ps. 16:8–11. Since Jesus is the only one who conquered death and is a descendant of David, he must be the promised Messiah whom David foresaw (Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2084). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.).


John describes the second group as all the tribes of the earth, a reference to the unbelieving Gentile nations. Like the Jewish people, they too will wail/mourn over Christ. Some of that mourning may relate to the repentance of those who are saved at that time (Rev. 7:9–10, 14). But unlike the Jewish nation, the Gentiles’ mourning will not generally result from genuine repentance. Wail/Mourn is from koptō, which literally means “to cut.” The word became associated with mourning due to the pagans’ practice of cutting themselves when in extreme grief or despair. First Kings 18:28 records that the frenzied, panicked prophets of Baalcut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them” in a desperate attempt to get their god’s attention. The Israelites were strictly forbidden to engage in such pagan rituals (Lev. 19:28; Deut. 14:1).


The Gentiles’ mourning, for the most part, will be prompted by terror, not repentance. They will mourn not for the Christ they rejected, but over their doom. They will “not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts” (Rev. 9:21). It is an outward display or lament but not necessarily an inner sorrow and genuine repentance. The mourners will beat their chests with their fists and (regret) the life they led. They will be filled with remorse but not with penitence when they see Jesus. Because they do not repent, they face personal loss at the judgment (Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Vol. 20, pp. 86–87). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.).


Having given the response of both believers and unbelievers to Christ’s second coming, John interjects his own response. Using the strongest words of affirmation both in Greek (nai; Even so/ it is to be) and Hebrew (amen), John pleads for the Lord Jesus Christ to return.


Illustration: Second Coming           603

In the 1987 NCAA Regional Finals, LSU was leading Indiana by eight points with only a few minutes left in the game. As is often the case with a team in the lead, LSU began playing a different ball game. The television announcer pointed out that the LSU players were beginning to watch the clock rather than wholeheartedly play the game. As a result of this shift in focus, Indiana closed the gap, won the game by one point, and eventually went on to become NCAA champions. While Jesus called us to be aware of “the signs of the times,” he clearly called us to expend our energies in faithful, active service. As we await Jesus’ promised return, we are not so much to watch the clock as to be diligent servants during the time we have available. (Larson, C. B. (2002). 750 engaging illustrations for preachers, teachers & writers (p. 488). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.)


Finally, the beginning and the end can be seen through the:

3) The Certainty of the Alpha & the Omega (Revelation 1:8)

Revelation 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.”  (ESV)


In this verse the Lord God puts His signature on the prophecy of the Second Coming recorded in the previous verse. Three of His divine attributes guarantee the certainty of the pledge of Christ’s return.  (The Father) Himself speaks this verse, affirming the truth of the previous statements about Jesus. ... “I Am,” which is an allusion to the Covenant name YHWH (cf. Exod. 3:14), a CAUSATIVE form of the verb “to be.” Jesus used this of Himself (cf. John 8:56–59) (Utley, R. J. (2001). Hope in Hard Times - The Final Curtain: Revelation (Vol. Volume 12, p. 23). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.)


Alpha and the Omega emphasizes God’s omniscience. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and Omega is the last. All knowledge is conveyed through the letters of the alphabet; thus God’s designation of Himself as the Alpha and the Omega affirms that He has all knowledge. He knows, therefore, the certainty of this promise. Hence, the title sets forth God as the sovereign Lord over everything that takes place in the entire course of human history (Mounce, R. H. (1997). The Book of Revelation (pp. 51–52). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.).


As the one who is and who was and who is to come, God’s transcendent, eternal presence is not confined by time or space or any feature or event in them. There is no possible contingency of which He is unaware regarding the Second Coming. Thus, His promise that the Lord Jesus Christ will return settles the issue. The God who transcends time guides the entire course of history because he stands as sovereign over its beginning and its end (Beale, G. K. (1999). The book of Revelation: a commentary on the Greek text (p. 199). Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.).


Please go forward to Revelation 4 (p.1030)


The scene in Revelation 4 is the throne room of God where we see His attributes and His power: Here Jesus summons John “in the Spirit” to heaven, to receive visions that portray the future working out of his victory... These visions, portraying events to take place after the first-century churches’ struggles, begin with a door standing open in heaven, leading to a vision of God on his throne receiving ceaseless worship (Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2469). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.)

Revelation 4:1-11 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (ESV)

  • With  twenty-four thrones sat twenty-four elders, their number symbolize the unity of God’s people, encompassing OT Israel (led by the heads of the 12 tribes) and the NT church (led by the 12 apostles), like the new Jerusalem’s 12 gates and 12 foundations (Rev. 21:12, 14). John suggests luminous colorsjasper, carnelian, rainbow, emerald—but avoids precise description of the Almighty’s visible features, perhaps because he knew no language to describe what he saw. The jewels of this book (cf. Rev. 21:19–20) are not meant to be interpreted individually but together signify the splendor and majesty of God. The “floor” of heaven and the “ceiling” of the created universe, and its transparent tranquility shows heaven’s peace in contrast to earthly turmoil. Four living creatures exhibit features of cherubim (full of eyes; lion; ox; man; eagle) and seraphim (six wings; “Holy, holy, holy”)(Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2469-70). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.).


Finally, the designation of God in Revelation 1 as the Almighty (cf. 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 15; 21:22) affirms His omnipotence. Since He is all powerful, nothing can hinder Him from carrying out His sovereign will. No one or no thing can possibly prevent Christ from returning in glory as described in verse 7. The Almighty” was the OT term, El-Shaddai,” the patriarchal name for God (cf. Exod. 6:3). (Utley, R. J. (2001). Hope in Hard Times - The Final Curtain: Revelation (Vol. Volume 12, p. 23). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.)


Jesus came the first time in humiliation; He will return in exaltation. He came the first time to be killed; He will return to kill His enemies. He came the first time to serve; He will return to be served. He came the first time as the suffering servant; He will return as the conquering king. The challenge here in the book of Revelation if for every person is to be ready for His return. All history is in God’s hands—the future as well as the present (1:8); thus, his people need not fear as if something will happen to them apart from God’s plan (Keener, C. S. (1999). Revelation (p. 73). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.)


(Format note: Outline & some base commentary from MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1999). Revelation 1–11 (pp. 27–37). Chicago: Moody Press.)


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