The A-Z of Revelation

 

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“I am the Alpha and Omega”

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos, because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” And I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His breast with a golden girdle. And His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire; and His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been caused to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. And in His right hand He held seven stars; and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man.

IMG_20170419_065236548.jpgIt should come as no surprise that a book in which the first line reads, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,” would be about Jesus Christ. I am the Alpha, first letter of the Greek alphabet, and Omega, the last letter. I, for one, think it goes without saying that he is also everything in between. Again, we find here, imagery. Is Jesus literally the letter A? Of course not, he is using imagery to create a picture in our minds of one of his characteristics; eternally the Master. One reason he uses letters, I believe, is because they are universal when thinking about communication. Letters, words, paragraphs and so forth, are used for one thing, communication. Yes, as in Revelation 20, here, Jesus is stating that he is first and last. But he could have just said that. He’s using imagery. He’s the beginning and end. He is eternal. Don’t forget to notice the waltz:

I am the Alpha and Omega

Says the Lord God

Who was

And who is

And who is to come

The almighty

Once again, for our benefit, Jesus is declaring his supreme sovereignty.

It has been determined that we’ll absorb some Vitamin A. “I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos, because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” John, the humble, who equates himself with his audience, explains where he is and why. He was either banished, imprisoned or forced to flee to Patmos. John is on an island because of his faith. It’s fair to say he was persecuted but it’s also fair to say he persevered. Notice the following: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day…”

John was keeping the faith. He was in the Spirit, probably praying, maybe meditating, wholly hearing and certainly seeing; notice: “I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” And I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands.”

Did John hear a trumpet? No, he heard a voice like a trumpet, it’s a simile. Once again, it is a verbal imagery, used to paint a picture in the mind’s eye. The voice didn’t necessarily sound loud or musical, but the imagery painted is of a heralding, the trumpet is representative of an important announcement. Simply put, John is underscoring the impression of importance of the message he received. It was majestic and holy and he knew it. And what was so important? John was told to write to the seven churches, again, they are named. We have a lot of Vitamin A here. John is told to record what he sees and send it to the seven churches. John, being faithful, after he is told to write what he sees, turns to see the voice telling him these things; sounds reasonable.

What did he see upon turning? Seven golden lampstands and one like a son of man standing in their midst. Imagine John’s surprise. Yet maybe he wasn’t surprised at all. He does tell us, and more importantly, the people of the seven churches, that he was in the Spirit. Perhaps John was praying for a revelation. Either way, for us to speak more on this would be conjecture–yet notice the context, listen to the words as John has recorded them.

And having turned

I saw seven golden lampstands;

and in the middle of the lampstands

one like a son of man,

clothed in a robe reaching to the feet,

and girded across His breast with a golden girdle.

And His head and His hair were white

like white wool,

like snow;

and His eyes were like a flame of fire;

and His feet were like burnished bronze,

when it has been caused to glow in a furnace,

and His voice was like the sound of many waters.

And in His right hand He held seven stars;

and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword;

and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.

And when I saw Him,

I fell at His feet as a dead man

Wow! Honestly, wow! Can you imagine the sound and the sight? Now remember, John, the rebel and revelator, was also a Hebrew, a disciple, an apostle and a church father figure, even though he was fairly young. He may have been a fisherman but he spent years with Jesus, watching, listening and observing. Remember he states that he was in the Spirit, I think John understood that something huge was taking place.

Let’s look at what John saw one more time and take some Vitamin E, as he probably did. It would seem very odd if John wasn’t reaching into his memory to the Old Testament prophecies.

First, he saw seven golden lampstands. John probably recalled the literal prophecy in Zechariah where literal golden lampstands were the Spirit of God. I’m sorry, one thing I forgot to mention is that we are told to take New Testament prophecies literally because Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled literally. No, Zerubbabel harnessing the power of the Spirit is not a literal lampstand–it’s imagery. It’s representative of a higher truth. Moving on: As John probably pondered the sight, he sees more. Like Daniel in the days of the deportation and exile, John sees one like a son of man in his exile. Notice the description: He was clothed in a robe that reached to his feet. Harkening back to our tutor, the Old Testament, we recall the garb of the priests, royalty but even more important and relevant, YHWH. The great I am. As Isaiah reports: “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.” John was gazing at the King of Kings. Notice: “girded across His breast with a golden girdle.” Again, this highlights the priests of the Old Testament. In Exodus 24 we read, “And these are the garments which they shall make: a breastpiece and an ephod and a robe and a tunic of checkered work, a turban and a sash, and they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons, that he may minister as priest to Me. “And they shall take the gold and the blue and the purple and the scarlet material and the fine linen.”

John continues with his description:

“And His head and His hair were white

like white wool,

like snow.”

When we associate white with Biblical principles, we often times think of purity and that is not necessarily a bad conclusion, however in this case, I believe it misses the mark. That is not to say that Jesus isn’t pure and holy–he is. But I believe the imagery Jesus puts forth here is more subtle, more simple and frankly, more obvious. My mother, who reads these missives so I will tread lightly, still thinks of me and my brother as babies. I’m in my forties and my brother will be there soon. We’re both married and I have children who are teenagers–and they’re babies too. Her reasoning is that, “you’ll always be my babies.” This is true, compared to her, we are babies! Sorry Mom. Do you see where I am going here? Many who know me, know I am not a big fan of modern Christmas celebrations. We put a baby in the manger and do pageants and the like for a month out of every year. We love the baby Jesus and love the story to the point of romancing it. Yes, it is important that he humbled himself and invaded our world as a lowly infant. And we should remember and rejoice over it. But honestly, he came, he grew and he is eternal and eternally King of Kings and Lord of Lords and he shall reign forever and ever! He is the Alpha and Omega! He’s not a baby anymore! In your own lives I am sure that there was someone who you hadn’t seen in years but then you ran into them at the gas station or grocery store, and they had aged. Wrinkles, funny clothes, walking slowly. But most of all, their hair had turned white. Jesus is not a baby, and I mean no disrespect, but he is old. Everlasting to everlasting. The Ancient of Days. Old, wise, experienced– Jesus was a baby for like a couple of years out of eternity, the rest of the time, he is King of Kings and he has eyes of flaming fire. We’ll talk about this next time.

God bless

 

 

 

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