Jesus said, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:12,13).
Three times in the book of Revelation the phrase Alpha and Omega is used. The third time, quoted above, is a statement by Jesus. It is proceeded by a promise to return and a promise to judge people for their actions. The first time is quoted below and is attributed to God. It too is proceeded by a promise of Jesus’ return and an explanation that the whole world will see him and wail, presumably out of remorse, for crucifying him.
- 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. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. Revelation 1:7,8
The second time it is used, it is spoken by the one sitting on the throne who promises to make all things new, give water to the thirsty and to judge the unrepentant.
- And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also, he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. Revelation 21:5-8.
The phrase indicates the nature and ability of the one described. The beginning and end, the first and last are references to the eternality of God. In the context, it is a statement of Jesus’ divinity. He is the almighty God who has both the authority and ability to bring blessing and judgment. To those who have by faith given their lives to following Jesus, he gives life. To those who have rejected the gift of salvation he brings retribution and condemnation.
At times, when things are going well, it is easy to forget that our blessings come from the Father. But when times are tough, when we wonder if life is worth living, we cling to the promises of God’s coming. We long for the new earth where every tear will be wiped away and all injustice will be redeemed. In those moments, it is natural for us to think of heavenly things.
Yet, the kingdom of God is at hand. Through the indwelling Spirit we live out the reality of the Kingdom everyday. We enjoy life because we know its true meaning. We live for God’s glory in everything that we do, and reap the reward of seeing his love manifest through us to other people in hopes that they too will follow Jesus. There is great joy when we experience the reality of the kingdom on earth.
We shouldn’t, however, forget our purpose and mission. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega and brings judgment on the unrighteous. If not for His patience fewer people will enter the kingdom of God. If we forget our purpose we will waste our time, lose sight of the opportunities around us, and the condemnation of the unsaved will be the result of our complacency. When the time comes for the alpha and omega to be revealed in his glory, will we be found faithful?
The writer of Hebrews said, “it is appointed unto men once to die and then the judgement” (Hebrews 9:27). We will all stand before the judgement seat of Christ and be held accountable for our lives. Those who have been redeemed will be ushered into their reward, but those who have not been redeemed will be cast out into the second death. Where the torment of the soul is eternal.
Objections are often raised concerning the cruelty of God and the barbaric nature of an eternal death. Of course, there isn’t a complaint about eternal life. The idea of eternal death can be repulsive. Yet, for many, the repulsive nature of stern damnation doesn’t motivate them to share the gospel. They would rather picket God’s actions than warn others about the consequences and offer them an alternative.
I am little better. Am I willing to step out of my comfort zone to see others come to know Jesus? How often to do I pass up opportunities to share the gospel because I don’t feel like it, it’s inconvenient, or because I am turned off by the individual? The Apostle Paul said, “Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness” (Romans 11:22). We don’t question his kindness, so we shouldn’t question his severity. It should, however, motivate us to preach the good news, “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others” (2 Corinthians 5:11).
There is comfort and concern in knowing the Alpha and the Omega. Comfort to those who have received salvation through their faith in the gospel of Christ. Concern for those who have rejected that faith and fall under God’s wrath and condemnation. Their destiny is the fires of hell.
Where is your destiny? Does it lie in the promise of God’s compassion and grace, or in God’s promise of judgment and wrath? Everyone faces moments in their life where they must make a choice between the way of life or the way of darkness. If you are reading this and have never accepted God’s gift of salvation this is your moment of decision. All you have to do is confess that you are a sinner, that you have rebelled against God’s will, and that you believe that Jesus died for your sins and rose again to the glory of God. Then the adventure begins! I’m telling you, Jesus changes everything.