Jesus Alpha Omega
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81. Jesus Alpha Omega
Revelation 21.5-14

"He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.' He (Jesus) said to me, 'It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.' To the thirsty, I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters, and all liars, they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, 'Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.' And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high and showed me the Holy City Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. Jerusalem had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south, and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." (Revelation 21.5-14)✞

Making Everything New

A New CreationFor the first time in the Book of Revelation, Almighty God himself speaks from his throne and says that he will make "all things new." Jesus makes everything new in people's lives, and takes away the old! In Isaiah 43.18-19a, the prophet Isaiah hears God say, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?" Saint Paul is "one of the most important people in the history of the World." His witness in 2 Corinthians 5.17, is "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" God is making everything new!

Beginning and End

Alpha Omega BookThese witnesses assert that God takes a person, re-creates them, and someday creates or re-creates a new universe for the saints whose lives he renews. Jesus of Nazareth as the initiator of the new creation, is the "Alpha and the Omega," says Almighty God to John of Patmos. "Alpha" is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and "omega" is the last. So Alpha to Omega covers everything. Jesus also calls himself "the Beginning and the End." In other words, Jesus is at the beginning even before the Creation and will be at the end of time after all earthly things have passed away. The symbols are used in early Christianity and appear in the Roman catacombs. The letters often hang from the cross' arms in Early Christian art and on some jeweled crosses in precious metals.

Stained Glass

Alpha and Omega GlassJohn of Patmos hears the voice that the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 44.6 also heard, "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." John of Patmos goes on to record this statement describing Jesus as "the Beginning and the End." The Greek word for Beginning is "arche," and "does not simply mean first in point of time but first in the sense of the source of all things." From this word, we also get the English word "archetype," meaning "a pattern of behavior copied by others or the fundamental characteristic of a thing." In Rabbinic Jewish literature, the term "emet," meaning "truth," is one of God's names in Judaism and is interpreted as consisting of the first, middle, and final letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In Islam, the Qur'an gives "al'Awwal," meaning "The First" and "al'Akhir," meaning "The Last" as two of the names of God. For Christians, Jesus is himself the Beginning and the End and the original one!✞

Water of Life

WaterThose who are spiritually thirsty are offered a drink without cost by Jesus from the spring of living water. The Water of Life is abundant, free, and refreshing. The living water spring contains all of God's gifts available to human beings. The splendor of God is available to satisfy the thirst of longing hearts. Revelation 21.6b confirms the words of Jesus, "To the thirsty, I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life." The previous verse with the words of Jesus, "It is done," tells of the "end" in Greek "telos," which does not merely mean "end in time," but the "goal of time." John of Patmos is saying here that all life begins in God, and the goal of all life is to receive "God's water of life." Jesus speaks of "the water of life" with the Woman of Samaria in John 4.10-16. Saint Paul expresses the same truth when he says in Romans 11.36a, "for from him and through him and for him are all things." Ephesians 4.6 adds, "one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." It is impossible to say anything more magnificent about God. At first sight, it might seem to remove God to a great distance, "God is the Beginning and the End," but what comes next concerns both believers and unbelievers.

The Second Death

Jesus AscendsRevelation 21 describes the second death. The ultimate destination for the immoral and all sinners is the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The term "second death" describes a concept in both Judaism and Christianity, related to punishment after natural death. It occurs four times in Revelation 2.11, 20.6, 20.14, and 21.8. Revelation 2.11 explains the term "second death," "The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death." "Cowardly" begins a list of those who will suffer in the Second Death. "Cowardice" is to deny Christ for safety's sake, and in this list is a counter position to the faithfulness of those who stand firm. "The unbelieving" refuse the Gospel or accept it with their lips, but their lives show that they do not believe it. The "murderers" may well be those who in persecutions slaughter Christians. "Fornicators" are those who live lives of immorality. "Those who practice magic arts" in ancient times call for mixing various herbs to ward off evil, and Ephesus is full of such sorcerers. Acts 19.19 tells how as a result of preaching Christ's name, magicians take the drastic action of burning their books, "A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas." A drachma was a silver coin worth about a day's wages, so the sorcerers' books were worth a lot of money! "Idolaters" are defined as those who worship false gods and idols of all sorts. "Liars" are those who are guilty of untruths and, in our modern society, half-truths and fake news. The fiery lake of burning sulfur will confine all these. This is the second death. Heavenly bliss, on the other hand, is not for everyone, but only those who confess their sin, receive the Good News, and remain faithful to Jesus Christ. To such people who remain loyal, God makes the most significant promise of all in Revelation 21.7b, "Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God, and they will be my children." Abraham, who was the founder of the nation in the Old Testament, also received this promise. God gave it to David on behalf of Solomon, his son, and to the Messiah himself. There is no more incredible honor in all the Universe than that which God gives to the person who is faithful to him. That person will be God's child, and the Almighty will be his God.

Very Precious Jewel

EzekielJohn of Patmos is carried away in the Spirit to a mountain and shown the Holy City of Jerusalem. It shines like a very precious jewel. The angel brings John of Patmos away in the Spirit to a high mountain. Ezekiel also describes a similar experience in Ezekiel 40.2, "In visions of God he took me to the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, on whose south side were some buildings that looked like a city."

Holy City of Jerusalem

Stained Glass JesusThe Holy City of Jerusalem shines with the glory of God. The word "light or glory" translates from the Greek "Phoster" and describes the holy city of Jerusalem's radiance. "It shone with the glory of God," writes John of Patmos in his vision. The usual Greek word for "light" is "phos," but "phoster" is the word used in Genesis 1.14 in the Creation story. "And God said, 'Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years.'" It is later clearly said in Revelation 21.23, that "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp." The holy city of Jerusalem needs no heavenly body like the sun or the moon to give its light for God himself, and the Lamb is its light!✞

Jerusalem's Twelve Gates

Saints Among UsGod built the New Jerusalem's twelve gates or gatehouses into the great high wall. An angel standing at each of the entrances guards them. On the foundations of the twelve gates are marked the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. The gates are arranged symmetrically in the city, "There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west." The word "gate" is interesting. The standard term "pule" is not used. Instead, it is "pulon," a large house by a magnificent gate in the outer wall, leading into a spacious vestibule. "Pulon" can also mean the gate-tower in a great city, like the gate leading into the castle's battlements. God sent an angel to guard Eden after "The Fall" in Genesis 3.24, so God has twelve angels guarding the new paradise. These angels are there to let in "only those with their names written in the Lamb's Book of Life." Each gate in the New Jerusalem is of a single pearl.

Twelve Tribes

Four is the number that is the symbol of the world, and three is God's number. Twelve, therefore, is the signature of the covenant people among whom God dwells. To understand the significance of the twelve gates inscribed with the twelve tribes' names, we must look to Abraham's grandson, Jacob, whom God later names "Israel" in Genesis 32.28. His twelve sons were born to establish the twelve tribes of Israel. In Genesis 49.1-2, we read, "Then Jacob called for his sons and said: 'Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come. Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob; listen to your father, Israel." God chose those twelve tribes to escape slavery in Egypt, inherit the Promised Land, receive the Law, and to be his covenant people. The New Jerusalem sits on twelve foundations, representing the twelve apostles who will reign over Israel's twelve tribes. Each gate of the New Jerusalem bears the inscription of one of the tribes of Israel. It has three gates per side which links it to Ezekiel 48.30–34, "These will be the exits of the city. On the north side, the gates of the city will be named after the tribes of Israel. The three gates on the north side will be the gate of Reuben, the gate of Judah, and the gate of Levi. On the east side will be three gates, the gate of Joseph, the gate of Benjamin, and the gate of Dan. On the south side will be three gates, the gate of Simeon, the gate of Issachar, and the gate of Zebulun. On the west side will be three gates, the gate of Gad, the gate of Asher, and the gate of Naphtali." This arrangement also seems to reflect that of Numbers 2, where God specifies that three tribes will camp on each side of the Tent of Meeting in the wilderness.

"Jesus Alpha Omega"
by Ron Meacock © 2019

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