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 are trustworthy and true words.' 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 water freely from the water of life spring. The victorious will inherit this, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. But the cowardly, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, magic art practitioners, idol worshippers, and all liars will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur, 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 Lamb's wife.' And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me the Holy City of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with God's glory, and its brilliance was like a very precious jewel, like a jasper, as 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 Israel tribes. There were three eastern gates, 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 Lamb's apostles." (Revelation 21.5-14)✞

Making Everything New

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." 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 "one of the most important people in World history." witnesses 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!" Jesus makes everything new in people's lives and takes away the old! God transforms everything!

Beginning and End

Alpha Omega BookThese three witnesses assert that God takes and re-creates a new universe for the saints whose lives he renews. Jesus of Nazareth as the new creation initiator, is the "Jesus Alpha Omega," says Almighty God to John of Patmos. "Alpha" is the first Greek alphabet letter, and "omega" is the last. So Alpha to Omega covers everything. Jesus also calls himself "the Beginning and the End." as Jesus was at the beginning even before the creation and will be at time's end after all earthly things pass away. These symbols were used by early Christians and appear in the Roman catacombs. The "Alpha Omega" letters often hang from the cross's 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 also heard. Isaiah 44.6 says, "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 records 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 copied by others." In Rabbinic Jewish literature, the term "emet" means "truth" and is one of God's names in Judaism and 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 God's names. For Christians, "Jesus Alpha Omega" is the "Beginning and the End" and the original one!✞

Water of Life

WaterJesus offers the spiritually thirsty a drink without cost from the living water spring. The water of life is abundant there, free and refreshing. The living water spring contains all God's gifts for human beings. God's splendor is available to satisfy longing hearts. Revelation 21.6b confirms Jesus' words, "To the thirsty, I will give water without cost from the water of life spring." In the previous verse, Jesus says, "It is done." The Greek "telos," for "end" does not merely mean "end in time," but the "goal of time." John of Patmos says that all life begins in God, and life's goal is to receive "God's living water." Jesus speaks of "the living water" with a Samaritan woman 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. At first sight, it removes 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" as the ultimate destination for the immoral and all sinners in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The term "second death" represents both a Jewish and a Christian concept related to punishment after natural death. It occurs four times in Revelation in 2.11, 20.6, 20.14, and 21.8. Revelation 2.11 explains the term "second death," for "The victorious one 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 in a counter position to "faithfulness" in those who stand firm. "The unbelieving" refuse the Gospel or accept it with their lips, but their lives indicate that they do not believe it. "Murderers" may well be persecutors of slaughtered Christians. "Fornicators" are those living immoral lives. "Those who practice magic arts" in ancient times meant mixing various herbs to ward off evil. Ephesus was full of such sorcerers, and 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 worth about a day's wages, so the sorcerers' books were worth a lot of money! "Idolaters" worship false gods and idols of any sort. "Liars" are guilty of untruths and, in our modern society, half-truths and fake news for their advantage. The fiery lake of burning sulfur will confine all these which is the second death.

Heavenly Bliss

On the other hand, Heavenly bliss is not for everyone, but only those faithful to Jesus Christ. To such loyal people, God makes the most fantastic promise in Revelation 21.7b, "The victorious will inherit all this, I will be their God, and they will be my children." Abraham, the Old Testament's national founder, received this promise. God gave it to David, then Solomon, his son, and to the Messiah himself. There is no more incredible honor than that which God gives to the person 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 high mountain and shown the Holy City of Jerusalem. It shines like a very precious jewel. 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 God's glory like a very precious jewel. 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. The usual Greek word for "light" is "phos," but the Creation story in Genesis 1.14 uses "phoster." "And God said, 'Let there be lights in the sky's vault 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 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 New Jerusalem's twelve gates or gatehouses into the great high wall. An angel at each of the entrances guards them. On the twelve gates, foundations mark Israel's twelve tribal names. The gates are arranged symmetrically in the city, "There were three eastern gates, three northern, three southern and three western." The word "gate" is interesting. The standard term "pule" is not used. Instead, it is "pulon," "Pulon" can mean a large house by a magnificent gate in the outer wall, leading into a spacious vestibule or the great city's gate-tower, through the battlements. God has twelve angels guarding the new paradise, similar to the angel guarding Eden after "The Fall" in Genesis 3.24. These angels are there to allow in "only those with their names written in the Lamb's Book of Life." Each gate in the New Jerusalem is of a single glistening pearl.

Twelve Tribes

Twelve is the signature of the covenant people among whom God dwells. Twelve comprises four as the world's number times three as God's number. 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 Egypt's slavery, inherit the Promised Land, receive the Law, and be his covenant people. The New Jerusalem sits on twelve foundations, representing the twelve apostles who will reign over Israel's twelve tribes. Each New Jerusalem gate 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 city's exits. On the north side, the city gates are to be named after Israel's tribes. The three northern gates will be Reuben's, Judah's, and Levi's. The three eastern gates will be Joseph's, Benjamin's, and Dan's. The southern three gates will be Simeon's, Issachar's, and Zebulun's. On the western side, three gates will be Gad's, Asher's, and Naphtali's." This arrangement reflects Numbers 2, where God specifies that three tribes will camp on each side of the wilderness Tent of Meeting.

"Jesus Alpha Omega"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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