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Alpha and Omega (Reading Revelation- 5)

Shawn Boonstra

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Today Shawn continues his series on reading through the book of Revelation. So grab your Bible and follow along as we look at one of the biggest concepts in the whole book of Revelation, the Alpha and the Omega.

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Shawn Boonstra

Speaker/Director for the Voice of Prophecy media ministry.

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  • February 28, 2015
    11:00 AM
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Today on The Voice of prophecy we're going to continue with our series reading Revelations. So Jim I want to get your Bible out because today we're looking at one of the biggest concepts in the whole book of Revelation the Alpha and the Omega Man. Welcome to another edition of The Voice of prophecy. My name is Sean Boone struck and if you're joining us for the first time I think you're going to be excited by what we're doing right now. We're reading our way through the whole book of Revelation or to be more precise. We're actually reading through the first few chapters chapters one two and three. And I guess over time I'll probably make my way through the whole book because Revelation is probably the most underappreciated and most misunderstood book of the Bible. Of course there's no shortage of opinion about Revelation. But if you've ever tried to wade your way through the mountain of books people have written about Revelation and Daniel and Bible prophecy. Well you've probably left more confused than when you came. So what I've been doing over the last few weeks is. Reading through the book one verse at a time and asking some really important questions stuff that people should be asking before they write all those books about Bible prophecy. Questions like What did John understand by the images and symbols that he uses. What did the early Christian Church understand by this book and what does the context of the whole Bible tell us about the meaning of the Book of Revelation. You know I guess what I'm really after is just to help people understand that you can understand Bible prophecy. This is not some kind of big cosmic mystery some kind of in perceptible secret they've got. It added to the Bible for no reason. The Book of Revelation isn't there to confuse you. And over the last few weeks I think we've been demonstrating that you really can't understand this stuff. And if you've missed the last few episodes where we've been reading Revelation you can still go get them at our website. V.O.P. dot com or you can probably still get the podcast on the i Tunes store or the Android store just look for the voice of prophecy or even better download our voice of prophecy app for either Android or the Apple platform and you can catch up on all the episodes that way. Well today we're still in Revelation chapter one and we're all the way down to verse eight a verse that is loaded with vital information. This verse has the kind of stuff you're going to need to understand before you can understand the rest of the book. And I know over the last few weeks we've been moving very slowly through Revelation but this is really important stuff. The time we invest right now studying the big concepts in chapter one is going to pay huge dividends when you get to some of the big concepts in the rest of the book. So just like Bible scholars used to do once upon a time were really moving slowly. We want to make sure we don't miss a single detail. So here it is now Revelation one verse eight. And at this point in the chapter Jesus himself is actually speaking to John and this is the first time that Jesus actually speaks words of course the whole book is a message from Jesus but now Jesus is actually speaking and if you have a red letter bible you know where the words of Christ are printed in red. You'll notice that this is the first time in the Book of Revelation where you actually have red ink. These are the words of Jesus himself. So you really want to pay attention. Revelation one verse eight Jesus says I am. I'm the alpha and the Omega the Beginning and the end says the Lord who is and who was and who is to come the Almighty. Now I know there are some people out there who are going to argue that this verse couldn't possibly be about Jesus or that Jesus must be speaking in behalf of someone else because Jesus calls himself the Almighty and obviously that's a reference to God In fact a little while ago I was teaching the Book of Revelation publicly and I had this guy approach me and he was very friendly but he said Sean I think you and I see Jesus just a little bit differently. So I said well what do you mean by that. How do you see him differently than me. And he said well I hear you saying that Jesus is God in human flesh that he's the second person of the Godhead and I don't think that's what the Bible teaches. I think it teaches that Jesus is very exalted that he's very important but he's a created being and he's not actually God and honestly I don't know how you can read the Bible with an honest and open heart and not come to the conclusion that Jesus is divine. How do you read it and not come to the conclusion at least that the writers of the Bible thought that he was God in human flesh. But for the sake of those who struggle with this idea and there are lots of people out there who do I want to slow down and look at this passage very carefully. First of all look at this is this Jesus speaking. Well the context suggests that it is John has just finished describing the second coming of Christ in verse seven and he just mentioned the crucifixion and then we get the words in verse eight and John says it's the Lord speaking the way this is structured. The reader would naturally assume that the one. I'm who was crucified and coming back in the clouds is the same person speaking in verse eight and just a few verses later down in Revelation one verses twelve and thirteen. John turns to look at who's speaking and there's no question this is absolutely Jesus. Listen to this now Revelation one verse twelve John says. Then I turn to see the voice that spoke with me and having turned I saw seven golden lamp stands have those lamp stands are really important will look at them again on another study. I saw seven golden lamp stands and in the midst of the seven lamp stands one like the son of man clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a Golden Bear. The person who called himself the Almighty in verse eight is called the Son of man. In verse thirteen. And that's clearly a reference to Jesus in fact that was one of his favorite titles for himself he called himself the Son of Man all the time and if that's not enough to convince you that Jesus is the first and the last the Alpha and the omega then take a look at verse seventeen because it makes the case pretty airtight. Verse seventeen Do not be afraid Jesus is saying I am the first and the last Now remember that's a title he applies to himself back in verse eleven if you go and look you'll see Jesus calls himself first and the last. Do not be afraid Jesus says I am the first and the last I am he who lives and was dead and behold I am alive forevermore. Now ask yourself Did God the Father ever die and then rise from the dead. Well of course not. This is clearly a description of Jesus and it uses the language of divinity. The same kind of language the Bible uses to describe God the Father. Now listen I get it. This whole idea that there's one God. But three persons I know it's confusing and I know that people have tried to explain this a thousand different ways with all sorts of symbols and analogies and I know that all those human attempts to describe it come up short because honestly there's nothing else out there exactly like God There really isn't anything you can compare him to. So you can say that water comes in three different forms liquid solid and gas but it's all water. And in some ways that might be a useful analogy to help understand how God could be three persons but one God yet it's still just an analogy. And if you study that analogy too carefully it starts to fall apart. The fact is there is nothing else in the universe exactly like God. So we have to be really careful when we try to explain this. What we really need to do is ask whether or not the Bible actually teaches a try use God. And if it does then we need to accept what God says about himself at face value and in Revelation Chapter one there's no question that you have at least two members of the Godhead back in verse one you've got a being named God who gives the revelation to Jesus and presumably that's God the Father. But then when Jesus starts talking in verse eight he refers to himself as the Almighty. So now you've got another person describing himself as God And then of course you also have the seven Spirits who are mentioned in verse four. So the Holy Spirit is also symbolically represented in chapter one. Now do I believe in three gods. Well absolutely not. That's a charge you'll hear quite often from people who deny that Jesus is God They say that people who accept three persons in the Godhead are actually worshiping three gods. But that's not true. I believe with all my heart exactly what it says in Deuteronomy Chapter six. Here. Oh Israel the Lord our God The Lord is one. So how can that be true. How do you have one God yet three people. Well we're going to take a break and then I'll come back and tell you more about it. Hello I'm Chamberlain stress do you feel as if you have more questions than answers in your life. Are you searching for answers to some of life's biggest questions well the Discover Bible guides can help you find the answers you are looking for is a death Bible studies dot com or call us at eight hundred eight four five six seven nine three three free or free. Discover a Bible guide Bible studies dot com and begin your journey today to discover answers to life's deepest question. Oh and welcome back to the voice of prophecy. If you're just tuning in today we're looking at Revelation one verse eight where Jesus introduces himself as the alpha and the Omega the Beginning and the end. The one who is and who was and who is to come the Almighty. And just before we took a break I was talking about the tri human God this whole idea that God is actually three people Father Son and Holy Spirit. But at the same time there's just one God and honestly that that might be one of the toughest concepts in Christianity because you can search the whole universe and never find anything else quite like God there are no perfect analogies. So we're forced to examine the words of Scripture themselves and live with what the Bible tells us. And because it's such a hard idea to wrap your mind around some people just reject it. They insist that Jesus is part of creation that He came into existence through an act of God just like you or me or maybe like the angels. But the language of Revelation makes that hard to accept. It's just so. Clear the Jesus uses the language of divinity to describe himself. He's called the Alpha and the Omega. He is the beginning and the end he is the first and the last and that's not language you just find in one place you find it all through the Book of Revelation. In fact again at the end of the book when Jesus promises to return he uses those same titles. Listen to this Revelation twenty two verse twelve Jesus says and behold I am coming quickly and my reward is with me to give everyone according to his work I am the Alpha and the Omega the Beginning and the end. The first and the last. Now what's really interesting about that passage is that Jesus is actually quoting from the book of Isaiah particularly when he says My reward is with me to give everyone according to his work. Now now remember from our other studies in Revelation that something like two thirds of the language in this book is actually borrowed from other parts of the Bible and this language comes from Isaiah Chapter forty. Listen to this now and ask yourself who speaking it's Isaiah forty verse ten ball hold vol Lord God who the Lord God. Behold the Lord God shall come with a strong hand and his arms shall rule for him. Behold his reward is with them and his work before him. Jesus in Revelation is actually quoting from Isaiah where the Lord God says the same thing. The message is really clear Jesus is the Lord God that you find it again and Isaiah sixty two verse eleven. Indeed it says The Lord has proclaimed. Now let me stop for just a moment because the word Lord in Isaiah sixty two verse eleven that word in most English Bibles is all capital letters and that's an indication that the original Hebrew is actually using the name of God Yahweh or Joe Hova as some people would say. There is no doubt in Isaiah sixty two that God himself is speaking again now. Isaiah sixty two and I want you to listen carefully because this is actually the source material for Jesus' words in Revelation twenty two Isaiah sixty two verse eleven. Indeed the Lord that's Jova indeed the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the world to say to the daughter of Zion. Surely your salvation is coming. Behold his reward is with him at his work before him. Well when Jesus says in Revelation my reward is with me he's actually using the words of God as they are found in the book of Isaiah and to the first century mind reading Revelation there was no doubt that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God There was no doubt that Jesus was saying he is God in human flesh. This whole idea that Jesus was nothing but a mere mortal. I actually was introduced to Christianity at a much later date after the Apostles were done teaching and the idea really made inroads through a group of people known as the Gnostics. Now some Gnostics maybe most of them actually denied that Jesus was human at all. They taught that he just put on the appearance of being a real physical being but there were other Gnostic sects who taught that Jesus was only a human being a mere mortal and today when you hear about Jesus surviving the cross. When you hear about Jesus getting married and having a family with Mary Magdalen those are actually leftovers from these ancient Gnostic sects. It's heresy. This is the stuff that Dan Brown writes like in The Da Vinci Code. It's all from the Gnostics when National Geographic makes a big deal out of finding the Gospel of Judas Once again that's a document written after the disciples by this breakaway sect and these were the people that. Just these strange ideas about the nature of Jesus. Some saying he wasn't human at all and some saying he was nothing but human. But the disciples themselves the men who actually lived and worked with Jesus they couldn't be clearer. Jesus is the Son of God He is fully divine and at the same time Jesus is also the son of man he is God in human flesh and when Jesus puts in an appearance in Revelation Chapter one that's what he says. He is the Son of Man But at the same time he is Alpha and Omega the first and the Last the Beginning in the end the embodiment of the Almighty. Now as we move through the rest of the Book of Revelation I think this is going to become clearer and clearer and clearer. But just in case someone out there is still kind of doubting this let me show you one more passage that really drives this point home. When Jesus uses this kind of language to describe himself he's actually quoting from the forty fourth chapter of Isaiah. Now if you have your Bible open in front of you you might want to put a finger in Revelation one because it will come back. But I think you might want to look at Isaiah forty four because this is really powerful. Look at Isaiah forty four verse six and let's read it carefully. Thus says the Lord. You know it's all caps again because it's job over. Thus says the Lord the King of Israel and his Redeemer the LORD of hosts. Now I want you to pay attention because there are two people here speaking together. You've got the Lord Jehovah and his Redeemer the LORD of hosts. And he says this I am the first and I am the last. Besides me there is no God Now that is a remarkable Old Testament passage. There are actually two people speaking just Hova and. Then his Redeemer and they describe themselves as the first and the last. And they say that together they form one God Now this is Jesus in the Old Testament. He is the Redeemer the LORD of hosts and why did they call him The Lord of Hosts because he leads the armies of heaven. That's the way Jesus described himself to Joshua by the city of Jericho back in the Book of Joshua. He calls himself the commander of the Lord's hosts and it's the way the Book of Revelation describes him coming back in Revelation nineteen. Jesus is leading the armies of heaven. He is the LORD of hosts. When you compare the language of Isaac which John would have known inside and out. When you compare the language of Isaiah to the language of Revelation it is obvious John is using the attributes of God to describe Jesus or more accurately that's the language Jesus uses to describe himself. Now I know that's a lot to digest so I'm going to take a short little break so Jeanne can tell you about the Discover Bible course and when I come back I'm going to spend a few minutes unpacking this idea that Jesus is Alpha and Omega. I'll be right back. Hello I'm seeing the I Q thirteen for answers to life's questions like Where is God when me for can I find real happiness. Or is there any hope for our chaotic world. Are you searching for answers to these and other of life's most challenging questions. Well the Discover Bible guides will help you find the answers that you are looking for. Bible studies dot com Give us a call at eight eight eight four five six seven nine three three for your free discover Bible guide study online on our secure website or have the free guides mailed right to your home. There is never a cost. Our obligation that Discover Bible guide our free gift to you. Find anthers think I'd like to have my life really matter to God and a second chance at life. You'll find answers to the things that matter the most to you. In each of the twenty fake discover Bible guide there Bible Study dot com and begin your journey today to discover answers to life's deepest questions. OK We are back from the break and with the few minutes I've got left I want to look at Jesus as the Alpha and Omega and honestly there is more to that concept than we can possibly hope to cover in the little bit of time I've got left. But even a brief look is going to be useful. Now just before we took the break I was talking about how the Book of Revelation describes Jesus as divine as a member of the Godhead. And there is no question that's what the early church believed John knew that Jesus was human. But at the same time divine Jesus is God in human flesh. But what exactly does it mean when Jesus says he's the alpha and omega. Well in modern English it would be like saying Jesus is the A and the Z. or if you're a Canadian the A and the Zed Alpha and Omega were the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. And this is another way of emphasizing that Jesus is the beginning and the end. But more precisely it also implies that Jesus is everything in between. It's saying that Jesus is everything he's the whole alphabet. He's the language of existence. It's reminding us that all of human history has been about Jesus. He was the whole point of the Old Testament. The whole point of every prophecy the whole point of every story told from Genesis to Malakai Jesus is at the center of everything because Jesus is the one. There God's people were expecting. He's the beginning and the end of the story. Now don't forget in John's gospel the Bible tells us that Jesus is the Logos. He is the word but now in Revelation we find out that the Word of God isn't just one word. He's actually the whole alphabet. You can't spell anything in existence without Jesus. I guess another way of saying this is to say that without Jesus nothing would exist. Just listen to something Paul wrote to the kolache in church almost two thousand years ago. It's found in Colossians Chapter one Verse sixteen for by Him This is Speaking of Jesus. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth visible or invisible Thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. Now I don't know about you but the first time I read that it really caught me off guard. I mean I guess I always understood that Jesus is God but somehow growing up I didn't get this idea that Jesus is actually the creator. But that's what Paul says. He created everything and then in verse seventeen he says he is before all things and in Him all things consist. Now what does that mean. It means that Jesus created this world but the world only continues to exist because of Christ. He's the one holding it together. When you and I bounce out of bed in the morning or drag ourselves out of bed depending on how mornings go for you you've got to understand that Jesus is the only reason you didn't die in your sleep. He's the reason that today you can still think and breathe and love and feel and continue to exist. According to this passage in Colossians Jesus is quite literally the beginning and the end. He brought us into existence and he's preserving us right now. Even though you and I have sinned and broken our covenant relationship with God. Even though we have turned our back on the creator he continues to hold us together. He's never turned his back on us even though the wages of sin is death. Even though we all deserve the logical consequences of cutting our ties to the only source of life in the universe. God still preserves our lives in this world he keeps it going. Why. Because as Peter says God is longsuffering not willing that any should perish that second Peter three verse nine. That's not going to pull the plug on this out of control planet as long as there's hope as long as there are still one person who might be willing to come home when Jesus says he's the beginning. It means he's really the beginning the source of all life. And when Jesus says he's the end it means he's the one who's going to bring human history to a close at some time in the near future. Jesus comes back and brings our rebellious history to a close. He's the beginning and the end. He's the one with the right to blow the whistle and tell us when it's all over. Behold I come quickly Jesus says in Revelation twenty two and my reward is with me. I am the Alpha and the Omega the Beginning and the end. I want you to really let that sink in between now and the next time we meet spend some time thinking about this. It's not going to be easy because these are big concepts. This is the language of eternity. This is telling us that Jesus has an existence of his own outside the normal parameters of time and space to use the language of the theologians. The Bible is telling us that Jesus is outside of time. Jesus is original on borrowed and UN derived. He doesn't come from something he's the source of everything that is. And I guess that's a concept the new atheists just don't get. When Richard Dawkins put out his book The God Delusion. He actually makes fun of people who point to the design of this world as evidence of a creator and he says in essence what makes you think that anything orderly needs a creator. What makes you think that the appearance of design demands a designer. If all that is true if everything designed or looks design needs a designer then who designed God and he says it proudly like you just played a trump card. Like there's no good answer for his question. But honestly Mr Dawkins is missing the point. He might be an excellent zoologist but he's a terrible philosopher and a terrible theologian because God is not a creature God is not a creation. You can't demand to know who designed him. It's like Mr Dawkins looking at a Picasso painting and when someone says Well that was obviously made by a painter he sneers and says what who painted Picasso. That's a silly statement because Picasso is not a painting he's a painter. And God is not a creation. He's a creator our creator is the Alpha and the Omega the Beginning and the end God is the source for your existence and your only hope for the future. These words might have been spoken to John about two thousand years ago but they're still true for you. He is your alpha and your omega your beginning and your end. And right now it's entirely up to you what you do with this information how you respond to God at this moment is your choice. But know this just as surely as Jesus spoke those words to John. He sang it to you right now. I am your beginning and I am your future. Thanks for listening. I'm Sean bones. And this has been the voice of prophecy. Hello I'm seamed are you searching for answers to life's toughest questions like Where is God when we suffer. Can I find real happiness or is there any hope for our chaotic world. Are you searching for answers to these and other of life's most challenging questions. Well the Discover Bible guides will help you find the answers that you're looking for. If bible studies dot com Give us a call at eight eight eight four five six seven nine three three for your free discover Bible guide study online on our secure website or have the free guide mailed right to your home. There is never a cost or obligation. The Discover Bible guides are power free gift to you. Find answers. I'd like to have my life really mattered to God and a second chance at life. You'll find answers to the things that matter the most to you. In each of the twenty six discover Bible guy Bible studies dot com and begin your journey today to discover answers to life's deepest questions. I'm. No.

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