Summary: In our lives we have many commitments, but our first and most immediate commitment is to the First and the Last.
First and Last
Jesus said the last will be first and the first, last. This has made for a great rush for the end of the line. Everyone wants to be first, therefore, they claim the last position ... right? Wishful thinking. People still don’t want to wait and don’t like to wait. This demonstrates a basic flaw in our thinking, because Jesus is both, the first and the last, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. The A and the Z.
To the seven churches in the province of Asia:
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
7Look, he is coming with the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him.
So shall it be! Amen.
8“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:4-8 (NIV)
The first reference is to God the Father: The one who was and is and is to come. This is a reference to His proper name, YHWH. When He introduced Himself to Moses using this name, He started out by saying, "I am that I am." Another very proper translation of this name would be "I will be who I will be." The Name is God’s claim to self existence. The one who is.
The second reference is to God the Spirit: The seven spirits before the throne. This reference corresponds with the seven lamps before God’s throne that represent the seven churches to whom John is writing. In the Bible, oil is often a symbol for the Holy Spirit and fire is too. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended like fire on the Apostles. So the lamps are the churches, but the oil that fills them and the fire that powers them are the Holy Spirit. There are seven Churches, but the Spirit who fills and fires all 7 of them is one and the same Spirit.
The third reference is to God the Son, Jesus Christ and John describes Him 5 ways:
• Faithful witness
• Firstborn from the dead
• Ruler of the kings of the Earth
• Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
• Him who has made us to be a kingdom and priests
These are references to different things that Jesus did or is doing:
• He told us faithfully who the Father is and what He has done
• He rose from the dead, on his own power, demonstrating His power to eventually raise us too
• He is the rightful King of the house of David
• He died on the cross to pay for our forgiveness
• He has transformed us into people who will rule over angels and who may come personally before God’s throne
And John ends this song of praise by saying:
Give Him glory and dominion for ever and ever
John is starting right out making no bones about the Trinity. Jesus is God and he describes Him that way. Jesus is God, and John gives Jesus praise that is due to God alone. And that praise is not misplaced. The whole book of Revelation is about that identity. John takes this whole book to describe Jesus and His relationship to the Father, to the Church and to the world. It is a powerful and colorful manifesto:
Jesus is LORD!
• Jesus is LORD in the sense that He is God
• Jesus is Lord in the sense that He is the head of the Church
• Jesus is Lord in the sense that He is ruler of the world
• Jesus is LORD!
In this country and in these days of democracy and independence, we forget what that means.
Rightful and absolute owner and master
To say that Jesus is our Lord, is to say that He owns us and He can command us to do whatever He wants, even to the point of laying down our lives or the lives of our family for His own purposes, which He need not reveal to us at all.
• Job experienced this with the Father
• And John is affirming it in Christ