14. Alpha and Omega

R.J. Rushdoony • Mar, 18 2024

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  • Series: Aspects of Systematic Theology
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Our Scripture this morning is from Revelation 1:4-8, and our subject: ‘Alpha and Omega.’

“John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” 1

Pastor Gene Breed of Georgia, in a sermon on Noah’s Flood describes very vividly the events of the flood. “Noah, shutting the door of the Ark, the flood waters rising, and people on all sides becoming panicky. They have lived with irreligion or cheap and worthless ideas about God, and now it is too late.” They grab at whatever they can, trying to cling to the Ark, and as Gene Breed said: “No doubt, somewhere in the background there was a neon sign reading: ‘Smile, God loves you.’” I think that is a very vivid and telling illustration of the cheapness of all too much thinking about the Lord. Our Scripture, Revelation 1:4-8 makes such thinking impossible. It gives us a vision of Jesus Christ which presents Him as very God of very God, and He who comes in judgment.

In the first of these verses, we have the salutation: “... from him which is, and which was, and which is to come…” Very definitely this is a reference to Exodus 3:14, where Moses at the burning bush is confronted by God, who declares: “I am that I am.” Which can be rendered:

“I am He who is, who eternally is.”

There is also very definitely a parallel between this verse and an inscription on the wall of the shrine of Isis in Egypt. It is recorded by Plutarch. It read: “I am all that is come into being, and that which is and that which shall be, and no man hath lifted my veil.” The resemblance is there, it is superficial. It is the difference between what God the Lord here declares and what is on the Isis inscription that is most striking. Because the Isis inscription says that “No man hath lifted my veil,” I am that that shall be, the potentiality of a universe of chance. So that there is a totally unknowable future, because the universe is a universe of cosmic chance, unknowable, beyond the penetration of the human mind, because it is not amenable to reason. It has no law, no order, no structure to it, and so because the totality of things is potentially unknowable, the future is unknowable, and man himself is also unknowable. The Isis inscription is grimly pessimistic, whereas the proclamation of Revelation is totally joyful. “Grace be unto you and peace from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come.” The church must be joyful.

As I was driving here this morning I was listening to some music among which was a hymn from the church of Armenia which began:

Thou art joyful, O church,

And your life is one of joy.

It went on to say, because of Jesus Christ the king.

We are called to be totally joyful. Romans 8:28 of course is the charter of that in Scripture: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Which tells us that God is in control of every last fact of the universe to make it work together for His purpose which is good, which is holy. Moreover, because God is the sovereign, everything with Him eternally is; past and present and future, are always open before Him.

Then in the fifth verse we have the salutation from Jesus Christ, first from the throne of God, and “from the seven Spirits which are before his throne” meaning the totality of the Holy Spirit, from all His being. “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” Jesus Christ is set forth now as the faithful witness or literally: ‘martyr,’ and at the same time He is the first begotten from the dead. The first begotten, indicating that all who are members of Jesus Christ share in His victory from the dead, in due time. So that He is the Lord over life and death, and therefore over the princes of the kings of the earth, He is their prince, He is their overlord, and as a result He rules, He ordains all things. His reign over the kings of the earth is not a future reign, it is a very present fact.

The problem for man is that he sees all things in history in terms of externals - history for him has meaning in terms of his interests, and so he asks: “If God is indeed the Lord, if Christ rules over all the kings of the earth, why is man unhappy? Why isn’t war abolished, and also poverty, hunger, sickness, disease and death? Why is not the good life possible for all men?” And the Lordship of Christ is seen as unreasonable or heartless because those things are not done now. And of course this was precisely the position of the Tempter when he said: “If thou be the Son of God, turn these stones into bread.” “Feed the people. give them cradle to grave security, and if thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down and have a miracle performed for thy rescue, so that people will not have to have faith, so that they can know by sight.”

And so when man comes face-to-face with the Lordship of Christ, he raises, being a sinner, the same questions that the Tempter did. “If you are the king, why aren’t you doing all these things for me, for humanity?” which is to say that humanity and man is the god, and the whole of the universe is to be run for our benefit, for our welfare.

But Christ is king, and Hebrews 12 says that He is shaking the things which are, so that only the things which are unshakable and of Him might alone remain. It tells us, moreover, that the Christ who does this is also the one who: “...loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father.” He is the great Passover lamb.

Life, we are told in Scripture, is in the blood. We are told that the blood alone can cleanse man of sin, and it is the pure and sinless blood of Christ that makes atonement for us. He “...hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

We are made a priestly kingdom unto God the Father, not for man's purposes, but for God’s - the focus is on Him. Old Israel was called to be a priestly kingdom, but it refused, it was faithless. Israel could not believe that it was to be set aside by God, though our Lord predicted it. Because, as compared to the Greeks and the Romans all around them, they were the most moral country of their time, the best country, and that cannot be questioned. But judgment began at the house of God, it began with Israel, and we who are called to be a covenant-people, and who have been signally blessed by God. We live in a time of judgment, and except we repent judgment again will begin with those who while they may be better than the rest of the world are especially guilty because they have denied the grace, the mercy and the covenant of God.

To Him alone belongs glory and dominion.

“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” 2

The reference here of course includes a clear reference to Daniel 7:13, and Zechariah 12:10. All who are His enemies, and all who are in any way kin, related to, associated with the enemies of Christ, shall wail in morning, and the response of the people of God must be:

“Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.” 3

Then in verse eight the entire Trinity declares itself to be Alpha and Omega, “...the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Our Lord Himself uses that designation in Revelation 22:13 wherein Jesus Christ declares:

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” 4

It is a designation that belongs to all three persons of the Trinity. The entire Trinity declares itself to be ‘the Almighty.’

The word that is used in the Greek has two parts, ‘panto (παντο)’ which means all, the totality; and ‘kratōr (κράτωρ)’ rule. Our word ‘autocrat’ comes from the same root, ‘auto,’ meaning ‘self,’

[self-] ruler. The Roman emperors called themselves ‘autocrats.’ Their authority they claimed came from no one else, although it was the army or the Senate that named them. And Jesus Christ said: “I am more than an autocrat, I am the Pantocrat, the total ruler over all things, over the political sphere, over the scientific, the religious, the family, the natural, every sphere is under me, the Almighty.”

This Almighty God is also the incarnate one, Jesus Christ, and by the blood of His covenant He has redeemed us and made us a priestly kingdom. He is the covenant king.

The modern age always speaks of a communications gap. And we cannot stress often enough to anyone who ever talks about a communications gap that it is an inescapable fact, when man is separated from God- then there will be a communications gap between God and man, and between man and man. And the only communication that can be between men who are outside of God is war, conflict, hostility, hatred, rebellion. This is the communication between men outside of Christ. And so it is we need not question, that as long as men remain outside of Christ their communication in this form will be heightened, that wars will increase, hostilities and hatreds, conflict, rebellion, will increase. But the word from the throne to those who are under Christ the King is: “Grace be unto you and peace from God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.” The unregenerate cannot have that. Men cannot communicate that which they do not know, nor have, nor are. And so when men are not in grace nor in peace, they cannot communicate it, and the more they try to bridge a communications gap, the more, instead of bridging grace and peace, they will bridge with conflict, with war, with hostility, hatred and rebellion. Man can, in time, bridge natural communications gap. He can learn to talk Chinese for example, to the Chinese, when before he could not communicate with them. But he will have nothing to communicate when he learns Chinese except what he is, and if he is unregenerate he will communicate his hatred and his hostility, even though he gives it the name of ‘love.’

But grace and peace, these are the gift of God by the blood of Jesus Christ, and they can only be communicated by Christ, the King, Christ, the incarnate God, and by those who are in Him and members of Him. Christ is the Lord of history, He is the savior, He is the Lord of glory, He is the Lord of all eternity, and He has established a bridge in His own person with us. And only through Him and none other can grace and peace be communicated to the earth. He is the Alpha and the Omega, and the meaning of all things, and the grace and peace which governs all things, is only manifested in and through Him, and by us as His servants and members of His body.

Let us pray.

* * *

Almighty God our heavenly Father, we come to thee gratefully, knowing that thou hast given us, through the blood of Jesus Christ, grace and peace, so that now we are at peace with thee, peace with one another, and made bearers of peace unto all nations to those that sit in darkness. Make us a beacon light of grace to this dark world, make of our nation once again a covenant-people. Make us strong in thee and effectual unto the tearing down of the things which are, so that only the things of thee may stand and flourish. Bless us ever in thy service. In Jesus' name, amen.

* * *

Are there any questions now, first of all on our lesson? Yes?

[Audience Member] I’ve heard it said that in our nation we have ten percent of the people were Christian, or say fifteen percent, we could turn the country around; in one of your recent Chalcedon Reports you interviewed a book on missionary activity in Africa, and the book said that Africa was twenty-five percent Christian, and soon would be fifty percent, and how do you explain the fact that Africa is the most Communistic continent on the world, and the most decrepit socially and economically speaking?

[Rushdoony] Yes, the question is, when it does not take a large number of Christians to turn around a country or a continent. And Africa today has as high a percentage of Christians as it does. It is the area where the church is growing faster than any other place in the world; why do we have the conditions that we do in Africa?

Well, there is this fact you see: In Europe and in America; North and South, your non-Christians still have a Christian hangover, they are products of from 1500 to 1800 or 2000 years almost in some cases, of Christian history. As a result for example, your Anglo Saxons no longer practice human sacrifice, which the Saxon people once did uniformly, until Charlemagne put a stop to it. So they have that background of Christian training and tradition, and this is a restraint on their evil. The Christian community in Africa has no such restraint upon the unbelievers around it. They are very close, in fact, in many cases, are still in a radical savagery, and they are subsidized from without and strengthened to work against the Christian people. The slaughter of Christians in Africa has been something that has not been reported - you remember the Civil war in Nigeria against the ‘evil peoples’, they were the Christian peoples of that country, they were the salt of the earth there, the outstanding people, and there was a systematic war against them and a murder of them. In Sudan probably a million or more Christians have been massacred, this has happened all over the continent. In spite of that, the church has thrived. So we have to say the Christians are exercising a remarkable influence in black Africa, because against such savage persecution they are increasing in number.

Well, if not let us bow our heads for the benediction.

* * *

And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, amen.

1 Re 1:4–8.

2 Re 1:7.

3 Re 16:7.

4 Re 22:13–14.

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