Attributes Paper #3
Here it is, the last of the 3 weekly papers I wrote for the “Attributes of God” class. I hope everyone gets something out of it. Any thoughts? Feel free to comment.
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,’ and, ‘What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea’” (Revelation 1:10,11). This phrase, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” or a variation of the same, is spoken by God concerning Himself four times in the book of Revelation (1:8, 1:11, 21:6, 22:13). This statement is God declaring His eternal nature. The Alpha was the first letter of the Greek alphabet and the Omega was the last. When God says this, He is telling the whole world that there are none that existed before He did, and there will be none after Him. Everything that exists finds that God was present at its beginning and its end.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega…” This would be like God coming to you and saying that He is the “A” and the “Z”. This is more than God saying that He “bookends” history. This means that absolutely nothing is before Him, and nothing will be if He ceases to be. Our mere six thousand years of human history are absolutely nothing to Him. This declaration of being the Alpha and the Omega necessitates that He was there before human history started, and since the statement is made in the present tense, He is already there at whatever end we may face. Everything begins and ends with God.
“I am the First and the Last…” This is more than a restatement of what God just said. By being the First, not only was He around before anything else, but without Him, nothing else would exist. Paul echoes this in his speech to the Athenians on Mars Hill when he says in Acts 17:28, “In Him [the Lord] we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are His offspring’.” Being the Last, it means that all things find their completion in Him. The Psalmist makes this clear in Psalm 104:29-32, “You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth. May the glory of the LORD endure forever; May the LORD rejoice in His works. He looks on the earth, and it trembles; He touches the hills, and they smoke.”
Paul goes so far as to say in 1 Timothy 1:17 “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” Why does Paul describe God as eternal and immortal? It would seem to be no more than just a repetition, because immortality necessitates being eternal (e.g., without end). However, there is a very good reason for Paul using both terms. Not only is God eternal and immortal, but He is the King eternal. Never at any point was God not King, and never will He stop being King. Historically, kings did not have to die to lose their throne. They could be deposed and exiled, they could have abdicated, or they could have stepped aside for a successor. However, not only will God never cease to be (hence, “immortal”); He will never cease to be King.
Abraham understood God to be eternal. In fact, in Genesis 21:33, Abraham “planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.” The God of Abraham is without end. Abraham understood that nothing has the power to depose God from being King, and nothing can make Him cease to be God. Because Abraham worshipped the “Everlasting God,” if the “god” being worshipped has a beginning or an end, it cannot be the God of the Bible. Not only because so many people knew God as eternal or everlasting, but because if God has a beginning or an end, He is no more eternal than His creation.
When all is said and done, there is a wealth of evidence in the Bible that God is eternal. The authors of the Bible believed God to be eternal, God declared of Himself that He is eternal, and God has promised that if we believe in Him, we will have life eternal (John 3:15-16). It is in God’s eternal nature, in which we have hope for our faith and our eternal reward.