Christ the Alpha and Omega
"I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last." Rev. 1:11
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." Rev. 22:13
What stately and impressive titles are these! Hitherto we have considered the names of our Lord as they came to us indirectly from the mouth of His inspired servants, the prophets, all of whom gave witness to Him. But we find ourselves now at the feet of Christ Himself, receiving from His own lips two of the most magnificent and instructive titles which He wears. "I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last." He who spoke these words is The Truth. Arrogating to Himself no false designation, assuming no distinction, and claiming no homage, that was not rightfully His own, we may safely, in the outset of our exposition, cherish the strongest faith in the veracity of His word, and open our hearts, as the flower to the sun, and receive the life-giving influence which these magnificent words are intended to impart.
The occasion on which they occurred illustrates their significance and heightens their grandeur. They were spoken to an honored disciple of Christ in deep trial. John, to whom they were originally addressed, was now in Patmos, for the word of God and for the testimony of Christ Jesus. He was in tribulation and exile. The blue waters of the Aegean Sea, as they washed the shores of his lonely island, chimed mournfully with the lonely sadness of his spirit. At this juncture Jesus drew near, and spoke to him words fraught with the tenderest love, made known to him revelations of the most sublime character, and unveiled to his eye visions of unsurpassed glory. All this was well calculated to instruct the mind, and to raise the spirit of the martyr superior to the malicious cruelty of Nero. It was on this occasion the words were uttered which we are about to consider. John, with his own peculiarly graphic and terse pen, thus narrates the remarkable scene: "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last." "And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks, and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man." We have no difficulty, then, in identifying Him who thus, speaking in a tone so authoritative, and in words so majestic and divine, exclaims, "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last." It is the Lord Jesus Christ. And how true the portrait which He here presents of Himself! His beloved Evangelist was now suffering tribulation for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. Was He ignorant of, or indifferent to, the condition of His faithful servant? Far from it! That same Jesus who dwelt in the bush, and from the midst of its flames spoke to Moses and said, "I have surely seen the affliction of my people . . . . and I have come down to deliver them," knew the sorrows of His servant John, and came down to instruct, sustain, and comfort him with these sublime revelations, which he was commanded to write in a book. How much we learn here of the Lord's tender love towards His saints. Exiled they may be by and from man; never can they be from Jesus. They may be imprisoned, banished, fettered; they may be separated from their brethren, severed from the Church, removed far away from the saints and ordinances and privileges they love- yet there is Christ to strengthen their drooping faith, to revive their fainting spirit, and to sweeten and sanctify their solitude.
And how His manifested, gracious presence makes the prison ring with praises, irradiates the sick-room with brightness, and opens a door in heaven even amid the gloom and stillness of a desert island! We little surmise what thoughts of peace and purposes of mercy the Lord has in setting us so entirely apart from others. It is but to set us apart for Himself. From His presence we never can be banished, from His person we never can be separated. The time of our isolation and loneliness is the occasion when He draws near, and in the multitude of our thoughts within us His comforts delight our soul. "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." Especially are seasons of trial and persecution for His name and truth's sake occasions of His manifestation, sympathy, and love. The spiritual martyrdom of the Church still lives, even if the spirit of the martyr is "ready to die." The offence of the cross is not ceased. The great verities of our faith, the distinctive doctrines of grace, are still impugned, hated, and rejected by men of carnal reason and of corrupt hearts. The gospel is still an offence, and Christ is still despised and rejected of men. And they who conform to the simplicity of the gospel, preach it in its fulness, and live in its purity, shall suffer persecution. But let this thought solace and sustain you in all your trials, tribulations, and losses for the truth's sake- that, He who appeared to His suffering servant John in words of such touching tenderness and in visions of such resplendent glory, laying His right hand upon him and saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, I am He that lives, and was dead and buried, and am alive for evermore," will draw near and perfect His strength in your weakness, and prove His grace all-sufficient for your need.
But to return from this digression to the subject more immediately before us. Let us inquire IN WHAT POINTS OF VIEW THE LORD JESUS IS THE "ALPHA AND THE OMEGA, THE FIRST AND THE LAST." A few words will suffice to explain to the intelligent reader the literal meaning of these titles. It is well known that they are the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet, denoting, properly, the first and the last. The Jews were wont to adopt this method of denoting a thing in its entirety. Thus, when they described Adam as transgressing the law, and Abraham as keeping it whole, it was their custom to say, they either broke or observed it from Aleph to Tau; that is, from the first to the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Interpreted in this light, these titles of our Lord possess a profound and comprehensive significance.
We have just entered upon a new period of time, and are yet standing within the solemn shadow of its vestibule. The misty twilight of its commencement enshrouds from our view all the future of the year, as we attempt to peer into its dark and mysterious unknown. How assuring, how soothing the truth these pages are about to unfold- Christ the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last! Christ the beginning of the year, and Christ the end of the year. To commence the year aright is to commence it with a fresh act of faith in, and a renewed consecration of ourselves to, the Lord Jesus. Thus beginning the year with Christ, we shall close the year with Christ; and this beginning and closing with Christ involves the presence, and grace, and blessing of Christ all through its yet undeveloped history. (Written January 1)
These titles, in the first place, clearly define the essential Deity of our Lord. It would seem impossible for a candid, ingenuous mind to resist the conviction which the authority and majesty of these words convey of the divine dignity and superior nature of the Speaker. "I AM the First and the Last!" Could this be predicated of an inferior, that is, a mere created being, if language is at all designed to convey intelligent ideas? Impossible! When Jehovah would assert His divine greatness, He employs precisely this language, "Thus says the Lord the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the Lord of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God." Again, "Listen to me, O family of Jacob, Israel my chosen one! I alone am God, the First and the Last." The obvious interpretation, then, of these titles would apply to the proper Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. They set forth the glorious truth- a truth which we must ever maintain forms the basis of the Atonement, which in its turn constitutes the foundation of our hope- that the entire Godhead of Jehovah belongs to our Lord Jesus. He is the First of Deity- the Last of Deity, and so comprises the whole of Deity- "The Almighty," "God ever all, blessed for evermore." Knowing no beginning, He will know no ending; but is "from everlasting to everlasting," "Who is, and which was, and Who is to come, the Almighty." Such is the great fundamental doctrine of our Christian faith, such the teaching of the passage before us, and such must be the basis of our salvation and the groundwork of our hope. Receive it, my reader, with unquestioning and unquestionable belief. From first to last Jesus our Savior is God. "In Him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."
The First and the Last. He includes in His person all the essential perfections, the divine attributes, the eternal, infinite, and boundless resources of Deity. What an exalted view does this give us of Him upon whom our hope of endless glory hangs! Truly is He a "nail fastened in a sure place," upon which is suspended the glory of God, the salvation of sinners, and the fulness of grace the saints need in their homeward travel. Upon this sure support let your faith rest. Here where God the Father has nailed your sins, and suspended the honor of His name and the glory of His moral government, let your soul hang, and you are safe for eternity. Jesus is divine enough, and strong enough, and has room enough to bear you up- vile, worthless, the chief of sinners though you may seem to yourself to be- and none that hang upon Him, that hope in Him, that wait for Him, shall be ashamed.
There, too, O child of God, bring all your burdens. Has God laid your sins upon His beloved Son? Then surely you may in confidence lay upon Him the cares and anxieties, the trials and the sorrows, the difficulties and needs of your pilgrim life- casting all your care upon Him, seeing that He cares for you. This is done in the exercise of a simple faith, and in the utterance of a child's prayer. No long journey to make, no elaborate petition to prepare, no self-readiness to effect; but approaching the mercy-seat, all sprinkled as it is with the peace-speaking, intercessory blood of Jesus, you may in one moment place your petition at the foot of the throne in heaven; and while you are yet speaking, and before you rise from pouring out your heart before God, the response will come, and your peace will flow like a river, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea.
Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last of the inspired Scriptures of truth. He is the sum and substance both of the law and the gospel. He is the one great theme both of the Old Testament and the New. The whole Bible is designed to testify of Christ, "Search (or, as the word means, 'excavate, dig into') the Scriptures, for in them you think you have (or in them you have) eternal life. These Scriptures point to Me." In Christ the Messiah, in Jesus the Savior, in the Son of God the Redeemer, all the truths of the Bible center; to Him all the types and shadows point; of Him all the prophecies give witness; while all the glory of the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation, culminates at the cross of Christ. The Bible would be an inexplicable mystery from first to last but for Christ, who unfolds and explains it all. He is the one, the golden Key which unlocks the divine arcade of revelation. Until He is seen, the Bible is, in a sense, a great Apochrypha; but when He is found, it is a glorious Apocalypse, every mystery opened, every enigma explained, every discrepancy harmonized, and every truth and page, sentence and word, quickened with a life and glowing with a light flowing down from the throne of the Eternal God.
Who, as he opens the 'typical' Scriptures, and reads of the applied blood of the Paschal Lamb, thinks not of the "blood of sprinkling," even the blood of "Christ our passover, sacrificed for us"? Who, as he beholds the scapegoat let go into the wilderness, thinks not of Christ "bearing our sins in His own body on the tree"? Who, as he studies the mystery of the "Tabernacle of Testimony in the wilderness"- its construction and its furniture: the showbread, the golden candlestick, the veil, the altar of burnt-offering, the pure olive oil, the laver, the incense-altar, the sacred fire, the priesthood, the holy garments- sees not the Lord Jesus as the significance, the beauty, and the glory of it all? When Jesus "spoke of the tabernacle of His body," He, as it were, pointed to Himself a s the "Tabernacle of Witness," all whose mysteries find their full explanation and deep meaning in Him, the true Tabernacle of the Church. Who can read of the manna falling from heaven around the camp, thus daily, amply, and freely supplying the needs of the whole host of Israelites, and not recall the words of Jesus, "I am the Bread of life. Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and died. This is that bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living Bread which came down from heaven: if a man eat of this bread he shall live forever." Who can read of the living bird dipped in the blood of the slain bird, and then set free, and not think of a risen, living Savior, bathed in His own blood upon the cross, and then rising from the grave, the hope and the resurrection of the Church, proclaiming to every humble, believing saint, "Because I live you shall live also"? And then, as we travel down the stream of prophecy, how sweet the music of the words which fall upon the ear as we float upon its silvery stream- "To Him give all the prophets witness." "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." And, as we revel in the narratives of the evangelists, and unfold the epistles of the apostles, and close our research with the sublime Apocalypse of the apostle John, we read these titles of our Lord in a light which renders divinely luminous and savingly intelligible every word and syllable- "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last." Thus Christ is the sum and substance of the Scriptures. Speak we of the law? Christ fulfilled every precept, kept every command in behalf of His people, and thus He became the "end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes." Speak we of the gospel? Christ is the substance of the whole. All its divine doctrines, its holy precepts, its gracious instructions, its precious promises, its glorious hopes, meet, center, and fill up their entire compass in Jesus. He is the Alpha and the Omega of the Bible, from the first verse in Genesis to the last verse in Revelation. Oh, study the Scriptures of truth with a view of learning Christ. Do not study the Bible as a mere history; do not read it as a mere poem, do not search it as a book of science; it is all that, but infinitely more. The Bible is the Book of Jesus- it is a Revelation of Christ. Christ is the golden thread which runs through the whole. The law and the gospel are His divine, His living witnesses. They have been denied, maligned, and burned a thousand times over- but they live and witness for Him still! The Old Testament predicts the New, and the New fulfils the Old, and so both unite in testifying, "Truly, this is the Son of God!" Blessed Lord Jesus! I will read and study and dig into the Scriptures of truth to find and learn more of You! You, Immanuel, are the fragrance of this divine box of precious ointment. You are the beauteous gem sparkling in this divine cabinet. You are the Tree of life planted in the center of this divine garden. You are the Ocean whose stream quickens and nourishes all who draw water out of this divine well of salvation. The Bible is all about You.
"Now let my soul, eternal King,
To You its grateful tribute bring;
My knees with humble homage bow,
My tongue perform its solemn vow!
"All nature sings Your boundless love,
In worlds below and worlds above;
But in Your blessed Word I trace,
Diviner wonders of Your grace.
"There, what delightful truths I read!
There I behold a Savior bleed;
His name salutes my listening ear,
Revives my heart, and checks my fear.
"There Jesus bids my sorrow cease,
And gives my burdened conscience peace,
Raises my grateful passions high,
And points to mansions in the sky."
"For love like this, O let my song
Through endless years Your praise prolong!
And distant climes Your name adore,
Until time and nature are no more."
Christ is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, of our salvation. In nothing do these titles of our Lord receive more striking and impressive illustration. This view of Jesus comes home to every spiritually awakened heart, to every divinely enlightened mind. The moment the Holy Spirit shows the sinner the dark plague-spot of his soul, he is at once brought to despair of doing anything of himself in the matter of his salvation. He sees the commandment to be infinitely holy and exceeding broad, extending to the least sin, sweeping through the mind with the rapidity, and almost with the scathing, of the lightning's flash. The idea of finding any meritorious goodness, any self-worthiness in himself, vanishes from his thoughts, and he takes his place by the side of the publican, smiting on his breast, and exclaiming, "God be merciful to me a sinner! " And seeing the deep-rooted evil of his nature, the desperate wickedness of his heart, the utter worthlessness of his own doings, the plague-smitten righteousness he had so fondly embraced, he throws himself at the feet of Jesus, his last, his final, his only refuge. And now, for the first time, he learns to spell, though with a stammering tongue, these wondrous, precious titles of Jesus, "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last."
Let us see, then, HOW THIS TRUTH MEETS OUR CASE.
Jesus is the first and the last in the pardon of sin. That there is forgiveness with God, forgiveness of the greatest sins, is one of the sweetest refrains in the music of the gospel. "Who is a God like unto you, who pardons iniquity, and passes by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage. He retains not His anger forever, because He delights in mercy." But Jesus is the sum and substance of this pardon. It comes alone through His wounded body, His pierced and bleeding heart. There is no forgiveness of sin, no guilt-cleansing, no conscience purifying, but through the atoning blood of Jesus. "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission." "The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin." To this blood, this blood alone, let me direct your eye, my sin-distressed, guilt-burdened reader. I ask not how many, nor hove deep a dye, your sins are. Enough that you feel, and are sensible of them; that you deplore, and mourn over them. I meet you with the blood, the blood that can wash your sin-tainted, guilt-oppressed soul whiter than snow. And how, you ask, am I to avail myself of this full and free pardon of sin? I answer, simply and only by believing in Jesus. Listen to the proof: "For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us." Oh, what precious words are these! "What!" you respond, "is there pardon for me?- is there forgiveness for one so vile as I?" Yes; through the blood of Jesus, there is a complete, a free, a present pardon- a pardon which no unworthiness shall ever cancel, which no ingratitude shall ever revoke. Believing this truth- experiencing the blood of atonement upon the conscience- how sincere and earnest will be your desire never to presume upon this irrevocable, ineffaceable forgiveness of a sin-hating, yet a sin-forgiving God, but will only, and all the more, draw from it your strongest obligation to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live godly, righteously, and soberly in this evil world."
Christ is also the first and the last of our justification before God. As in our pardon, so in our justification, nothing of our own finds a place. Not a shred of our own doings is woven in the web of our righteousness. How luminously the apostle argues this truth! "For no one can ever be made right in God's sight by doing what his law commands. For the more we know God's law, the clearer it becomes that we aren't obeying it. But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight—not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago. We are made right in God's sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done." Thus clear is it that, if we are ever justified, it must be by a righteousness entirely foreign to ourselves- by the righteousness of another. And who is He? Even Him who is entitled "The Lord our Righteousness." Of this justifying, this acquitting righteousness, this righteousness imputed to us who believe, and without a work of our own, Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last. It is all in His divine and full obedience to every precept of the law in our stead; so that every believing soul is "accepted in the Beloved," and is "complete in Him." The crowning of this great truth, is the declaration of the apostle- "For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ." Behold the method of our justification!
Let a few words suffice to place this great, cardinal truth in a simple form, seeing there exists so much crudeness, darkness, and error, even among professedly gospel teachers and writers touching this essential truth. The sinner can only be saved on the footing of law- he cannot be illegally saved. But, man has broken the law of God, and in spirit he breaks it every day. Here is the remedy. "The Son of God was made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." In our stead He kept every precept, obeyed every command, and by His divine obedience He "magnified the law, and made it honorable." Standing as our Surety, dying in our stead, His obedience becomes ours, and thus we are "made the righteousness of God in Him." Such is the simple statement of this doctrine of salvation. Beware of any and every other theory of justifying righteousness but this. If Christ is not our Law-fulfiller, we are lost to all eternity. Keep the law, I cannot myself; and yet I can only be justified by God on the footing of a perfect law, a law fulfilled and honored in its every precept. Where can I turn? to whom can I look? Lo! a voice from the sacred page breaks upon my ear: "As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." O heart-reviving, hope-inspiring words! Now I have found an obedience that compasses the law, and invests it with a new and surpassing luster, even the obedience of Christ- the Lawgiver becoming, as my Representative, the Law-fulfiller; and now I stand before God on the footing of the righteousness of the law, upheld, honored, and magnified by the obedience of Him who is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last of my non-condemnation, and of my eternal standing with acceptance before the holy Lord God.
"No more, my God; I boast no more
Of all the duties I have done;
I quit the hopes I held before,
To trust the merits of Your Son.
"Now, for the love I bear His name,
What was my gain I count my loss
My former pride I call my shame,
And nail my glory to His cross.
"Yes, and I must and will esteem
All things but loss for Jesus' sake;
O may my soul be found in Him,
And of His righteousness partake."
"The best obedience of my hands
Dare not appear before Your throne;
But faith can answer Your demands,
BY pleading what my Lord has done."
Sincerely, my reader, would I shut you up to this one truth- Christ, the first and the last of your salvation; and, as Romaine quaintly expresses it, "and all that comes between." In a word, Christ the whole- the whole of our obedience to the law, the whole of our satisfaction to justice, the whole of our merit before God. Christ, the first and the last, and all that intervenes, of our personal, present, and eternal salvation; in a word, "Christ all and in all." Christ our only Priest, atoning for us. Christ our only Prophet, teaching us. Christ our only King, subjugating our entire will, conscience, and heart, yes, our whole being, to His own possession and supreme control.
The subject thus partially discussed is eminently COMFORTING AND PRACTICAL.
Let Christ be to us the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last of all created beings. As He stands at the head of creation, "the first-born of every creature," and in His Church "the first-born among many brethren," "that in all things He might have the pre-eminence," so let Him be the first and the last in our love, in our choice, and in our service. We need be jealous and watchful here. There are many beings and objects that compete for our heart. The world struggles for the supremacy; the creature strives for the ascendancy; sin in some of its endless forms would dethrone Him from our affections- but to none of these rivals must we give place, no, not for a moment. These glorious titles of Christ must be engraved by the pen of the Holy Spirit upon our whole being. "I am Alpha and Omega, and must be the first and the last of your whole soul. You are mine by the gift of my Father, by the purchase of my death, by the power of my resurrection, by the conquest of my grace, by the indwelling of my Spirit, by your own voluntary, solemn, and irrevocable surrender and consecration to my glory." Then, Lord, I am, and will be, Yours wholly, Yours only, forever and forever Yours.
"It is done, the great transaction's done,
I am my Lord's, and He is mine;
He drew me, and I followed on,
Charmed to confess the voice divine.
"High Heaven, that heard the solemn vow,
That vow renewed shall daily hear;
Fill in life's latest hour I bow,
And bless in death a bond so dear."
In the discipline of trial through which God may lead you, let your eye be intently fixed upon Christ as the first and the last in this part of your spiritual training for heaven. Christ is the Alpha and the Omega of all our afflictions. With Him they begin, with Him, and in Him, and to Him they will end. He begins our discipline of sorrow in infinite wisdom, righteousness, and love; and so great a blessing will His sanctifying grace make it to us, that it shall end in His own eternal glory and praise. Oh to see Jesus in the first gush of our grief, in the first shading of our cloud, in the first taste of the cup our Father gives us to drink. He but designs by the trial our closer acquaintance with Himself, and our more perfect assimilation to His image. Think not, O afflicted one! that some strange and condemning thing has happened to you; that God is angry, that Christ is withdrawn, that you are not a child of God, and that your hope is perished from the Lord. Oh, no! far from this! God is now dealing with you as a Father- considerately, faithfully, lovingly; and He would have you in return deal with Him as a child- trustfully, obediently, submissively. A child you are, though you may have been a foolish, wayward, rebellious child, still a child, and God still a Father. As Christ was the Alpha of your affliction, so He will be the Omega; and as He is the first in this adversity that has befallen you, in this blow that crushes you, in this sorrow that wrings your heart, so will He be the last, the guide, the comforter, the sympathizer, all through this dark hour of suffering, of bereavement, and of tribulation, by which so skillfully, gently, and safely He is leading you home to Himself, where His own dear hand will wipe every tear from your eye.
As the Alpha and the Omega, what a pledge have we of the unchangeableness of His love! As we love Him because He first loved us, so we shall continue to love Him, because He will love us unto the end. As Christ is the first of our love, so He will be the last. And since no line can stretch back into the past eternity of His love, so no line can measure its everlasting future. Since the Lord's love to us had no beginning, it can have no ending. "Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end." Oh no, His love cannot change! Christ will love us to the end of all our sins, to the end of all our backslidings, to the end of all our base returns, to the end of all our trials, and sorrows, and sufferings, yes, to the end of life, and then on through an eternity of love that shall know no ending. "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever." Take heart, saint of God; for Jesus having loved you first, will love you last, and love you forever!
But, perhaps, we remark in conclusion, the most august and solemn exhibition of these impressive titles of our Lord awaits the period of His Second Coming, to perfect the Church and judge the world. There will then rest no obscurity upon their meaning, and there will then blend not a dissonant sound with the universal acclaim. Foes will then unite with friends, angels with men, the lost with the saved, in doing homage to Christ, as the "Alpha and Omega, the first and the last." At the "Name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." No part of revelation is clearer, none sublimer, not one more solemn, than that which presents the Lord Jesus Christ as coming in His personal majesty and power, as the last and final end of all things- the world's history and the Church's full redemption. As all things began with Christ, so all will end in Christ. The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, He will then be the "Lamb standing on the Mount Zion, and with Him a hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father's name written in their foreheads." Then will He be the last, as He was the first, and will appear manifestly and gloriously, the end, as He was eternally and divinely the beginning. All the purposes of God, all the councils of eternity, all the revelations of truth, all the history of the redeemed Church, all the grandeur of redemption, all the honor, praise, and glory of a restored universe, will then find their fullest meaning, their deepest emphasis, their noblest expression, their sweetest, endless song, in Him as the "Alpha and Omega, the first and the last," that God may be all in all.
Oh to be one of that great multitude which no man can number, who shall have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb and though many will doubtless have come out of the great tribulation, yet will they be "purified, and made white, and tried," and all shall appear before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He that sits on the throne shall dwell among them. "Shall I be there?" you silently ask. Yes, if feeling yourself a poor, lost, helpless sinner, you are trusting believingly, and simply, and only in Jesus; though your faith may be but a touch, and your love but a spark, and your hope but a glimmer, you shall be there; and no tribute of thanksgiving and no song of praise will sound louder or sweeter than yours.
Closing this chapter with a reference to the coming of the Lord, let me remark that, distant as may seem this event- yet perhaps nearer than the most sagacious prophet or the most ardent expectant may imagine- it is one of the most deeply sanctifying truths of the Bible. Hence, when the apostles would urge upon the saints of God personal holiness and unreserved consecration, one of their most powerful and impressive arguments is, "the coming of the Lord." Hence, too, at the very close of the sacred canon, the Coming of the Savior forms the last, as, at the opening of the inspired Scriptures, it formed the first, truth divinely revealed. How impressive the Savior's announcement, how earnest the Church's response! "He who testifies these things with, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." In view of this glorious fact, let our constant attitude be that of watchfulness, prayer, and hope. The coming of the Lord to purify us from all sin, to release us from all sorrow, and to reunite us in eternal love and fellowship to those who sleep in Him now, and whom He will bring with Him then, should be, and must be, an inseparable element of our holy religion, and a distinctive feature of our Christian character. Let us separate ourselves from the world, and crucify the flesh; that thus our daily life may be a daily dying to sin, and of holy living to the Lord- preparing for and hastening unto this glorious appearing of the great God our Savior. "Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God's right hand in the place of honor and power. Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires. Don't be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry."
Oh, let us blend the blessed hope- the glorious appearing of the Lord- with every service done for God, with every cross borne for Jesus, with every mercy He sends, with every blessing He takes, with every sorrow that shades, and with every smile that brightens us- let all converge towards one glorious hope- the coming of Jesus in person to receive us to Himself, and our gathering together unto Him with all the elect and ransomed Church. Let the hope which dimly illumined the path of the patriarch, but which beams with brighter effulgence upon ours, cheer us traveling up the hill home to God- "But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!" Job 19:25-27
"Thus sang the holy Job;
And the same hope still animates the saints
Of God on earth, whose bodies shall be raised
To meet the Lord. Then we shall see those hands
Once pierced for sins on Calvary's cross,
Holding the scepter of a universe;
Those feet once nailed to the accursed tree,
Standing, all glorious, on Mount Olivet.
And on that sacred head once crowned with thorns,
The crown of all dominion shall be seen.
Nor shall that glorious crown be His alone,
But shared with all His people in that day.
O glorious prospect of the Church of God,
To cheer her heart in this vast wilderness!"
"I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end," says the Lord God. "I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come, the Almighty One." Rev. 1:8.