We are so glad you've joined us for this edition of Insight for Living. In light of the Christmas holiday, Chuck Swindoll has decided to present a 12-part study on the names of God. He titled this teaching series, His Name is Wonderful.
We begin where we left off on the previous episode. Chuck is teaching from Joshua chapter 1, and he titled his message, He's the Alpha and the Omega. God looks at Joshua because there's a massive job to be done, and God says directly to Joshua, Moses is dead. Now, therefore, arise, Joshua. Cross the Jordan, you and all the people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel, every place on which the sole of your foot treads. I have given it to you just as I spoke to Moses. See, he's giving Joshua a game plan, a strategy for taking the land of Canaan. When you're Alpha and Omega, you know the whole game plan. You know where the borders began and where they end.
You have every right to say that. If you were a commanding officer, you would say, I hope you get as far as the Euphrates. But when you're God, you say, it'll be the Euphrates. You'll go no further. That's the land.
And it'll take you all the way to that stretch of mountains, and that's where it stops. And he has every right to declare that because he is God. He's the Almighty. Verse 5, no man could have said this to Joshua. Only God, no man, will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you. I will not fail you or forsake you. The word means I will not abandon you. That's the word for fail. And I will not forsake you. The Hebrew word means to loosen one's grip. I will not loosen my grip.
I am there. You've been through a tragedy recently. You lost a mate through death or divorce. You feel abandoned. You feel alone.
You had a romance that ended in a dead-end street, and your hope for marriage has died. He will not fail you. He will not loosen his grip on you. He is the alpha and the omega. He knew the ending of this as you were enjoying the beginning of it.
All the way through, he is in control. I am here. I have always been here. I will be here when you're dead and gone. I love this thought, and I got it from Tozer. When a man of God dies, nothing of God dies.
Remember that. When a man of God fails, nothing of God fails. One of Tozer's best works, which happens to be one of his least known, is a work entitled The Divine Conquest. By the way, you should pick up everything you can find by A.W.
Tozer. It's worth your time. And the pursuit of God is obviously, in most people's minds, his masterpiece. A small work that has a massive message for any generation. This one is called The Divine Conquest, and in it he addresses the Joshua passage in what he entitles The Eternal Continuum. The Eternal Continuum. That's the Hebrew idea of aleph to tal, all the way through. God is continuing his plan.
We cannot think rightly of God, says Tozer, until we begin to think of him as always being there and there first. Joshua had this to learn. He had been so long the servant of God's servant Moses, and had with such assurance received God's word at his mouth that Moses and the God of Moses had become blended in his thinking.
So blended that he could hardly separate the two thoughts. By association, they always appeared together in his mind. Now Moses is dead. And lest the young Joshua be struck down with despair, God spoke to assure him, As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee. Moses was dead, but the God of Moses still lived.
Nothing had changed, and nothing had been lost. Now I recognize, he says, as I was, so I will be. Only God could say this. Only the Eternal One could stand in the timeless I am and say I was and I will be. Once I should have considered such thoughts to be mere metaphysical bric-a-brac, without practical meaning for anyone in a world such as ours.
Now I recognize them as sound and easy to grasp truths with unlimited potential for good. Failure to get a right viewpoint in the beginning of our Christian lives may result in weakness and sterility for the rest of our days. May not the inadequacy of much of our spiritual experience be traced back to our habit of skipping through the corridors of the kingdom like children through the marketplace, wondering about everything, but pausing to learn the true value of nothing. In my creature impatience I am often caused to wish that there were some way to bring modern Christians into a deeper spiritual life painlessly by short, easy lessons. But such wishes are vain.
No shortcut exists. God has not bowed to our nervous haste, nor embraced the methods of our machine age. It is well that we accept the hard truth now. The man who would know God must give time to him. We think of ourselves as inhabiting a parenthetic interval between the God who was and the God who will be. And we are lonely with an ancient and cosmic loneliness. When you really get a hold of the concept of alpha and omega, the loneliness goes away.
He is there with you at all times. Back to Revelation 1 in verse 8 for the Greek concept. Yes, Revelation 1 8. I am alpha and omega, says the Lord God, who is and was, who is to come. And I love this that he put the almighty. The almighty.
God is our almighty ever present now. You're in the middle of your schooling, let me assume. You're right at the height of your academic career. You are moving from where you were to where you wish to be. And in the middle of it there are pressures, there are demands, there are responsibilities, there are times of disillusionment. And you wonder if you will ever make it and you at times even have to confess, you wonder where God is in all of it.
Though you may be in the middle of seminary training. He is the almighty. He is in the midst of all that you're involved in and he cares, he's concerned and he's at work.
Even in the disillusionment of some of it. He is the ever present now. He's the one who is, not just the one who was and who will come. He is engaged in today.
Why? Because he is the alpha and the omega. Nothing happens before him.
Nothing will occur after his plan. He has it all wrapped in his parentheses. Without that thought we are cast upon our own way. Do you remember the frequent reference that I came to earlier in reading these verses? For example in 2213, the beginning and the ending, remember that reference? I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the ending. The Greek word for beginning is archē. The Greek word for ending is telos. Archē could mean beginning in point of time and also beginning in the sense of source or origin.
He is that. Telos is ending in a point of time and also ending in the sense of goal or consummation. I think of it as a musical reference, a crescendo. It is moving increasingly more so in the direction of God's plan and all the way through. He's nodding in agreement and it ultimately consummates with his conclusion to life.
Exactly as he arranged it. All this means that Jesus Christ is the source. He's the origin. He's the one from whom life began.
He is the ultimate end, the final goal. Those of us who are parents at times need to think back to the time our young ones were born. Remember when our first born came, this incredible sense of responsibility swept over me. We had never had a baby before. We were in the midst of our schooling and I remember leaving Cynthia at the hospital and going home to the little two room apartment where we were living and falling down beside the bed and saying, Lord, I don't know how to do this. I don't know how to be a father.
I've never been one. So from the first day, Kurt had just breathed his first that day. I said, Lord, from this first day on, he is yours. What I did is I came to the RK of my son's life, the beginning point, and I turned him over to God. I said, I will do all that is within my responsibility that I possibly can. Just guide me. I wonder how many fathers have said that kind of thing.
The very first of the children's lives. And then all the way through, Lord, you're going to direct me. There's no other person who could do that because no one else is the RK. No one else is the telos. And I ask you to bring him to the ultimate end you have.
If you give him to us 10 years, 20 years, 50 years, he's yours. And the same for each one of our four as they were born. The theological analysis of all this is that Jesus Christ represents the source and the goal of all of life. That's why we say to people, if you haven't Christ, you haven't direction. You have no sense of beginning and you have no sense of a consummating goal. The pattern is confusing.
No one else is alpha and omega. Practical significance, it keeps us from feeling that we've been thrown on this planet to sort of make it on our own. Sort of jumbled in life trying to find our way through the maze.
Isn't that at all? Our desire as Christians is to find God's goal and pursue it. Whatever it may be. I've made a note of the realms in which the alpha omega is involved. And I was reminded of all of the thoughts I want to share and there are four of them from Romans 11.
Turn there finally. One of my favorite sections of Romans. Romans 11 is sort of the doxology of this first section of the book.
Or the center section of the book. And Paul comes to this moment where he says, 1133, Oh the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his judgments and unfathomable his ways. Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Who became his counselor? Who has first given to him that it might be paid back to him again? Quoting from Job in both of those verses. Now the verse, 36. For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen. How's that for totality? From him, through him, to him are all things.
All things. It's easy to question that when your life seems to be in a shambles. The problem is we're looking at the wrong side of the cloth. The poet picked up the idea when he said, Not till the loom is silent and the shuttles cease to fly will God unroll the canvas and explain the reasons why the dark threads are as needful in the weaver's skillful hands as the threads of gold and scarlet in the pattern he has planned. Not till that final tapestry, that final work of needlepoint, that theology, that final work of God is done will the whole pattern be seen in its beauty. And then we will say, Now I understand. Now it makes sense. I wrestled all these years on earth wondering why, why, why, and I now see it from the vantage point of alpha and omega.
And it's beautiful. And so the realms in which he is involved first in the very presence of life. Because he is alpha and omega, we have our birth as well as our death and neither is an accident.
Otherwise he is almost sovereign. That takes away all the fear when you fly. Some of you are just eating your heart out over the flight that's coming and you wonder if this is your time or not or if you're going to go down. Hey, if you're going to go down, enjoy it on the way. It's going to be over. You're through, finished. If it isn't, there is no way you're going to go down.
If it is, there's no way you're going to stop it. The very presence of life is in his hands helps a whole lot for those who fear death. Second, the ultimate purpose of our existence is in the hands of the alpha and the omega. The very purpose of it. Why we were placed on this planet, what we are to do, and where we are to put in our strokes, he's got it put together.
Just check in with him regularly. The ultimate purpose of our existence. Third, and this is where the rub occurs, the circumstances of our surroundings.
Alpha omega suggests full spectrum of events. I put the contrast down, the good or bad, the prosperous or the calamitous. The ecstasy or the agony, the gain or the loss, the win or the lose, the pleasant or the painful, the expected or the surprised. He is not only aware, he is involved. The circumstances of our surroundings. And finally, the results of our efforts.
The results of our efforts. On my way out of the church on Sunday morning, I was stopped by the fellow who was involved with our food fund. There was a little detail he was working on. He is a man you have probably never met. And he regularly serves the body of Christ by helping in the distribution of the food to the needy, the hungry. He does that week in and week out.
He does it in season and out of season. He does it without any applause. He does it anonymously and has a small group of people who faithfully work with him alongside another faithful member of our pastoral staff who oversees it.
It's all done like the massive iceberg beneath the surface so that no one sees it. I thought as I put the key in my car and drove away, that man needs a reminder that God will reward his every effort. None of it is going to bypass the living God. If he is the alpha and the omega, then nothing in between the parenthesis of his power will go unnoticed. This gives real meaning to verses like, Do not be weary in well-doing, and be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
I frequently think of the cross when I come to this point. What an enigma for this earth to accept, especially those who had followed the Lord Jesus. Here he came as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Lamb of God, and they followed him all the way in his ministry until he was taken under arrest and put through a mockery of trials and finally nailed to cross timbers and dropped in a hole to die. And they all forsook him and fled away.
Why? Because of fear, maybe, or because they didn't grasp the fact that the alpha and the omega, in the plan of the living God, there had to be the death of Christ, or he could not have paid for the sins of the world. Do not think that if you embrace this statement of theology that you will bypass pain, or you'll somehow take a shortcut to heaven and God will look upon you with special favor. It simply means that there has to be the time of the cross before there can ever be the time of the crown. It all fits together. This is your moment to reflect back across your life.
Church membership is of no concern to us. Your walk with Christ is of great concern. Do you know the Lord and are you walking in the light? If you're not sure or if you must confess, no, I honestly must say things aren't right. This is the perfect occasion to make it right, right now, in this parenthesis of time. In prayer say to your alpha and omega, Lord, I come to you to take you into my life, or to find cleansing for my life that is in great need. May we pray. Lord God, for the very presence of life, for the ultimate purpose of our existence, for the circumstances that surround us, and, yes, even for the results of our efforts, we pause to express our gratitude.
Thank you for caring about even people like us. In the myriad of responsibilities that are yours, you have been pleased to stoop and care for us in our need. We come to this lovely reminder of the Lord Jesus, and we pause to thank you for him who washed us from our sins and cleansed us by the blood. We come to worship, to celebrate, to reflect, to acknowledge. You are the alpha, the omega, the beginning and the ending.
In Jesus' strong name, amen. In this ministry, we invite you to visit us online at insightworld.org. Well, recently, a number of our listeners have reached out to inquire about Chuck's brand-new book, Clinging to Hope.
It's from Chuck's new series of the same name. In fact, this book would make a wonderful gift, but you want to get in touch with us right away. To purchase a copy, go to insight.org slash hope, or you can call us.
If you'd like to purchase something in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Before we hear from Chuck, let me extend a word of thanks to all those who support Insight for Living. You are truly making a difference.
Let me give you an example. This note arrived from a young man from New Jersey who said, Chuck, I'm 29 years old, and I feel like I can hear myself in the way you talk. I feel like I'm by myself sometimes, but not when I listen to Insight for Living. I want to say thank you. Wow, when you contribute to Insight for Living, you are playing a significant role in bringing light and hope to those who are searching. Thanks for making moments like these possible.
Here's Chuck. At this time of year, we've received so many affirming phone calls and letters from loyal listeners. If you're among those who have already sent a year-end donation, thank you so much. In recent days, I've heard so many remarkable stories from our grateful friends. They've been listening 5, 10, 20 and more years, describing how God has used Insight for Living to guide them through challenging passages in life. These personal stories of God's faithfulness are profoundly meaningful to me.
And people have said, Chuck, we know it's the end of the year, and I'm here for you. Because Insight for Living has always been here for me. Let me encourage you to follow their example today. Look back over the years and do your best to measure the impact of this program on your life.
And then, look ahead to the future. In the next year and the next, as God provides, we promise to be here for you Monday through Friday as a trustworthy companion and as a source of spiritual guidance. So, please do your part in these critical days leading up to the 31st of December. Ask God to direct the size of your gift.
Together, let's invest in Insight for Living so that this legacy of God's faithfulness extends well into the future. Thanks so much. Well, getting in touch and responding to Chuck Swindoll is easy. First, you can call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Or you can give online at our secure website. That's insight.org slash donate. Once again, if you're listening in the United States, the number is 800-772-8888. And online, it's insight.org slash donate. I'm Bill Meyer.
Chuck Swindoll describes four different names for God that are cited in the four New Testament gospels. That's tomorrow on Insight for Living. The preceding message is the Alpha and the Omega was copyrighted in 1988, 1992, 1998 and 2022. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R Swindoll Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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