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He's the Alpha and the Omega, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
November 29, 2022 7:05 am

He's the Alpha and the Omega, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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November 29, 2022 7:05 am

His Name Is Wonderful

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With every year that passes, it seems like local stores are showcasing their Christmas decorations earlier and earlier. Have you noticed?

For several weeks before the main event, we watched the red and green inventory take over the shelves. And today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll invites us to prepare for the Christmas celebration by giving our full attention to the names in the Bible that describe God. By doing so, we elevate our love and affection for the one who embodies Christmas. Chuck titled today's message, He's the Alpha and the Omega. In our series on His Name is Wonderful, which we are looking at various names of our Lord, we have come to a unique name that could be said only of Him.

Other names, such as King or Master or even Servant, would apply to others, but this one applies to Him alone. When I think of the name Alpha and Omega, it brings back a couple of rather humorous events in my life, at least I see them as humorous. Way back when I was in seminary, I remember sitting in a large English Bible class that was being taught at Dallas Seminary by the excellent teacher Dr. Jack Mitchell of Multnomah School of the Bible fame. And as all of you know, who know Dr. Jack, there's just no one quite like he is in the teaching of scripture, not only because of his enormous knowledge of the Bible, but that unique Scottish brogue, which follows him in all of his teaching. And there's something about his approach to certain words that humors me, or at least it seems a little humorous to me.

For example, in the speaking of the prophets, most of whose names end with AH, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Jonah, they come out when he says them, Isaiah, Jonah, Jeremiah. And in all seriousness, he will say, we will now look at Isaiah 40. And I would sort of chuckle to myself, but it reached the ultimate when he referred to the Lord Jesus as the Alpha and the Omega. I will never forget that. I think I was the only one in chapel that laughed out loud at that. And then a number of years later, it haunted me as I was in a ministry in New England, sitting on the platform and the choir was there. It was an ice cold, a winter day, and the choir was doing its best to warm us and encourage us with a song that had in the lyrics of that anthem, those words.

Now, I don't know if you have ever been to New England or spent much time with those great folks up there. But you know, every once in a while, you'll hear certain words that come out in a little different way. And the song happened to have the words, he is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. And yet, New Englanders say Alpha and Omega. And for the first time I ever in my life heard it, they sang. He's the Alpha and Omega, the beginning. I thought that is terrific. Here I am going back to my days in seminary, remembering the great teaching of Dr. Jack.

And all of a sudden, I'm back at it again here in New England. In fact, I remember looking out the window and seeing about 18 inches of snow resting on the ground. And I thought to myself, I hope he is Alpha and Omega.

That's kind of weather we're having to face. Indeed, he is how wonderful it is. How marvelous. What a reminder that he is the beginning and the end of all things. He knows the beginning. He knows the ending from the beginning. He knows how the pattern all fits together. He puts it together in perfect fashion, and he stands ready to defend it.

Because to him, it makes absolutely perfect, in fact, heavenly sense. Every death. Every disaster. If you please, every calamity. Everything that surprises you and me. Everything that we anticipate and even the things we would have never dreamed. Every child born. Every defect. Every achievement.

Every failure. He knows the beginning, the ending, the reason why in between. It is a name that fits only him. To get a little bit of a background in reference to scripture, I'd like to have you first turn to Isaiah 41, if you will. Now the literal title may not be in Isaiah's prophecy, but the thought of it is here. Isaiah 41 verses 1 to 4. Coast lands, listen to me in silence. Let the peoples gain new strength.

Let them come forward, then let them speak. Let us come together for judgment. Who has aroused one from the east, whom he calls in righteousness to his feet. He delivers up nations before him and subdues kings. He makes them like dust with his sword as the wind driven chaff with his bow.

He pursues them, passing on in safety by a way he had not been traversing with his feet. Who has performed and accomplished it, calling forth the generations from the beginning. I, the Lord, am the first, and with the last, I am he.

I'm responsible. Chapter 44, same prophet, verse 6. 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 there is no God besides me.

And who is like me? Let him proclaim and declare it. Yes, let him recount it to me in order. From the time that I established the ancient nation and let them declare to them the things that are coming and the events that are going to take place, do not tremble, do not be afraid.

Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? Or is there any other rock?

I know of none. I love the way that reads. What a wonderful theology emerges from the Old Testament. You know, I've been thinking lately, we ought to refer to it as the older testament. I think by thinking of it as the Old Testament, which is man's title, not God's, we tend to relegate it into such an ancient era, it seems out of touch.

When we think of it as the older and the newer testament, perhaps it keeps both of them in touch with our times. And again, chapter 48, verse 12. Listen to me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called, I am he. Again, he says it, I am the first. I am also the last.

Surely my hand founded the earth and my right hand spread out the heavens. When I call to them, they stand together. Assemble all of you and listen. Who among them has declared these things? And he goes on to describe these prophecies. If we were speaking Hebrew in this passage, we might be tempted to paraphrase this statement in verse 12.

I am the first and I am the last. I am the aleph and I am the tawl. In the Hebrew alphabet, the letters, and there are 22 of them, the characters, the alphabet begins with the letter aleph and ends with the letter tawl, unlike Greek. The first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Interestingly, the rabbis of ancient days often loved curious exegesis, or a curious interpretation of terms and of passages of the Old Testament. One of the things intriguing about their study was that the Hebrew word for truth, which is the word emeth, aleph, maim, tawl, emeth, they felt was symbolic of the name of God.

And here's the reason they thought that. Aleph is the first letter, and that's the beginning of the word translated truth. Tawl is the end of that word. And the middle letter is maim. And they claimed that that was the middle letter, a little off.

It's the 13th letter, rather than the exact middle of the alphabet. But they felt like the word emeth perfectly described God because it brought you, brought to the attention of the reader, the first of the alphabet, the middle of the alphabet, and the ending of the alphabet. Emeth, they argued, stood for God, because he does embody the truth. Now, when you get over into the New Testament, you find alpha and omega mentioned as the names of God only three times. And ironically, all three are in the book of Revelation.

Turn first to chapter one, and then we'll go to the end of the book and find it mentioned again in the 21st, and yet finally in the 22nd chapter. Revelation 1, verse 8. I am the alpha and the omega, says the Lord God. Now, this is Greek.

And the writer chose to, under the inspiration of the Spirit, to leave the letters exactly as we would read them if we were reading the Greek. I am, he doesn't translate it here, he simply transliterates the term, I am the first, I am the last, I am the initial part of the alphabet, I am the ending of the alphabet. Alpha and omega, says the Lord God. Who is, who was, who is to come, the Almighty. You will see present, past, and future in the amplification of the name alpha and omega. Who is, that's the present.

Who was, that's the past. Who is to come, that's the future. In other words, he's conveying to the reader the all-encompassing scope of our God. In the context which really begins at verse 4 and concludes up at verse 8, we notice he says these things. John to the seven churches that are in Asia, grace to you and peace. From him who is, who was, who is to come. From the seven spirits who are before his throne, even from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and released us from our sins by his blood. If you're a follower of the writings of Donald Barnhouse, you know that at the beginning of most, if not all of Barnhouse's works, there is the express, certainly of his volumes on Romans, there is the presentation of Revelation 1 of 5.

And it is in Greek. To him who loves us and released us from our sins by his blood. It's the late Barnhouse's way of saying this work is to him who loved us and released us from our sins.

In the same context. And he has made us to be a kingdom, priests to his God and father. To him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever, amen. Behold, and now he quotes from the Old Testament, actually from Zechariah, the prophet, chapter 12.

Maybe I should say Zechariah. Behold, he is coming with the clouds. Every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn over him. Even so, amen.

Even so, I believe it. And then he gives his name, the Alpha and the Omega. Look at Revelation 21 verse 6.

You'll find the same name. We'll turn from the Aleph of the book to the Tau. From the first of it to the end. 21 verse 6. He said to me, it is done. I am the Alpha, the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes shall inherit these things and I will be his God and he will be my son. I don't know if you've thought about it lately, but no one else on this earth could ever say such a thing as that.

There is such finality in these words. I'm of the opinion that we need a lot of reminders regarding the authority of our God. We who are so regularly and often impressed with the power and the accomplishments of men and women, we need a reminder regularly that our God is above all. That he is beyond all. That everything begins with his yes, that may happen. And everything ends with his no, that's enough.

And everything in between accepts his nod. I allow that. I permit that. I direct this.

I demand that. All the way through time, life isn't sort of a flip of the coin and hopefully it comes up heads. Life is moving in a perfect pattern and the Alpha and the Omega, the one responsible for the beginning, continuation and end of it all is saying all the way through that is exactly the way I want it. That is precisely as I have planned it.

That title if it means nothing else certainly means that. What an ethical scene by the way is in the first seven verses of Revelation 21. The next time you find yourself discouraged with this old heaven and this old earth, take a look at the new heaven and the new earth that's yet to come.

It's a beautiful scene. One more expression is found in scripture and that's in Revelation 22 verse 6. He said to me, these words are faithful and true and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets sent his angel to show to his bondservants the things which must shortly take place. Behold, I am coming quickly. This is the promise of the Lord Jesus himself.

I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book. Now let's examine the meaning a little more closely. The Hebrew concept is most interesting. The rabbis used to say Adam transgressed the law from aleph to tau. Adam transgressed the law from start to finish. When he sinned, he sinned all. He sinned completely and as our federal head through him, we sinned.

We are sinners by birth, we are sinners by choice, we are sinners by nature. Adam transgressed the law from aleph to tau. The rabbis also used to say that Abraham kept the law from aleph to tau because Abraham is the father of the nation.

They held him up as one who kept the law, though that isn't true. Abraham failed as a sinner and they added that when God blessed his people, he blessed them from aleph to tau and that's true. When he blesses us, his blessings come from beginning to ending. He blesses us even in sorrow by giving us strength to endure.

He blesses us even in sadness. It is in the Hebrew the concept of completion or continuation. When you read he is the first and the last over in the Old Testament, the writers are conveying the idea that God is a God who continues on and completes the whole story.

Let me show you. Joshua chapter 1 is an example. Turn from Revelation 22 back to Joshua 1. This is an extremely difficult time for the Hebrews because Moses has died.

We read of the death of Moses having studied his life and we feel that we understand the grief of the people but I think we enter into it only partially. This was the man who led them out of bondage. If you can imagine being over 400 years under Egyptian rule and along comes an 80 year old man reluctantly, meekly almost had to be forced into the task of delivering and he through miraculous works breaks the back of Pharaoh and sets the people free and then for the next 40 years, he is the one who leads them through the Red Sea and brings water from the rock and declares that manna will fall from heaven and points them to the cloud by day and the fire by night on whose shoulders rest the blessings of God. This is Moses and then he dies.

In fact, they are right on the edge of battle. They are about to move into the land that was promised them, the land of Canaan and he dies. He's not allowed to enter the land because he didn't keep the law from Aleph to Tal. In a fit of anger, he struck the rock and God told him to speak to it and God said because of that you will die before you enter Canaan. Well, that's the background to Joshua 1 and he's been training Joshua for this moment and the people for 30 days have been mourning the death of Moses. Joshua, can you imagine Joshua in the tent just before taking the leadership of the Hebrews. They've been listening to and watching this wonderful man of God from age 80 to age 120 lead them in virtual flawless leadership. Now he's dead and you're to take his place.

Well, I think you'd feel uneasy and insecure. God meets with Joshua in these first few verses of Joshua 1, that is verses 1 to 9 and God puts fiber in his life. Verse 2, Moses, my servant is dead. God looks at Joshua because there's a massive job to be done and God says directly to Joshua, Moses is dead. He's dead.

Now let's go on. You see, when you're the Alpha and the Omega, you know it's right. It isn't Moses, I'm surprised to tell you, died. He is saying Moses, as I planned it, is dead. Now therefore arise, Joshua, cross the Jordan, you and all the people to the land which I'm 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. And then he describes the scene and he points out, just like we would in America, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, the land is yours, take it. 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. You might want to make a mental note of this spot in Chuck Swindoll's sermon because we'll pick up right here on the next edition of Insight for Living. We're in the midst of a series on the names of God called His Name is Wonderful. And Chuck is helping us understand the magnitude of his name, the Alpha and the Omega. If you'd like to learn more about this ministry, we invite you to visit us online at And then did you know that Insight for Living provides study notes for each of the sermons that Chuck presents? This free resource is called Searching the Scriptures, and it's perfectly suited as a discussion tool for your small group Bible study. This is an interactive document intended to help you go deeper into each topic. In fact, you can download the PDF, print it out and even email it to your friends.

There's no cost. Just go to slash studies and follow the simple instructions. From time to time, we receive questions from listeners who want to know why Chuck continues to keep such a busy schedule. For instance, it might surprise you he's preaching two times every Sunday morning at Stonebriar Community Church, and he keeps very busy with responsibilities here at Insight for Living as well. In short, Chuck remains committed to preaching and teaching, especially in the confusing times in which we live. By now, all of you know that I'm not predisposed to a doom and gloom outlook on life.

God just didn't wire me that way. But without question, I've never witnessed the level of cultural chaos confronting all of us today. The forces of evil are dramatically at work, working overtime to create confusion, distraction, and fear. Frankly, the escalation of these battles has ignited a greater personal passion to preach and to teach the truth while there's still time. At Insight for Living, we're not winding down.

In fact, we're ramping up. We're completing one of the most productive years in the history of Insight for Living, and we're positioned to accomplish even more in this new year that's ahead. As we approach December 31st, I'm calling on you to personally invest your resources in Insight for Living so that people will hear the clear and calming message that God is still very much in control. Remember, your gift today not only brings insight to you, but your year-end gift delivers insight to others. You see, it's your partnership that determines what we can accomplish together. So let's band together as a family to make sure the truth of God's Word breaks through the noise so that people far and near can benefit from Insight for Living.

Thanks, Chuck. Here's how to respond today. First, to speak with one of our ministry reps, you can call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888, or you can give your gift online at slash donate. Thanks so much for doing your part by giving a generous donation to Insight for Living Ministries. We look forward to hearing from you soon. If you're listening in the United States, again, call 800-772-8888, or you can give online at slash donate. I'm Bill Meyer. Tomorrow, Chuck Swindoll continues his message about the Alpha and the Omega. Be sure to join us Wednesday to hear Insight for Living. The preceding message, He's 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.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-28 15:33:06 / 2022-11-28 15:41:59 / 9

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