“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
This phrase runs like a refrain right through the book of Revelation. In Revelation 1:8 and 21:6 it is spoken by God; in Revelation 1:17, 2:8 and 22:13 the words are spoken by Jesus.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:13)
Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. There can only be one “first” and one “last”, so Revelation strongly identifies Jesus with God.
No other God (Isaiah 44:6-8)
These verses begin a long poem (verses 6-20) about the mindlessness of idolatry. In the course of the history of the world, people have worshipped various things (the stars and planets, man-made objects) and ideas (such as political and religious philosophies). But Israel’s God pre-existed all of them! “Who then is like Me?” In the “Supreme Deity” contest, there is only one serious contender!
The Creator (Isaiah 48:12,13)
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) The beginning of the universe is what scientists call the “Big Bang”. But what was before the Big Bang? Only God. Other gods and religions are the inventions of man, and are themselves part of the world. But the Creator of space and time is outside both space and time; He is eternal (Psalm 90:2). And He will still be there long after the universe has come to an end (Psalm 102:25-27). The universe that we know is ephemeral: permanence is to be found only in God.
I AM (Exodus 3:14)
The revelation and explanation (even if a highly enigmatic one) of God’s Name is given at a key point in Israel’s history. Over against the idols of Egypt, Israel’s God is the God who IS. They were created by men; our God was not ‘invented’ or ‘made up’, but existed before the world began. They had a history with a beginning and an end (the Egyptian religion was a product of the Egyptian civilisation – and died with it); but our God is not similarly dependent on Judaism or the Jewish nation. He will never be out of date, or irrelevant!
“I am” is not a complete sentence; it begs the question, what? (or who?) But God adds nothing. He is Himself – nothing more, nothing less, nothing other. And He does not have a ‘past’ and a ‘future’; He is not governed by time, but is now what He always is.
Lord of life and death (Revelation 1:17,18)
Here Jesus identifies Himself with the Creator and the only God (John 1:1,2). Since He pre-existed all things – including death – it comes as no surprise that He was not death’s victim but its conqueror. His words are repeated in the message to the church at Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) – where the Christians were about to suffer fierce persecution and even martyrdom. But it is God (the First and the Last) who is in ultimate control over all things, and who will have the final word. Our Lord’s resurrection guarantees a resurrection for us also.