He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.”

Revelation 21:6

 

One of the popular songs of my Sunday School experience was the classic American spiritual, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” Part of what was fun about this song was the chance to add new verses easily. The standard verses—“He’s got the whole world… He’s got the little bitty baby… He’s got you and me, brother… He’s got everybody here”—invited creative additions: “He’s got everyone at camp… He’s got Mark Roberts… He’s got the people of China …” And so forth and so on.

A giant clock.If we had been studying Revelation 21:6 in Sunday School, we might well have added another verse: “He’s got all of history in his hands.” In this verse, God claims to be “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” The context for this verse, as well as the parallel usage of “Beginning and the End,” suggest that God is the Alpha and the Omega of history, not just human history, but all history, cosmic history. This is confirmed by a parallel verse in Revelation 1:8, “I am the Alpha and Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” As Alpha and Omega, God is, was, and is to come. God transcends time and history.

Yet God’s claim to be the Alpha and the Omega implies more than simply that God was around at the beginning of time and will be around when history is completed. By identifying himself with the first and last letters of the alphabet, God is claiming sovereignty over all things. He is not merely a transcendent observer of history. God is the Lord of history, its initiator and primary actor, its director and its ultimate end. Thus, by claiming to be the Alpha and the Omega, God is saying, in effect, “I’ve got all of history in my hands.”

If this is true, then God has a hold of my history as well. And your history. And the history of every human being. Though in the mystery of his sovereignty, God allows us to act in freedom, ultimately he is Lord over everything. He will use our actions for his purposes. He will build upon our good deeds and redeem our evil ones. He will guide us and direct us so that we might flourish in this life as well as in the age to come.

Something to Think About:

Take some time to reflect on what it means that God is the Alpha and the Omega. As you do, what strikes you as significant?

If God is Lord of your life in addition to being Lord of history, how might this affect the way you live each day?

Prayer:

Gracious God, you are indeed the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. You are before all things and after all things. You are the initiator of all things and in you all things will finally be renewed and ordered. All praise be to you, Alpha and Omega!

Since you hold all of history in your hands, this means you also hold me and my life in your hands. Help me, Lord, to surrender to your tender and trustworthy strength. May I have confidence that you will guide my life in the best ways if I seek you and follow you. Be the Alpha and Omega, Lord, of my life.

To you be all the glory! Amen.

This post originally published on April 18, 2016.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
The Kingdom of God is Near (Revelation 1)