Monday, June 30, 2014

Pastoral Pings (Plus) ~ The Complete Works of the First and the Last

The Complete Works of the First and the Last
          One of my favorite words associated with the book of Revelation is the word, “complete”. While the word itself is only used a couple of times, the essence of the book is to tell us of God’s promised work to complete what he has started. As Paul wrote, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”[1] The Revelation gives us ample pictures of how God will do this.
          At the beginning of the book of Revelation God reveals himself as, “’I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’”[2] At the end of the book of Revelation God declares himself as, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end,”[3] and, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”[4]
          Woven through the rest of Scripture is a whole library full of numbers that add up to this consistent message: God will complete what he has started. The work God began in us is good, it is the work of the first and the last, the beginning and the end, so it will end as certainly as it has begun.
          In fact, the gift we have in the first coming of Christ is a gracious evidence of how God begins and ends something. He began everything with creation as recorded in the beautiful account of Genesis 1, and brings it to its grand end in the amazing pictures of the closing chapters of the Revelation. In between, to give us hope and faith along the way to this fulfillment, we have the prophecies and fulfillments surrounding the first coming of Jesus Christ. What God promised he fulfilled, simple as that.
          In a sense, I see God starting something he intended to finish. However, because his work would need to deal with sin, death, hell, and the grave, things would get messy. God’s children would face too many obstacles to faith for God to leave us on our own. He had to do things in space, time, and matter that would affirm the things he was doing in the spiritual realm, things that would guarantee our eternal joy in his presence.
          At the same time, in order to begin a work of creation that would result in God having a people in his own image and likeness in the end, there would need to be a grand scheme of redemption to get us out of sin, and back into the likeness of God’s Son. This work would need to have a beginning and end that fit into the larger beginning and end of God’s creative work.
          So God, in his inestimable wisdom and knowledge, began telling his people that he would fully deal with sin in such a way that he would have this people that belonged to him, who would, in the end, be like his Son. This began by telling the serpent that the offspring of the woman “shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”[5] It moved into the imagery of Noah’s ark, Moses leading Israel into God’s deliverance, all the way through the prophetic descriptions of a Messiah who would come and save the people of God. In essence, God repeatedly spoke of what he had started, and how he would bring it to completion.
          When we consider the intricate records of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have an enduring message of hope to the Church that is waiting for the return of our Savior. The point of Jesus’ return is to execute his judgment on the earth that had refused him, and fulfill everything promised to his brothers.
          While we wait for the day of Jesus’ appearing, we have this wonderful revelation that is affirmed and proven so many times that faith and hope should be the easy fruit of all that God has revealed. Jesus is both Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. [6] We must see him this way in order to wait in hope that the things he began in us he will finish.
          In other words, we do not only think of Jesus as there in the beginning and there in the end. We do not limit our beliefs to his eternal nature. Rather, we receive this wonderful picture that Jesus is the beginning, and so he started everything we see in creation, and he is the end, purposefully bringing all things to the grand conclusion he has promised.
          And, to help us along in our faith, he has promised, kept, fulfilled, and recorded everything to do with his coming in redemption so that we would know that he will equally fulfill everything to do with completing the work he has started. Even the beautiful imagery of the 144,000 of Revelation 7 says this very thing. Jesus will not fail to bring home all the Father has given him.

© 2014 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Philippians 1:6
[2] Revelation 1:8
[3] Revelation 21:6
[4] Revelation 22:13
[5] Genesis 3:15
[6] Revelation 22:12-13

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