HOPE AMIDST THE FEARS OF THIS WORLD
Many months ago I planned out my preaching series to include a look at the titles of Jesus in the book of Revelation beginning this Sunday. I find it timely that in the midst of the fear and anxiety provoked by the terrorist attacks in Paris last week, we will look at the description of Jesus as “the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Revelation 1:5) and as “the Alpha and the Omega…who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).
When terrorists attack, killing so many innocent people, our sense of justice and security and safety is violated. Fear sets in. Anxiety overwhelms us. Anger consumes us. These are natural human responses to the injustice and horror of terrorism.
Surely the Christians in Asia Minor experienced the same emotions at the very time John recorded the vision God gave to him while he was a prisoner on the island of Patmos (the book of Revelation). Christians in the Roman Empire were facing increased persecution against them. Some were arrested for their faith. Some were tortured for their faith. Some were martyred for their faith. Nearly all of them faced some form of oppression against them for their faith. Into the midst of this, God reminds John—who reminds them and us—that despite appearances, the Roman emperor was not the true ruler of this world. The One who conquered death after dying for us is the One who is “the Ruler of the kings of the earth.”
This truth applies to us today as well. No nation or dictator or terrorist organization has usurped God as the Ruler of this earth. God retains sovereignty over this entire planet.
I pray for the world’s leaders as they confront issues like terrorism and the refugee crisis. I pray that God will grant them wisdom, and integrity, and the courage to do what is right, and guidance from Him.
I pray for them, but my hope is not based on any leader or government, nor do I despair on the basis of any leader or organization. My hope is in the One who is “the Ruler of the kings of the earth.”
Verse 5 goes on to say about “the Ruler of the kings of the earth” that He “loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood.” Because of His sovereignty and love and what He has already done in dying for us, I can affirm Paul’s declaration in Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Revelation 1:8 stresses that Jesus is the “Alpha and the Omega…who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet; Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet. Affirming that Jesus is the “Alpha,” reminds us that Jesus is the One who precedes all creation; therefore He has sovereignty over all of His creation, including all that takes place on planet earth. Affirming that He is the “Omega,” means that the end of all things belongs to Him. No one else and nothing else can determine how things will end. God is the One with that authority, and what He tells us in the book of Revelation is that it will end with His restoration of His beloved creation.
To say that Jesus is “the Alpha and the Omega” also signifies that everything between the beginning and the end is in His care, and is subject to His sovereignty. It is He “who is, and who was, and who is to come. It is He who is “the Almighty.”
Therefore, even amidst the things in this world that disgust us and/or frighten us, we can (and need to) entrust ourselves to His competent and eternal care.