Every good story opens with a memorable beginning: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ (Charles Dickens – A Tale Of Two Cities), then the story grabs us, whether it be a story of war or of love, or both. We turn each page wondering how it will all end, hoping our heroes will come through their trials victorious. Hopefully the end will be as satisfying as the beginning, if not more so. The Bible is no different. However, what has created a lot of confusion in the church is a misunderstanding of just what the Bible says about the beginning and the end. So let’s have a look at what God Almighty and Jesus Christ actually say about this at the end of the story.
The book of Revelation is the last book of the Bible and has been misused over recent years to try to make all sorts of predictions about the end. Yet at the beginning and end of Revelations we read this:
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev 1:8)
Then Jesus, in the same opening chapter says: “I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!” (Rev 1:17)
At the end of the book God Almighty says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” (Rev 21:6)
And Jesus at the end adds, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Rev 22:13)
Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, the A and Z of the day. Both God Almighty and Jesus tell us that they are the first word on everything and the last word on everything, without them all our words are meaningless, and, therefore they are all the way through history the final words, the meaningful words on everything.
Notice that they say “I am the beginning,” and not “I began things”, and “I am the end,” not “I will end things.” Yes, God began it all, and yes, he will end it all too, but more importantly he is the beginning, he is the end.
The Bible opens with the words “In the beginning God”, and John says in his gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God.”
Science and the Bible ask different questions about the beginning; these questions aren’t opposed to each other, they are simply not the same question. Science asks the questions ‘how?’ and ‘when?’. How did the world begin? When did the world begin? Maybe in asking these questions scientists hope to answer the question, ‘Why did it all begin?’ The Bible doesn’t attempt to answer the questions ‘how?’ and ‘when?’. The Bible asks the much more important question, ‘who?’ And of course it answers that question emphatically: ‘In the beginning God.’
The book of Revelation is no different. Although many have tried to turn this book into a science book, trying to squeeze out a ‘how?’ and a ‘when?’ in regards to the end. Revelation is emphatic in what question it is answering, not ‘when?’, not ‘how?’, but the much more important question, ‘who?’
“I am the Beginning and the End.” “I am the Beginning and the End.”
If we think that knowing when will bring us security, just think back to the panic that foolish predictions created around the turn of the Millennium. Knowing how will not reassure us either. But knowing who the end is, now that will bring us deep security. The End is a loving Bridegroom coming to his beloved bride. The End is a loving Creator coming to dwell among and enjoy his creation. The End is a Lamb slain to purchase us for God. The End is good because he is good. The End is glorious because he is glorious. And the End is a whole new beginning, because even at the end he is still the Beginning, he is still Creator.
As we look to the future let our thoughts focus less on the unanswerable questions or ‘how?’ and ‘when?’, and instead let’s focus our time, our worship, our hopes on the wonderful ‘Who’. Our God and Saviour. No matter how well you know him today, no matter what you have tasted of him so far, the future is more, much more of him.