The First and Last Word
The book of the Revelation is, without doubt, one of the most maligned and misunderstood books of the Bible. It is, admittedly, a most peculiar and unusual book that cannot be easily understood without an understanding of its particular genre and its distinctive Jewish cultural mores. However, once these barriers are overcome the Revelation can become a book of great encouragement and joy.
In the very first chapter, the apostle John wants to assure his readers, that, despite all evidence to the contrary, Jesus is Lord and has history in his hands. “Do not be afraid. 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! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (Rev 1: 17-18). This is strong language that is essentially saying that nothing and one can stand against the lordship of Jesus.
This does not mean, however, that there will not be opposition. There are many enemies of the Kingdom of God, and plenty of opposition to the Word of Christ. As Jesus said in his discourse to the disciples shortly before his crucifixion, “In this world you will have tribulation, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33). In many ways this is a one sentence summary of the entire book of the Revelation.
Indeed the Revelation is bookended with the statement “I am the Alpha and the Omega” (Rev 1: 8 and Rev 22: 13). Put simply, Jesus is saying I am the first word, and the last word, on everything. There may be other voices that have a different logic and an opposing message; but in the end the Word of Christ will stand and outlast all these other words, no matter how stridently and powerfully they may be spoken. Words such as Western Culture, Communism, Rationalism, Capitalism and any other philosophy or cultural system, may raise their voice to claim the right of supreme authority; but in the end they will all be overcome and overwhelmed by the Word of Christ.
Elsewhere Jesus said to his disciples “You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed” (Matt 24: 6). Now, as much as ever, we must console ourselves with these words and remind ourselves that Jesus is truly the Christ (i.e. – the true and anointed king). The Trumps, Putins and Jingpings of the world do not have the final say. That honour belongs to Jesus alone.