The New Testament describes the Last Days (Acts 2:17, Heb 1:2, 1 Pet 1:20) as that period of Church and world history beginning two thousand years ago at Christ’s ascension, and culminating at the unknown day in which He returns in victory and glory. That interim will not be an easy time for the Church on earth (Rev 12:17). We, of course, are living in that very period of church history; a virtual war zone during which God sovereignly increases the number of those entering the kingdom of God through Christ, and Satan spitefully strives to deny entrance to anyone and everyone (Rev 12:12), and to harass and deceive God’s own people (Rev 12:17, Mt 24:24).
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, the last book of the Bible, was written to provide comfort to the Church of Jesus Christ on earth. God provided the revelation through Jesus Christ Himself, Who delivered it by an angel to the Apostle John (Rev 1:1), for you and me (Rev 1:3). It is our great benefit if we hear (read) it to heed it.
The book is full of glory and warnings and encouragements and comforts, so extensive that I cannot even attempt a description. Suffice it to say that a reading of chapters two and three give an account of Christ’s dealings with seven major churches in the Apostle John’s time. They are recorded as encouragements and warnings to us, the Church, living now. And that is my point; God is as mindful of our lives in the twenty-first century as He was of those lives in the first century AD. This comfort is seen in a detail.
Chapter four gives us a glimpse into heaven as John peers in awe into the very throne room of God. John is looking at God Almighty who appears to him diamond like, scintillating in a red-as-fire glory (this is my attempt to “see” his description), seated on an emerald rainbow-encircled throne, with thunderings and lightnings over a serene sea, like crystal glass, serving as a floor to it all. How can John deliver by mere words the glory and majesty he is witnessing? The very attempt has a flattening effect, because he sees the indescribable and words alone are inadequate. John attempts to express the inexpressible majesty, glory, awe-full glory of the Sovereign of heaven and Universe, and all that is in them.
And there’s more, there are twenty-four (he counted?) sub-thrones surrounding the central throne with twenty-four gold-crowned white-robed elders seated, and seven lamps of fire before the central throne (the seven Spirits of God)! And, four “living creatures” unlike anything we have ever seen (see Isa 6:2,3) called Seraphim, who ever call out to all present:
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
Upon hearing these eternal heralds, the twenty-four elders abandon their thrones, fall down before the Almighty, and casting away their crowns say:
“Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created.”
Such is John’s attempt to depict a fleeting vision of the unutterable presence and glory of the thrice-holy, all-powerful, everlasting, Almighty God, the Sovereign Creator and Ruler of all that is. God wants us to know vital Truth about the God-Who-is-There. God who ever was, now is, and ever will be, Who calls Himself I Am (Ex 3:14).
But, when we read the opening sentences of Revelation in the first chapter verses 4 and 8, we read a description slightly different:
John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, (v 4)
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (v 8)
Notice the difference with 4:8:
“Who is and Who was and Who is to come,” (Rev 1:4); “Who is and Who was and Who is to come,” (Rev 1:8).
“Who was and is and is to come!” (Rev 4:8).
How so? Chapter 4 verse 8 describes eternal God, He was, now is, and will always be. This is God as He is in Himself, eternal, unchanging, ever-ruling. But John in opening the book of Revelation wants (and the Holy Spirit by whom he writes wants) to assure us that in the unfolding trials, tribulations, testings, and even death that await the one on earth relying on God, what seems to be the darkened battleground of our lives and faith –I mean the NOW– God is the God who IS, He is with us NOW, in the ever-present now-days and now-experiences of our lives. He is always here.
We must understand that the God of heaven and eternity is not remote from His people! He Who always was in unimaginable power and glory, Who has ordained our days (Psa 139) and all that is in them, Who rules all in heaven and earth and all that is in them, is not removed from our “todays.” The almighty God who was, is the God who IS ever faithful to His own. The God who is to come, who has ordained all future things to His glory and the joy of His people and calls our futures as though they already are, is with us now and forever. He NEVER leaves or forsakes us (Heb 13:5). John expressly tells twice (Rev 1:4, 8) that we can declare that God is for us right now. And we take comfort resting on this massive foundation; our God is the everlasting God Who was, and is, and is to come, but for us He is the God Who is with us (Matt 1:23). Therefore in this brief interim, these Last Days, we endure patiently and expectantly, awaiting Christ’s return in glory.
So, these two verses serve as bookends to the verses between like this:
…Grace to you and peace from Him who is and Who was and Who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before His throne,
and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood
and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him. Even so. Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “Who is and Who was and Who is to come, the Almighty.”