God of the Paradox - The Paradox of Ending and Beginning
"To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 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. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
And the angel said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy. 12 Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
Three times in his Revelations writing, John of Patmos refers to God in Christ as the Alpha and the Omega. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. It was derived from the Hebrew letter aleph and means leader. In English, the noun alpha is used as a synonym for beginning, or first. Omega is the 24th and last letter of the Greek alphabet and its English meaning is the extreme end. John says that God is the Alpha and Omega or beginning and the end. If that is possible (and with God all things are), the reverse would also be true. He is the Omega and the Alpha.
The Book of Revelation is a literary example of our teaching today. John’s writing is the paradox of ending and beginning. His visions and revelations all describe the end of all things yet at the same time (in actuality), are the beginning of all things. He is writing about the future of all things and yet describing the end of them as they happen at the same time. An even greater reality is that John is describing God in Christ as a paradox - the paradox of ending and beginning. The paradox is, that God, at the same moment, is both the end and the beginning. I assure you that this is more than semantics and meta-physical theory. Not only is there a right answer there is also a right question. I want to teach today about the building-up and surety of our faith in God. And because He is God of the paradox, we can have complete faith and confidence in our decision to love and trust Him. The paradox of ending and beginning is the perfect lesson to do that. The logical and reasonable question of course is “how is something ending and beginning at the same time?” The first part of that answer is found in the profound Biblical reality of the supernatural sovereignty and timelessness of God.
The Profound Realities - God of the Paradox
That God is...
Omnipotent - possessing all power and authority; theologians regard God as having supreme power, meaning God can do what He wants; not subject to physical limitations like man; infinite or limitless power over wind, water, gravity, physics, etc.
That God is...
Omniscient - having all knowledge and wisdom; means all-knowing; aware of the past, present, and future; total knowledge, meaning all that there is to know and all that can be known; complete knowledge of that which is known and unknown.
That God is...
Omnipresent - present at all places at all times; present; capable of encompassing the whole of the universe; no space or place God does not or cannot inhabit; though distinct from the universe, yet inhabiting the entirety of it; everywhere at once.
To consider and fully embrace these three profound realities is to open the door to understanding that God is indeed God of the Paradox and certainly capable of being the end of something while being the beginning of it all at the same time - with both realities being true. One hint to understanding this paradox comes from the natural order of God Himself. Light, dark, light. Work, rest, work. Listen, speak, listen. Believe, pray, believe, Life, death, life. These are all the natural order of God. Because God sets natural order it does not mean He is incapable of anything else - it means that is how things are to be. In God’s natural order He begins, ends, begins. That does not mean that each is independent of and unrelated to one another - it means that is how things are to be. Here is the powerful truth to this concept of God’s natural order. In God’s supernatural sovereignty and timelessness (omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresence) both the ending and beginning can be the same thing and happen at the same time. Our best example of this comes from the Gospel of John the Beloved, written nearly thirty years before the book of Revelations. In his biography of the life of Jesus, John describes the closing events of the crucifixion of Jesus. I’m very interested in your thoughts and feelings about this passage as I think this will be helpful in building up your faith and assurance in the possibilities and potential of God in your life, and God as your hope. Take moment and close your eyes while I read this to you.
“When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom 24 so they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be." This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, "They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots." So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" 27 Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. 28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), "I thirst." 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
What do you think and feel when I read this to you?
No matter how many times I read this my first reaction is always a thought of “well, the bad guys killed Jesus, that’s it - it’s over, the end.” Even though I know the truth, I have that moment of being in the moment and it feels like - the end. Then the reality pulls me from out of the moment and reveals to me the paradox of ending and beginning. Jesus said, it is finished - the end, and that was indeed true. But in that instant it was also true that it was the beginning. The end of life brought the beginning of life and both were happening at the same time. Within this paradox Christ reveals our hope and the very reason for our faith. Lets read from John’s gospel the interaction between Jesus and Martha. Martha was the sister of Lazarus who had died 4 days earlier - they were all dear friends.
Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you." 23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
Surely you can hear the words of Jesus as He proclaims that He is the paradox of the ending and beginning. Whoever believes in Him - though he die, yet will he live. In Christ, what is the ending is also the beginning. Regardless of the circumstances, at the very moment when something is ending in our lives it does not mean it is the end of our life. It means that in Christ, it is the beginning of life and all that new life brings.
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