The last 2 years or so have been unprecedented and full of ‘twists’ and ‘turns’. The global viral pandemic has caused suffering, illness and death to millions in this world; it is still ongoing. Many have lost their jobs and many more are plunged into poverty and uncertainty for the future. The world is also facing the prospect of climate change that can threaten the very existence of our planet and efforts by many nations to ‘turn the tide’ have been dismal, to say the least. Nationalism, protectionism, countries on the brink of confrontation and even wars, the arm race and increased weapons of destruction are becoming more intense – it is a matter of time that a disaster of a gigantic magnitude would ‘descend’ upon humanity.
But the year 2021 is coming to an end. Instead of the usual ‘celebration’ and ‘new year resolutions’ (which are not kept anyway), it may be helpful for believers to review the past and face the future as Christians.
In reviewing the past, believers need to reconsider from where we have come, i.e. consider our origin.God created man in His own image so that he, being perfectly created, should glorify his Creator. This would have been the highest possible expression of man’s life on earth. But tragically, what has become of that life? We have fallen prey to all kinds of misery. Wherever we look, people are engulfed in grief, trouble, and affliction. Of his own free will, man broke away from his Creator and robbed his life of its glorious purpose. Adam subjected himself and his posterity to the reign of sin and by his willful act of separation from God, condemned himself to death – that is God’s appraisal of our life; that is our origin as children of the first Adam.
We may have had many trials in the past year – perhaps illness or other misfortunes came upon us and our family. “Why does this happen to me?”, we may ask. Perhaps we ought to ask “Where did we come from?” In Adam, we came out of paradise and fled from God, ending up in physical, spiritual and eternal death – that is our origin – we have forfeited every right to life. But thanks be to God, in Christ (the second Adam), we who believe by faith are delivered from the realm of darkness and death into the realm of light and life. It is the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed because His compassions fail not. While all of us have the same origin in Adam, all of us are not headed for the same destination. Like the Apostle Paul, we who are true believers can confess, “For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day” (2 Tim. 1:12b) – this is indeed a blessed knowledge and assurance!! Paul, previously Saul, had sought to be right with God by his intense effort in his pharisee background and his Hebrew upbringing, but to no avail. Only when he met Christ on the road to Damascus, in his quest to ‘wipe out’ the faith of those who followed the Messiah Jesus, did he realise his folly and his need to receive and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is only in Jesus Christ, who speaks of Himself in Revelation 1:8, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending,” that we can properly review the past year and begin another year with confidence in our final destiny and future well-being.
How solemn the thought!! God is the first and the last, the last and the first. God is inescapable – we are never permitted to utter the first word nor the last. We are in the hands of God regardless of our wishes or denials of Him. You and I had no say about our beginning (origin), our birth; we have no control over our ending, our death. We had no voice at the first and will have none at the last. If we perceive this clearly and deeply, then we would know our proper place and position before God – He is God and He is everything from beginning to end – we are the created, the creatures, who come about through His love and goodness. We have no right to complain, no right to behave as if God owes us an explanation with regard to our circumstances and struggles. But we have much to be thankful, much to rejoice, that He, the Triune God, loves us and desires to create us to be His viceroy to oversee the world and His creation. He not only loves us but He bethroths us to be the bride of His Son and the temple in which He is pleased to dwell in.
We ought to live continually in the consciousness of this wonderful and yet terrible truth: God is the first and the last. This truth is terrible apart from Bethlehem’s Wonder-Child. It is terrible for those for whom God has not been Alpha the second time in the second birth. By nature there is no room in our hearts for the born Saviour. Terrible shall it be, if God prevent not, when the Saviour shall declare on the last day, “Now I have no room for you”.”
On the other hand, God as first and last is a wonderful truth for those who are born again – those who hate sin and love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity . For them, all hope, peace, life, purpose and meaning reside in God being the first and last in Jesus Christ. For God’s people, past, present, and future are all vanity apart from God in Christ being first and last.
Yes, indeed, our origin (where we come from) and our future (what awaits us tomorrow) find their sufficient and definite answer in God’s Alpha and Omega, Jesus Christ. Though afflictions may strike hard and times may be dark, we shall have a comfort that is real, a comfort that shall not forsake us – a comfort that rightly reckons with the brevity of life, the certainty of death, and the solemnity of judgement and eternity by fleeing to the Rock of Ages, cleft for us. Our only true comfort in life and in death is belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ by saving faith.
The Lord Jesus Himself revealed: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short” (Matt. 24:21-23). In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, we read:
“The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, not give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts (Revelation 9:20-21).
As we recall the beginning of this sharing, we refer to global pandemic (plague), suffering (tribulation), famine, poverty and death at an unprecedented level in the last two years. The BIble is telling us that things will not get better; they will get worse, and men and nations would become more rebellious and unrepentant towards God, despite the warnings God gives again and again. This is a fallen world with a formidable enemy seeking to destroy; God is giving men time to repent and to hearken to the gospel. In the meantime, the children of God, living in such a scenario, would have to endure persecutions and sufferings but there is meaning in these trials and pain, and there is hope and joy, not only at the end but through the difficult circumstances as well, if we keep our eyes on Jesus.
Jesus said to Martha: ” I am the resurrection and the life, Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11: 25-26). He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. If we believe in Him and are united with Him, His end would be ours, His life would be ours and His future would also be ours – this is His promise, and He never lies.
If there should be some who read this and have not been united with Him in regeneration by God’s Spirit, then these following words are relevant to you:
“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” There is still time to repent and to respond to God’s call in His Son – if you are willing to respond positively to Him, then you can face the future with confidence, even in the midst of plagues, sufferings, illness and death.