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. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:6-8
In Revelation 21:6 God identifies himself as “Alpha and Omega.” Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and omega is the last letter of the alphabet. In other words God is “the beginning and the end.”
But God isn’t speaking about alphabets. He is speaking of reality. God is absolutely the beginning and absolutely the end. Everything that is originates ultimately in him. And everything will somehow end with him.
Isaiah puts it like this: “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god” (44:6). In other words, since everything comes from God and nothing will outlast God, therefore God has no final competitors. “Besides me there is no god!” God has the first word and the last word in history. All other attempts to have the last word will fail. The pottery has no beginning apart from the Potter, and in the end it will all serve the purposes of the Potter.
I can’t urge you too often to meditate on the staggering truth that God is the absolute Alpha. Find some serene moment of your life and let the truth take hold of you that God is the FIRST—the BEGINNING. Before him there was nothing. There was no “before him.” Just think of it! For millions and billions and trillions of unending years God existed and never had a beginning. He is the beginning. From everlasting to everlasting, he is God (Psalm 90:2). There never was a time when he was not.
We might marvel that God is infinite, eternal, and unchanging in his justice, wisdom, power, goodness, and truth. But when you pause to think that he never chose to be this way, nor did anyone else choose to make him this way, it staggers the mind. The justice and wisdom and power and goodness and truth of God are eternal reality. The character of God is not what reality brought forth. It is reality. God did not emerge out of many possibilities. Everything emerged out of him. He determines all possibilities. God is not a piece of reality that you try to fit in with other pieces. He is the first and the last and the all-encompassing reality: “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
But the truth that I want us to focus on this morning is that God is Omega. I think that is the focus of our text in Revelation 21:6. The statement, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end,” comes in a passage dealing with the end of history. So the special focus in this text is on God as the omega of all things.
What does it mean that God is Omega, or the end? Let’s read verses 5–8. “And he who sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true,’ 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 water without price from the fountain of the water of life. He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.'”
How God Is the End for those Thirsty for Him
This text makes plain that God is the Omega, or the end, in two different senses. For the thirsty (it says in verse 6) he is the end in the sense that he will be the source of their life forever. He will be their God and they will be his children enjoying his inheritance forever and ever. He was the fountain of their life in creation, and he will be the fountain of their life in the consummation.
For those who conquer, for the thirsty, God is not the beginning and the end the way a river begins with a spring and ends in an ocean. An ocean is supplied and filled up with the rivers that flow into it. God is not supplied or filled up by the thirsty saints that come to him in the end. No, for the thirsty, God is the beginning and the end the way a desert caravan begins at an oasis and ends at an oasis. God is a fountain of life at the beginning, and he is a fountain of life at the end—forever.
How God Is the End for Those Not Thirsty for Him
But there is another group of people mentioned in verse 8. These are the people who were not thirsty for God. For these, too, God is the Omega, but not in the same way. God is their end in the sense that they will finally meet God as Judge. They have their beginning in God’s oasis of life. Then they take the forbidden southern route by the shallow streams of faithlessness, far from the narrow path of God. But the end of every road is God. And in the end they come to the other side of the desert. And they meet God. But instead of an oasis of eternal life, they find a lake that burns with fire.