Monday, February 28, 2011

IS first (not second)

"'I am the Alpha & the Omega,' says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." 
(Revelation 1:8)

I was a bit taken aback this morning when I started reading Revelation and came across an expression I thought I knew well.  God is introducing himself as "the Alpha and the Omega" (the first & last letters in the Greek alphabet)... and then says "who was and is and is to come."  (I've always liked that statement!)  Only, that's not exactly what God said.  That's what I've always said about God.  But what God actually said was, "who is and was and is to come."  (Did you notice the difference?  No?  Read it again.)

("You're telling me, Jim, that you're getting all worked up over the ORDER of the words?  Seriously?  That's the best you could do today?!?!")  Okay, stay with me here... When God first introduces himself, he says he IS... as in PRESENT TENSE.  First and foremost, our God is a LIVING GOD - not one who is known primarily as a "used-to-be" God or a "God of the Past."  GOD IS.  Then God adds the "was and is to come" part.

So why did I "mis-remember" that phrase?  It was bothering me that I'd said it wrong for so long... until I came to chapter 4.  The author (John of Patmos) gets transported to heaven (via vision?!) and sees the throne of God.  All kinds of funky things are going on there - including "Four Living Creatures" who sing praises to God, 24/7!  Their song comes from Isaiah 6: "Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God Almighty..."  But they add something else: "who was, and is, and is to come."

THERE IT IS!  That's where I learned it!  I've been remembering the 4 Creatures' phrasing!  ("Again, Jim... I think you're reading way to much into this than there actually is!").  Maybe you're right.  Maybe it's just an inadvertent switch in the sentence structure.  But maybe not.  Maybe these 4 Living Creatures think in terms of what God has already done, first... whereas God is focusing on the present... on what He's doing NOW... active & alive & involved in all Creation.

So what difference does it make?  I want to be someone who thinks of God first in the present, not the past.  I believe God is alive, concerned, and active in the world today!  I don't want to give my life to mere history (no matter how powerful that history may be!).  I want to submit my will to the One who IS, and was, and is to come.  So be it.  AMEN!

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