I Am the First and the Last
Jesus told Moses at the burning bush, “I AM WHO I AM.” Exodus 3:14. This ever-present, eternal, all-knowing, personal name of God carried through the Bible from that time until the very end. It was so powerful that the Israelites got to the point where they wouldn’t even say the whole name of Yahweh out of fear and reverence.
Yet, it is in this name that we are reminded of the power and intimacy of our Living God. He is Lord over all, sustaining all things by His powerful word. He is in control, has full authority, and serves as the Just King. But He’s also extremely intimate, working out every detail of your life, walking with you through every moment, endowing you with His zealous love and immeasurable grace.
The Lord is relational, seeking to communicate with His children, especially in our times of suffering and waywardness. He reminds us in these times of who He is and what He’s done in order that we might cling to Him for security and care.
In Isaiah 41, Israel had rejected Yahweh for the foreigners’ idols. So, God put Himself on trial against the idols and proved to Israel that He alone is the One, True, Living God!
“Be silent before me, coasts and islands!
And let peoples renew their strength.
Let them approach; let them testify;
let’s come together for the trial.
Who has stirred up someone from the east?
In righteousness he calls him to serve.
The Lord hands nations over to him,
and he subdues kings.
He makes them like dust with his sword,
like wind-driven stubble with his bow.
He pursues them, going on safely,
hardly touching the path with his feet.
‘Who has performed and done this,
calling the generations from the beginning?
I am the Lord, the first
and with the last—I am he.’”
Isaiah 41:4 (Bold added)
Don’t you love how He, “Pursues them, going on safely, hardly touching the path with his feet?” This is the tenacious God you serve. He is untouched by His enemies, easily and swiftly executing judgement on them. The First and the Last was the One who called, “the generations from the beginning.”
Note how it says, “the first and with the last.” After His final judgement, all who are part of God’s family will join Him in the New Kingdom. The Lord will reside with His family, being, “with the last” as we will reign forever and ever with Him in paradise.
“This is what the Lord, the King of Israel and its Redeemer, the Lord of Armies, says:
I am the first and I am the last.
There is no God but me.
Who, like me, can announce the future?
Let him say so and make a case before me,
since I have established an ancient people.
Let these gods declare the coming things,
and what will take place.
Do not be startled or afraid.
Have I not told you and declared it long ago?
You are my witnesses!
Is there any God but me?
There is no other Rock; I do not know any.”
Isaiah 44:6-8 (Bold added)
This passage beautifully states that the Lord declared the future from ancient times, and that He alone can do it. No one, but God alone, can confidently say what the future holds – its timing, places, and execution of plans.
As Isaiah continued to pen the prophecies given to him by God, the boldness of the Lord’s statements grew:
“I will act for my own sake, indeed, my own,
for how can I be defiled?
I will not give my glory to another.
Listen to me, Jacob,
and Israel, the one called by me:
I am he; I am the first,
I am also the last.
My own hand founded the earth,
and my right hand spread out the heavens;
when I summoned them,
they stood up together.”
Isaiah 48:11-13 (Bold added)
The Lord is untouchable. No one can bring a case against Him that will stand. He alone deserves the glory, honour, and praise. He is a jealous God and will not tolerate His glory going to another. He alone is God, from the beginning to the end, and there is no other. This is real truth; one you can stake your life on.
The apostle John, the writer of Revelation, began the book with a vision he had from Jesus. Jesus wanted to make it clear to John with whom he was speaking.
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead man. He laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid. I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, but look—I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Revelation 1:17-18 (Bold added)
By this point, John was in his nineties and would have known the passages in Isaiah declaring the Lord as the First and the Last. This statement from Jesus would have been a powerful reminder of these Old Testament prophecies by Isaiah as well as the I Am statements of Jesus; John had previously written about in the gospel book of John.
This man, John, was in the closest group of disciples with Jesus. He spent almost every waking hour with Him in the last three years of Jesus’ earthly ministry. He was the only disciple who attended Jesus’ crucifixion, and became the caregiver of Jesus’ mother, Mary. He communed with Jesus after His resurrection, and was a witness at His ascension back into heaven. If anyone could truly testify that Jesus is who He says He is, it was John.
John ends Revelation, and therefore the Bible, with a picture of what it will be like at the end of earthly time, and the beginning of eternity thereafter. Some of Jesus’ last recorded words to him, and us, was this:
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Revelation 22:13 (Bold added)
May you never forget the zealous love and power of your ever-present, eternal, all-knowing, Living God! He is truly the First and the Last, and will abide with those who lovingly call on His name forever.