Beyond “first and last”

Have you ever listened to a CD or heard song for the first time in a service and found yourself floored by the implications of the words? Sometimes it is the utter truthfulness of the message; other times it’s the insight the concept gives us into the holiness, great-ness or awesomeness of God.

This happened to me a fews days after Christmas when I opened Chris Tomlin‘s “See the Morning” CD. The more I hear the song, the more I feel I should draw other’s attention to it.

The first verse of the song, “Glory in the Highest” starts…

“You are the first
You go before
You are the last
Lord, You’re the encore”

We often hear the words of Jesus, written for us in Revelation 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega” (NCV). If you haven’t heard it before, these are the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet. For the One described by John as “the Word” or logos (see John 1), it is a poignant statement, for Jesus declares Himself as the beginning and end of all that might be said through the written word.

The rest of the verse points to the theological concept of the eternity of God. In this case, it directly relates to Christ. “I am the One who is and was and is coming” (NCV). The “pre-existence” of Christ is also derived from John 1:1-2 (“In the beginning there was the Word…”), and John 8:58.

We often take these two concepts and join them together, declaring that God (Father, Son and Spirit) is the first of all things and the last of all things. He exists in eternity past, present and future. He is the beginning, the Originator and Creator, and He is the Sustainer of all.

But Tomlin and his co-composers give us a glimpse into what might seem difficult to grasp, assuming we’ve even taken the time ponder the mystery of it all. Let’s take a quick look at two of the statements in this song.

“You go before”

To be the first for His brothers and sisters (that’s us), our Lord goes out before us. How blessed we are to have a God who has been tempted as we are tempted; who felt pain, sorrow and death, as well as joy, life and resurrection.

In every situation in life that we face, be it exhilirating and blissful, or trying and difficult, our elder Brother goes before us and only lets pass what we are able to bear (see 1 Corinthians 10:13), and what can be used to form a greater good for us in the end (see Philippians 1:6).

There is nothing that takes God by surprise, for He sees the beginning and the end simultaneously. We are finite beings with limited experience and understanding. But God is infinite, knowing and seeing and working what we cannot. But He doesn’t send His children into this evil world blind. He sends His only begotten before us.

“Lord, You’re the encore”

Webster defines an encore as “an audience’s demand for a repeat performance.”

Have you ever experienced a great outpouring of the holy Presence of God in a service? Have you seen someone crippled, bound to a wheelchair beyond all medical hope for a “normal life,” raised up and healed by the power of God?

If you have, what was your response? I highly doubt that you just gave a proper little clap and then sat down and went on with your day. These experiences, (1) a greater manifestation of God’s presence and (2) the display of His miraculous power should leave us desire more of Him, His presence and His power.

Have you read the end of the book of Revelation and seen how the current heaven and earth are destroyed, followed by God’s creation of a new one? He knows we won’t be content with life on a “higher plane” of oblivion, not so much because we are greedy or needy, but because will (if we don’t already) understand the amazing miracle and blessing of the Creation. When the old is gone, we will cry out for God’s encore.

“I hear a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever'” (Revelation 21:3-4, NLT).

Chris Tomlin’s, “See the Morning”