Thus far in our study of Revelation, most of what we’ve said has been introductory. However, we’ve come to verse 9, and here begins the first of the visions that form the heart of this difficult, but very intriguing book. Here is a vision of Jesus Christ. He’s standing in the midst of seven lampstands that represent the seven churches to whom the letters in chapters 2 and 3 are addressed. How are we to understand the vision, or any of the following visions for that matter?

We come today to the last term God applies to himself in verse 8 - "the Almighty." It’s a translation of the Hebrew words El Shaddai, which occur for the first time in the Bible in Genesis 17, verse 1. God is speaking to Abraham. He says, "I am God Almighty. Walk before me and be blameless." The formula, "Thus says the Lord Almighty" or "The Lord Almighty says this," occurs again and again throughout the Old Testament. But here in this last book of the Bible, God is again holding before us the fact that he is the all-powerful One.

In verse 8 God also refers to himself as "The God who is, who was, and who is to come." Previously I pointed out that that’s actually echoing that great name for God that was disclosed to Moses at the Burning Bush when God said, "I am who I am." It’s a way of saying that God is "pure being." In other words we could put it this way: He exists in all the tenses of the Hebrew verb. He existed in the eternal past, he exists now, he will always exist.

God’s eternity involves many attributes. Theologians call them "incommunicable attributes," which mean things that are true of God that are not true of us in any way. Some of God’s attributes are communicable. God is a God of truth. We can know truth in part. If God is a God of love, we experience what love means because we share in that aspect of his personality. But not these attributes. God’s incommunicable attributes include, in addition to eternity (none of us are eternal), the attribute of self-existence. What that means is that God has no origins. He’s always been there, and he owes his existence to nobody.

Here in verse 8 is one of the rare places in Revelation where God the Father himself actually is speaking. What he does is describe who he is by various names. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come - the Almighty." This verse is telling us who it is that stands behind the revelation: he is the true and genuine God. He’s eternal and unchanging and sovereign, as the true God must be. That’s an important matter - especially to believers who are going through difficult times.