We meet another name which is also used in the New Testament, yet refers to the Son in those uses. Here we have an incredible section of verse in Isaiah 44 which describes Israel as the Chosen and in verse 6 ‘the Lord says - Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.’ I suppose it is no big surprise to find that God in the differing forms of the Trinity shares a name or two.
The most often considered meaning of The First and Last is that the Lord is everlasting, from before the beginning until after the end. We who agree that He is Creator, clearly agree with this thought. He was before the earth was made and time set out. He will be after it has all ended and is no more. He was in the midst of all that. Yet that is not all that this says to me.
God is the first and the last – He is the most important first thing in the morning upon waking and last in the day as we fall sleep. He must be the reason for our waking and the one who leads us to rest. Here God is declaring that he not only created the universe and humanity but must be the center if being for each of us. In the verses just before, the Lord says he will pour out his Spirit and will make streams in the dry ground. He cares for everything around us, for us. And his yearning in all this is to be the first in our minds, the first of our actions and the first of our hearts, as well as the last, following all. He will take care of us, as his promise. We need only focus on Him as the first and last. First and last considerations are always those that are most important, that is what He states here. He is to be the first and last consideration of our day, plans, actions. He is to be the most important.
And so, I think he is also responding to this importance that we give him. He will lead us, go before us, be the first, with us behind. And he will hem us in, following behind to protect, form the rearguard. He shall be the first and the last, with me in the middle. With you in the middle. He surrounds us with his love and all that entails. We often look back on things and know that he was there with us. It is the basis of the famous poem (and now song) Footprints in the Sand. He is with us always. Yet, we also know that he leads us and he comes after as well. His omnipresence is not an abstract. It is a reality that we can attempt to divide into such measures as first and last. This helps us more fully grasp the magnificence of our Lord.
I have enjoyed looking up the original Hebrew uses of the names of God. The first in Hebrew, rishon (transliteration), has a sense of first in place, time, or rank. It is also used for ancestor or even former. He is most certainly the first in rank among us: He is Lord of all and the King of kings, Creator of the universe! He was before the existence of time and he goes before us. He is our ancestor, our father (see most recent post). He is former in that he was in the past, but more so he still is.
The last in Hebrew, acharon (transliteration), means last, afterward, or behind. It even stretches to mean late. Since late means after the appointed time, it too is accurate. Though we all agree that he knows best and never arrives late. Afterall, he was first! After appointed time is as reasonable as the other definitions in that he is outside of time. When our current time, earth’s time ends, he will still be; he will be, even beyond the current, appointed time.
Yes, everything began and will end with our Lord. He set it all in motion and will be there when it stops. But it is the more personal aspect that touches me, he goes before me and follows after. This instills a sense of peace, in that he cares about little ole me and little ole you, so much that he goes before and follows after in addition to going with. He is my first and my last, though I admit that the alarm clock is often not the right way to start with Him on my mind.