The Living Word: The Alpha and Omega
In the Word of God, figures of speech are used in order to draw our attention to that which the Holy Spirit is especially emphasizing. One brother has said: "It is not too much to say that, in the use of these figures, we have, as it were, the Holy Spirit's own markings of our Bibles." So, let us draw our attention to the figure of speech that we want to consider, which in the English is called "Acrostic." The following definition of this figure of speech may be hard for us to grasp at first, but as we go on and see its usage in the Scripture, it will become clear to us.
The Acrostic figure of speech is a figure of repetition that uses the alphabet of the original language in which the Bible was written. It is not the repetition of the same letter of the alphabet, but of different letters which are designedly placed by the Holy Spirit at the beginning or at the end of words which are arranged in lines. The letters may be repeated in the order in which they occur in the alphabet or in some other particular order. Also, these letters of the alphabet which are placed at the beginning or ending of successive lines, or words, can spell another word.
We need to note that the Acrostic figure of speech, like many other figures, occurs only in the original manuscript and cannot be reproduced exactly in the translations. Some printings of the King James translation note this Acrostic figure of speech in their margins; the Companion Bible and the Darby translation make significant note of this figure of speech. As we have said, the best way to understand this important figure of speech is to see how the Lord uses it in the Scriptures. So let us proceed and search into some of the Scriptures to which the Holy Spirit has given such special significance.
Psalms 111 and 112 each have 22 lines in the original Hebrew (there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet); and in the Hebrew, each line begins with each successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. These two beautiful psalms are Hallelujah Psalms [Hallelujah = "Praise ye the Lord"; and as written, it is the title of the two Psalms], and they are linked together because they are Acrostic Psalms: Psalm 111, praises the Lord for His Words, and Psalm 112, praises the Lord for His Ways. Thus, the Lord is emphasizing the importance of praising in all things. Most of us praise the Lord for His works. But it is also necessary, if we are to mature, to praise Him for His ways of dealing with us - that which He allows in our lives, and circumstances which will, if yielded to, bring forth an increase of Christ and cause us to be in "the way." Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the Ending; and, equally as important, in the midst of all our circumstances, He is through all - He is the A, B, C, D, E, g... right through to Z - He is the Way.
Psalm 119 consists of 176 verses, and it is divided into 22 groups of eight verses each. In the original language, the eight verses of each group begin with the same successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet, for example: the first eight verses begin with the letter "Aleph," the second eight with "Beth," and so on throughout the whole Psalm. What a marvelous way for the Lord to express to us the importance of His Word, which is the controlling factor and creative agent of all that God has purposed. "For ever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven"; 8 Alephs! 8 Beths! 8 Gimels! 8 Daleths! etc. - Twenty-two eights! - the power of the resurrection personified through the Living Word - "Which is, and Which Was, and Which is To Come" - The Alpha and Omega - He that liveth, Was Dead, and is Alive for Evermore. This Psalm is the Living Word Himself emphasizing the importance of the Written Word: "In Whom (in Christ) are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3), and it is a royal work to search out that which God hath concealed.
Lamentations, chapters one through four are particularly expressive of the Acrostic figure of speech, for in these chapters we have the Holy Spirit expressing, through Jeremiah's intercession, the broken heart of the Lord over His people who have been led away from the direct course. When one reads Lamentations, it seems that all is lost as far as Israel is concerned; and all that is left is to lament over their failure. But "The Alpha and Omega," The Aleph and The Tau, the Great High Priest Who ever liveth to make intercession unto the uttermost is not through with them; and, even as Jeremiah laments, we find "The Beginning and the Ending" is expressing Himself. There are twenty-two verses in chapter one, and each verse begins with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet, which says: "This is not the end, Jeremiah - I AM The Ending - I AM The Fulfillment of Perfection." The same is true of chapters two and four - except, that in both chapters, the order of the Hebrew alphabet in verses 16 and 17 are transposed (reversed), which figuratively speaks that the order is not set and this intercession will reverse the failure of Israel!
(continued with # 22)