“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.”Revelation 11:17 ESV
5 And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say,“ Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments. Revelation 16:5
Through the Bible: Revelation 12-18
When I got to Revelation 11:17 yesterday morning, my first thought was “Wait a minute— there’s something missing. When Kari Jobe sings “Revelation Song,” the lyric is “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and IS TO COME.” But this verse just says, “who is, and who was.” Did Kari Jobe get it wrong?
Then I saw it again in Revelation 16:5 in today’s reading. When the seven bowls of God’s wrath– indicating the ultimate, final judgement of creation– are poured out on the earth, the angel in charge of the waters says, “Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments.”
So when I saw it for the second time, I started to wonder if I had been saying (and singing) the wrong thing all this time. So I did a concordance search of “was and is and is to come.” And sure enough, Revelation 1:4 and 1:8 both have the formula we are used to:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, (Revelation 1:4)
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)
And one more time, in Revelation 4:8: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.” Rest easy, Kari. You got it right.
So what changed? Why was “who is to come” dropped?
Simple. Christ came.
From Revelation 11:15 on, there’s no more need for the “is to come” part, because “the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.”
Think about the euphoria you felt the day you graduated from college. When you held that diploma and turned the tassel, from that day on, you have said “I went to college. I am a college graduate.” Never again is your speech qualified with “I hope to” or “I’m planning on.” You have transitioned from aspirational to actual.
And in the second half of Revelation, so has Jesus. Today, we still sing “who was and is and is to come.” Today, we still sing “I Can Only Imagine.” But one day, all the songs will change.
Oh praise His name! However weird and scary the second half of Revelation gets, Christ has come, and He has begun to reign! Hallelujah!