The King on His Throne

Can you imagine being invited to, ushered into the throne room of God? It’s difficult to grasp how ornate it must be. And certainly, we would burst forth in song:

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, blessed trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee
which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
though the eye of sinfulness thy glory may not see,
only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,
perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth, and sky, and sea.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, blessed trinity!

Reginald Heber 1826

In the summer series at church, we have been exploring the King and His Kingdom theme for several weeks. (I have included the links at the bottom of this post). Matt, our pastor to students, spoke on Sunday about the throne of the King. It was an encouraging message, especially in light of the news from Afghanistan, Lebanon, Haiti, Greece, and of course, fires and covid in the United States. As you read and think with me about the throne of the King, take a moment to worship and praise God for His grace and care for His people. Nothing escapes His notice; in fact, no crisis today surprises Him or is outside of His sovereignty.

Then as I looked, I saw a door standing open in heaven, and the same voice I had heard before spoke to me like a trumpet blast. The voice said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this.” And instantly I was in the Spirit, and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it.

Revelation 4:1-2 NLT

The picture of heaven opening its doors reminds me of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Peter, and Paul – all given a vision of an opened heaven. Imagine hearing the invitation to come up and to be escorted by the Spirit into the presence of God Himself.

You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.

Revelation 4:11 NLT

The throne is the theme of Revelation 4. The word, throne, is repeated over and over ten or more times (depending on your translation of Scripture). On, around, before, and from the throne of God, we see lesser thrones, a rainbow, lightning, lamps, torches of fire, a sea of glass, and creatures – all symbolizing God’s glory, radiance, purity, power, presence, and authority over all things. God is on HIS throne in transcendent glory! And all the creatures present worship Him acknowledging His sovereignty because He created all things according to His will.

I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more!”

Revelation 5:4-5a ESV

I get goosebumps imagining the elder looking John in the eyes, gently shaking his shoulders, and telling him there is no need to cry. There is ONE who has and will break the seals of the scroll. We don’t know exactly what that scroll said, but we do know that unsealing the book implies that all of the things God has purposed will be accomplished – His final judgment and final reward – bringing the consummation of all of history!

BUT who. is. this. ONE??

He is the FAITHFUL witness!
The FIRSTBORN from the dead!
The RULER of the kings of the earth!
He is the ALPHA & OMEGA, the FIRST and the LAST!
He is the LION of Judah!
The ROOT of Jesse!
The LAMB that was slain!
The bright and morning STAR!

 But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. … He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne.

Revelation 5:5, 6a, 7 NLT

Notice in Revelation 5:5-6 how the elders told John, “See the Lion,” but he saw the LAMB! I get excited every time I read this passage!

“…Think of the lion, yes, but gaze at the lamb …”

NT Wright

The Lamb of God in my place
Your blood poured out, my sin erased
It was my death You died
I am raised to life
Hallelujah, the Lamb of God

Lamb of God lyrics © Mesmerized Music

It is so easy to get caught up in the sorrows of this world. And YES! My heart is heavy for the pain and suffering of my brothers and sisters across our world. I don’t want to minimize their devastation. At the same time, I long for an eternal perspective that reminds me of the victory won on the cross of Calvary. Jesus’ death and resurrection initiated the Kingdom of God. God is on His throne – that seat is NOT empty! Jesus sits at the Father’s right hand, and in Christ, God is reconciling the world to Himself!

 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created
and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.
Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body.
He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything.
For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ,
and through him God reconciled everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Colossians 1:15-20 NLT

As Anne Lamott noted this week, “Sometimes it is hard to believe that the light shines in the darkness and that the darkness has not overcome it. How do we not despair? Well, we do despair. Despair is an appropriate reaction.” Still, we remember that we live, move, and have our being in God!

As Bonhoeffer once observe, God is not simply a stop-gap for the holes in our knowledge of the world, nor is he merely the source of ultimate answers to personal and human problems. In other words, God is not simply the one whom we reach when we are extended to our own limits. He is, on the contrary, the ground and center of our existence, and though we may conceive ourselves as “going to” him and reaching out to him beyond the sphere of our everyday existence, we nevertheless start from him and remain in him as the very ground of our existence and reality.

Thomas Merton, Choosing to Love the World: On Contemplation

As you pray today for our world, the plight of the Afghan people, Lebanon’s fuel crisis, the effects of the earthquake in Haiti, the fires in Greece, covid’s resurgence, fires in the northwest, remember this picture of the throne room – the holy place where the Most High dwells. He is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble! The KING is on His throne!

God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not fear when earthquakes come
and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam.
Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! 
A river brings joy to the city of our God,
the sacred home of the Most High.
God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed.

Psalm 46:1 – 5a NLT

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake.  Amen.
(Book of Common Prayer)

*This past Sunday, Matt, our pastor to students, preached about the throne of the kingdom. You can find the sermon here.

** If you want to follow this series of notes on the king and HIs kingdom, here are the previous links:

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