The Throne of God
It is immensely significant that, when John peeped through the open door, the very first thing he saw was a throne, symbol of the sovereignty, majesty and kingly rule of God. His vision has a strong Old Testament background in Ezekiel 1 and Daniel 7, with echoes from Isaiah 6. The throne is mentioned seventeen times in Revelation 4 and 5.
The churches of Asia were small and struggling; the might of Rome seemed invincible. What could a few defenseless Christians do if an imperial edict were to banish them from the face of the earth? Already the powers of darkness seemed to be closing in upon them. Yet they need have no fear, for at the center of the universe stands a throne. ‘From it the wheeling planets receive their orders. To it gigantic galaxies give their allegiance. In it the tiniest living organism finds its life.’
Everything John saw in his vision was related to the throne. John Stott, in The Incomparable Christ, notes that he uses ‘seven prepositions to indicate the centrality of the throne of God.’
“On the throne somebody was sitting (v3). The occupant of the throne is not described, because God is indescribable. All John saw was brilliant colors like flashing jewels, ‘jasper and carnelian’, meaning perhaps diamonds and rubies.
“Encircling the throne there was an emerald rainbow (v3), symbolizing God’s covenant mercy and reminding us that God’s exalted throne is at the same time a throne of grace (cf. Gen. 9:8-17).
“Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones (v4), on which were seated twenty-four elders, representing the twelve tribal heads of Old Testament Israel and the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ.
“From the throne issued flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder (v5), reminiscent of the revelation of God on Mount Sinai, tokens of the presence and power of the Holy One.
“Before the throne seven lamps were blazing (v5), which are the seven spirits of God, namely the Holy Spirit in all his many ministries, not least in relation to the seven churches. For the church and Spirit go together.
“In front of the throne there stretched an infinite expanse like a sea of glass (v6a), speaking to us of God’s transcendence and unapproachability.
“In the center, around the throne, as a kind of inner circle, were four living creatures (v6b). They were ‘covered with eyes in front and behind’ (expressing their ceaseless vigilance), and resembling a lion, an ox, a man and an eagle, representing ‘whatever is noblest, strongest, wisest and swiftest in animate nature’. Day and night all nature never stops singing the praise of the Lord God Almighty, and as they do so, the twenty-four elders join in. Thus nature and church, the old creation and the new, unite in proclaiming God as worthy of worship because by his will all things were created and continue to have their being.”
Is this our vision of ultimate reality? Do we set our gaze on the central dominating presence of God’s throne? For when God takes his power and reigns without rival, and the kingdom will have come in its fullness, then everything incompatible with his reign will be destroyed and God will be ‘everything to everyone’. Meanwhile we are called to anticipate on earth the God-centered life of heaven, to live our lives now in conscious relationship to the throne, so that every thought, word and deed comes under God’s rule.
So, how are you living? Join us this Lord’s Day as we consider the Throne of God from Revelation 4:1-11. While you are preparing to come, invite someone to come along with you. Don’t forget as you prepare, spend some time in prayer that God’s Spirit will minister His Word ‘to us and to our children and to those who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself’.
For His Glory,