A Grand Vision
There are only a few places in the Bible that present us with a vision of the throne room of God. These descriptions are so wonderful, it seems as if the biblical authors must have struggled to find words to explain the scene before them. We can easily imagine that at a certain point, human vocabulary fails. Mere words cannot suffice because all the adjectives and all the superlatives in all the languages in all the earth would surely fail to adequately describe the glories of the throne room of the universe. Both the prophet Isaiah and the apostle John were treated to such awe-inspiring heavenly visions. God saw fit to have these recorded in His Word as a means of communicating theological truths to His people.
A vision of the sovereign Lord enthroned in heaven is something that we need to contemplate on a daily basis in this modern world. These are unusual times we live in, and they serve to remind us that we are not in charge. Often, it seems as if the world is spinning out of control. It is a world where the rulers of this age have their day, a world in which evil reigns and entangles so many earthly institutions within its grasp, a world where injustice continues and wickedness prospers.
This vision speaks to us in the midst of all this confusion, telling us that at the centre of the universe, there is an occupied throne in heaven, and upon it sits the sovereign of the universe. This fact alone should change our entire outlook on reality. This throne testifies to the certainty that one day all will be made right with this world.
A Unique Throne
There are many grand throne rooms on this earth, each with their own splendour and majesty, each with their own subjects and realm. The magnificent throne of King Solomon was made of ivory and overlaid with pure gold. It sat atop six ascending steps, each with a gold lion on either side. Truly this must have been a magnificent and awe-inspiring sight (1 Kings 10:18-20). Consider too the more contemporary throne room of Denmark with its throne chair carved from narwhal tusks. The pristine white is overlaid with gold and surrounded by three life-size silver lions with gold eyes. Yet we can only imagine that these would pale into absolute insignificance next to the sight of the heavenly throne room. This heavenly throne is like no other; it has no rivals or close seconds; it is the highest and most exalted throne that could ever be. It is far above anything that this earth could ever know. The famous worship song, “Above All,” captures this thought beautifully:
Above all powers, above all kings
Above all nature and all created things
Above all wisdom and all the ways of man
You were here before the world began
Above all kingdoms, above all thrones
Above all wonders the world has ever known
Above all wealth and treasures of the earth,
There's no way to measure what You're worth1
Truly, this throne is different from all earthly thrones. Many earthly kings have sat upon thrones, and yet, been unworthy to wield such power. Corrupted by their sinful natures, their thrones became instruments of cruelty and oppression. The famous maxim of Lord Acton often proves true: “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” As one’s power increases, one’s morality often decreases. History bears witness to this.
Yet the vision of the heavenly throne reminds us that there is a throne from which no corruption will ever flow. The psalmist puts it as follows:
"Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Lovingkindness and truth go before You" (Psalm 89:14).
This throne’s very foundations are the only place where the attributes of righteousness and justice are held in unity with lovingkindness and truth. These qualities are needed for a righteous rule.
The One who Sits on the Throne
A throne is the furniture of a king: The throne itself does not possess the necessary attributes, but simply points us to the one who sits upon the throne. So too, Isaiah simply says, “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple” (Isaiah 6:1). No monarch on earth could compare with this heavenly scene. The King of all Kings is seen here in His celestial-palace throne room, and the train of His robe fills the entire place, signifying the supreme position and power of this almighty sovereign! Similarly, John says, “behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne” (Revelation 4:2). In both these visions, we get to witness the testimony of the four living creatures. Those creatures give us the key as to why this King is the only King worthy of the throne. They say:
"Holy Holy Holy, is the Lord of Hosts" (Isaiah 6:3).
They call out to one another with this emphatic trifold declaration of God’s Holiness! Their cry is probably the central piece of this whole scene – or even the entire Bible! No other attribute of God is referenced here, just His holiness. It is the keynote of the throne room, thus the universe. The Christian’s reality is to be different because at the centre of our worldview is a throne with a King who is exalted above everything, above all creation. This should change our outlook on everything.
In John’s throne room vision, we are given more details. In front of the throne we see a “lamb, standing as if slain” (Revelation 5:6). This is our beloved saviour Jesus, the One to whom all authority on heaven and earth has been given, the One who will rule this earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the One who is worthy “to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12).
And ultimately, the whole of creation will cry out with that heavenly anthem of praise:
“To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever” (Revelation 5:13).
What else can we do but join the living creatures in saying, “Amen,” and then join the elders in worshiping this great King and Saviour!
Long Live the King
All Hail the Lamb
1 Le Blanc, Leonard J. and Baloche, Paul Joseph. “Above All.” AZLyrics. Accessed 8 December 2021.