A Bible class teacher was explaining to the class that we really don’t know what Jesus looked like.
To illustrate, she showed a painting of Jesus, illustrating it was the painter’s rendition. “It’s not really Jesus. It’s just the artist’s conception of Him.”
One little fellow, looking long and hard at the painting finally said, “Well, it sure looks like him.”
I suppose most Christians have some image in their minds not only of what Jesus looked like but even a picture of heaven and what it will be like to see the Father.
The apostle John, in the book of Revelation, gives us a dramatic glimpse into the heavenly realm with sights, sounds and symbols that boggles our imagination.
Without becoming bogged down in the imagery of Revelation 4, walk through the open door to see John’s view of “the One who sat on the throne.” The word “throne” evokes images familiar both to first-century Christians and is easily understood today. “Throne” is significant in Revelation, used 12 times and this chapter and 42 times in the book.
Consider these 5 important words connected to the throne.
Early Christians living in the shadow of Caesar’s throne, were well aware of the outreach of his authority. It was absolute. Indisputable. And all-encompassing.
But the One on the Heavenly throne possesses greater authority and is more far-reaching than any earthly king. In fact, the Bible teaches that it’s by God’s prerogative that governments exist. And earthly rulers reign. “There is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God (Rom 13:1).
With authority automatically proceeds power. The power in Jesus’ day resided in Rome. Everyone knew it. Their empirical rule reached across the known world. The power was evident in their army. Their outposts of culture. Their massive building programs. Their roads. And, of course, their ruler. He was Pontifex Maximus.
However, God’s power can be described as omnipotent. He’s all-powerful. He created the heavens and earth and “upholds all things by the word of power” (Heb. 1;3). He has the power of life, death, and our resurrection to eternal life in His hands.
Like all rulers, Caesars could execute judgment on both their enemies and those who disobeyed their edicts. However, earthly judgment is greatly diminished compared to God’s divine judgment.
The lightning and thunder (v. 5), not only portray God’s power but also symbolize His judgment, an often repeated metaphor in the Old Testament. The One on the throne possesses the right of judgment upon earthly rulers and governments. As He told Jeremiah, He can raise them up or bring them down (Jer. 18:5-10) But even more importantly, He will exercise judgment regarding our eternal destiny (2 Cor. 5:10).
Historians often speak of the “immense majesty” of the Roman Empire as epitomized in its Emperors. Octavian, the adopted son of Julius Caesar, was granted the title, Augustus, by the Roman Senate, which means “revered one.” The majesty of the Emperor was displayed in the outward manifestations of pomp and splendor by physical and material opulence.
Our peek into the heavenly throne scene reveals the majesty of the Almighty. Described by the precious stones of jasper, sardius, and the emerald-like rainbow God’s righteousness, holiness, and mercy are colorfully depicted.
While Rome did not officially recognize the Emperor as divine, reserved for him were accolades and honors suitable for their gods, which implied divinity.
Christians soon became at odds with their culture, because they recognized only Jehovah, as the one, true God worthy of worship. This specular scene depicts all living creatures, animate and inanimate, praising God.
Too often Christians agonize about the future of our nation. About the economy. About political oppression. About social issues. About religious persecution. About the increase and advance of wickedness, ungodliness, and immorality. And about Satan’s schemes seemingly winning the war.
Don’t wring your hands in worry. God is still on the throne. He rules and reigns. If you’re on His side, you will win. The devil will be defeated. The righteous will be rewarded. And one day we will walk through that open door.
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”
Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
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