The Throne of God
THE THRONE OF GOD
Part 1 of The Glory Realm. Revelation 4:1-2.
Peter Foxwell. The Cornerstone Church. July 2, 2017.
We were made for worship. That’s our ultimate purpose.
Today, we begin a new teaching series on corporate worship - we’re asking, what kind of worship does God want from us when we’re all together - like today?
The Bible is the best place to find what God wants in worship, so we’ll be working our way through Revelation chapters 4 and 5. The series is called The Glory Realm: Worship on earth as it is in heaven.
Today, we’re building a solid foundation for worship. Our attention is fixed on one word in chapter 4: THRONE: “there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.” - Revelation 4:2b
True worship that pleases God starts right there at the throne of God.
Let’s take a moment to orient ourselves …
JOHN’S VISION OF HEAVEN - verse 1.
The Apostle John was sent into exile on the island of Patmos. He was there because he would not stop preaching Jesus. So, the Roman emperor Domitian sent him away to preach to the rocks and the seagulls. However, it was in exile that John had a glorious spiritual experience: The risen and exalted Jesus appeared to him:
“On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches …” 12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” - Revelation 1:10-18
Then, Jesus appeared to him again in chapter 4:
“And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”” - Revelation 4:1b
The trumpet voice here is the same voice as in 1:10: the risen, ruling Jesus.
Jesus summoned John up through the open door into heaven (we’ll talk about the concept of the “open heaven” in the weeks to come because it’s very important in corporate worship).
John was in the Spirit. That’s a way of talking about a supernatural experience. The Holy Spirit took over John’s senses and gave him a vision of heaven (see 1:10; Acts 11:5; 22:17). In the vision, John went went through the door and the first thing he “saw” was “a throne in heaven” - 4:2.
THE THRONE OF GOD IN HEAVEN - verse 2.
The throne is more than a chair. It is the symbol of God’s absolute sovereign authority and power over all things (see Robert Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 134). Jesus taught that “heaven IS God’s throne.” - Matthew 5:34 - because heaven is the realm in which God’s absolute power and authority are seen most clearly. God rules over earth from his throne in heaven:
“The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.” - Psalm 103:19
The throne dominates the entire book of Revelation. The word appears over 40 times. Chapter four is focused on the throne - the word is used 13 times. Warren Wiersbe outlines the chapter, dividing it under 4 headings: on the throne, around the throne, out of the throne, before the throne.
John saw “someone” on the throne. We know who it is: “the Lord God Almighty” (4:8) Who else would it be (Revelation 1:4)?
God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise. 8 God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne. - Psalm 47:7-8
In Isaiah’s vision, the Lord was high and exalted, seated on a throne (6:1).
In Ezekiel’s vision, God was on a throne of lapis lazuli (1:26-28).
Everything in heaven is focused on God on the throne. Eyes fixed - undistracted.
The four living creatures, “day and night” - 4:8.
The twenty-four elders, “whenever” - 4:9.
Thousands of angels, “encircled the throne” - 5:11.
The raptured church - “a great multitude, no one could count … standing before the throne” - 7:9.
The believers who come out of the great tribulation - “are before the throne of God and serve him (as priests) day and night” - Revelation 7:15.
All of the “end-time” events start at God’s throne:
First, the tribulation judgments are unleashed by “the Lamb who stands at the center of the throne” - Revelation 5:6. Each seal he breaks sends a new horror on the earth. This is the wrath of the Lamb loosed on the world:
“They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” - Revelation 6:16-17
Then, the final judgment takes place at God’s throne:
“As I looked, “thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. 10 A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.” - Daniel 7:9-10
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.” - Revelation 20:11-12
Finally, eternal life will flow from God’s throne:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. - Revelation 22:1-2
Let’s try to sum all this up:
God reigns over all things from his throne in heaven. The throne represents God’s presence and God’s power and God’s sovereignty over everything - people, events, judgments, life and death, EVERYTHING.
Everyone around the throne is absorbed in worship. They are totally focused on God. It’s all about him. They all bow down and offer themselves to God in praise. They are pictured as priests in the temple, offering themselves up to God (Heaven is actually more like a temple than a palace. See Revelation 11:19; 14:15; 15:6; 16:17-18).
Now let’s talk about how God’s throne impacts on our corporate worship here.
THE THRONE OF GOD AND CORNERSTONE WORSHIP
Our Worship Must Be Focused on God Alone. We want every song, every prayer, every reading, and every teaching saturated with God. We want His presence and His power to overwhelm us as though we were standing before God’s throne itself. Here’s what we’re aiming at:
“So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”” - 1 Corinthians 14:25.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we left church every week knowing we’ve met with God!
Our Worship Must Be Full of Reverent Fear. I’m talking about spontaneous reverence and awe because God has drawn near to us. That happens when we get a glimpse of his glory on the throne:
“This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown …” - Ezekiel 1:28b
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” - Isaiah 6:5
“The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.” - Habakkuk 2:20
“Serve the Lord with fear (awe) and celebrate his rule with trembling.” - Psalm 2:11
We can’t manufacture this in our worship times. But we can long for it to happen. Pray for it. Prepare for it all week long. Pursue it - come to church expectant.
Our Worship Must Be Fearless. Our worship should be bold, assured, grateful, and joyful. First, God is on his throne in charge of the world and we’re on his side. Second, Jesus our high priest has made a way for us to draw near to that throne without fear of rejection - it is, after all, the throne of grace. We are cleansed by Christ’s blood, so we are welcome in the holy of holies, the throne room of God in heaven, to bow before Him in humble, joyful, adoration:
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. - Hebrews 4:16
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” - Hebrews 10:22 (See also Hebrews 6:19-20; 9:11-12, 23-25; 10:19-22)