Meditating on the Judgements of God: 1.5 The Throne of God
Psa 9:7,8 The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice.
There is a truth about God which is perhaps so obvious that we rarely think about it. It is that God rules and judges and reveals to us a picture of Him sitting on a throne in heaven. A throne is a place where a sovereign reigns, and it a place of sovereign control. This whole concept of a throne speaks historically of a sovereign ruler, one who is all-powerful and with all authority. We may have lost this in the light of the monarchy in the UK in the twenty first century where the Queen is a figurehead and the power is actually with Parliament. That has not how it has been in history. The monarch was the one with the power, the one in absolute control and a benign and stable monarch (and God is at least this) had the power to be able to take time to weigh everything before him.
The first mention of God’s throne comes through Moses (Ex 17:16) because he recognized that when they prayed against the Amalekites, they were appealing to God on His throne: “hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD.” He saw that God was a ruler who presided over the affairs of men and would act and bring changes as part of His rule.
For the real revelation of the throne room of heaven we have to turn to the prophets. Isaiah declared, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.” (Isa 6:1)
Ezekiel also had a vision from heaven: “Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man.” (Ezek 1:26)
Even Daniel saw it: “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.” (Dan 7:9)
John on Patmos was also privileged to see into heaven: “At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders,” (Rev 4:2-4) and near the end of Revelation, “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.” (Rev 20:11,12)
Yes, these prophets were allowed a look into heaven and each saw God on a throne, ruling. Job 1 doesn’t actually mention a throne but we are shown the deliberations of God in heaven. Micaiah the prophet also had such an insight: “Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. And the LORD said, `Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?” (1 Kings 22:19,20). It is of God working out His strategies as He rules.
The psalmists also had this idea in the back of their minds so often: “God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne,” (Psa 47:8) and, “Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity,” (Psa 93:2) and Jeremiah added, “A glorious throne, exalted from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary.” (Jer 17:12) But a throne even appears in respect of the work of Jesus as the writer to the Hebrews indicates: “The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,” (Heb 8:1)
But it takes some of the psalmists to catch something of the action of God from His throne in heaven: “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a sceptre of justice will be the sceptre of your kingdom,” (Psa 45:6) and, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you,” (Psa 89:14) and, “righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.” (Psa 97:2). The bringing of righteousness and justice is the work of a Judge, which brings us right back to our subject. God sits on a throne in heaven, ruling over all the affairs of everything He has created. He had made everything perfect from the outset but with the coming of the Fall, things go wrong, and things are done wrong. God does not sit back and just let it all happen.
In His role as Judge we may suggest that:
- 1) He assesses all that happens and determines whether it was righteous or unrighteous (i.e. conforming to His original design, or not!),
- 2) He decrees what should happen in respect of those events, and specifically in respect of the people involved, and
- 3) He then acts in accordance with that decree, and this we see as the act of judgement that appears in the records of Scripture.
Now we need to reiterate what we have said before when we had observed He is perfect. This is vital to understand.
- In the first stage, His assessment is uniquely accurate because He alone sees and knows all that happens and there is nothing about it that is outside His knowledge and understanding.
- In the second stage, His decree of what should happen is perfect because He alone has the knowledge, understanding and wisdom to know what various outcomes would produce. So He knows that if He does nothing, what will come about. He knows if He brings discipline whether it will bring a change in life. In this determining the decree He knows whether terminating a life or lives will be the best for these people and, even more, for those who are left.
- In the third stage, bringing about the judgement, we will find that this may come through a variety of means and it will be this that we will go on to consider in later meditations.
Bear in mind what we have observed in some of these verses. Wherever God makes a decision in His rule from the throne in heaven, where He sees and knows all things, His thinking, His decrees and His actions will always conform to righteousness and justice.