Human experience tends to debase everything. The use of the word glorious is a case in point. In the same breath, we can speak of a glorious revolution, a glorious victory in sports, and a glorious dinner. The word glorious cannot have the same value in each of these expressions. When we speak, then of the glory of God, we must shake ourselves free from the devalued meaning of the word and allow God in His perfections to exalt our understanding and appreciation of its significance. There is, perhaps, no better way to do so than to contemplate the throne of God. Jeremiah praises it thus: “A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary” (17:12).
Glorious in appearance. On the few occasions when God permitted the pens of men to describe His throne, they appear inadequate to the task. His throne beggars description. Ezekiel observed that “above the firmament that was over their [the four “living creatures”] heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it” (1:26). Nothing in his experience can be compared to what he sees in the vision. “It is like . . . It is like . . .” is all that he can say, but not identical, something other than and superior to all he has ever seen before. Daniel faced the same dilemma: “I beheld till the thrones were cast down [“set up”], and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him” (Dan. 7:9, 10). The apostle John strains language to express what he has seen. “A throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. . . . And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were the seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God” (Rev. 4:2, 3, 5). Have these writers captured an accurate picture of the appearance of God’s throne? Yes. Can we therefore adequately grasp its grandeur? No.
Glorious in character. The glorious appearance of God’s throne reflects the true character of the throne and its holy Occupant. God is glorious in His throne because (1) His authority is heavenly: “I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left” (I Ki. 22:19; (2) His authority is universal: “The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all (Psa. 103:19); (3) His authority is eternal: “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever” (Psa. 45:6; see also, Psa. 93:2); (4) His authority is holy: “God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness” (Psa. 47:8); (5) His authority is just: “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne” (Psa. 89:14a); (6) His authority is merciful and truthful: “Mercy and truth shall go before thy face” (Psa. 89:14b); (7) His authority is gracious: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). Not one of these things truly can be posited about any human throne or government throughout the course of time. But such is the nature of the God we call our Savior and of the character of His governance over men. In a time of apostasy and corruption, when governments seem largely to oppose and oppress the righteous, we may rejoice that God’s throne is glorious and that he is “expecting till his enemies be made his footstool” (Heb. 1013). God’s throne is glorious because all that He does is right
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