“Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne (Revelation 4:1-2)
Late in the first century, the Roman emperor Domitian ordered his subjects to call him “Lord and God.” When Christians refused to recognize anyone other than Jesus as Lord, Domitian ordered that they be arrested and killed.
To a Christian in the first century, Rome seemed to hold all the power. Rome had a great military; Christians had no army. Rome was wealthy; many Christians were slaves. In this setting, it would be easy for Christians to think, “We will never win against Rome. We are a defeated people.”
John wrote to these suffering believers, “Don’t lose hope. There is a throne above Caesar’s throne. There is a power greater than Domitian.”
In Revelation 4, John describes the scene around the heavenly throne.
… behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.
What an amazing sight! No Roman throne could compare to the splendor of this throne.
The word throne appears 46 times in Revelation. And not once does John see the throne empty. The book of Revelation told the early Christians that God was in control. They did not need to fear; the throne was not empty!
Almost two thousand years later, Revelation says to us, “As you serve God, know that there is a power greater than all the powers that oppose the church. There is a throne above all the thrones of this world.”
John said to those first century Christians, “Don’t fear Caesar’s throne in Rome.” And today he says to us: “Don’t fear Biden’s throne in Washington. Don’t fear Premier Xi’s throne in Beijing. Don’t fear Putin’s throne in Moscow. God’s throne is not empty.” And because God is seated on the throne, you and I have hope.
Lord, you are the Alpha and the Omega. You are the who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. You sit high above the thrones of this world. In the uncertainty of today, help me to trust your sovereign rule. Help me to find joy and peace in the knowledge that all things are under your control. I rest in this hope.