Could you imagine working for your boss for 40 years and never seeing him? Not because he was too busy or was always out of the country but because he was invisible. That’s what angels put up with for over 4,000 years! They got to participate with their Boss in creating humans patterned after His image and likeness even though they had not yet seen Him. Four millennia after God made humanity after His likeness, the image of the invisible God became visible (Colossians 1:15).
Heaven was busy that day. Every angel in the universe wanted to see the face of God. They all crowded into a sleepy little city where the great unveiling of their Boss was to take place. Bumping into each other and crowding around, they filled the sky. Suddenly they could not contain the excitement; they had to share the news. The only people out and about that night were some shepherds, and before they knew it, one of the lead angels was telling them the good news. Suddenly, none of the angels could contain it and they burst forth in song, filling the skies with echoes of “Glory to God in the Highest!”
God on the throne?
Reading the Old Testament prophets, we find little description about the One on the throne of heaven. Of course, heaven is a spiritual realm, not a physical realm, so we understand that the descriptions of heaven and God’s chariot (Ezekiel 1) and such like are images to help us see how great God is, in tangible images we can relate to. However, no one ever saw God. Neither a man nor an angel. In fact, in order to be seen by humans, God had to appear as an angel called “The Angel of Lord” with whom people would speak face to face at times. Other times He showed up as a flaming bush or a tornado (Exodus 3:4; Job 40:6). However, these were not God’s real images, just temporary appearances.
Even though Moses and the elders met God and had a meal with Him (Exodus 24:9-11), Moses knew he had not really seen God. He wanted to and asked for the opportunity. God could not let Him do this, but did let him see His “back” so to speak, which was more like catching the afterglow of God’s glory where Moses learned more about His loving, merciful character (Exodus 33:18-23). God introduces us to Himself in many concrete terms such as having arms, hands, wings, being a rock, a fortress, and many other objects. These are not physical characteristics of the Holy God, but ways to help us understand His strength, love, or other attributes. So, the description of a throne is not literal, either. These throne visions help us see God as the almighty, ruler of the universe. However, the prophetic visions of the throne are not identical: some describe a dark throne, a white throne, a throne room, a throne that flies around on the backs of four large angels, and so on.
The One on the throne
Isaiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel describe seeing the One on the throne. The Apostle John tells us that the One Isaiah saw was Jesus (John 12:37-41 with Isaiah 6:1-10; 53:1). Of course, Jesus did not exist in Isaiah’s day because He had not yet been born. Isaiah had a vision of Him and spoke of His glory in terms one would use for a king (Isaiah 6:1-2). Daniel saw One come sit on the throne and called Him the Ancient of Days. John explained also that this One was Jesus. In fact, Daniel’s descriptions of the Ancient of Days (having white hair) and the Son of Man (coming in the clouds) both come together in John’s writing as the same person: Jesus Christ (Daniel 7:9-14; Revelation 1:7, 13-16).
In non-descript terms, John then introduces the One on the throne in Revelation chapter 4. In fact, he describes much of the surroundings for the throne, then, in chapter five, a lamb enters the throne room. Of course, this is not a literal description of what happened in the heavenly realm; it is a vision to express meaning. Jesus is not a dead lamb with seven eyes. However, the scripture describes the Lamb as having seven eyes and seven horns which are the seven-fold Spirit of God (Revelation 5:6; see also Zechariah 3:9; 4:6, 10). What could such an odd description mean?
The number “seven” indicates perfection, completeness. God’s complete person, all of His divine nature is in the Lamb. The Spirit of God was not put on the Man named Jesus Christ like a backpack. God’s Spirit is hardwired into His very nature, so to speak, as much as eyeballs or horns would be. Jesus is not just a puppet for God, in Him dwells all the fullness of God (Colossians 1:19; 2:9). The Spirit of God could not leave Jesus on the cross or in the tomb; that is why He came back from the dead—God cannot die and the body of Christ could not be held by death. Believers also have a hope of resurrection because Christ is in us!
Here’s an idea of how John’s vision may have looked if he came from an American culture: http://youtu.be/Trop_41mCvY
Look at your boss
Who is on the throne of your life? Maybe you need to bow down on your knees and look at the throne of your life. What do you see there? Money? Work? Pride? What rules your decisions? Is your throne room dark and mysterious or bright and lively? Would you be willing to let someone else see your throne room or would you be ashamed? John said, “I looked and saw a lamb that appeared to have been killed” (Revelation 5:6). Is the humility and suffering of Christ what rules your universe? God’s weakness does a hundred times more than human strength.
The angels now celebrate that they have a face to look at. We do, too. May others see God in us. As II Corinthians 4:6 says, “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”