Have you ever stopped to think about the throne of God? Although we may often read about it, or even sing about it, what comes to mind when you consider the throne of God? When most people think of a throne, it usually implies a physical seat and a person sitting on it. But does this mean that God is literally seated on a throne or is it more figurative in nature? Whether it’s literally or figuratively, which we’ll answer in a moment, one thing we know for sure is that one day we will stand before the throne of God.
Is God literally sitting on a throne? In the scriptures, there are times when the throne of God can appear as literal and there are times when the throne of God can appear as metaphorical. Let me give you an example of both:
Examples where the throne of God seems literal.
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: with two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew.” – Isaiah 6:1-2
“Immediately I was in the Spirit, and there was a throne before me in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one setting there looked like jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.” – Revelation 4:2-3
These two descriptions of the throne of God, the one Isaiah saw and the one John saw, lead you to want to imply that God is literally seated on a throne. These are very detailed visions and in the vision they give the image of God seated on a throne which can make it seem literal when you read it.
Examples where the throne of God seems metaphorical.
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool…” – Isaiah 66:1
“But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God, nor by the earth, for it is his footstool, nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of Great King.” – Matthew 5:34-35
In these scriptures, the throne of God does not seem to refer to a literal seat. In fact, it makes the throne look more like a dwelling than a real place to sit. You could possibly argue if you just used these two verses that all heaven represents God’s throne because it is His dwelling place.
What’s the verdict?
The Got Questions website used this description to describe the throne of God: “The throne of God need not be thought of as a literal throne. God the Father is incorporeal (John 4:24). Having no physical body, God does not literally sit down. References to a divine throne are akin to biblical allusions to the “hand”, “mouth” or “eyes” of God – they are anthropomorphisms, descriptions of God phrased in human terms in deference to our knowledge limited. God must describe himself in a way that we can understand.
Overall, I tend to agree with this view and believe that God does not sit on a literal throne, and often this term is used figuratively in scripture. While that might help answer the question, there’s something else to consider. Whether God’s throne is literal or figurative, we need to be clear about what God’s throne represents.
What does the throne of God represent?
The throne of God represents his majesty and glory, but it also represents his power, control, and authority. The one who sits on the throne is the one who commands because it is the seat of power. Since God is seated on the throne, he has all authority and the right to do whatever he wants. He is the highest authority and all other authority is subject to him. You could say that it doesn’t matter if the throne of God is literal or figurative, because his power and authority are real, and one day we will stand before his throne to give account.
Are we going to stand before a literal throne?
The Bible is clear that we will all have to account for our lives one day. We will all appear before the judgment seat.
“You, then, why do you judge your brother or your sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.” – Romans 14:10
“Then I saw a great white throne and he who sat on it. The earth and the heavens fled from it, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. – Revelation 20:11-12
When the Bible speaks of judgment, the image is given of the one who is a judge, who is always seated, and of those who come before the judge, who generally stand before him. Typically, in court, when a verdict is read or a sentence is given, the accused stands before the judge. You’ve probably heard it said before in court, “Does the defendant stand up, please?” “. This is similar to what will happen in the judgment because we will all stand before the throne of God for the verdict to be read. For those who are in Christ, it will not be a judgment of sin because your sins have been judged in Christ. It will be a reward judgment for what you have done since you were saved. For those who do not know Christ, it will be a judgment of sin. I’m not sure if the throne mentioned for judgment is literal or figurative, but in that case I would lean towards a literal throne. The Bible declares that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11). This is one of those places where it could happen because everyone will stand before the throne and recognize Jesus as Lord of all.
The throne that matters most.
We could argue that the throne of God is both literal and figurative from Scripture. Whichever one is true, in your life it is not the most important throne on which God can sit. There is one throne that matters more than any other throne and that is the throne of your heart. What God really desires is to sit in the seat of authority in your life where He can direct your paths and order your steps. The amazing thing about God is that even though he is almighty, he will not impose himself on the throne of your heart. Notice these words of Jesus:
” Here I am ! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and he with me. – Revelation 3:20
Jesus, the King of kings and the one who has all authority, knocks gently without forcing the door of your heart. One day we will know for sure whether we will see God seated on a literal throne or not, but until that day comes, if Christ is seated on the throne of your heart, then you have nothing to fear the day where you will stand before the throne of God.
Photo credit: ©iStock/GettyImagesPlus/drserg
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher and co-founder of the Bible Study Club. He is the author of The pursuit of the goal that will help you understand how God leads you in his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How to Meet Your Biggest Challenges and Win in Your Christian Life. Do you want to go further in your walk with the Lord, but can’t get over the things that keep getting in your way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and ultimately become the man or woman of God you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry, please visit clarencehaynes.com.