“A Throne was Set in Heaven”

An Address on Revelation 4 and 5

I want to speak of that which has been fundamental to faith in all ages and which can hold us now as a sure and steadfast anchor in stormy seas. “Behold a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.

John was caught up through an open door in heaven to see this great sight, and we may see it through his eyes. It was an evil day in which he lived, the ruling power was a pagan, persecuting power, all his brethren, the apostles, had suffered martyrdom, and he was an exile in Patmos for his faith; the church too for which he had laboured was growing weary in the way; it had left its first love. There was much to discourage him; it seemed as though the tides of evil were unrestrained, and that the devil did as he pleased. Then it was that he was called up to heaven to we things that were to take place hereafter, and the pledge that all things that he saw would come to pass was a throne set in heaven and One sitting thereon.

God had not abdicated His throne; the sceptre of the universe was in His hand, and as it was then so it is now in this year of our Lord 1940. That sight must have greatly comforted John, and we need it if we are to be kept in peace and, steadfast in our confession God is still on His throne, almighty and absolute. This must be the foundation of all our faith, and the dominant factor in our lives.

No power of evil can challenge God’s supremacy and succeed. Dictators may glory in their power to oppress and destroy their fellow men, but the Almighty God has set bounds to their ambitions. They could have no power at all except it were given them from above, and the omniscient God watches the way they use their power and He has said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” He makes the wrath of men to praise Him and restrains the rest.

Inspired by the Holy Spirit John tells us how God appeared to him, “And He that sat upon the throne was to look upon like a jasper and sardine stone; and them was a rainbow round about the throne, in like an emerald.” We are in a book of symbols, but their meanings are easily discerned. The jasper is the clear, unsullied crystal—the diamond, but mingled with that pure and burning light was the blood-red ray of the sardine stone. It is the Christian message that reaches us in 1 John 1:5. “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” There is the clear crystal shining, and if that had been all no man could have endured its searching brightness, but there follows a fear-dispelling, peace-giving word. “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin,” and what lies behind the shedding of that blood? “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” The jasper and the sardine stone are one and proclaim the fact that “God is light” and “God is love.”

The rainbow round about the throne bears witness to the fact that God is the covenant-keeping God, no word, no promise of His shall ever fail. He sits supreme upon His throne to bring to pass every word that He has uttered.

 “Settled for ever, steadfast, sure,
  When all shall fail it shall endure,
  Mid crash of worlds we are secure
  Who trust His word.”

Now notice what is the first note of praise that is sounded in heaven. The four and twenty elders (representing the redeemed) cast their crowns before the throne and proclaim, “Thou at worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created” (vv. 10-11). God is Creator, He has made all things and He made them for His own pleasure. All that He has made must be accountable to Him, the Maker. Evolution, as taught by the modernists, is the devil’s darkness, by which he is blinding the minds of men; and they love the darkness, for if They have evolved from the slime and God did not make them then they are not responsible to Him, they have no need to trouble themselves as to being pleasing to Him, they may please themselves and do their own wills.

The world has reached its present hopeless state because men have refused to consider God’s claims, they have not sought to know His will, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way.” The Revelation is a Book of judgments and these judgments will most surely fall upon men for this very reason. God must judge all that oppose His will; His will must be done on earth as it is in heaven. He is long-suffering and very patient, not willing that any should perish, but the time is drawing near when the throne of grace will become a throne of judgment, and men, angels and devils shall see that God is just. How do we face up to this matter? We own that God is, we are not atheists, we believe that He is the Creator, and has made all things for his pleasure, and the “all things” includes you and me. Do we consider what will please Him? and are we fashioning our lives according to His will, which is good and acceptable and perfect? If we are wrong here we are not right anywhere.

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:11-12). Let these great facts have their full weight in our souls—God is supreme, omnipotent. omnipresent and omniscient, He is the Creator and He has created all things for His pleasure, and whatever He has created is answerable to Him.

Lawlessness cannot go on for ever, God would cease to be God if He permitted it; the day of grace and salvation is drawing to its close and those things that John saw in these chapters are near at hand. He says, “I saw in the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne a book written within and on the back side, sealed with seven seals.” This is the book of God’s will and His counsels for the earth and mankind, but who can open that book and bring to pass what is written therein, so that everything that has breath shall praise the Lord? That is the question, and a strong angel with a loud voice sends forth the challenge. Was there one man of Adam’s race that was worthy to take up this work for God? “And no man in heaven, nor on earth, neither under the earth was found worthy.”

And John wept much, and good cause he had to weep, for man had been made in the image of God and after His likeness, to fill the earth with His glory and uphold His Name, and the whole race had failed. Great men there had been, and to them God had given power and opportunity, but not one of them had stood wholly for God—Adam, Noah, Moses, David, Nebuchadnezzar and many another. When tested they failed, in the great crises of their lives they were found wanting, sooner or later self-controlled their actions; they lived and ruled and died and left the world not one whit better than they found it.

But God is not baffled, nor can be, He has His Resource “And one of the elders says unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book and to loose the seven seals thereof.” And John looked to see who it was that bore these great titles, and “in the midst of the throne, stood a Lamb as it had been slain.” It was JESUS, well John knew Him, and how his heart must have thrilled as he beheld Him in the very centre of God’s glory, who had once hung upon a felon’s cross between two thieves. He had PREVAILED to open the book. He had prevailed by treading His path of perfect obedience to the cross. He prevailed against Satan in the wilderness; the contradiction of sinners against Himself did not turn Him aside from the way of God’s will: He set His face as a flint, and cried, “Nevertheless not My will, but Thine be done,” in Gethsemane. He endured the cross and despised the shame. Thus He prevailed and showed Himself worthy to undertake the fulfilment of all God’s will in His universal kingdom.

And when He had taken the Book” all heaven made haste to adore Him, the four and twenty elders fell down before Him and sung a new song—a song that shall never grow old—“Thu art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for Thou wast stain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth.” The opening of the seals of that book will mean the fierce and righteous judgments of God upon the earth, but before they begin to fall the Lamb secures a countless multitude of men for God, men redeemed from all iniquity to be for God’s pleasure for ever.

“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand” (John 3:35). “The Father judges no man but has committed all judgement to the Son” (John 5:35). The Lamb as it had been slain is the Son, and into His hand God has put the accomplishment of His will; and He will take away the sin of the world and fill the universe with the glory of God. We are on our way to this great day of the manifestation of His power and glory, but while we wait for it how are we affected? He will reconcile all things to God, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven (Col. 1:20). But He would begin with us. Have we recognised God’s claim? Have we admitted that since He has made us we should live for His pleasure? How can this be? Well, it seems to me that there is but one way. As God will put the book of His will into the hands of the once slain Lamb, so must we put the book of our lives into His hands. He only can fashion and mould us according to God’s will. Have we confessed Him as Lord, and surrendered ourselves to Him? He only can blot out the stained pages of the past, He only can fill up the future pages of our history on earth with what will please God. Has He not prevailed to do this? We have been redeemed by His blood, He has loved us and washed us from our sins. He gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify us unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. He is our one hope. Our own efforts to be what we know we ought to be most miserably fail but the Lamb once slain will not fail.

He has the seven horns. symbol of perfect power, and the seven eyes, symbol of perfect wisdom and His love is an unchanging love, as real and true today as when He died to redeem—what a combination is this—wisdom, love and power—all united in Him for our blessing! Let us commit ourselves to Him, spirit, soul and body, and trust Him wholly. He has not and will not fail God; He will not fail us.

May God deliver us from self-confidence that the power of Christ may rest upon us, and may we all be so affected and constrained by His love and glory that we gladly yield ourselves without reserve to Him that His strength may be made perfect in. our weakness.

J. T. Mawson