One of the most ridiculed of all religious ideas is the image of God as a bearded man sitting on a throne. We sense that an all-powerful Creator would have to be something much more than that. So let’s use the Bible passages in Monday’s lesson to think differently about God’s throne.
What a Throne Meant to Ancient People
Psalm 47:6-9. The throne in verse 8 doesn’t have to be a literal throne. This first verse seems to emphasize the fact that God rules over all kings and owns all kings — a fact difficult to understand for ancient people who had a god or three for every tent. A throne up in the sky is a great symbol for the idea of a single Entity ruling over all other authorities.
Kingship From Before Time
Psalm 93:1,2. The thrust of this second passage seems to be that God is from eternity, beyond time, so again this verse doesn’t have to be teaching a literal throne but rather teaching kingship over all time from before time. Since His “throne was established long ago,” back before literal thrones even existed, it seems like the word “throne” is a symbol of authority rather than a real, physical object. Besides, God is not physical, so He wouldn’t need something physical to sit on.
A Throne Built of Virtue
Psalm 89:14. Righteousness, justice, love, and faithfulness are the foundation of God’s throne in this verse. Again, rather than thinking of a literal throne made of wood and gold, the throne here represents God’s rulership that is always based on values such as righteousness. His power is always guided by love, so we can trust that He won’t abuse it.
Also, His authority is supported by the fact that He rules with justice, righteousness, and faithfulness: that inspires His people to want to obey Him, in contrast to human rulers who control people through power, strength, and fear.
This is the opposite of what people often think of God. Those who are opposed to the idea of God think of Him as a bully, a tyrant, an unfair ruler, an angry or vengeful God. They think He rules on power alone. He certainly could.
But we’re told He is adored and worshipped by angels and other beings. And you know from your own experience that adoration is not something that can be forced by violence or fear. Adoration is spontaneous, and it’s a response to kindness, love, and integrity.
What’s This “Human Spirit” You Speak of?
More than just having all these good qualities Himself, He also created us to reflect His righteousness and love. And He didn’t set up the world so that we’re forced to act like Him with no choice. No. He set it up so that we perform loving acts if we observe Him. Why?
Because He’s the example of love. The Bible says that He is love. And as we contemplate Him, our innermost thoughts are transformed to be more like His thoughts. And new actions flow from new thoughts.
We know that God is loving, because the best things that human beings do, the things that we really admire, are loving and fair and full of integrity. It wouldn’t make sense for us to be better than God. The good things we do must be reflections of His goodness.
Some people trust in the power of “the human spirit.” But the good things humans do are just reflections of God’s goodness. And they’re only possible because His Spirit is working in us.
(Praise Team Leader at New Horizons SDA Church in Republic, MO)
P.S. God does seem to maintain a literal location where He interacts with His created beings. See the previous blog post.