The Bible mentions the throne of God, or God's throne, several times in both the Old and New Testaments. A throne is the seat of a monarch, and symbolizes power, sovereignty, and absolute rule. There are references to the throne of God that sound figurative, and others that sound more literal. For example, Jesus said "Do not take an oath … either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool" (Matthew 5:34–35). This makes the idea of God's throne sound like a metaphor. But other passages seem to literally say that God has a throne. The multitude standing before the great white throne, and later the judgement that occurs there, are two such examples (Revelation 7:9; 20:11).
Does God have a literal throne? What is the throne of God?
Whether the throne of God is purely figurative, or there is in fact a literal throne room in heaven where God is seated, is not made perfectly clear in Scripture. However, there is plenty to illustrate the significance of God's throne. The fact that God has a throne tells us a lot about God's nature. In Isaiah's vision of God's throne room, he sees "the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple" (Isaiah 6:1). This is a picture of vast power and all-consuming glory. God is a magnificent deity, who commands respect and awe. In fact, Isaiah's immediate reaction to seeing God in glory on the throne is very telling: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" (Isaiah 6:5).
Both good angels and fallen angels come and bow before God's throne, acknowledging His sovereignty (Job 1:6; 2 Chronicles 18:18). And after Jesus' resurrection, when He ascended to heaven, He "sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2, NIV). God is central to all things, in the same way that a king's throne is the place where laws and decrees originate, God rules and reigns from His throne (Psalm 47:8), and His judgments are done from that place of divine power and righteousness (Psalm 9:7).
Perhaps the most beautiful reference to the throne of God, in Scripture, is from the book of Hebrews. It depicts God's throne as a place where God's children can go to receive mercy and grace in a time of need. Not only that, but we are told to "approach God's throne of grace with confidence" (Hebrews 4:16, NIV). Considering that we are talking about the throne room of the King of kings, the Creator of the universe, and our Maker, this is an astonishing statement. As King David said, as he pondered the heavens and the moon and stars, "what is man that you are mindful of him …?" (Psalm 8:4). But just as the children of a human king would have special privilege to see their father, so do we have special privilege to come before the throne of God and ask for whatever we need, provided that what we ask is according to His will and character (John 16:23).
At the end of all things, all creation will gather and bow before the throne of God (Philippians 2:9–11) and declare that he is "worthy … to receive glory and honor and power" (Revelation 4:10–11). We will benefit from the bounty and love of God, that flows eternally from His throne. "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations" (Revelation 22:1–2).
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