The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Heaven is God’s Throne

In the sermon Stephen preached just before his martyrdom, he said some important things about God’s temple, throne, house, and place of rest. We will consider, specifically, where God’s throne is:

Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen, which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David, who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob. But Solomon built Him a house.

However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, or what is the place of My rest? Has My hand not made all these things?’ (Acts 7:44-50)

Stephen said the tabernacle and house that were created by the Israelites for God were made according to the pattern Moses saw, but God does not dwell in such temples. How did he know this? Was this new revelation?–No. Stephen was quoting the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah had gone on to say, “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (Isa. 66:1-2) So where does God dwell? He dwells with those people who tremble at His Word. He is not contained in buildings and territories, but among His true saints.

The writer of Hebrews confirmed this truth, that the physical priesthood and tabernacle were only a “copy and shadow of the heavenly things.” (Heb. 8:5) Under the new covenant, which would make the old covenant obsolete, the “house of Israel” would have God’s law in their minds and written on their hearts (Heb. 8:7-13). They themselves would be the temple of God, and they would be considered “the people of God” (I Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:16). All those who did not have God’s law in their minds/hearts would be “cut off”–the Lord knows those who are His. Even Gentiles would be incorporated into this “household of God” which is growing into “a holy temple…a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:19-22)

The Lord is in His holy temple, The Lord’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. (Psa. 11:4)

The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all. (Psa. 103:19)

God does not dwell in buildings made with human hands, nor is He attached to this earthly mountain or that earthly mountain (including natural Jerusalem–Jn. 4:21-24). God dwells with people who are poor in spirit. Jesus confirmed Isaiah’s words when He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” God’s kingdom–a heavenly kingdom–was and is among those who believe and obey Jesus. Jesus testified to the Pharisees who were looking for the kingdom, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Lk. 17:20-21)

Were the Jews surrounding Stephen trembling at God’s Word? Were they able to receive the kingdom? No, for Stephen went on:

You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it. (Acts 7:51-53)

Stephen accused his countrymen of killing the Messiah (God’s established King) and not keeping God’s law. This angered them so much, they gnashed at him with their teeth. But before Stephen died at their hands, he testified that he could see the throne of Christ in heaven:

Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God! (Acts 7:56)

Stephen saw the kingdom of God, and its King enthroned, because He was filled with the Spirit. His enemies could not see it because they were resisting the Holy Spirit. Unless we are born again by the Spirit, we cannot see the kingdom (Jn. 3:3).

Jesus is the Mighty One who rides prosperously because of truth, humility and righteousness. His throne is forever and ever; He loves righteousness and hates wickedness. (Psa. 45:2-7). He is a great King over all the earth, who will subdue the nations under the feet of the righteous. The princes of the people have gathered together (as one body of believing Jews and Gentiles), the people of the God of Abraham (Psa. 47:9), for all who have Abraham’s faith are counted as his children (Rom. 4:16; Gal. 3:7,9).

Now listen to Jesus’ testimony about His kingdom and the location of His throne:

My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here (Jn. 18:36).

And who has He chosen to be heirs of this kingdom?–the poor of this world (James 2:5; I Cor. 1:26-29)–not the rich and powerful oppressors who rule over earthly kingdoms. Unbelievers desire to be lords and authorities over others, but “it shall not be so among you.” (Mk. 10:42-45)

Jesus agreed with Stephen that heaven is God’s throne (Matt. 5:34). Peter preached that Jesus has been raised up to sit on God’s throne (Acts 2:29-36). John testified that the Lamb of God (Jesus) is in the midst of the throne (Rev. 5:6), and the writer of Hebrews declared that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:2). The Psalmist also chimes in:

The Lord is great in Zion, And He is high above all the peoples. (Psa. 99:2)

Where is this Zion?–It is the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22)–high above all the peoples!

At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts. (Jer. 3:17)

Jerusalem shall be called the Throne of the Lord! God’s throne is in heaven, and God’s throne is Jerusalem. God dwells in heaven, and God dwells among His people, who have been raised up together, and made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6).

Out of this heavenly Mt. Zion, God’s law goes forth from God’s throne, and He is judging between many peoples and rebuking strong nations–TODAY (today is the day of salvation). Those who enter the kingdom of God by faith are beating their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. They do not learn carnal war anymore; they are peacemakers and ambassadors with a heavenly calling. They shall be called the sons of God (Micah 4:1-3; Matt. 5:9; 2 Cor. 5:20).

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: