1The LORD is king! Let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! 2Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
1After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! 3And the one seated there looks like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. 4Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. 5Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; 6and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal. Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. 8And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing, “Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.” 9And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing, 11“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Scripture Reads Me:
- This passage makes me feel…
- This passage makes me think about…
- This passage reminds me of…
- This passage teaches me that God is…
- This passages teaches me that I am…
- This passage challenges me to…
Reflection: At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne!
I love the image above. It reminds me that, yes, we have a heavenly King on the throne of heaven above, but he took that place after he descended to us and became one of us. The picture above reminds me of this – the one crowned is the king, but at first he was a pawn, just like all the other pawns gathered around to recognize his authority and power. The Lord Jesus Christ now reigns forever and ever as the ascended and glorified Christ, but the legitimacy of his reign (though established before the foundation of the earth) is emphasized by the willingness of the incarnation and the self-sacrifice that came with it.
Our Lord and King knows those over whom he rules – intimately. Our King knows the depths of our existential crises and the brokenness of our human systems. This is no corrupt ruler or a royal who is out of touch! There is an excitement when John recognizes him on the throne. Here is the one whom John loved and who loved John, now in his proper place in glory. All will be well, for all that Jesus proclaimed is true and has come to pass.
Our American sensibilities might bristle at the though of a king, a royal presence, a monarch reigning over us. We are a people of freedom! But it is in God’s reign that we find true freedom – the freedom to be the persons God made us to be, a reflection of the person our pauper-king Christ was on earth. After all, we are only free within our choice to accept or reject the authority of God in our lives. In the end, God’s authority will reign as the ultimate reality it is.
Find your place within the rule of God. It is not a harsh rule. God will not exploit his people. Recognize that God leads you into the holy will of the kingdom of God for your good. With the excitement and trust of John, looked excitedly upon the throne and rejoice in the one seated there and seated upon your heart.
Prayer Focus: After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open!
This week as you pray, allow your focus to be not so much a topic of intercession, but focus on the reality of God’s presence with you as you pray. Notice that the door of heaven is opened to you as you pray, and the King of all creation is attentive to you. What must you do also to be attentive to him? Through your awareness and openness to God, allow heaven and earth to touch within your heart and mind. Expect God to meet you powerfully in prayer this week – the prayer you pray simply for the sake of being with God.
Meditation Focus: The LORD is king!
Begin by stilling yourself, finding a comfortable place and posture for reflection. Breathe in deeply through your nose, taking in the presence of God’s Spirit and letting the Spirit fill your mind. Breathe out deeply through your mouth, releasing all of the confusion or preoccupations of the mind. As you continue to breathe deeply, pray silently to God: “God and Creator of my mind center my thoughts upon you.”
Look at the four photographs above. Where do you see God in these images? Is God rising up to take rightful power and authority? Is God being crowned with glory and splendor? Perhaps God is descending to the level of the subjects, still powerful but committed to identifying with and abiding closely to those who live under divine rule. Maybe God is taking up residence in a majestic and grand castle where God will sit enthroned, entertaining guests in the heavenly court.
Imagine yourself in one of these scenarios – cheering in the crowd as God is proclaimed ruler over all the land; being enlisted to carry the crown, the crown that will soon rest upon God’s head, upon a pillow in a grand procession leading to the coronation ceremony; humbly bowing as God strolls through your workshop during an impromptu inspection of the country’s chief village; or being summoned for an audience with royalty in the throne room. Hear the roar of the crowd as they greet their new sovereign with excitement and approval. Watch as the jewels – red rubies, blue sapphires, green emeralds, purple amethysts, and white diamonds – shimmer in the light of the brilliant sun. Speak a word of appreciation for this gracious royal visit, through which you can share a glimpse of your life with your Majesty. Feel the nervousness, and yet honor, rising in the pit of your stomach as you walk, knees shaking, to greet one so high and lifted up.
Know that you are in the presence of God. What do you notice about God? What do you realize about yourself? How do you feel? What is God communicating to you? God is our sovereign monarch, ruling over us kindly, crowned in righteousness, humbly seeking us, and lovingly welcoming us into the divine realm.
Journaling Focus: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
I have written songs on my guitar since I was a teenager. One of the first songs I ever wrote was based on this song of praise from the throne room of God (and other words like these from the book of Revelation). It followed a very simple melody, almost a melodic chant, and it consisted of these words:
Glory and honor
Worship and praise
Love and adoration
Blessing and thanks
To the Father
To the Son
To the Spirit
As you journal this week, jot down a simple song of praise to your God and King. It need not be complex or overly sophisticated. Your King desires humble, honest praise. After you write this simple song of praise, find a fitting melody (or chant!) and sing the praises of the God who reigns over heaven and earth!
On Sunday we celebrate Palm Sunday, when the people of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus as their king. The only problem was that they had a different expectation than Jesus of what a king was. We do not want to have the same skewed focus! Ponder this week what kind of king Jesus truly is. How does this royal character of the divine contrast with our ideas of authority? How might I need to change the way I view and wield power in view of the humble, grace-filled reign of Christ?
Breath Prayer: Father, reign over us in grace.