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The Throne, Heaven, and the Kingdom Are God.
I. The Throne
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. (Jeremiah 3:17)
Here in Jeremiah 3:17 the city of Jerusalem, The Throne of the Lord, and the name of the Lord are all synonymous. Jerusalem is synonymous with The Throne of the Lord, as it says, "Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord." The name of the Lord is here called Jerusalem, as it says, "to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem." And, The Throne of the Lord is the name of the Lord, as it says, "The Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord." In Jeremiah 3:17 alone it can be seen that God's throne is God Himself and Jerusalem is God as well.
Moreover, Jeremiah 14:21 speaks similarly.
Do not abhor us, for Your name's sake; do not disgrace the throne of Your glory.
Here in parallel thought, God's name and God's throne, being actually one and the same, is Jeremiah's concern. God's name is to be praised (Psalm 113:1), and His throne is exalted (Isaiah 6:1). Jeremiah does not want to see either one, which are one and the same, dishonored.
If God's throne is God Himself, then God's throne must be eternal. In other words, it must have always existed. And indeed, it has, as it is written,
Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting. (Psalm 93:2; see also Psalm 90:2)
In Hebrews 12:29 it says,
Our God is a consuming fire.
As He is seen as a literal fire in Isaiah 33:14; Ezekiel 1:27-28; 8:2; etc., His throne, being our God (Hebrews 12:29), is a literal fire.
His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire. (Daniel 7:9)
God is a consuming fire. His throne is a fire. His throne is Him, and He, that is, His throne also speaks.
Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, "It is done!" (Revelation 16:17)
Lest someone think this is not talking about the throne literally speaking, note Revelation 19:5.
Then a voice came from the throne, saying, "Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!"
The voice is from the throne. It does not say the voice is from the One sitting on the throne. It describes the voice coming from the throne itself. In Revelation 21:5 "He who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new.'" But here, "a voice came from the throne, saying, 'Praise our God.'"
If the throne is God, how could it be calling God its God ("our God")? This is nothing new. Jesus is God, and He calls God His God (John 20:17; Hebrews 1:8-9). In Zechariah 1:11-13 God speaks with God. For more on that, see The Horses Are God.
In Revelation 16:17 and 19:5 only one voice is mentioned. In Revelation 4:5 more than one voice proceeds from the throne itself.
And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices.
In Exodus 19:16 (20:18) there were thunderings and lightning at the presence of God. In Job Elihu calls thunder "His voice" (Job 37:2, 4-5; see also Job 40:9; John 12:29). Yet in Revelation 4:5 there are voices! Indeed,
God is great, and we do not know Him. (Job 36:26)
Revelation 22:1 reveals the river of the water of life will proceed from the throne, and Revelation 22:3 reveals that God's servants will serve the throne Himself.
And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.
The subject here is the throne. The "His" and "Him" refer back to the subject of the sentence, the throne. If that wasn't clear in the English, it is most certainly clear in the Greek. The throne, ο θρονος (ho thronos), is in the nominative case making it the subject. The words, "of God" and "of the lamb," του θεου και του αρνιου (tou theou kai tou arviou), being in the genitive case, describe the throne (ο θρονος). Thus, the throne is the subject.
When this is understood, the next verse is quite profound, because the subjects do not change. Speaking of His servants serving Him (the throne) it says,
They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.
Whose face shall they see? They shall see the throne's face. Evidently, the throne has a face. No doubt, the throne of God is alive. It is a fiery flame with wheels that are a burning fire (Daniel 7:9).
Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? (Isaiah 33:14)
His servants, those who serve the throne of God, will reign forever with Him (Revelation 22:5), serving Him and sitting upon Him (Revelation 3:21).
Thus says the Lord: Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. (Isaiah 66:1; see also Acts 7:49; Job 26:9)
But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; . . . . (Matthew 5:34)
If heaven is God's throne, and the throne is God, then does that mean heaven is also God? Yes indeed, note what Jesus said in Matthew 23:22.
And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.
In other words, if you swear by heaven, you swear by God. Heaven is God.1
Jesus used "heaven" for a synonym for "God" in Matthew 21:25. He asked the chief priests and the elders,
The baptism of John - where was it from? From heaven or from men?
That is the same as saying, "The baptism of John - where was it from? From God or from men?" Heaven is God.
Likewise, in Luke 15 the son who returned to his father said,
Father, I have sinned against heaven . . . . (Luke 15:18, 21)
Sinning against heaven is sinning against God.
Throughout the gospels, "the kingdom of heaven" and "the kingdom of God" are used synonymously (e.g. Matthew 19:23-24; Matthew 4:17/Mark 1:14-15; Matthew 13:31-32/Mark 4:30-31). In this as well it is evident that "heaven" and "God" are one and the same.
If these things were not enough, Daniel 4:26 should close the case. Daniel, in interpreting Nebuchadnezzar's vision, says,
And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules.
Immediately before this Daniel says, "till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men," (Daniel 4:25), and a little later it says,
until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses. (Daniel 4:32)
Clearly, the Heaven in verse 26 that rules is the Most High of verses 25 and 32 that rules. Heaven is the Most High (literally in the Aramaic, the Highest One, עִלָּיאָ [`illây'â]). In other words, Heaven is God.
The Aramaic is interesting in verse 26 (verse 23 in the Aramaic text). Both the noun for "Heaven," שְׁמַיָּא (shemayyâ'), and the verb for "rules," שַׁלִּטִן (shallitin), are in the plural. It literally reads, "the Heavens rule." This plurality of the Godhead is further seen earlier in this same chapter where it says,
This decision is by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, . . . . (Daniel 4:17)
Who are "the watchers" and "the holy ones"? They are God. As it later says,
this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: (Daniel 4:24)
The "decree of the watchers" and "the sentence by the word of the holy ones" is "the decree of the Most High", the Highest One, the Heavens, the Lord Almighty.
This plurality in the Godhead is even further seen in this same chapter where it says,
They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses. (Daniel 4:25; see also verse 32)
Who are the "they"s in this verse? They are God. They (God) shall drive him from men. They (God) shall make him eat grass like an oxen. They (God) shall wet him with the dew of heaven. It is the Heavens, God Himself, the Highest One, cranking on Nebuchadnezzar for him to learn that "the Heavens rule" (Daniel 4:26). The Heavens humble a proud man.
Moreover, the Lord is repeatedly called the "Most High"2 (e.g. Genesis 14:18-20, 22; Numbers 24:16; etc.) or "the Highest"3 (e.g. Luke 1:32, 35, 76), the latter NT term being used for both Him and His Holy Habitation (e.g. Luke 2:14; 19:38; note also Psalm 113:5; Isaiah 33:5).
III. The Kingdom
The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all. (Psalm 103:19)
"Heaven rules" (Daniel 4:26). "His Kingdom rules" (Psalm 103:19). The Kingdom and Heaven are One and the same God that rules over all.
But seek first the kingdom of God . . . . (Matthew 6:33)
When someone seeks God's kingdom, what or who are they seeking? God. In fact, it is interesting that one Greek manuscript for Matthew 6:33 reads,
But seek first the kingdom and His righteousness, . . . . (א, A Reader's Greek New Testament, 2nd edition, Goodrich & Lukaszewski, ζητειτε δε πρωτον την βασιλειαν και την δικαιοσυνην αυτου; see also Matthew 6:33 NIV)
Proverbs 4:7 says,
Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.
Since Wisdom is God Himself, Proverbs 4:7 is identical in concept as Matthew 6:33. The Kingdom and Wisdom are One.
Consistent with seeking the kingdom (thus seeking God) is what Hebrews 11:14 says of people of faith. It says,
For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. (see also Hebrews 11:16)
That homeland that they seek is God Himself.
Furthermore, if the kingdom is indeed God, then the kingdom has always existed, for God has always existed (Psalm 90:2). Jesus said,
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. (John 18:36)
Hebrews 12:27-28 says,
Now this, Yet once more, indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, . . . . (Hebrews 12:27-28)
The kingdom of God is not of this world, and it is something, as Hebrews says, that cannot be shaken. That means it wasn't made. Therefore, it is eternal. It has always been, as Christ has always been (Micah 5:2).
Note what Jesus said to the Pharisees in Matthew 12:28.
But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.
What did Jesus mean by saying, "surely the kingdom of God has come upon you"? He meant that God Himself has come upon them. Jesus, being God, is the kingdom of God.
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9).
Twice in the gospels it is recorded that Christ prophesied there were some who would "not taste death till they see the kingdom of God" (Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27). In both cases, immediately afterwards, Peter, John, and James see Jesus glorified (Mark 9:2-3; Luke 9:28-29). The focus is on Christ's very person, as the Father, in both cases, speaks from a cloud and says,
This is My beloved Son. Hear Him! (Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35)
The vision is primarily about Christ (although Moses and Elijah are present as well). Yet, Jesus said they would see the kingdom of God. Christ is the kingdom of God.
Jesus said in Mark 10:15,
Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.
What, or who, needs to be received to enter the kingdom of God? Jesus needs to be received (John 1:12-13). Receiving the kingdom of God is receiving Jesus.
Luke 4:43-5:1 reads,
"I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent." And He was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee. So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret.
Notice here that preaching the kingdom of God and preaching the word of God are one and the same. If this is so, and it is, then if Christ is the Word (John 1:1), then Christ is the kingdom of God, and therefore, the kingdom is God.
Luke 9:2 and 6 say,
He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
Here the kingdom of God (verse 2) and the gospel (verse 6) are one and the same. Ephesians 1:13 calls the gospel, "the word of truth" and Paul used "the kingdom of God" and "the whole counsel of God" synonymously in Acts 20:25-27. As it is written,
And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. (Acts 20:25-27)
Clearly, the Word of God and the kingdom of God are One. They are both God.
No wonder Jesus said in John 3:3,
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Without the new birth (being born again) one cannot perceive, understand, see the kingdom. In other words, without being born again, you cannot see Jesus (as in Hebrews 2:9; 12:2). You cannot see, you cannot perceive, you cannot understand the Word. You cannot see, you cannot understand, God, the kingdom, unless you are born again.
1. Though the Heavens are God, the sun, moon, and stars in the heavens (Genesis 1:14-18) are not to be worshipped (Deuteronomy 4:19; 17:3; 2 Kings 21:3, 5-6). Nonetheless, God is a Sun (Psalm 84:11; Malachi 4:2; Revelation 1:16; 21:23-24).
2. עֶלְיֽוֹן (`elyon) “Most High” - when in reference to God, this word is always singular in the Hebrew text. When referring to God, it is also only found in Genesis 14:19-20, 22; Numbers 24:16; Deuteronomy 32:8; 2 Samuel 22:14; Psalm 7:17 (H18); 9:2 (H3); 18:13 (H14); 21:7 (H8); 46:4 (H5); 47:2 (H3); 50:14; 57:2 (H3); 73:11; 77:10 (H11); 78:35, 56; 82:6; 83:18 (H19); 87:5; 91:1, 9; 92:1 (H2); 97:9; 107:11; Isaiah 14:14; Lamentations 3:35, 38. Elsewhere it is used for: David in Psalm 89:27 (H28, “highest”); an “uppermost” basket in Genesis 40:17; Israel to be set “high” above all nations in Deuteronomy 26:19 & 29:1; “Upper” Beth Horon in Joshua 16:5; 1 Chronicles 7:24; 2 Chronicles 8:5; “exalted” regarding His house in 1 Kings 9:8 & 2 Chronicles 7:21; the “upper” gate in 2 Kings 15:35; 2 Chronicles 23:20; 27:3; Ezekiel 9:2; the “upper” pool in 2 Kings 18:17 (הָֽעֶלְיוֹנָ֔ה feminine form) & Isaiah 7:3; 36:2; “upper” Gihon in 2 Chronicles 32:30; “upper” house in Nehemiah 3:25; “high” gate in Jeremiah 20:2; “upper” court in Jeremiah 36:10; the “highest” story in Ezekiel 41:7 (feminine form הָעֶלְיוֹנָ֖ה); and “upper” chambers in Ezekiel 42:5.
In Aramaic the equivalent of this word, עֶלְיֽוֹן (`elyon) "Most High," is the singular Aramaic noun with the definite article עִלָּיָא (`illâyâ'). It is used only for God in the Bible. In the singular it is found only in Daniel 3:26; 4:2, 17, 24-25, 32, 34; 5:18, 21; 7:25. It is found in the plural, עֶלְיוֹנִ֖ין (`elyoniyn), for God in Daniel 7:18, 22, 25 & 27.
God is certainly the highest. See Psalm 113:4-6; John 3:31; Ephesians 4:6, 10.
3. In the NT "Highest" is ὑψίστοις (hupsistois) and is used exclusively for God and His Abode. It is found in Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:10; Luke 2:14; 19:38 for “in the Highest.” Mark 5:7; Luke 1:32; 8:28 are son of the "Most High.” Luke 1:35 is power of the "Highest.” Luke 1:76 is prophet of the "Highest.” Luke 6:35 is sons of the "Most High.” Acts 7:48; 16:17 are the "Most High.” Hebrews 7:1 is priest of the "Most High.”
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