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  • Rick LoPresti

The throne, the crown, and the sceptre

The study of human authority is an important and interesting one which cannot be fully examined here. Simply put, all authority is ultimately held by God Himself and no other. However, he does delegate authority to angels (Ps 8:5, 1Cor 11:10, 2Pet 2:11) and men (Gen 32:28, Lk 10:19, 1Cor 9:12, Heb 13:7, Rev 11:6). Romans 13:1-7 is often referred to as an example of how God delegates authority to men. God saw about 400 years in advance that Israel would desire a king (Deut 17:14-20). This came to pass in the days of Samuel (1Sam 8). Even though God granted their request, this still shows that God is the ultimate authority, and to attempt to assign His authority to man is the greatest foolishness man has ever engaged in. Yet he has made this mistake over and over since the garden of Eden (Gen 3:1-7). Authority is often shown through symbols. Three symbols kings have often used to represent their authority are the throne, the crown, and the sceptre. All three are mentioned in the Bible as showing the authority of God.

Although God is invisible, and cannot be fully observed by man, He has manifested Himself visibly in different forms at times (Gen 18:1-2 & 19:1, Gen 28:13, Gen 32:24, Ex 3:2-4, Ex 13:20-21, Eze 1). Several times in the Old Testament men saw Him in appearance as a man sitting on a throne (1Ki 22:19, Is 6:1, Eze 1:26, Eze 10:1, Dan 7:9). The throne of God is mentioned throughout the Bible. There is never more than one throne mentioned, because there is only one God and His authority is not divided. Stephen saw a vision of God, and the only person he saw was Jesus Christ (Acts 7:55-56).

In the book of Revelation, which is the most detailed look into heaven in the Bible, there are 31 references to the throne of God. Some of them shed direct light on the nature of the Godhead. Rev 1:4 states the one on the throne is he which is, and which was, and is to come. This is Jesus (Rev 1:8). Yet in Revelation 1:5 it says, “and from Jesus Christ”. This shows the two natures of the one on the throne. The rest of verse 5 and verses 6 and 7 describe Him as the one who died, shed his blood, made us kings and priests unto God and His Father, comes with clouds, He whom every eye shall see, and He who was pierced. These are all references to the man Christ Jesus. Revelation 3:21 states that the overcomer will sit with Jesus in His throne like He overcame and sat down with His Father in His throne. See Matthew 25:31-35. This would be very confusing if there was more than one throne or person in the Godhead; but when we understand that the Son is the man and the Father is God, it becomes clear and harmonious with scripture. In Revelation 4:1-10 we see one throne and one sitting on the throne who is worshipped as He who lives forever. In Revelation 5:1-13 there is a Lamb among all those around the throne who takes a roll out of the right hand of Him who sits on the throne. This roll contains judgments. This Lamb is also the Lion of Judah and Root of David as explained above. This passage is similar to Daniel 7. In Dan 7:9-10 the Ancient of Days sits on a fiery throne before thousand thousands and 10,000 times 10,000, and the books are opened for judgment. He is described as having a garment white as snow, and hair like pure wool. This is a description of Jesus (Jn 5:22, Rev 1:13-14, Rev 5:11-12, Rev 20:11-15). In verses 13-14 the Son of man comes with the clouds of heaven to the Ancient of Days, and he is given an eternal kingdom. This is also clearly Jesus (Mt 24:30, Mt 26:64, Rev 1:7). This is difficult to explain if the Father and the Son are two separate persons; but if the Father and the Son are two natures in one person, this passage is clear. This is another prophetic vision of the man Christ Jesus taking his place after His resurrection and ascension. This vision continues in verses 18, 22, and 27 to show the saints inheriting the kingdom from Him (Ex 19:5-6, Mt 5:3 and 10, Mt 16:19, Mt 25:34, Lk 12:32, Lk 22:29, Heb 12:28, Jam 2:5, 1Pet 2:9, Rev 1:5-6, Rev 5:9-10). These verses do not make saints persons in the Godhead. They show humanity receiving from divinity. In Dan 7:9-10 the thousands are before the throne of the Ancient of Days. In Revelation 5:11-14 those thousands offer the same worship before the throne to Him who sits on the throne and unto the Lamb. Yet in verse 14 this is the one who lives forever. Jesus and John explain this (Mt 10:40, Mk 9:37, Lk 10:16, Jn 5:23, Jn 12:44-45, Jn 15:23-24, 1Jn 2:23, 2Jn 9). Jesus will present the church to himself (Lk 19:12, Jn 14:3, Eph 5:27, Jude 24). If you worship the Son, you are worshipping the Father. If you receive the Son, you receive the Father. If you reject the Son, you are rejecting the Father. This is not because they are “on the same page”. It is because they are one (Jn 10:30). This is the Greek word heis which means the numeral one. The Father and the Son are more than just in agreement. They are literally one.

Revelation 6:16 speaks of the face of Him who sits on the throne and the wrath of the Lamb. Jesus is the only actual face God ever had or will have (2Cor 4:4-6, Col 1:15, Heb 1:3). It is also noteworthy that the word face in Revelation 6:16 is prosopon, the same word used in 2Corinthians 4:4-6. Thus, it is one person. Revelation 21:5-7 says the He who sits on the throne states He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end; and He will be the overcomer’s God, and he will be His son. Jesus is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (Rev 1:8 and 11, Rev 22:12-13). Thus, the overcomer is the son of Jesus, making Him the Father. Rev 22:1-4 states there is one throne of God and the Lamb, His (not their) servants shall serve Him (not them), they shall see His face (not their faces), and His name (not their names) shall be in their foreheads. This is yet another example of two natures in one person. As for the name in the foreheads, Revelation 7:3 and Revelation 9:4 speak of the seal of God in the forehead. It is the name of the Lamb’s Father (Rev 14:1). Jesus told the church in Philadelphia that they had not denied His name, and He would write the name of His God on the overcomer (Rev 3:8-12). What name is this? What is the name of the Lamb’s Father (Prov 30:4, Is 9:6, Zech 14:9, Jn 5:43, Jn 10:30, Jn 14:26, Jn 17:6, Acts 4:12, Rom 8:17, Phil 2:9-10, Heb 1:4)? It is Jesus.

Another symbol of kingly authority is the crown. The word appears 66 times in the Bible. The ark of the covenant (Ex 25:10-11), the table of shewbread (Ex 25:23-25), and the altar of incense (Ex 30:1-3) in the tabernacle were all to have a crown of gold around their tops. This word means border or molding. The high priest was to wear a linen mitre which was a turban or diadem (Ex 28:4 & 37-39, Ex 29:6). This mitre was fitted with a gold plate which read “holiness to the Lord” (Ex 29:36, Ex 39:30). This plate was called a crown (Ex 29:6, Ex 39:30, Lev 8:9). The Bible also uses the phrase “crown of his head” not as a description of a literal crown but the top of the head (Gen 49:26, Deut 33:20, 2Sam 14:25, Job 2:7, Prov 16:31, Is 3:17, Jer 48:45). Then there is the literal crown as a king would wear. The first reference in the Bible to this is king Saul’s crown (2Sam 1:10). There is also mention of the crown of the king of Rabbah of the Ammonites (2Sam 12:30), Joash’s crown (2Ki 11:12), Vashti’s crown that was given to Esther (Est 1:11, Est 2:17), and the crown Mordecai wore (Est 6:8, Est 8:15). A crown is also symbolic of honor and glory (Job 19:9, Prov 4:9, Prov12:4, Prov 14:24, Prov 16:31, Prov 17:6, Is 28:5, Is 62:3). When the Roman soldiers took Jesus to mock and torture Him, they made a crown of thorns that were several inches long, placed it on His head, and then struck it with a reed to drive the thorns into His head (Mt 27:27-31). Since the scalp is very thin and under it is the skull, there was no place for the thorns to sink into. We can only imagine how painful this was. We complain when we get a splinter in our hand. Yet when the Lord Jesus returns, He will not be wearing a crown of thorns. The time of His suffering and humility has been accomplished. He is King of kings and Lord of lords (1Tim 6:15, Rev 17:14, Rev 19:16), and He will return with a kingly crown of gold (Rev 14:14). Revelation 19:12 says He has many crowns indicating many victories over His enemies and His ultimate Lordship. His servants will also be given crowns to rule with Him in His kingdom (1Cor 9:25, 2Tim 4:8, Jam 1:12, 1Pet 5:4, Rev 2:10, Rev 3:11). Whether these crowns are literal or symbolic is a separate discussion from the point here regarding the meaning of a crown. Revelation 4:4 & 10 also describe the crowns the 24 elders around the throne of God have, and how they cast them before the throne, honoring the ultimate King. Today, kingly crowns have mostly fallen out of use with at least one exception, the royal crown of the English monarchy with the famed royal jewels, although it is only worn for the coronation of what is now mostly a symbolic monarchy.

A third symbol of royal authority is the sceptre. It was a staff or rod which was probably ornately decorated. It was not meant to be a practical item. It was used by kings to symbolize their authority. The sceptre is mentioned in the Bible 16 times. On his death bed, Jacob prophesied over his sons and by extension the twelve tribes that would come of them (Gen 49). He said the sceptre would not depart from Judah until Shiloh came. Most understand Shiloh to be a Messianic reference (Gen 49:10). There were two parts to the patriarchal inheritance – the blessing and the birthright (Gen 25 & 27). The blessing went to Joseph, but the birthright went to Judah. Jesus came from the tribe of Judah (Mic 5:2, Lk 3:33, Heb 7:14, Rev 5:5). Balaam also prophesied of a Sceptre rising out of Israel (Num 24:17). When Esther appeared before the king of Persia, even though he was her husband, he had to hold out his sceptre for her touch to show she was allowed into his presence (Est 4:11, Est 5:2, Est 8:4). Otherwise, she would be put to death. Other references to a sceptre symbolizing kingly authority are Isaiah 14:5, Eze 19:14, Amos 1:5 & 8, and Zech 10:11. Psalm 45:6 says, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.” This is quoted in Hebrews 1:8. This tells us that only God has the ultimate authority, and only His reign is forever and based on righteousness (2Pet 3:13). The kingdoms of men rise and fall because man is faulty and his kingdoms all either start out or end in corruption. The only One we can look to for a just, perfect, eternal, and merciful kingdom is the Lord Jesus Christ.

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