“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (NKJV)
I really hadn’t meant to have so many posts on these last few verses, but there’s just so much in them.
The idea of “thrones” brings up the subject of “kings” and “kingdoms.” There is a great deal of discussion about “the kingdom,” and it’s not our purpose, at least as we start, to get into all that.
A Study Bible that I’ve used has a note on our verse, which it quotes like this: the Lord Jesus…sat down on His throne (Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible, p. 2172.) Even though the note goes on to say that our Lord “will be highly exalted,” I fear it misses the point of the verse. It’s true that the Lord Jesus will indeed sit on His own throne, and be highly exalted, as the note quotes from Philippians 2:9-11, but that’s not what this verse says. It says that right now He’s seated on, or at the right hand of, the Father’s throne. This is in agreement with several other Scriptures.
The first verse is found in Psalm 110:1, The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” This is the only reference to this in the Old Testament, so far as I know. Our Lord quotes this in Matthew 22:44, one of many confrontations with His enemies, who contested His every statement. Without getting into the entire discussion between them, He uses this verse to ask them, “How can David’s son be David’s God?”
Just in passing, with regard to the phrase in Psalm 110:1, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies,” since many believe that “the kingdom” only involves Christ’s headship over His church, how does that fit in with His ruling in the midst of His enemies?
Psalm 110:1 is the foundational verse. It’s quoted several times in the NT and more than 15 other verses refer to our Lord as being at the right hand of the Father. The point is, what is He doing there? Not in the sense of “deserving” to be there, but what is He doing as He sits there? Scripture tells us.
Perhaps the main thing is that He is sitting at the right hand of the Father because His work is done. Hebrews 1:3 says, When He had by Himself purged our sins, [He] sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. The Book of Hebrews spends a lot of time talking about OT things the reader would have been familiar with, and showing how the Lord Jesus fulfills or is superior to those things. For example, in the Mosaic Tabernacle, there was no seat, no place to sit down, for the officiating priest. That’s because his work was never done.
There is one exception to the verses saying that He sits. Acts 7:56 tells us that, as he was finishing his testimony before the Sanhedrin, Stephen told them that he saw the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. To these Jewish leaders, this was blasphemy, and, enraged, they killed him. No reason is given as to why the Lord Jesus was standing. Someone has suggested that it was to welcome home this first martyr of the church.
Our Lord sat down. His work was done. He had by himself purged our sins. Notice that the writer did not say, “He died for our sins.” “He made it possible for our sins to be purged.”
He purged –
our sins. He got rid of them on the Cross, and then went home to heaven and sat down. He was done. And so were our sins.
This is a tough nut to crack. We’re so inundated with the idea that there must be something that we have to do in order to make what He did effective. We have to “validate,” as it were, by accepting Him, what He did on the Cross. We’re told sin isn’t really paid for until we do that. And, yes, without doubt, we are told to believe on Him to be saved. There is no salvation apart from faith in Him. But that faith rests on His finished, completed work – or there is no salvation, either. He sat down because sin has been taken care of, taken away.
But He’s doing something else, as well. In the words of the KJV, But this man after he had offered one sacrifice forever, sat down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool, Hebrews 10:12, 13, emphasis added. Newer versions translating “expecting” as “waiting,” and though accurate, it’s incomplete. The word means “to wait expectantly.”
What did the Father say to the Son? “Sit at My right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” Our Lord is waiting for, expecting, His Father to fulfill that promise. Has that happened? Or is He just talking about some “spiritual” victory, in which the great majority of the world continues to ignore, reject, or violently oppose His rule? Follow some false religion?
Christmas is 4 days away as I write this. Who’s the most prominent figure at this time? Who are little children told to expect? Not our Lord. Oh, He might get an “honorable mention,” so to speak, with a nativity scene tucked away among the ornaments and decorations, but He’s not really the center of attention, is He?
When the Father fulfills His promise to the Son, such treatment will not be the case, or even possible. God made a second promise which goes along with this. In Psalm 2:9, 10, He told the Son, “Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Revelation 19:11 tells us this will happen when the Lord returns to earth, not before. Verse 15 says, He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. The word translated “rule” means “to shepherd”: “He Himself will shepherd them with a rod of iron.” This gives quite a different picture than the idea that He’ll return, there will be the final judgment, and then eternity. Zechariah 14:12-21 gives us further details of events at and following His return. These indeed portray a “rod of iron.”
But there’s more. As our Lord sits there waiting, He’s not inactive. I believe that He is calling His sheep. In John 10:14-16, our Lord says, “I am the good shepherd; and know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they well hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one Shepherd.”
“Other sheep I have…, them also I must bring.”
Those for whom He died must be brought home.
Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, He’s calling His sheep to Himself. We can only know them because they follow the Shepherd. Not just “religion,” not just some religious figure or authority, but the Lord Jesus. He is their Lord and Savior. There is some discussion, sometimes heated, about this idea of Lord and Savior, but we can’t cut the Lord Jesus into two parts, only accepting Him as “Savior” and leaving behind the idea that He’s Lord, or that He has any claim on us. We seem to think He has to save us if we “accept” Him, but that He’s not supposed to tell us what to do until we decide that He can. That may be a lot of fundamental or evangelical Christianity, but I don’t believe that it’s true. It certainly isn’t Biblical.
He is Lord, and He has willing subjects. Are we among them?
There is one final thing. He intercedes for us. Hebrews 9:24 says, For Christ has not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, to appear in the presence of God for us.
“To appear in the presence of God for us”….
I don’t even know how to begin with this. This whole truth of the Incarnation, the death, the resurrection, the return, of our Lord…. Who can really describe what these things mean? The God of the Universe, who spoke and it was done, that One who upholds the stars in their courses and calls them all by name, that One who has numbered – not counted, numbered the hairs on our head, that One who holds every breath of ours in His hand, that One whom we continually rebel against,…that One.
That One came and lived the life we could never live, died a death we can’t even begin to imagine, with our sanitized pictures and crucifixes, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and now prays for the very ones who put Him on the cross. The Romans might have physically nailed Him to it, but you and I, if we’re believers, we were there, too.
Matthew 25:31 says that the Lord Jesus will not sit on His own throne until He returns to this earth. Other Scriptures tell us that He will do so at Jerusalem, where He will assume His rightful place as Lord and Ruler of this world.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.