Sunday, September 13, 2015

Is Jesus Sitting or Standing in Heaven? Pt. 2

By Sam Shamoun


We now come to our discussion of the writings of John in order to see whether this blessed Apostle presents the risen Lord as ruling over creation from God’s throne in heaven.     

The Witness of John

John alludes to the text of Psalm 2, particularly v. 9,

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed (mashicho – Gr. tou Christou), saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Psalm 2:1-12

In his portrayal of Jesus being taken up to God in order sit on God’s throne as his anointed Ruler:

“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered… and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne… And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, AND the power of his Christ (tou Christou): for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” Revelation 12:1-2, 4b-5, 10

The risen Lord himself testified to John that he is sitting on the same throne with his Father:

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am SET DOWN with my Father IN HIS THRONE.” Revelation 3:21

This in itself sufficiently refutes the erroneous assertion that the risen Christ is not seated alongside God as a co-occupant of the divine throne. (1) 

John also depicts Jesus as the Son of Man who sits enthroned on a white cloud, whom the prophet Daniel foresaw and spoke of in his prophetic writing:

“And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one SAT like unto the Son of man, having on his head A GOLDEN CROWN, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that SAT on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that SAT on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. ” Revelation 14:14-16

That Jesus is this exalted Son of Man figure is brought out by the following passage:

Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, AND WAS DEAD; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Revelation 1:7-18 – cf. 2:8; 22:12-13, 16, 20

Remarkably, not only is Christ said to be the Son of Man here, the Apostle further identifies the risen Jesus as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last that died and now lives for evermore, as well as the very Almighty that is to come! John even describes Jesus as the Ancient of Days whom Daniel saw seated on a throne,

I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” Daniel 7:9-10

And whose voice is the same as that of the Almighty’s whom the prophet Ezekiel heard when God appeared to him in a vision:

And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings. And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings. And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.” Ezekiel 1:24-28

Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: and, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory. And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face. And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house. And I heard him speaking unto me out of the house; and the man stood by me. And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places. In their setting of their threshold by my thresholds, and their post by my posts, and the wall between me and them, they have even defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in mine anger. Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever.” Ezekiel 43:1-9

As if it couldn’t get any more remarkable, this blessed Apostle went as far as to apply to the Lord Jesus the following OT prophecy, which speaks of the tribes of Israel mourning over having pierced through Jehovah their God, 

The Lord also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah. In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look UPON ME whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; all the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apartIn that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.” Zechariah 12:7-14, 13:1

An act which the Apostle says was fulfilled when a Roman soldier pierced Jesus’ side with a spear at his crucifixion:

But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.” John 19:33-37

John is thus proclaiming that Jesus is the very Jehovah whom the Israelites will come to recognize as their God whom they pierced when he returns from heaven to reign on the earth from Jerusalem!

Now what makes John’s identification of Jesus as the Danielic Son of Man truly remarkable is that Daniel’s prophecy states that this particular figure is an indestructible Ruler whom all the nations must worship as he reigns over them forever and ever:

“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, WHICH SHALL NOT PASS AWAY, and his kingdom THAT WHICH SHALL NOT BE DESTROYED.” Daniel 7:13-14

This perhaps explains why the Apostle saw every creature in existence worshiping the risen Christ in the same exact way that God the Father is worshiped:

“And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And EVERY CREATURE which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, AND ALL THAT ARE IN THEM, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, AND UNTO THE LAMB for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.” Revelation 5:8-14

To say that this is a truly astonishing depiction would be a wild understatement since the worship of Jesus by every created being proves that he is not a creature, but separate and distinct from all of creation, and is therefore essentially coequal with the Father, which is why he receives the same exact worship that the Father receives. 

Now when we read these statements in light of the Gospel of John’s repeated emphasis that Christ came forth out of heaven from the Father’s presence and would return back to him,

And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” John 3:13

For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent meWhat and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?” John 6:62

Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.” John 8:42

“Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;” John 13:3

“‘I have told you these things in proverbs. But the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in proverbs, for I will speak to you plainly about the Father. On that day you will ask in My name. I am not saying to you that I shall ask the Father on your behalf. For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world. As I said, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.’ His disciples said to Him, ‘Yes! Now You are speaking plainly and with no figure of speech. Now we know that You know everything and do not need anyone to question You. By this we believe that You came from God.’ Jesus answered them, Do you now believe?” John 16:25-31 MEV(2)

Along with Jesus’ assertion that he and the Father have been sharing in the same glory alongside each other from even before the creation of the world,

And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.” John 17:5, 8

Then it becomes crystal clear that the risen Lord had been a co-occupant of God’s throne from even before the world came into existence. This explains why upon his ascension into heaven Christ sat down on the throne alongside the Father.

Hence, these remarkable descriptions of the Lord Jesus conclusively prove that, for the Apostle John, Christ is none other than Jehovah God Almighty in the flesh (even though he is not the Father or the Holy Spirit), which is why he reigns as the eternal King upon the very throne of God forever and ever!

With the foregoing in view we are now ready to turn to the final part of our rebuttal.

Endnotes

(1) Some may argue that Jesus being seated on God’s throne doesn’t prove that he is God since this verse says that all the believers who overcome will also be allowed to sit on the throne shared by the Father and the Son. Yet no one takes this to mean that believers are God or gods as well.

Suffice it to say that this objection does nothing to undermine the fact that Jesus is depicted as sitting on the same throne of God in heaven.

Moreover, the point of this text is that Christ will allow those who overcome by faith in him,

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John 5:4-5

To share in his sovereign rule over the earth, similarly to the way that he himself shares in his Father’s rule over all things, albeit to a very limited extent. However, those who share in Christ’s reign will still be subject to both the Father and the Son as their slaves, and will therefore be required to worship and serve both God and the risen Lamb, just as the following texts confirm:

and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and PRIESTS unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 1:5-6 – cf. 5:9-10; 7:9-17

“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned WITH CHRIST a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God AND OF CHRIST, and shall reign WITH HIM a thousand years. And when the thousand years are expired,” Revelation 20:4-6

“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the THRONE of God AND OF THE LAMB. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 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: and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 22:1-5

As an aside, note how John refers to the THRONE, singular, of God and of the Lamb, thereby indicating that God’s throne is also the Lamb’s throne. This again reinforces the fact that Christ is a co-occupant of the single divine throne that God himself occupies.

This brings me to my next point. Unlike the redeemed of the Lord, Jesus fully shares in his Father’s sovereign authority over the entire creation. And unlike the innumerable host who have been redeemed by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus (cf. Revelation 7:9-17), Christ does not worship or serve God, but receives the same exact worship that the Father receives from every created thing in existence:

Then I heard EVERY CREATURE which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and in the sea, AND ALL THAT ARE IN THEM, saying: ‘To Him who sits on the throne AND TO THE LAMB be blessing and honor and glory and power, forever and ever! The four living creatures said, ‘Amen.’ And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshipped Him who lives forever and ever.” Revelation 5:13-14 MEV 

(2) Here in this passage the disciples come to realize and acknowledge that Christ is the omniscient Lord who doesn’t need to be questioned in order to see whether he knows what he is talking about. Nor is this the only place in John’s Gospel where Jesus is said to know all things:

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.” John 2:23-25

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” John 21:17

With statements such as these, could the Apostle have been any clearer in presenting Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God who is one with the Father in glory, power and majesty?

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