“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:14-16
The idea that because of Christ and through Christ we can boldly approach the “throne of grace”, that we can go with confidence into the throne room of the creator of the universe, is hard to grasp. I try to picture what the throne room must look like, knowing that my imagination does not and cannot come anywhere near a resemblance of what it is actually like. Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4 have descriptions that help, but I am sure they were at a loss for words trying to describe the indescribable.
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. – Isaiah 6:1-4
After seeing the holiness and awesome power of the presence of God, Isaiah assumes that his life is about to end. The ground was shaking at the voice of the angels praising God. Revelation adds to the imagery of the throne room.
“At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“’Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
‘You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.” – Revelation 4:2-11
Both accounts of the throne room emphasize God’s holiness and the praise that He is continually receiving because of His greatness and worthiness. Both take time to describe the majesty of those giving praise to God because if we can get a better grasp of just how incredible these angelic beings and elders are, we can get a slightly better glimpse at how much greater God himself is.
Throughout scripture whenever an angel appears to someone, one of the first things they say is “Do not be afraid.” Usually the first responses of those that are seeing an angel are fear, bowing down in worship–which the angel has to tell them not to do–or both. These terrifyingly powerful beings are worshiping the Lord constantly, giving honor and praise to Him who is infinitely greater.
Understanding we will fall woefully short in our imagination as we try to stretch our understanding of what the greatness and holiness of God looks like, try also to wrap your mind around the fact that we are made so righteous and pure by Christ’s sacrifice–by His imputed righteousness–that we can boldly approach this throne. That for those sanctified and washed in the blood of Christ, it is a throne of grace where we can “obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
We do not cower or crawl, we have no need to hide or be ashamed. The salvation and redemption of Christ is so complete that we can enter with confidence and boldness. Not only that, but we have been made co-heirs with Christ and are now children of God. He is our perfect heavenly Father, looking on us with compassion and love. We who might be intimidated to approach the CEO of our company or the leader of a nation can boldly approach the creator of time itself and call Him ‘Abba’. (Rom. 8:15)
As a side note, growing in our view of God and relationship with him will also help us live out Psalm 118:6,
“The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
If we can approach God without fear, there should be no reason to fear any human.
Our God is holier than we can conceive. Our salvation through Jesus Christ is more wonderful than we can yet grasp. God, who dwells in “unapproachable light”, made completely approachable anytime, anywhere, through the Son.
Lately, when I pray I try to picture this scene playing out in my mind. The greatness of God combined with the intimate access of a child, made possible through the gospel of Christ. Going before the throne in worship, praising both who He is and what He has done, and boldly stating my prayers and petitions. It is incredible to think about.