Have you ever stopped to think about the throne of God? While we may often read about it, or even sing about it, what is it that comes to mind when you consider the throne of God? When most people think of a throne it usually involves a physical seat and someone sitting on it. But does this mean God literally sits on a throne or is this more figurative in nature? Whether it is literal or figurative, which we will answer in a moment, one thing we know for sure is one day we will stand before the throne of God.  

Does God literally sit on a throne? In Scripture, there are times when the throne of God can appear to be literal and there are times when the throne of God can appear to be metaphorical. Let me give you an example of both:

Examples where the throne of God seems literal.

“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.” – Isaiah 6:1-2

“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.” – Revelation 4:2-3

These two descriptions of the throne of God, one that Isaiah saw and one that John saw, cause you to want to imply that God does literally sit on a throne. These are very detailed visions and within the vision they give the picture of God sitting on a throne, which can make it feel literal when you read it.

Examples where the throne of God seems metaphorical.

“This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool…” – Isaiah 66:1

“But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.” – Matthew 5:34-35

In these scriptures, the throne of God does not feel like it is referring to a literal seat. In fact, it makes the throne seem more like a dwelling place than an actual sitting place. You could possibly argue if you just used these two verses that all of heaven represents the throne of God because that is his dwelling place.

What’s the verdict?

The website Got Questions used this description to describe the throne of God: “The throne of God need not be thought of as a literal throne. God the Father is incorporeal (John 4:24). Not having a physical body, God does not literally ‘sit.’ References to a divine throne are akin to biblical allusions to God’s ‘hand’ or ‘mouth’ or ‘eyes’—they are anthropomorphisms, descriptions of God couched in human terms out of deference to our limited knowledge. God has to describe Himself in ways we can understand.”

Overall, I tend to agree with that opinion and believe God does not sit on a literal throne, and often, this term is used figuratively in Scripture. While this may help to address the question, there is something else to consider. Whether God’s throne is literal or figurative, we need to be clear on what the throne of God represents.

What does the throne of God represent?

The throne of God represents his majesty and glory, but it also represents his power, control and authority. The one who sits on the throne is the one who is in charge because it is the seat of power. Since God sits on the throne, he has complete authority and the right to do as he pleases. He is the highest authority, and all other authority is subject to him. One could say it does not really matter if God’s throne is literal or figurative, because his power and authority are real, and one day, we will stand before his throne to give an account. 

Will we stand before a literal throne?

The Bible is clear that we will all have to give an account one day for our lives. We will all appear before the judgment seat.

“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” – Romans 14:10

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.” – Revelation 20:11-12

When the Bible speaks of judgment, the picture is given of one who is a judge, who is always seated, and the ones who come before the judge, who are usually standing before him. Typically, in a court of law when a verdict is read, or a sentence is given, the defendant stands before the judge. You have probably heard it said in a court of law “Will the defendant please rise?”. This is similar to what will happen in judgment because we will all stand before the throne of God for the verdict to be read. For those in Christ, this will not be a judgment of sin because your sins have been judged in Christ. This will be a judgment of reward for what you have done since you were saved. For those who don’t know Christ, this will be a judgment of sin. I don’t know for certain if the throne mentioned for judgment is literal or figurative, but in this case I would lean towards a literal throne. The Bible declares that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11). This is one of those places where that could happen because everyone will stand before the throne and acknowledge Jesus as Lord of all.

The throne that matters most.

We could make cases for the throne of God being both literal and figurative from the Scriptures. Regardless of which one is true, in your life that is not the most important throne for God to sit on. There is one throne that matters more than any other throne and that is the throne of your heart. What God really desires is to sit in the seat of authority in your life where he can direct your paths and order your steps. The amazing thing about God is even though he is all-powerful he will not force himself onto the throne of your heart. Notice these words of Jesus:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” – Revelation 3:20

Jesus, the King of Kings and the one with all authority, gently knocking, not forcing down the door of your heart. One day we will know for certain whether we will see God seated on a literal throne or not, but until that day comes, if Christ sits on the throne of your heart, then you have nothing to fear on the day you stand before the throne of God.

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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.