He Who is Upon the Throne
Ezekiel 1:26-28
And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone…

There is a natural tendency to clothe the spiritual in material form, and thus to bring the invisible and impalpable within the range and sphere of sense. It must not be supposed that, when the inspired writers, in this and similar passages, depict in imagery of material splendour the presence of the Almighty, they are misled by their own language, and forget that "God is a Spirit." Their aim is to represent, in such a way as shall impress the mind, the glorious attributes of the Eternal, to suggest the relations which he sustains to his creatures, and to inspire those emotions which are becoming to the subjects of Divine authority in approaching their rightful King. Thus understood, the language of this passage is fitted to help us to conceive aright of him whom no man hath seen.

I. THE ELEVATION AND SUPERIORITY OF THE DIVINE BEING. The living creatures are depicted as above the earth, but below the heavens. Above the firmament that was over their heads, the prophet in his vision saw the dim form which shadowed forth the presence of the Eternal. Position, we know, is relative, and it would be absurd to take this representation as literal. Yet how instructive and inspiring is this picture! Ezekiel took the same view of the great Author of all being as was taken by Isaiah, who saw the Lord "high and lifted up." Raise our thoughts as we may, God is still immeasurably above us. When we speak of him as "the Most High," we are striving, in such language, to set forth his infinite superiority to ourselves and to all the works of his hands.

II. THE AUTHORITY AND DOMINION OF THE DIVINE BEING. A throne speaks, not only of greatness, but of power and of right to rule. God is the King, to whose sway all creation is subject, and to whose moral authority all his creatures who are endowed with an intelligent and voluntary nature should delight to offer a glad obedience. His commands are the laws which we are bound to obey; his voice is for us the welcome voice of rightful authority. The religion of the Bible is a religion which enjoins and requires obedience and subjection. Christianity is the revelation of a kingdom which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

III. THE HUMANITY OF THE DIVINE BEING. Such language may at first hearing sound almost daring. And nothing would be further from the truth than to suggest that the Deity is subject to human frailties and infirmities, such as the heathen - both savage and cultivated - have been in the habit of attributing to their gods. But there is great significance in the language of Ezekiel, when he tells us that upon the throne of universal empire "there was the appearance of a man." We have thus brought before us the glorious truth that the human nature is akin to the Divine. We can reason to some extent from our own thoughts and feelings to those of the Infinite Spirit. The resemblance is of course partial, but it is real. And believers in the Incarnation cannot but recognize the justice and the preciousness of this representation of the prophet.

IV. THE SPLENDOUR OF THE DIVINE BEING. Ezekiel uses all the resources of nature to invest his representation of the Eternal with unapproachable splendour. He failed, where all must fail, in the attempt to portray that which cannot be portrayed. His language, glowing as it is, gives but hints and suggestions of glory which surpasses human apprehension. Yet, as he speaks of sapphire and amber, of fire and brightness, we feel that his mind was impressed with the Divine glory, and that his description is fitted to awaken our profoundest and lowliest reverence and adoration.

V. THE MERCY OF THE DIVINE BEING. No picture of the character and attributes of the Supreme would be complete which did not include mercy. Man stands pressingly in need of the Divine compassion. His weakness, his sin, his helplessness, are such, that Divine pity is his only hope. Now, the bow in the cloud is the emblem of mercy. The rain, the dense dark clouds, the floods upon the earth, represent affliction, chastisement, distress. But the sun of grace and kindness shines through the gloom; the rainbow spans the sky, and its beauty cheers the soul of the beholder, as with an assurance of compassion, as with a promise of relief. Mercy is the crowning attribute of the Supreme. God is our King and Judge; but he has not forgotten to be gracious; he is also our Father and our Saviour. - T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: Above the expanse that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone; and on the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man on it above.

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