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I Saw an Emperor

by Tim O'Hearn

Near the beginning of the Revelation we find the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor. As we read through them, many people pick out the most prominent thing to remember about each. For instance, we may remember that the letter to the church at Philadelphia has nothing negative to say. On the other hand, it seems that everyone knows that Laodicea was a lukewarm church. We forget that there were promises made to the Laodiceans that would repent. As with the promises to the other churches, these are pretty significant.

If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 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. (Rev 3:20-21)

One has to keep in mind who it is that is making the promise. This is not some minor dignitary. This is the King of kings and Lord of lords speaking. In the letter he calls himself “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” (Rev 3:14) Nor is the invitation for a single meal and a photo op on the Throne of God.

The king’s table was no small thing. On any given day there might be hundreds of guests. Just the list of daily provisions for Solomon should indicate how many people he hosted.

And Solomon's provision for one day was thirty measures of fine flour, and threescore measures of meal, Ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an hundred sheep, beside harts, and roebucks, and fallowdeer, and fatted fowl. (1 Kings 4:22-23)

Solomon’s guests included some permanent guests, such as the sons of Barzillai (1 Kings 2:7), as Mephibosheth had been continually at David’s table. (2 Sam 9:13) Nehemiah hosted more than 150 people daily. (Neh 5:17)

Now it might be an honor to be a one-time guest at the king’s or governor’s table, but it was more so to eat at the table continually. Such was the honor afforded to Jehoichin by the new king of Babylon. He took Jehoiachin out of prison and elevated him to permanent guest. (2 Kings 25:27-29) This is the honor afforded to those who hear the voice of the beginning of the creation of God.

Beyond eating at the table, though, the king offers another honor to those who overcome. “To him… I will grant to sit with me in my throne.” You don’t even have to resort to a knowledge of grammar to realize this is more than a one-time thing. “Even as I… am set down with my Father.”

Jesus told the apostles that “in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matt 19:28) According to Revelation 5:11, the angels are around the throne and worship the one on the throne. So this promise to the faithful of Laodicea is significant. They are to sit on His throne. That means they are greater than the apostles and worshiped by angels. The faithful sit with Jesus on his throne, continually.

In the late 1970s I had the opportunity to be in Tokyo at the Imperial Palace on the day Emperor Hirohito celebrated his birthday. We crowded into a courtyard, thousands at a time, and the emperor made a brief appearance on a balcony behind bullet-proof glass. Then we were all herded out so more could come in. I have seen an emperor, but I will sit on the throne with the King of Glory, the Emperor of all emperors.