I am loving, The Throne Room Song by People and Songs. They have caught something of glory and splendor and majesty and just awesomeness in this song. But then I get to the bridge and I have a theological moment. Do you ever have those?
“The veil is torn and the doors fling wide, I see glory as I run inside”
And it’s fine, in fact it’s great, my soul and spirit run to Jesus every time I sing it. It fits with scripture and the history of worship in the church. It is theologically sound. But I just have a little theological ‘um?’ moment.
And my ‘um?’ is this: God is always way more desperate to get out than I am to get in. Always more determined to get me than I am to get him. Continually calling me to deeper intimacy from a place of completely knowing me and being intimate with me. He goes first and I follow. He calls me and I respond. It’s like the classic: “Oh how I love Jesus / Oh, how I love Jesus / Oh how I love Jesus / Because he first loved me!”
He takes the initiative.
So would I even be able to run in to the throne room? As the veil tears in two and the doors fling wide, would there be room for me to get in past the tsunami wave of him continually coming out!
Have I made God too small or too still? I imagine that there is room for me to enter the throne room but would I even get anywhere near to the door, let alone through it.
And so the problem is not with the song but with my understanding and concept of the enormity of God. Because every time I imagine entering the throne room I come towards a man (or a lamb or sometimes a lion) sitting on a golden rainbow glowing throne. Actually my minimalist aesthetic makes me imagine the throne room as pure white … either way, I boldly approach. I come just as I am and in my mind the throne room is empty except Him and me and the throne. Which is nice – but selfish and individualistic. And I walk through a door and slowly approach. And I eventually arrive at three or four steps, which I climb to stand face to face with my God, my saviour and my Lord. And he smiles.
The problem is, that throughout it all, He has sat there smiling, bidding me to come (of course). He offers the invitation and I do all the walking! And I don’t think it’s actually like that.
Throughout history God’s desire has been to be with his people, with his creation; to be known and intimate. He doesn’t want only to sit on a throne and wait, He would be waiting a long time. We see it in the garden, the exodus, the whole set up of the temple, the prophets, the incarnation and the vision of revelation; God wants to dwell with us. He forgives and provides over and over again to make sure that he can be with his people. Sometimes we respond, sometimes we couldn’t care less, sometimes we willfully rebel against this immense generosity. But always he comes close. He comes to us.
We see at the consecration of Solomon’s temple (2 Chronicles 7:1-2) the presence of God comes in such a way that the priests cannot enter the temple. Isaiah 6:1-4, again the temple is filled with smoke and the train of God’s robe. And certainly in Revelation 4&5 the throne room is not a silent or empty place. There’s incense rising and creation shouting the praises of God and singing and movement and life. And then the end of revelation (21:22) there’s no temple at all because God’s dwelling place is with his people and God is the temple. There’s a throne but no throne room (21:3) and there’s shouting and there’s a river that flows from the throne (22) and the throne is in the city and there’s healing and joy and life and light and everything that God has always been.
When the veil tears between heaven and earth, who is the most excited? Who runs quicker? Who gets where first?
Answer: God got to me first. He always does because He is fully with us every moment of every day. The only limiting factor is whether we realise it or not. Whether we accept his imminence or not. Whether we receive Him or not.
I will continue to run into the throne room in this song and many others like it. But, God let me be aware that, in the moment of Jesus’ death you were able to burst out and come to me. At the moment of Pentecost you flooded your people with fire and presence – and still do. You ran out faster and more urgently than I could ever imagine.
And so let me pause for a moment in my eager running to be overwhelmed by the fact that you run faster and bigger. And that you’re running with me.