Matthew 27:37, “…over His head they put the charge against Him, which read, ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
Revelation 22:3, “…the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it…”
“…the throne of God and of the Lamb”…..so much could be said about that…but for now, let me confine if to one thing. The climactic vision that we are given of God’s dwelling with His people for eternity has a slain and risen Lamb seated on the throne of the universe. The fact that Jesus is not called the “Lion” here or even the “Beloved” or the “Son,” but the Lamb implies that His lamb-like work, His conquering death and resurrection, is the definitive revelation of His person. And if it is the definitive revelation of His person, it is the definitive revelation of God. Yes, God intends for us to know Him eternally–for us to behold His supreme and unveiled glory–in the face of the slain and risen Lamb….the crucifixion and resurrection is, is, IS, the white-hot center of YHWH’s self-revelation to creation and therefore, of our eternal joy, of the beatific vision itself.
But, what I wanted to mention this morning is how we see here the climax of one element of the temple imagery (and, indeed, all the elements if we were to take time to consider them each in turn), namely, the throne and the altar.
In the tabernacle designs, the entire tent/courtyard structure could be divided into two equal halves. At the center of one half was the Ark and at the center of the other was the altar (incidentally, both were made of wood from the thorn-bearing acacia tree…). The Ark was symbolic of YHWH’s throne, and the altar is where the offerings were burnt to purify those who would approach (among other things).
Now–when God becomes man in Christ, we see, as it were, YHWH descend from His throne and lay Himself down on the altar. The cross corresponds then to the altar…and yet, by offering Himself upon it, YHWH–the King–turns the altar into His throne, the throne of His sovereign and steadfast love. With the incarnation the altar becomes the throne.
But the slaying of the Lamb on the altar of the cross has accomplished more than anyone could have imagined. The tearing of the veil anticipated it. By His death and resurrection, the Lamb has made “earth and heaven one,” He has caused all of creation to be swallowed up into the temple of God, unleashing the glory of YHWH over all things so that the entire universe will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. And in the New Jerusalem we see an image of this harmonizing of all things in Himself as the LAMB sits on the THRONE.
“Lamb” denotes sacrifice/altar imagery while “Throne” denotes kingly imagery. In the incarnation the KING was laid on the ALTAR, but in the eschaton the LAMB sits on the THRONE..