Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The Messiah on Yahweh’s Throne –

The NT Witness to Jesus’ Divine Sovereignty over all Creation Pt. 1

Sam Shamoun

In this section of our series I am going to present the evidence from the NT writings showing that the Lord Jesus is the Messiah whom the OT prophets prophesied would sit alongside God on God’s own throne in heaven, thereby sharing in God’s exalted status and sovereignty over all creation.


He who is above all

The prophetic writings testify that Yahweh reigns as the most high above the entire earth:

For you, Yahweh, are most high above all the earth. You are exalted far above all gods.” Psalm 97:9

Here is how the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, commonly referred to as the Septuagint (LXX), renders this text:

“For you are Lord most high (kyrios hypsistos) over all the earth; you are greatly exalted above all gods.” Psalm 96:9

Note that the name Yahweh has been substituted with the Greek word kyrios, meaning Lord. We shall soon see why this is significant.

Amazingly, the NT Scriptures ascribe this very status to the Lord Jesus since he is said to be the One who is above everyone and everything:

“John answered, ‘A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven. You yourselves testify that I said, “I am not the Christ,” but, “I have been sent before him.” He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. This, my joy, therefore is made full. He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all. He who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. What he has seen and heard, of that he testifies; and no one receives his witness. He who has received his witness has set his seal to this, that God is true. For he whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for God gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand. One who believes in the Son has eternal life, but one who disobeys the Son won’t see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.’” John 3:27-36

The following verses confirm that the Baptist was speaking of the Lord Jesus as coming from above, from heaven itself:

“No one has ascended into heaven, but he who descended out of heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.” John 3:13

For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.” John 6:38

“He said to them, ‘You are from beneath. I am from above. You are of this world. I am not of this world. I said therefore to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.’” John 8:23-24

Thus, Jesus is the One who reigns far above every created thing from heaven itself:

“and what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to that working of the strength of his might which he worked in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, FAR ABOVE ALL rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come. He put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things for the assembly, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:19-23

And the reason why he does so is because he is God Almighty in the flesh:

“of whom are the fathers, and from whom is Christ as concerning the flesh, who is over all, God, blessed forever. Amen.” Romans 9:5

“For in him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily, and in him you are made full, who is the head of all principality and power… If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory.” Colossians 2:9-10, 3:1-4


He who reigns from on high

The Hebrew Bible also proclaims that Yahweh alone sits enthroned on high:

“Yahweh is high above all nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like Yahweh, our God, who has his seat on high,” Psalm 113:4-5

Note, again, how the LXX translates this verse:

“Who is as the Lord our God? who dwells in the high places (en hypselois),” Psalm 112:5 LXX

The obvious answer to the Psalmist’s rhetorical question is that there is none other who seated in the high places like God does.

And yet the book of Hebrews employs the same exact phrasing to describe the Lord Jesus’ ascension into heaven in order to sit at the Father’s right hand:

“… when he had by himself purified us of our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high (en hypselois);” Hebrews 1:3b

The book of Revelation explicitly tells us that Jesus was caught up to heaven to sit on God’s throne,   

“A great sign was seen in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child. She cried out in pain, laboring to give birth… The dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. Her child was caught up to God, AND TO HIS THRONE… I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation, the power, and the Kingdom of our God, AND THE AUTHORITY OF HIS CHRIST has come; for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night.’” Revelation 12:1-2, 4b-5, 10

Which explains why both God and Christ are said to occupy the same exact throne:

“He showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the THRONE of God AND OF THE LAMB, in the middle of its street. On this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruits, yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will be no curse any more. The THRONE of God AND OF THE LAMB will be in it, and his servants serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no night, and they need no lamp light; for the Lord God will illuminate them. They will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:1-5

Note that it is the one throne, not thrones, of both God and the Lamb that shall be present in the new heavens and earth.

Hebrews gives the reason why Christ could share in the very status which the Psalter says belongs only to God:

His Son is the radiance of his glory, the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power…  But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your Kingdom. You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows.’… But which of the angels has he told at any time, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies the footstool of your feet?’” Hebrews 1:3a, 8-9, 13

God’s Son is himself God in essence, bearing the very uncreated substance of the Father in all its fullness, and therefore worthy to dwell alongside his Father on high.

With the foregoing perspective we are ready to proceed to the second part of our discussion.