How does the manger in Bethlehem compare with God’s throne room in heaven?
According to the fourth chapter of Revelation, John glimpsed into heaven’s awesome arena of praise and worship where God Almighty sat on His throne, His appearance like a jasper stone and a sardius. Encircling the throne was a rainbow like an emerald, and around it twenty-four thrones, each with a seated elder clothed in white garments and wearing golden crowns.
Do you think heaven is a place of hushed quiet with angels floating on clouds, strumming harps? Contrary to what we may imagine, John reveals that it’s full of flashes of lightening and peals of thunder amidst seven burning lamps and a crystal sea.
Wow. A bit intimidating, but certainly communicating His holiness.
The most curious—dare I say scariest—sight of all were the four living creatures. Eyes all around and within, each having six wings and different in appearance: a lion, a calf, a face of a man, and a flying eagle. They never cease worshiping God, declaring, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come” (Revelation 4:8b, NASB).
John describes the climax of this worship. When the living creatures praise Him who lives forever, the elders will fall down, casting their crowns before Him who sits on the throne and worshiping, saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created” (Revelation 4:11, NASB).
Can this worship and praise compare to our Savior’s birth in Bethlehem?
Jesus, sent from heaven by His Father God to be born of the Virgin Mary, was wrapped in cloths and laid in a manger, according to the second chapter of Luke. She placed her baby in an animals’ feeding trough, packed with clean straw, which became His earthly throne. His entry into the world was to a humble dwelling, announced by a heavenly host to poor shepherds rather than to royalty. After all, doesn’t it make sense that this perfect Lamb, sent to be the final sin sacrifice, would be born in a cave where the animals dwelled? His kingdom has never been of this world.
Nearby shepherds, who had been watching their flocks at night, were the first to receive the birth announcement and a personal invitation to come and see the newborn King. An angel of the Lord had suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord had shone all around, causing them to be terribly frightened. The angel had told them not to fear, but that he was bringing them good news of great joy for all people; “…for today in the city of David, there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11, NASB).
Just as in heaven, a multitude of angels appeared, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14, NASB).
The sign the angel gave the shepherds was that they would find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. They hurried straight to Bethlehem, finding the Holy family exactly as they had been told. Surrounded by the animals, Mary and Joseph listened with amazement as the shepherds recounted their story of the angels’ rejoicing at His birth. Upon beholding the Child, they fell to their knees and worshiped the newborn king.
But the story doesn’t stop there. The animals surrounding the manger-throne, the angelic host singing praises and rejoicing at Messiah’s birth, drawing shepherd-witnesses to the miraculous event—these preceded the arrival of the three magi. Just as the twenty-four crowned elders surround God’s throne in heaven, so these three kings traveled to worship at the manger-throne in Bethlehem.
How did they know about Christ’s miraculous birth? The second chapter of Matthew tells us that they saw His star in the east and followed it until it stood over the place where the Child was.
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the child with Mary His mother, and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him (Matthew 2:10-11a, NASB). Just as the elders cast their crowns before the throne of God, so these kings from the east bowed before Jesus, laying precious gifts at the foot of the manger: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
A little more than two thousand years ago on this night, Christ was born. Like the shepherds and the Magi, let’s bow before Him with praise and worship, laying at His feet our most precious possession: our hearts.