When times are full of trouble God's Word is the same: heaven's throne is occupied. It's the prophet's message the year King Uzziah died. It's the apostles' message after Jesus' resurrection: "the Lamb on the throne will be your shepherd. He will guide you to springs of living water and God will wipe away every tear from your eyes." (Revelation 7:17)
In the eight century, Judah enjoyed a time of prosperity and relative peace under the leadership of Uzziah. Uzziah wasn't a perfect king, but he did keep Judah's enemies at bay for fifty-two years. Then Uzziah died. The king was dead and the prophet had good reason to worry. What would happen to Judah? Were the good times at an end? Would Judah's enemies invade? What would happen to the people of Judah now that Uzziah was gone? Did God have anything useful to say? What was his message for the people in these troubled times?
The message God gave Isaiah was this:
I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!"
Uzziah's throne was empty. But, heaven's throne, God's throne, was occupied. Uzziah wasn't Judah's king anymore, but God was King forever. Uzziah's voice had gone silent as the grave. God's voice was strong and couldn't be silenced. Not even death could shut him up. He was, and is, and always will be worthy of endless worship.
God calmed the fears of Isaiah and Judah. He didn't remove the challenges that confronted them. Instead, he revealed his strength and salvation. As he did for Judah he does for us today. Our strength and salvation don't rely on who sits on an earthly throne. Our comfort and hope is seated on his throne. The Lamb of God, Jesus Savior, and King.
Kings come and go. Presidents and prime ministers, dictators, and warlords rise up and are struck down. Thrones are built and busted up for kindling. People in every generation claim there's no god. Bi-partisan politics consume the twenty-four-hour news cycle. Antifa and the Far-Right prop each other up with violence and inflexible convictions. All this does nothing for us except inflame our own sense of self-righteousness. We can embrace it or be repelled by it, but it's all good for nothing because no one who says, "I have the truth" or "This is the only way" actually knows the truth or the way.
Kings live and die. They're replaced by kings who are sometimes better and sometimes worse. Ideologues live and die. Their ideas are replaced by better, higher ideals or worse, destructive ideas. Times will be troubled (and these times will occasionally be punctuated by peace) because people in every generation can't stop regretting yesterday and feeling anxious about tomorrow. We can't stop ourselves from asking:
What will happen to us now?
When will the good times end?
What about my job?
What about my healthcare?
What if my company goes under and I get laid off?
Does God have anything useful to say when times are full of trouble?
When times have their fill of trouble, God's message is the same: "the Lamb on the throne will be your shepherd. He will guide you to springs of living water and God will wipe away every tear from your eyes."
When a king dies and his throne is up for grabs, we worry about what will happen next. But, heaven's throne is always occupied by the One who was raised from death for us. The One who washes His people with His grace and favor, and feeds us His forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation in the Supper. We don't have to wonder what will happen in troubled times. Jesus Savior is King for us today and forever.