Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments.
These representatives of the saints in heaven are said to be "around the throne." In the passage in Solomon's Song where he sings of the King sitting at his table, some render it "a round table." From this, some expositors—I think, without straining the text—have said, "There is an equality among the saints." That idea is conveyed by the equal nearness of the twenty-four elders.
The condition of glorified spirits in heaven is that of nearness to Christ, clear vision of His glory, constant access to His court, and familiar fellowship with His person. There is no difference in this respect between one saint and another, but all the people of God—apostles, martyrs, ministers, or private and obscure Christians—will all be seated near the throne, where they shall have a perfect view of their exalted Lord and be satisfied with His love. They will all be near Christ, all satisfied with His love, all eating and drinking at the same table with Him, all equally loved as His favorites and friends even if not all equally rewarded as His servants.
Believers on earth should imitate the saints in heaven in their nearness to Christ. We should be like the elders in heaven, sitting around the throne. Christ should be the object of our thoughts and the center of our lives. How can we endure to live at such a distance from Him? Lord Jesus, draw us nearer to Yourself. Say to us, "Abide in Me, and I in you"; and let us sing, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!"
O lift me higher, nearer Thee,
And as I rise more pure and fit,
O let my soul's humility
Make me lie lower at Thy feet;
Less trusting self, the more I prove
The blessed comfort of Thy love.
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From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.