The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! The LORD is great in Zion; He is exalted over all the peoples. Let them praise Your great and awesome Name! Holy is He!“Psalm 99:1-3 ESV
Our psalm presents stark contrasts between heaven and earth. The Lord reigns and on earth the people tremble. God is enthroned in heaven while the earth quakes. The Lord is great in Zion, among His people, yet all people on earth are subject to His rule. We, too, tremble in His presence and praise His great and awesome Name. Holy is He!
The Lord reigns and people tremble, as the people of Israel trembled when God descended on Sinai to give His Law. The Israelites had every reason to tremble—as do we—because they were sinners in the presence of God. In the Jerusalem temple, in an earthly portrayal of His heavenly reign, the Lord was enthroned on cherubim. In the Most Holy Place of the temple, two carved, golden angels, the cherubim, stood with wings stretching from wall to wall. The wings sheltered the Ark of the Covenant, the sign of God’s presence among His people. Every year the high priest entered that holy place carrying blood to atone for the sins of the people. The blood of those temple sacrifices foreshadowed the time when God’s promises would be fulfilled in a single sacrifice for the sins of the world.
At the right time, God left His heavenly throne. Jesus, God the Son, took on human flesh. He came to be lifted up, enthroned on a cross and crowned with thorns. He is the Lamb of God, who came to give His life as the perfect sacrifice for sin, entering “once for all into the holy places … by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12 ESV). When the King on the cross died, the curtain separating the Most Holy Place from the rest of the temple was torn in two. Through the curtain of His own flesh, Jesus provided for us a “new and living way” into the presence of God (Hebrews 10:20a).
Jesus’ body was taken down from the cross and laid in a tomb. On the first Easter morning, “there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone” to reveal an empty tomb (Matthew 28:2a ESV). Jesus rose from the dead, crushing the powers of sin, death, and Satan. The crucified and risen Lord is exalted over all things. He is seated at God’s right hand “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion” (Ephesians 1:21a ESV). Our Savior is exalted in glory and through faith in our crucified King, we have access to the courts of heaven, where our prayers are heard by the Lord who is enthroned upon the cherubim. Now and for all eternity we will praise His great and awesome Name, the Name above all names, the Name we love, the Name of Jesus. Holy is He!
Prayer: Risen and exalted Lord Jesus, I praise Your holy Name. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on February 21, 2022
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. What has God done for us that the high priests of old could never fully do?
2. What picture do you get in your mind when you hear of the Lord “enthroned upon the cherubim”? (Cherubim are fantastic, winged angelic beings you find in the Bible.)
3. What’s the significance of the temple curtain being torn in two (see Matthew 27:45-54)?