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The throne of God – a central theme in Judeo-Christian theology – describes a place where God’s grace and mercy flow, issuing forth His laws and inspiration and instructions. So where is it?
In some respects, the throne of God is an allegorical representation of a place far removed from us; but in other respects, it’s a physical place we can actually visit.
Wait a minute – did I just say you can visit God’s throne? Well yes, that’s what I said. But if God is an Unknowable Essence, how can we visit His throne? Let me explain.
In the Old Testament, in 1 Kings 22:19, Micaiah said:
I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.
I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne, the edges of his robe filling the temple. Winged creatures were stationed around him … saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of heavenly forces! All the earth is filled with God’s glory!” (Isaiah 6:1-2)
Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? (Isaiah 66:1)
These passages seem to describe a holy Kingdom in heaven where God is seated and surrounded by His army of angels. But is there such a place on Earth?
Christianity’s New Testament – the Psalms, the Book of Revelation, and the Gospel of Matthew – also repeatedly describes the throne of God as a heavenly place:
The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all. (Psalm 103:19)
Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. (Revelation 4:2)
But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool … (Matthew 5:34)
Yet, we find both in Judaism and Christianity visions and prayers of God’s throne on Earth:
Your kingdom come. Your will be done as in heaven, so also upon earth. (Matthew 6:10)
I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)
… the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God. (Isaiah 35:2)
That last passage from the book of Isaiah refers to Mount Carmel, which the Encyclopedia Britannica describes this way:
Sanctified since early times, Mt. Carmel is mentioned as a “holy mountain” in Egyptian records of the 16th century BC. As a “high place” … Mt. Carmel was also sacred to the early Christians; individual hermits settled there as early as the 6th century AD.
For Baha’is, these Biblical visions of God’s Throne find their culmination on Mount Carmel and the Sharon Plain in the holy land of northern Israel. Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, refers to Mount Carmel as the seat of God’s Throne:
Render thanks unto thy Lord, O Carmel … Rejoice, for God hath in this Day established upon thee His throne, hath made thee the dawning-place of His signs and the dayspring of the evidences of His Revelation … He, verily, loveth the spot which hath been made the seat of His throne, which His footsteps have trodden, which hath been honored by His presence, from which He raised His call, and upon which He shed His tears.
Baha’u’llah walked on Mt. Carmel during the late 19th century, even though he was born in far-off Tehran. How did he get there? When he began proclaiming his new Faith, Baha’u’llah was arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and eventually exiled to the Ottoman Empire’s most distant penal colony in Akka, Palestine – just north of Mt. Carmel. That’s why the Baha’i World Centre exists there today.
In other passages in his writings, Baha’u’llah went on to say:
Great is thy blessedness, O earth, for thou hast been made the footstool of thy God, and been chosen as the seat of His mighty throne.
O ye bearers of the throne of God! Adorn the most great throne on this Day, for the unseen Beauty hath appeared.
Say: O concourse of monks! Abandon the churches wherein ye have glorified your Lord, for He Who ascended unto heaven hath in very truth come down again and circleth round the Throne of God.
… the work being carried out at the World Centre of the [Baha’i] Faith represents far more than repair, renovation, and beautification of buildings and gardens of historic significance. It can best be assessed by reference to Baha’u’llah’s designation of Mount Carmel as ‘the seat of God’s throne.’
So as you can see, God’s throne is in fact a physical reality for the world’s Baha’is. After studying these passages, I had to see this holy place for myself, and so I did. A few years back, I made a pilgrimage to the seat of God’s throne in Israel.
Situated on the slopes of Mt. Carmel overlooking the city of Haifa, the Baha’i World Centre is a glorious place staffed by some of the purest souls you can imagine. In his book God Passes By, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, Shoghi Effendi, characterized it as “… nestling in the heart of Carmel, the ‘Vineyard of God’; flanked by the Cave of Elijah on the west, and by the hills of Galilee on the east; backed by the plain of Sharon, and facing the silver-city of Akka.”
The beautiful gardens, holy places, and shrines at the Baha’i World Centre are visited by millions every year. I had an indescribable experience there, one that will stay with me forever. I felt as though I was visiting the Kingdom of God, surrounded by His winged angels. I hope that you too can one day make this trip to God’s throne.
Armin J. Jezari is an attorney and principal at Jezari Law in El Paso, Texas. He also created the website https://SeatofGodsThrone.com