Isaiah 6:1: In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.
I don’t know if you think a lot about chairs. I tend to, since I like to sit down because I’m lazy. Maybe some of us don’t think a lot about them because they are so common. But such was not always the case.
The earliest chairs we know about came from Egypt during the Early Dynastic Period (3100 to 2686 BC). They were covered with cloth or leather, were made of carved wood, and were much lower than today’s chairs – chair seats were sometimes only about ten inches high. In ancient Egypt chairs appear to have been of great richness and splendor. Fashioned of ebony and ivory, or of carved and gilded wood, they were covered with costly materials, magnificent patterns and supported upon representations of the legs of beasts or the figures of captives. Generally speaking, the higher ranked an individual was, the taller and more sumptuous was the chair he sat on and the greater the honor.
It is possible that the Israelites would have been aware of these chairs during their time and captivity, that this awareness might have influenced their ideas about the throne of God. Notice in the passage from Isaiah that God is “high and exalted.”
Other ancient cultures such as those in China and India also had chairs, although their use was rare until the twelfth century.
So, chairs were for many centuries a symbolic article of state and dignity rather than something for ordinary use. Because of this history, committees, boards of directors, and academic departments all have a ‘chairman’ or ‘chair.
The chair did finally come into common use in Europe around 1600 during the Renaissance, and by the 1880’s, chairs had become common in the United States.
The visions of Isaiah and that of Revelation which show God “high and lifted up” are meant to convey a sense of power and authority not only to believers but also to those who not, who may choose to change that unbelief. God’s power and nature are not dependent on anything, including creatures who believe or not. God is absolute, eternal and loving, and one of the miracles about God is that, as Christ incarnate, he came down from his high throne to walk in the dust with those like us. Praise God for his majesty, his goodness to us, and for his sacrifice made so that we with God may be, one day, high and lifted up ourselves. Amen.