Deep in my meditations a while ago, I heard the words Ã¢â‚¬Å“vacant thronesÃ¢â‚¬Â as the picture of some kings played on the screen of my spirit and other words began to come.Ã‚Â I jumped out at once like a bee-stung child to start to write.Ã‚Â Every throne is not necessarily occupied by the one who sits on it.
If a child should run into the fatherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s office, for example, and jump into the ManagerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s executive seat, does that make that child the Executive Manager?Ã‚Â No.Ã‚Â Therefore, even in spite of the accolades of office that a person might get from people who honour the throne, every throne is not necessarily occupied by the one we see on it.Ã‚Â Being Ã¢â‚¬Ëœin officeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ does not always mean being in charge; and not being Ã¢â‚¬Ëœin officeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ does not always mean not being in the picture.Ã‚Â What we see, and seem to see so well, might not always be real. Visions could be illusions and images a mirage.Ã‚Â It used to be said that photos never lie.Ã‚Â Not true.Ã‚Â Even pictures sometimes lie.Ã‚Â In some quarters, it is called Ã¢â‚¬Å“photo trick.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â Ã‚Â I shall later tell a little praying girlÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s significant throne-room encounter with an angel; a little girl who sometimes followed her mother to our weekly prayer meetings for the land.
Case 1: A Figurehead Ã¢â‚¬ËœAbsolute RulerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢
Pharaoh the king of Egypt once had a huge personal crisis that had the signs of something bigger, something national.Ã‚Â It was a repeated ominous dream to which he had no answer.Ã‚Â His advisers found him a gifted prison-boy to solve the prized puzzle.Ã‚Â That done, hear PharaohÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬ËœThank youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ speech to the dreams-decoding young man, and notice the speakerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s careful clause about the throne:
40 Ã¢â‚¬Å“You shall be over my house, andÃ‚Â ALL my peopleÃ‚Â shall beÃ‚Â ruled according to your word;only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.Ã¢â‚¬Â 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, Ã¢â‚¬Å“See, I have set youÃ‚Â over all the land of EgyptÃ¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â (Genesis 41:40-41, NKJV).
My little problem with that thankful speech is this: if someone had rule overÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“ALL theÃ‚Â landÃ¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬â€œ meaning the entire territory or geographical space; ifÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“allÃ¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â theÃ‚Â peopleÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬â€œ which means entire ethnic nationalities and all population groupings in spite of geographical location Ã¢â‚¬â€œ were to be ruled according to that personÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s orders; if that personÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“wordÃ¢â‚¬Â had suddenly become law and could determine death or life for any or Ã¢â‚¬Å“allÃ¢â‚¬Â the Ã¢â‚¬Å“people,Ã¢â‚¬Â would we not say that such a person had already become the absolute ruler?Ã‚Â Logically, Yes, but not according to Pharaoh.Ã‚Â He ensured that there was this clause in the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœswearing inÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ provisions:Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“only in regard toÃ‚Â the throneÃ‚Â will I be greater than you.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â
Joseph was going to be Ã¢â‚¬Ëœin officeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ with powers overÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“all the landÃ¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“all my people,Ã¢â‚¬Â but he still would not have the final say.Ã‚Â JosephÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s position was therefore not as powerful as it had seemed, or as the Ã¢â‚¬ËœpressÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ might have reported it.Ã‚Â Miracle or mirage?Ã‚Â I leave that to you, but is the Joseph-module a possible contemporary political scenario?Ã‚Â I hear your answer.Ã‚Â You might say, however, that this case does not exactly match the preliminary proposition I had raised about vacant thrones.Ã‚Â In that case, letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s see the next slide.
Case 2: Thrones in Custody
Sometimes someone is on a throne merely as a custodian, until another person should come for whom that person had been Ã¢â‚¬Ëœholding brief.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã‚Â One day, God announced thus to Prophet Samuel the verdict of Heaven about the king incumbent of his nation:Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have rejected him from reigning over IsraelÃ¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â (1 Samuel 16:1).Ã‚Â Note the finality in the simple present tense:Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“I haveÃ¢â‚¬Â¦,Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â not Ã¢â‚¬Å“I willÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â In spite of that very clear notice of sack, Saul remained Ã¢â‚¬Ëœin officeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ for many more years, continuing to savour the respected title of Ã¢â‚¬Å“the LORDÃ¢â‚¬â„¢S anointedÃ¢â‚¬Â (1 Samuel 24:10; 26:9, 11, 16, 23), and also Ã¢â‚¬ËœrighteouslyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ chasing witches in the name of the God that had already declared his throne vacant, of which he probably remained willingly unaware (1 Samuel 28:9).Ã‚Â If that announcement from Heaven is to be believed, then Saul ceased at once to be king, or became merely a keeper of the throne on which he still sat, the title of Ã¢â‚¬Å“KingÃ¢â‚¬Â then being only a decoration.
Did SaulÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬ËœkinglyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ functions cease with the announcement from Heaven?Ã‚Â No. He still wore the crown and the robes; he still fought Ã¢â‚¬ËœnationalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ battles, and he instituted a holy decree against evil witches.Ã‚Â However, while he publicly chased witches, he secretly consulted them Ã¢â‚¬â€œ very like some politicians of our day who are the greatest secret patrons of the vices they publicly condemn (1 Samuel 28:7-10).
How long did the Ã¢â‚¬ËœcustodyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ tenure of Saul last?Ã‚Â It lasted well over three decades. Ã‚Â How did I arrive at that?Ã‚Â This is how:Ã‚Â It is told in 1 Samuel 13:1-2 that in SaulÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s second year on the throne, he chose 3,000 soldiers. The same chapter, which puts the date of those and subsequent events at about his second or third year,Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“when he had reigned two years,Ã¢â‚¬Âsays in verse 14 that he was in that same season rejected by God:Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“But NOWÃ‚Â [which means Ã¢â‚¬Ëœimmediately,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ not in the far future]Ã‚Â thy kingdom shall not continueÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â In case that did not make sufficient sense, the Ã¢â‚¬ËœelectoralÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ prophet was instructed, three chapters later, to Ã¢â‚¬Ëœswear inÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ the replacement that had been found.Ã‚Â In my country, that prophet would have been called or acronymed INEC.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¦I haveÃ‚Â rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: forÃ‚Â I haveÃ‚Â provided meÃ‚Â a kingÃ‚Â [note: a king, not a Ã¢â‚¬ËœrepresentativeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ or an Ã¢â‚¬ËœactingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ regent]Ã‚Â among his sonsÃ‚Â (1 Samuel 16:1).
The irony: David was a king not yet on the throne; Saul was a no-king still on the throne.Ã‚Â Not all kings are yet on their throne, and not everyone on a throne is the king there. In other words, the seat does not always define the occupant, neither the vacancy.
In ActsÃ‚Â 13:21, we read that Saul reigned 40 years over Israel.Ã‚Â Here is my simple maths: If Saul reigned 40 years altogether, and if God rejected him in his second (or third) year, it would mean that for 40Ã‚Â minusÃ‚Â 2 years, which is 38 years, Saul had merely been keeping custody of the throne, until David would come on the scene and grow to be thirty years, then Ã¢â‚¬ËœconstitutionallyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ mature enough to take up the office.Ã‚Â Note that Saul was already a God-rejected, demons-possessed man in need of potent musical therapy even before David showed up in the palace with his exorcist-harp and on the battlefield with his anti-Goliath surface-to-air granite missile with its launching pad of slingÃ‚Â (1 Samuel 16:1-2, 15-16).
If my maths is correct, it would mean that, for all those decades, God did not see Saul on the throne, even though men saw him there, hailed him as king, and gave him all the protocols of the seat he was guarding by sitting on.Ã‚Â I ask, Is it possible to have lost the noble mandate and still be wearing the carcass title?Ã‚Â Is it possible to be so long without God yet be hailed by blind men with the prestigious designation of the very vacancy that God has already announced? Can Earth be sometimes grossly out of touch with Ã¢â‚¬Ëœbreaking newsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ from Heaven?
Two other regal characters appear to fit into this category: Lady Athaliah the daughter of Jezebel, and Ishbosheth the son of Saul.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â AthaliahÃ‚Â violently took the throne of Judah by killing scores of her heir-apparent grandchildren after the premature deaths of her husband and then her son his successor.Ã‚Â Jezebelic witchcraft?Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Six years later, a proper son took the throne after she had been sent off by the same violent route she had come.Ã‚Â Today, her name is not mentioned when kings of Israel are listed.Ã‚Â She had only been a custodian of the throne, albeit a very wicked and bloody one (2 Kings 11:1-21).Ã‚Â Also,Ã‚Â IshboshethÃ‚Â the son of Saul was installed on the throne by selfish and ambitious powerful political opportunists after his fatherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s death, but who today remembers to mention that name in a list of kings between Saul and David (2 SamuelÃ‚Â 3:10)?Ã‚Â He was a succeeding or secondary custodian to a vacant throne of which his father was the first faded keeper.