The Ascension and Predicted Return Part 3
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
“Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
which is taken up from you into heaven,
Christ was taken up into heaven; therefore it was foolishly for them to desire to have him with them upon the earth. The next phrase concerns his second coming and is added for a consolation.
When they said that Christ is taken up into heaven, they may have wanted us to contemplate the great distance of the place. I concede that this word heaven is interpreted various ways; sometimes it is used for the air, sometimes for the whole universe of heavenly spheres, sometimes for the glorious kingdom of God, where the majesty of God is present in power and glory. In Ephesians, Paul places Christ above all heavens—“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church” (Eph 1:22; KJV)—because he is above all the world, and has the most important room in that place of blessed immortality, because he is more excellent than all the angels—“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph 4:15; KJV). It is evident that the heaven where Christ was received is separate from the world of men; therefore it follows by necessity, that if He is in heaven, He is outside (beyond) the world.
The angels’ intent was to recall the apostles from desiring the bodily presence of Christ because He will not come again until he comes to judge the world. Christ must abide in heaven until that time; therefore, desiring his presence before then is condemned as absurd and perverse.
shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven
Jesus will return just like He left: physically, visibly, in a cloud, by his own power, with a similar majesty, accompanied by angels, and with the same soul and body, and to the Mount of Olives. He will come on the last day to judge the world, but no one knows the time or the date, except our Almighty God. His imminent return should lead every man to continue in the faithful discharge of his appropriate duties, so that when the Savior appears he may be ready to meet with Him, and he can lift up his head with joy, knowing that his eternal redemption has come. Consider these heavenly verses:
• Matt 26:64 (KJV) “Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” “Coming in the clouds of heaven” means you shall see the sign from heaven which you have so often demanded; the Messiah returning and He is the sign, with great glory, to destroy your cities, and to judge the world.
• 1 Thess 4.16; (RSV) “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Here is a description of the Rapture (not the Second Coming). He will descend from heaven “with a shout.” That is the voice of command. It is the same voice which He used when He stood at the tomb of Lazarus and said, “Lazarus, come forth” (see John 11:43). “The voice of the archangel:” Notice that this is not an angel, but the voice of one. It is Christ’s voice that will be like the voice of an archangel. It is the quality of His voice, the majesty and the authority of it. “The trump of God.” is not a trumpet; rather it is His voice that will be like a trumpet. Can we be sure of this? In Revelation 1:10, John, who was exiled to the Isle of Patmos, wrote, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.” He turned to see who it was, and he saw the glorified Christ. It is the voice of the glorified Christ that is like the sound of a trumpet. That ought to get rid of all this foolishness about Gabriel blowing his horn or blowing a trumpet. I don’t think Gabriel even owns a trumpet, but if he has one, he won’t need to blow it. The Lord Jesus is not going to need the help of Gabriel.
As I have said before, this phrase is our consolation for all the sorrow which we might envision, because of Christ’s absence; it is completely taken away when we hear that He shall return again. Therefore, while we look forward to Christ’s Coming we must control the unrelenting desires of our flesh, and be patient in all our adversities; and, last but not least, must let thoughts of His return refresh our weariness. But He will give comfort only to the faithful, which believe that Christ is their Redeemer. As for the wicked, it will bring them nothing but dread, horror, and great fearfulness. And regardless of how much they may scoff’ and jest when they hear of his coming, they will be compelled to behold him sitting upon His throne, and hear Him say, “I never knew you.”