I AM STILL CONFIDENT IN THIS: I WILL SEE THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING. (Psalm 27: 13)
Welcome, grace and peace to you all!
… AND ELIJAH WENT UP TO HEAVEN IN A WHIRLWIND… AND ELISHA SAW HIM NO MORE…
(2 Kings 2: 1 – 14)
…(Jesus) SAID TO THEM: IT IS NOT FOR YOU TO KNOW THE TIMES OR DATES THE FATHER HAS SET BY HIS OWN AUTHORITY. BUT YOU WILL RECEIVE POWER WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT COMES ON YOU; AND YOU WILL BE MY WITNESSES IN JERUSALEM, AND IN ALL JUDEA AND SAMARIA, AND TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH. AFTER HE SAID THIS, HE WAS TAKEN UP BEFORE THEIR VERY EYES, AND A CLOUD HID HIM FROM THEIR SIGHT… (Acts 1: 1 – 11)
Creator and Creation are not equal partners. The Bible makes it very clear that God’s ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts. God has His own plans and men are unable to influence or change them. We are taught by Jesus rather to say: Your will be done, remembering God’s promise: “I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 29: 11 – 14). This is how our relationship with God is based on FAITH alone, which is a sure knowledge, on one hand, accepting as true all that God has revealed to us in His Word, and in the same time, a firm confidence that God will fulfil His promises to us for Jesus’ sake. For all Christians this is a basic theological dogma, a firm, godly truth. This is how we need to deal with all the mysteries of the Bible, hidden to us like Jesus’ Ascension; Heaven being the place where God is, above His Creation.
In the Son of God’s mission there had to be a final moment when He went back to the glory which was His. Nowadays, we do not regard heaven as some place beyond the sky; we regard it as a state of timeless blessedness where God is. But in those days, two thousand years ago, everyone thought of the earth as flat and of heaven as a place located above the sky. Therefore, to give His followers undeniable proof of His godliness, Jesus’ ascension was absolutely necessary. According to His teachings, Jesus can be seen from now on as our advocate before God the Father, and as the assurance that the human flesh can be redeemed and taken back to the initial sinless Eden-relationship. Elijah’s being taken-up to heaven is in fact the Old Testament version of the same redeeming love of God, hidden behind cloudy limits.
But let us turn to the story of Jesus’ ascension. Losing someone you love is a terrible shock, and Jesus’ followers were facing a second bereavement. The Lord they loved died but came back to them for forty days (see next: Read-Meditate-Pray!) and now He is leaving again and will no longer be physically present in their midst. Here Jesus prepares them for the future, asking them to wait for the Holy Spirit, to receive godly spiritual power.
Faith involves waiting, a truly remarkable, but frustrating aspect of our belief, requiring patience in the fulfilment of God’s will. The timing of this process is hidden from people – only the Father knows (Acts 1: verse 7) – but it is certain, and it will bring Jesus to earth again (verse 11). During this time of mission to all nations – which still goes on today – Jesus will be present among His witnesses (verse 8) by the Spirit, enabling them to do what they could not do alone. The Spirit is God’s power and presence and will help their testimony to bring others to Salvation. Jesus will not be absent from the scene; He is now in heaven alongside the Father (verse 11), in the place of power and authority, and acts from there to strengthen and equip His followers for His mission, which is God’s plan for us and the world.
The essential teaching of Christianity is that history is not a conglomeration of chance events which are going nowhere. God has a reason for everything. We are bound to believe that there is some divine far-off event to which the whole creation moves and that, when fulfilment comes, Jesus Christ will be Judge and Lord of all. The second coming is not a matter for speculation and satisfying human curiosity but trying to be ready in all circumstances as Christlike people for that day whenever it comes. In the last verses of his Gospel (Luke 24: 51 – 52) Luke – who is the writer of The Book of Acts as well – says: While he (Jesus) was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. What a change! Despite the ascension, or maybe because of it, the disciples were quite sure that Jesus had not gone from them but that He was with them forever.
LET US PRAY:
Risen and exalted Lord, give us a sense of wonder in your presence, greater than words can express or the mind comprehend. Teach us to make time for you, not as an extra or afterthought but as our greatest joy and priority, offering you our greatest praise and thankful service. Open our hearts to the full extent of Your greatness to recognize the One made flesh as the living Word; the One who humbled Himself on the cross as the Risen Saviour, who lives and reigns with You, One God, now and always. Teach us to look for You on earth, instead of gazing up into heaven; to find You, the Lord of all, in those around us, the need of the world, and the daily round of life. Help us as we pray for all people affected by this Covid-19 Pandemic: residents and care workers in our Home Farm Nursing Home, for those who suffer or mourn loved ones here in Skye, Britain and in the world. By the power of Your Spirit guide and support all those who work for others, showing capability of Christlikeness through all their affections and actions so vitally needed. Be with us in our lockdown, uncertainty, fear and hopefulness. Assure us in our faith, that with You everything is possible even in the most hopeless of situations. Bless Your Christian Church Universal, our Church of Scotland, our congregation and loved ones wherever they are, that may we glorify Your name both now and for ever more, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – Our Father, who art in heaven…
TO THE ETERNAL, IMMORTAL, INVISIBLE, THE ONLY GOD, BE HONOUR AND GLORY FOR EVER AND EVER! AMEN.
(1 Timothy 1: 17)
Sandor, your Minister.