Todays readings … deuteronomy 10&11, Ecclesiastes 4, Acts 1
These words should be familiar to all Bible readers: they are the words of the “two men … in white robes” (a common way of describing angels) said to the disciples as their astonished eyes watched their Lord ascending upwards “and a cloud received him out of their sight” [Acts 1 v.9-11]. We suspect it was no ordinary cloud, but like the cloud that Moses climbed up into on the mountain. (Exodus 24 v.16)
Countless generations of Bible believers have looked for their Lord to descend from heaven in their lifetime. The disciples had asked, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” [v.6] and were told by their Lord they were to be “my witnesses in Jerusalem” but ultimately that the witnessing was to be “to the end of the earth” [v.8] He had said this earlier, also on the mount of Olives, “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” [Matt. 24 v.14]
The other sign which Jesus gave, which Luke also recorded, was that “Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” [21 v.24] Today, Jerusalem is frequently the centre of world attention – and the returned Jews have made it the capital of their resurrected country. The evidence is plain that the climax of the ages is near, but it was not for his disciples, then or now, to know exactly when: let’s notice again Jesus’ answer when the disciples asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” [v.6] The response was to commission his disciples to be “my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria” [v.8] and it is for true believers today to complete that commission “…and to the end of the earth.”
Are you his disciple? Are you carrying out this commission? If you are, you will be really looking for his return “in the same way (as the disciples) saw him go into heaven.” And you will be following the examples given in the book of Acts ,which we have now started reading, of the message to be proclaimed and noting the way in which the Old Testament is also used as an essential part of that message.