May 13, 2015

Pentecost Countdown, Part 6

The Ascension

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We have been counting down to Pentecost from Resurrection day and now we have reached the 40th day, the day of the Ascension. Last week we saw how Yeshua (Jesus) commissioned His disciples to go out and make more disciples. This is where the gospel ends. Luke refers to the ascension and then he recounts it in the book of Acts. This is what we are going to look at today.

Very little is said about this day, maybe because Yeshua had accomplished all that He was going to and all that was left was His leaving. But we find that the disciples had one very important question to ask Him. Luke records in Acts 1:6-8, "And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, 'Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?'"

Yeshua is about to depart from His disciples and all they care about is Him restoring the kingdom? Did they not care that they would not see Him? Is this a question you would ask a loved one before they departed? Why was this so important? Did they still not understand? Yeshua answered them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." With that, Yeshua was taken upward into the clouds and as they gazed upward, two men dressed in white stood beside them and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Yeshua, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just manner as you have seen Him go into heaven."

So what does all this mean? Firstly, it means that one day Yeshua is coming back to restore His kingdom. Second, it means that Yeshua once again told them of their mission and thirdly, that the Holy Spirit would be with them to accomplish all that needs to be accomplished before His coming again. Well, that was then and today is now; what does this all have to do with us? Let's recall what Yeshua's message was while He was here. He preached, "Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). What did the disciples preach? "Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand" (Matthew 10:7). This is the message that they were to go to the remotest parts of the earth with.

Why? Because from the beginning, since Adam and Eve, it was all about the kingdom. Adam sinned and by doing so lost the crown, the keys, and the kingdom which Yeshua came to regain by dying for sin (Colossians 2:15). This is what the Bible is about—God's kingdom, His King, and how we can be a part of His kingdom (1 Corinthians 15:20-28, Revelation 21-22). Sin has caused the evil one to rule over this earth. He was the King and his kingdom is what Yeshua came to deliver us from (Colossians 1:13). Because of all of this, God's chosen people, the Jewish people, have suffered because the evil one knows just how precious they are to God. They are the apple of His eye. Yeshua reclaimed the crown, but His kingdom has not yet been restored until He comes and defeats all of the Jewish people's enemies.

We who are Judeo-Christians have become part of the attack on the evil one because we align ourselves with the Jewish people and the true Word of God and His Messiah; their enemies have become our enemies and their fight has become our fight. But as the Scriptures have all told us, the Messiah will come back to defeat Israel's enemies (Revelation 19-20) and regather His people to the land promised to them and Yeshua will sit on the throne of King David (Luke 1:32-33) and rule and reign forever. We who have been grafted into Israel because of the work of Messiah will share in the blessings of that kingdom.

This is the true gospel message, not to be confused with the salvation message. Until the time when Yeshua comes back, we are to make disciples, not converts—there is a difference between the two. A disciple of Yeshua is one who walks in His very footsteps. Today the church knows nothing about the word of God. We preach a watered down version of the salvation message and we have done away with the foundation of God's word, the Hebrew Scriptures, which we call "old" and "obsolete."

The commission from Yeshua is still the same as it was until He comes back and we are responsible for making disciples who look and act just as He did. God has not removed His Holy Spirit that empowers us to do this job, but we no longer walk in the Spirit by crucifying our flesh and picking up our cross and going out in the power and gifts and fruit of the Spirit. We must be like the one in the wilderness crying out, "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand." And as people see us walking in the footsteps of the Messiah, they will see the Messiah Himself and they too will follow in His footsteps. This is our calling, this is our task: to be light and salt to the world until Yeshua returns the same way that He left.

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