What is the purpose of Christ’s Ascension to Heaven and His being seated at the right hand of God the Father? Listen to this lesson to learn a number of things the Ascension accomplished and what the mechanics were when He ascended. See the meaning of the clouds that received Him. Find out how the church, which includes all believers, is now involved in God’s plan and rejoice that it is going forward in God’s own time.
This lesson also includes Luke 24:50-53 and Acts 1:9.
The Ascension of Christ
Ephesians 2:6; Mark 16:19–20; Luke 24:50–53; Acts 1:9
Ephesians Lesson #054
December 22, 2019
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Father, we’re thankful so much for Your Word, that it is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. It illuminates our thinking, helps us to understand who we are, what You expect of us, and how we as believers should live. Knowing that if there is someone listening who is not a believer that the issue is not so much what we are teaching today other than the gospel.
“The issue is faith in Christ alone, for as an unbeliever, we cannot live as You would have us. It is necessary for us to have new life—spiritual life—and be led by and directed by God the Holy Spirit in Your Word.
“Father, we thank You that we have Your Word, we thank You that we can come to understand Who Jesus is, what He came to do at the First Coming, what He will come to do at the Second Coming, and why He delays even now before He returns.
“We pray as we study these things that You would illuminate our minds in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles to Mark 16:19. We’re addressing the question in our study in Ephesians, “Why the Ascension of Christ?” We will be looking at several passages this morning that are the parallel passages that describe the Ascension itself beginning with the passage in Mark 16.
We recognize that today is the Sunday before Christmas of 2019. We live in a world that is in tremendous turmoil. That is not something new. I know there are a lot of people who don’t understand much about history, but we have had a time in the world of relative stability and peace for the last 50 or 60 years.
Although, if you really analyze the number of wars, police actions, revolts and rebellions, I think there’s something like one or two a week over the average of the last 60 years. But in terms of the worldwide conflagrations that were experienced early in the 20th century, we haven’t truly seen that.
Today we live in a time when more governments are in significant turmoil than we have seen before. We, of course, can think of some of the nations such as Venezuela, Chile, and Bolivia that are in real chaos. Venezuela is just in a total meltdown due to socialism and totalitarianism, and we need to pray for the believers there.
Recently, Brett Nazworth was in Venezuela having a conference with Christian leaders, who were meeting across the border, and they were just so glad to get anything to eat. It is so difficult to find food, to be able to eat, and they’re constantly in hunger. But the believers there have tremendous opportunity to witness.
We see many nations that are in trouble; the demonstrations that are going on in Hong Kong, ongoing since the early summer.
Adding to that we have major nations such as Britain that’s been going through all this turmoil with Brexit, and even though they had what appears to be an election that would lead to some resolution, who knows if that will actually happen.
Israel has been in gridlock politically since the election last year. They are going to have another election, but until they can resolve who the government will be, they’re just locked down, and, of course, here in the US, we have a president who has in this last week been impeached by the House of Representatives.
The world is in a panic over the possibility of other disasters. Those who espouse a global warming have moved from global warming to climate change. Now the language is more histrionic, and they constantly talk about a global disaster. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear that the world is going to be gone within another 10 or 12 years.
I was talking with a member of the congregation yesterday who travels a lot who relayed to me a conversation he overheard. A young couple were going on a trip for the holidays. The husband made some comment about hoping that they can find their car when they returned, and the wife in all seriousness, not joking at all, said, “Well, we may all be vaporized by then.”
Even though some of us chuckle at that, there are many people who live in dread and fear. They don’t have the truth. They don’t understand the gospel. They don’t know that God is in control. They have believed the lie of evolution, the lies of atheism, and there really is a deep dread in their souls about the fact that everything could be gone tomorrow, and they don’t know what to do about it.
There is this anticipation of an apocalyptic disaster. It may be economic, perhaps political, maybe an asteroid will collide with the earth and everything will change and almost everyone die, and, of course, there’s the global warming and global disaster from meteorology.
It wasn’t much different in the first century. The extent of the problems and the disasters was somewhat different, but there was an apocalyptic expectation—not just in Israel. We know about the Magi coming from the Parthian Empire, who had been watching the calendar counting the years to the appearance of the Messiah. There was an incredible sense of messianic expectation in Judea and among the Jews. And even in other pagan cultures there was a sense that something was about to happen.
We know that God was working. Galatians 4:4 says that Christ appeared in the fullness of times. Even so, we know that the Messiah was born, and we had great hope. The Messiah came, as we’ve studied, to offer the kingdom. John the Baptist announced that the King was coming, and that people needed to repent for the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, meaning it was near.
When Jesus came He had the same message. When He sent out the disciples at first He sent them only to the house of Israel and the house of Judah with that same message to “repent for the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand.”
He was rejected. His own people did not receive Him. His own people rejected Him and eventually had Him arrested and crucified. He was then buried, but on the third day He rose from the dead. He conquered sin. He had paid the price for sin at the Cross, and He conquered death in His resurrection.
But what about the Kingdom? What about these prophecies about the Messiah that were yet unfulfilled? There were over 100 different prophecies of the Messiah that were fulfilled in the First Coming.
If you talk to a Jewish person, they ignore that, and they say, “Well, what about all these others?” They still have the problem of wanting to put the crown before the Cross, not understanding what the Scriptures teach about a suffering Messiah.
Jesus came, He paid for sin, He was crucified on the third day, He rose from the dead, and then 40 days later He left. No Kingdom. That was indeed the last question, as we’ve studied, that the disciples asked, is it now that You are going to restore the Kingdom? So the question that we are addressing is why did He leave, and what is He going to do now?
Ultimately, when we think about the instability in the world at that time and the instability today, we want to ask, what is He waiting for? What is going on right now? What is being accomplished in God’s plan? With the Son at His right hand, what is He waiting for?
We are learning this as we take apart this third aspect of what Paul is talking about in Ephesians 2:5–6. We were “made alive together with Him” in Ephesians 2:5, we were “raised up together with Him” at the beginning of Ephesians 2:6. Now we’re studying the significance of this phrase “made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” What is the significance of this Session—this seating—of Christ at the Father’s right hand?
Last week I said there were at least 14 New Testament verses. I ran across two more today, so now it’s at least 16. I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones that are most predominantly stated. Something that is talked about throughout the New Testament is important, it’s crucial to understand what is happening today: Why is the Son seated at the right hand of the Father? What is going on?
We’re continuing to address this question of “What the Bible Teaches about the Ascension and Session of Christ.”
We started last time to look at the background to this, and we understood that when Christ came, He came announcing the kingdom. Again and again there was that Kingdom expectation, but because of the rejection, the Kingdom was postponed.
The question I raised, what happened to God’s plan when Jesus Christ was rejected and crucified?
He didn’t change the nature of the Kingdom. It didn’t become a spiritual kingdom. The kingdom proclaimed by John the Baptist, by Jesus and by the disciples was the same kingdom that had been prophesied and expected from the Old Testament. A literal kingdom on the earth; a geophysical kingdom where the Davidic descendent, the Messiah, is sitting on the throne of David in Jerusalem.
Not some spiritual kingdom where Jesus is in Heaven. This is the lie and the distortion of Amillennialism, that there’s no literal millennium, that it is a spiritual kingdom, and we’re in the spiritual kingdom now, and that Jesus is ruling from the right hand of the Father. It misses the point completely. Ruling is an active concept, seating is a passive concept. Our Lord is in session; He’s seated.
He is accomplishing certain things in relation to the Church. That’s what all of this is about, what God is doing in this age through the Church. It relates to the significance of all of this.
Acts 1:6, the disciples didn’t realize Jesus was getting ready to leave them; they said, “Well, Lord, is it at this time You’ll restore the kingdom to Israel?”
They understood it’s a kingdom that is Jewish in nature, and that it will be restored, reflecting on the past kingdom of David and Solomon.
There was still confusion:
1. The Jews had expected a one-coming Messiah.
2. The Jews had put the crown, expecting Him to rule, before the Cross, not realizing the many prophecies that related to a suffering Messiah Who would pay for their sin. Because they put the crown before the cross, they had a completely distorted expectation of the future.
In each of the Gospels, we have a similar progression: first there is the offer of the Kingdom, then the rejection of the king and the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which was a one-of-a-kind of blasphemy. It was rejecting the Messiah and claiming that the miracles He performed came from Satan. It was a generational sin—for that generation.
When Jesus announced that they would be condemned because of that, He was not condemning them that they can’t ever be justified or saved in the future. He is saying that that generation will be disciplined by God. It was, in AD 70, and they were removed and Israel was taken out of the land.
The rejection of the king, then He began to teach His disciples by way of parables. And the hostility and rejection continued until they crucified Him.
Then it was 40 days after that time, in which Jesus is teaching them again and again telling them about the Holy Spirit, He is teaching about what He is doing, but they are dense. They don’t get it, so that their last question is still when is the Kingdom coming?
We must ask this question: why is it postponed? What’s the purpose of the Ascension and the unforeseen inter-advent age?
I pointed out that one reason Jesus ascended was so that He could send the Holy Spirit.
John 16:7, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper—that is sometimes translated Comforter. It’s a reference to the Holy Spirit—the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”
One of the first reasons for the Ascension is so that there would be this shift and Jesus would go to the right hand of the Father, then He would send the Holy Spirit.
Acts 1:6–7, after their question, “Is it now that You’re going to bring the kingdom?” Jesus didn’t address that per se, but He said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.”
Paul uses those same Greek terms for times and seasons later in in 1 Thessalonians. He said that he has taught them about the times and the seasons. So this wasn’t a permanent statement that, “you’re not supposed to know anything about this,” but, “I’m not going talk about this now; we have to talk about the more important things.” That was what they needed to do immediately.
Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
We see here that the Ascension is not only connected to sending the Holy Spirit, but the sending of the Holy Spirit is tied to being a witness to the work of Christ on the cross throughout the whole world, and that this is part of the plan for today. It’s a significant shift from the previous dispensation.
I want to talk about the Ascension of Christ in terms of how it is described.
We’ll start in Mark 16, the last chapter and the last two verses in the Gospel of Mark. Mark 16 is a rather abbreviated ending compared to the information we’re given in Matthew, Luke, and John as to what happens after the resurrection, and it’s given in sort of a summary fashion.
Mark 16:19–20, “So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.”
In this abbreviated, abridged version about the Ascension of Christ, He’s received up into heaven. However, this is not the first Ascension after the cross. There is one that is little-known, and little talked about, but it is described briefly in the Gospel of John.
On the morning of Christ’s resurrection, Mary Magdalene has gone to the tomb and there she is weeping. As she continues to weep she hears someone call her name and assumes it is the gardener. She thinks that the gardener has stolen the body or moved it somewhere else, and she demands that the gardener take her to the body. At that moment as Jesus says her name, she realizes who it is, that it is the Lord.
John 20:17 Jesus said to her, a somewhat cryptic statement, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father.” He instructs her, “Go to My brethren and say to them that I am ascending to My Father and your Father and to My God and your God.”
This indicates that, early morning when He is talking to Mary, He is ascending then, which is 40 days before “The Ascension” in Acts 1 and in Mark 16. But it has significance: He ascends and later that day, we know that He returns—so something significant happened in between.
Luke 24:36–40 tells us that later that evening He returned and appeared to His disciples. Luke 24:36, He suddenly appeared in the midst of them, and said, “Shalom—‘Peace to you’—but they were terrified and frightened and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your heart? Then He shows them His hands, His feet, and says, ‘Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.’ ”
Earlier He told Mary, “Don’t cling to Me.” Now He says to His disciples, “Touch Me. Put your fingers in the nail prints.” Something has happened.
The Scripture doesn’t really tell us a lot. There is indication from Hebrews that when Jesus ascended to heaven, He entered the heavenly temple to purify it because of His death, but little more is indicated about that from the Scripture.
Following that Ascension, He returned to the earth and spent a good bit of time during the next 40 days teaching and instructing His disciples as to what to expect in the coming Church Age. Then He took them to the Mount of Olives.
In Mark 16:19–20 we’re not really told where He went or what happened, it just briefly says that after He had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and He sat down. He speaks to them, then He’s received up into heaven.
The verb there shows up again in Acts: ANALAMBANO. It’s a third person aorist passive indicative. The important thing to note is it’s passive.
Jesus didn’t blast off on His own power. He didn’t take off like Superman flying into the cosmos. He was received into Heaven. It’s a passive verb, which indicates His acceptance and that He is taken into Heaven.
We will see some other words that describe this, all of which are in the passive voice. Passive voice means that the subject receives the action of the verb, so He is taken up into Heaven, and then He sits down—that’s an active voice verb. He sits down at the right hand of the Father.
Let’s turn to the end of the Gospel of Luke, just across the page from Mark 16.
In Luke 24 we see Luke’s description. John doesn’t give us a description of the Ascension. Luke does in his Gospel, then he reiterates what happens in the first chapter of Acts.
Luke chapter 24:50, “And He led them out as far as Bethany …” Now they had been staying in Jerusalem, so He is going to cross the Kidron Valley up onto the Mount of Olives.
This is an aerial photograph of Jerusalem. On the left is the abomination of the Dome of the Rock, which is on the exact site where the temple was located before. This is the Temple Mount on the left. The Eastern Gate at the time of Herod’s Temple, Solomon’s Temple, was under where I have this purple arrow. There’s a valley that goes to the east of the Temple Mount, then there is a hill on the other side.
The tip of the arrow here is the vicinity of the Garden of Gethsemane; over here is the Mount of Olives. Generally, they would’ve taken a route along where this road is located.
Right here on the arrow is where the southern steps to the temple were located, where the gates were located to enter into the temple. They would’ve gone around the temple and walked along the Kidron Valley here and then gone up onto the Mount of Olives. That is significant.
Bethany is located far off to the right. It was about 2 miles away on the other side, the opposite slope of the Mount of Olives.
Luke 24:50–51, “And He led them out as far as Bethany—so they cross over the crest of the Mount of Olives to where they are near Bethany—and He lifted up His hands—which is a standard way in which Jews would pronounce a blessing, holding their hands up—and blessed them.”
He is pronouncing a blessing, a prayer for them, Luke says, “Now it came to pass, while He blessed them …” As He is speaking He’s moving away from them. That’s the first verb we see here—that He was parted from them…”
That is a bad translation—as a passive. It doesn’t say that “He parted from them.” He’s walking away from them. It’s DIHISTEMI, an aorist active indicative, which means He’s moving away. He isn’t being taken away; He’s moving away from them. Then He is “carried up into heaven.”
The other word was ANA—same prefix—ANALAMBANO. This is ANAPHERO, and it’s also a third person singular imperfect passive indicative. This indicates that He is receiving the action of the verb, and He is being taken up or raised up into heaven, Luke 24:51.
Luke 24:52, “And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God.”
That is what Jesus tells them to do, as we’ll see, in Acts 1. We looked at Mark and at Luke. Turn past the Gospel of John to Acts 1. Acts was also written by Luke, who wrote the Gospel of Luke.
We see the description of this day in Acts 1:4. “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father.”
He told them in John 16 that it was necessary for Him to leave in order to send the Holy Spirit. Now He is telling them to “wait for the promise of the Father, which you’ve heard from Me …”
Then He relates this to John the Baptist’s earlier statement at the beginning of His ministry, “… for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized—future tense—with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
He ties this together:
- at the beginning John said that someone would come after him that would baptize by the Holy Spirit;
- wait here in Jerusalem and you will be baptized by the Holy Spirit not many days from now.
Acts 1:6, they asked, “‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’
Acts 1:7, He said, ‘It’s not for you to know times or seasons …’”
Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Then the action, Acts 1:9, “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up.”
Mark and Luke tell us that He is blessing them, being parted from them and walking away from them. All Luke says is “while they watched.” They’re watching; they see Him walk away. Then He is taken up and we’re told, “a cloud received Him out of their sight.” He is taken up: He’s received into Heaven by a cloud.
That’s interesting. You have this cloud description many times in the Old Testament in relation to the presence of God. There are clouds: He comes riding a chariot on the clouds. Clouds are often associated with Him, but clouds are also associated with angels. This becomes a figure of speech, and I think it is describing an angelic host that is not seen as such, but it is a cloud of angels. They go as an escort to the Lord Jesus Christ as He is received in this cloud, and He goes on to heaven.
Two verbs we have here; first of all, He was taken up. This is again a different verb, but it’s also in the passive voice. That indicates that He is the receiver of this action. He’s not leaving on His own, He’s being accepted; He’s being brought back to Heaven.
He was sent from Heaven at the First Advent. He was sent to the Earth, He was born through the virgin conception and virgin birth, and He was sent on a mission to offer the Kingdom. The kingdom was rejected, but His primary mission at the First Coming was to die on the Cross for our sins.
Now He is being accepted back into Heaven. Acts 1:9, “He was taken up, and a cloud received Him …” The cloud performs the action of receiving Him. It’s an active voice verb and it literally means to lift up. The cloud lifted Him up out of their sight. As He goes into the cloud, it’s as if the cloud takes Him away. We will see a verse in Hebrews that says He goes through the heavens; so this cloud is taking Him through the heavens.
I want to point out one thing here about the cloud. In Daniel 7, which is an important passage for understanding all that is going on here, Daniel had a vision of the end time which will be just at the end of the Tribulation. He sees this vision. He has already seen the vision of the coming human kingdoms and the revived Roman Empire pictured by this incredible beast that has 10 horns—the 10-nation confederacy that makes up the revived Roman Empire.
Daniel 7:9, “I kept looking until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat—I believe these are the thrones for the 24 elders who represent the Church—and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow and the hair of His head like pure wool. His thrown was ablaze with flames, its wheels like a burning fire—This is reminiscent of what we read in Revelation 4–5.”
Daniel 7:10, this description, “A river of fire is flowing and coming out from before Him. Thousands upon thousands were attending Him—these are the angels—and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; the court set, and the books were opened.”
Daniel 7:13, “I kept looking in the night visions, and behold with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming.”
Jesus is now sitting at the right hand of the Father, that’s His position. But when it comes time for Him to be given the Kingdom, He will come in clouds of heaven to the throne of the Ancient of Days.
John pictures this as the Father is on the throne; there is a scroll and they’re looking for someone who is worthy to open the scroll. The Lamb of God is the One who is found worthy and comes to take the scroll. I think this is all related.
Daniel 7:13 “And He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him.”
This is at the time when the Lamb takes the scroll in Revelation; the scroll is the title deed to planet Earth. That is when the Son of Man is given the title deed to come and take control of the planet, and it’s the opening of the seven seals on the scroll that begins the judgments in the Tribulation:
The 7th seal reveals 7 Trumpet Judgments
The 7th Trumpet Judgment reveals 7 Bowl Judgments
At the end that the Lamb comes to the Earth on His white horse, defeats the Antichrist and the false prophet.
He doesn’t come to the throne of the Ancient of Days to get the title deed to be given the Kingdom until … when? It is the giving of that in the opening of the first seal that begins the seven years of Tribulation. This again shows we’re not in any form of the Kingdom; we’re not there.
The Son is seated waiting for this to happen. When that time comes, then He will come before the Ancient of Days, “And to Him,” verse 14, “was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom…”
He’s waiting until this time—two key words—He’s waiting until; I’ll come back to that.
Acts 1:10, “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel.”
I’ve always loved this picture; somebody had a good imagination. If you can’t see it well, at the top center of the picture is just two feet hanging down as Jesus is taking off into heaven, and they’re just like, “Woah! What just happened?!” You’ve seen astronauts going to space, you’ve seen airplanes take off. They’ve never seen anything like it, and they’re just stunned.
Then these two angels, these two men, stand next to them and say, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
He is taken up; He is raised. Again, it’s an aorist passive. He’s going to come back on the clouds and this refers to the end of the Tribulation.
One interesting thing here: looking at a map of Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock; this is the Temple Mount. In the book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel has a vision where because of God’s judgment on the apostate, idolatrous kingdom of Judah, and their idolatry in the 7th century BC, He is going to judge them.
Before He judges them and Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BC, God leaves. In Ezekiel 10 he has a vision of the Shekinah, the dwelling of God: He moved from the Holy of Holies to the East Gate, then from the East Gate across the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives, and then ascended to Heaven.
Jesus generally followed that same path with the disciples on the day that He ascended. He was on the Temple Mount, He crossed over the Kidron, went up on the Mount of Olives, and then ascended to Heaven.
I want to look briefly in the sense of an overview of what was accomplished in the Ascension.
1. The Ascension validated and certified Christ’s prophecy that He would go to the Father.
Jesus prophesied His death, He prophesied the manner of His death. The fact that it happened according to His prophecy indicates that He is a Prophet and He was speaking the truth.
We speak of Jesus as Prophet, Priest, and King. These prophecies or predictions He made about Himself are part of His role as Prophet. The Ascension and Session have to do with His high priesthood for the Church, but the Ascension itself is a validation of His prophecy.
John 14:28, “You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”
He is prophesying that He is going away and that He will send the Holy Spirit, so the Ascension validates that prophecy.
2. The Ascension is pictured with passive voice verbs. This indicates that it is God the Father’s acceptance and reception of the Son back to glory in Heaven.
He is welcomed back, and the Son ascends through the heavens. We see this in the passages we looked at Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, Acts 1:2, 9, 11, 22. He is welcomed back into Heaven.
3. The Ascension is pictured as a Rapture.
There are plenty of people who—especially Amillennialists because of their distorted view of the Millennium—reject the idea of a Rapture, even though it is clearly taught.
You’ll often hear people say, “Well, the word ‘rapture’ isn’t used anywhere in the Bible. That is a lie. While the English word ‘rapture’ isn’t used, the Greek HARPAZO—which means to be taken away or to be snatched away—is the word that’s used in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18,
“… the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with Him …”
HARPAZO, translated into the Latin, is rapturo, where we get our English word “rapture”. It is a statement of distortion to say that the word “rapture” isn’t in the Bible. It is, it’s just the Latin word.
In Revelation 12:5 also it’s what happens to the two witnesses when they’re caught up to heaven in the midpoint of the Tribulation. Enoch in the Old Testament is taken to be with God, so there are different raptures in the Bible.
In Revelation 12:5 John had a vision of a woman who is a picture of Israel, who went into the wilderness and had a son—a male child, that is the Messiah, Jesus Christ—who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. That is an allusion to the phrase that the Messiah will rule with a rod of iron, the Son of God in Psalm 2.
We talked about these Old Testament passages: Daniel 7; Psalm 110:1, “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool …’ ”
That’s an important phrase. That’s why Jesus is seated until His enemies are prepared for His defeat. Jesus is in that position seated; we will see that numerous times.
Daniel 7, Psalm 110:1, Psalm 68 which is quoted in Ephesians 4 dealing with the Ascension, and Psalm 2. We have to put those together to get this background.
Revelation 12:5, “… her child—that is the Messiah—is caught up to God and to His throne.”
This is another Ascension passage to the right hand of God. He’s taken to His throne, not to Jesus’ throne, Revelation 3:21. Jesus says that He will grant to the overcomer that we will sit on His throne in the future, just as He now is seated on His Father’s throne—not on His throne, not on David’s throne—on the Father’s throne.
I added those two verses this week to that group dealing with the Ascension to the right hand of the Father.
4. The Ascension completes the strategic victory of Christ in the Angelic Conflict.
A strategic victory wins the war; tactical victories win the battles. This one wins the war:
ONE: Crucifixion victory over the penalty of sin on the Cross when Christ paid the penalty for sin—spiritual death.
TWO: Resurrection, over the consequences of sin—physical death.
THREE: Ascension, victory over Satan and His demonic armies.
He ascends over the angels and put in authority over all the angels that are fallen, as well as elect. His Ascension elevates Him as a man to the right hand of the Father putting Him in authority over all principalities and powers. We studied that in Ephesians 1:17–18 and other passages.
5. The Ascension elevated a man to the right hand of God the Father. Jesus as God, the eternal Second Person of the Trinity was always in authority over all the angels, but now it makes the point that He has been elevated to the right hand of the Father and given authority over the principalities and powers.
This is a man who is now at the right hand of the Father, who will eventually return as the God-Man—emphasis on man—who will rule over the kingdoms of the earth as the King of kngs and Lord of lords.
Acts 2:32–33, this is what Peter describes in his Day of Pentecost sermon, “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth that which you both see and hear.”
Acts 2:34, “For it was not David who ascended into heaven—referring to Psalm 110:1 written by David. This wasn’t David who said, “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand.” That’s not talking about David.
Acts 2:35 continues the quote from Psalm 110:1, “… until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”
Christ is not engaged in that battle at this point. It is the Father who is going to make His enemies a footstool, and then He will give the title deed and dominion to the Son.
6. The Ascension marks the beginning of Christ’s high priestly ministry.
He is now our High Priest. He is at the right hand of the Father where He is our advocate, 1 John 2:2, and He makes intercession for us.
Hebrews 4:14, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens—indicating the universe must be finite for Him to pass through them and go to Heaven on the other side—Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.”
7. The Ascension demonstrates the manner of Christ’s future coming.
He will come as He left. He will come with the clouds, and He will come to the Earth. So the Rapture is not the fulfillment of that.
8. The Ascension Old Testament saints were transferred from Paradise in Sheol to Heaven, Ephesians 4:9–10.
This is further described where it talks about the giving of gifts to men, which we will develop more when we get there.
9. Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit to perform the following post salvation ministries in the life of the Church Age believer.
When you’re saved, something happens afterward:
- You are baptized by means of the Spirit
- You are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit
- You are filled by means of the Spirit when you’re walking by the Spirit
- You will receive spiritual gifts
All of this is accomplished because of the Ascension of Christ that had to take place. It is all distinctive and unique to the Church Age. This is why Paul is writing Ephesians, is to tell us why this is so important and all these blessings that have been given to us.
10. The Ascension marks the beginning of the waiting period for the Kingdom while a new people is formed related to His third royal title: King of kings and Lord of lords.
We’re not in it now; it is future; we are waiting until a new people is completed. When the Father says it’s time, then the Son of Man will come to get the title deed for the Earth. I think that the implication of all of this is that this new people must be removed, and that’s the Rapture. So all of this implies.
Then He will return at the end of the Tribulation as the King of kings and Lord of lords—the Second Coming; the book end to what we’re celebrating now as the First Coming of the Messiah.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study these things, reflect upon them, to gain a greater insight of Your incredible plan. That none of this happened by accident, that You have a plan and a purpose, You’re working it all out in history, and there, right now, our Lord is seated waiting.
“He is representing us at Your right hand as our High Priest, He is interceding for us, He’s advocating for us, and He is forming His Body the Church in preparation for our future role to rule and reign with Him in the Kingdom.
“Father, there is so much here; we’re just barely scratching the surface. Help us to understand these things—new ideas for many people—putting it all together: the greatness of Your plan, looking forward, anticipating the resolution of it with the Church, our Rapture, and then returning with the Lord to rule and reign with Him.
“Father, we pray that if there’s any who are listening who never trusted in Christ as Savior that this will challenge them to be prepared, to be ready, for we do not know when the end of this age will come. It could come for us through physical death or could come through the Rapture, but we need to be prepared.
“There is life that goes on after death, and the issue is whether we’re going to spend that with You or under Your wrath. The Scripture says that You have provided everything for us. It’s not based on how good we are. It’s not based on our own personal efforts, energy, or righteousness, but on the righteousness of Christ.
“We receive His righteousness when we trust in Him as Savior, and You graciously give that to us so that we may be prepared, clothed properly with His imputed righteousness to be able to spend eternity with You.
“We pray that You would open the eyes of those who are not saved to clearly understand this good news, this gospel message, and we pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”