ASCENSION – THE DAY THE KINGDOM BEGAN – We know about Christmas and Easter, but we don’t seem to know much about Ascension. He somehow was given a special ride to heaven. I don’t want us to think of the ascension with a shallow understanding. So, what is the ascension about?

Ascension – The Day The Kingdom Began

by Delbert Young

Ascension - The Day The Kingdom Began

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Ascension – The Day The Kingdom Began 

Scriptures: Luke 24:51-52, Acts 1:9, Daniel 7:13-14, Matthew 16:13, Matthew 9:6, Matthew 11:19, Exodus 13:21, Psalm 97:2, Ezekiel 1:4, Ezekiel 1:26, Exodus 19:16, Exodus 24:16-18, Matthew 26:64-66, 2 Peter 1:11, Colossians 1:13, John 3:5-7, Revelation 1:9-10, Revelation 4:2, Revelation 17:3

In the movie, “Forrest Gump,” Lieutenant Dan asked Forrest Gump if he had found Jesus yet. Forrest replied, “I didn’t know that I was supposed to be looking for him.” Is Jesus lost? Where is Jesus? Some would say he is in their hearts. But where is he physically and what is he doing? We are told he went to heaven on a cloud. What was that all about?

Next Thursday is the day of Ascension. That means Easter Sunday was forty days ago and Pentecost Sunday will be ten days ahead. It was very interesting to me as I began preparing for today’s lesson how none of my study helps viewed Ascension day as do I. We know about Christmas and Easter, but don’t seem to know much about Ascension. To most, Ascension day is a church observance day when Jesus had a hot air balloon experience and left us thousands of years ago. He somehow was given a special ride to heaven. I don’t want us to think of the ascension with that shallow of an understanding. So, what is the ascension about?

Let’s begin by asking a question. Was the ascension something Jesus came up with as a way to get into the heavenlies? Or, was it purposed and prophesied hundreds of years earlier? If it was purposed and prophesied, then what was the purpose? What was the ascension to show? As we ponder that thought, let’s look at a few scriptures to give us a visual of what happened that Ascension day.

Luke 24:51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.

Luke 24:52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.

“Great joy?” Why would the departing of Jesus bring the disciples great joy? Would not the seemingly correct emotion be sadness because the person they loved so much was leaving? I feel sadness when people whom I love leave me. Why was their emotion great joy? I have always been told there were sadness and solemness in the room in which the disciples awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit. Obviously that is not correct. They had great joy at the leaving of Jesus. Why? It was because they understood the ascension and understood exactly what the ascension meant. Let’s see and learn what they already knew. Luke gives us more information as he continues to write in the book of Acts.

Acts 1:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

I am certain that this is one of the most familiar scriptures concerning the ascension. Jesus had given his final instructions and then he was taken up. A cloud was waiting for him and received Jesus out of their sight. He didn’t ride the cloud. He was received by the cloud. Daniel knew about this cloud and the ascension about 600 years before it happened.

Daniel 7:13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.

Daniel 7:14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Daniel saw the “son of man” coming with the “clouds of heaven.” There are many points here. We can only touch a few of them.

Daniel saw the “son of man.” That was the favorite term that Jesus used as he would refer to himself. Jesus called himself the “son of man” about eighty times in the gospels. In fact, it is difficult to find where he referred to himself in any other way. What was he attempting to teach us by using that term? Where did he get that term? I will show us a few of these references Jesus made about himself.

Matthew 16:13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

Matthew 9:6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.

Matthew 11:19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

Daniel saw Jesus, the son of man, “coming with the clouds of heaven.” Daniel saw the ascension and he saw the purpose of the ascension.

Please notice that Jesus didn’t come “on” the clouds. He wasn’t simply riding a cloud. Jesus came “with the clouds.” He did not come with the clouds “to” heaven. It is “coming with the clouds of heaven.” We envision a little puffy white cloud taking Jesus to heaven. That’s not what is being projected to us.

The “cloud” is a wonderful study. The cloud is the glory cloud that led the nation of Israel out of Egypt. It was a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

Exodus 13:21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:

The cloud that awaited Jesus in Acts 1:11 was the glory cloud. Jesus came with the glory cloud of heaven. The glory cloud contains the throne of God.

Psalm 97:2 Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.

Ezekiel saw the glory cloud and within that cloud he saw the throne. There are beings in that cloud also.

Ezekiel 1:4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.

Ezekiel 1:26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.

Moses saw inside the cloud. Ezekiel saw inside the cloud. Daniel saw inside the cloud. John saw inside the cloud. The ten commandments came from the cloud.

Exodus 19:16 And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.

The law, or Old Testament, came from the cloud.

Exodus 24:16 And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

Exodus 24:17 And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.

Exodus 24:18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.

The thought of the cloud was not foreign to the Hebrew mind as it is to our minds. They understood the cloud. Daniel saw the son of man coming with the cloud of heaven. With a little more understanding about the cloud, look at this verse.

Matthew 26:64 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.

Matthew 26:65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.

Matthew 26:66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.

The high priest freaked out when Jesus said that he was the son of man and would come in the clouds of heaven. It was that statement that actually condemned Jesus to death. Why? Because they knew what the terms son of man and the cloud meant. It obviously meant a lot more to them than it does to us today.

When Daniel saw the event of the ascension, he saw Jesus coming to the powerful position of the throne of God. What was the purpose of that coming? Let’s again look at the passage in Daniel 7.

Daniel 7:13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.

Daniel 7:14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

I need to ask us a question. What day was it that Jesus received sovereign power, everlasting dominion, and a kingdom that would never be destroyed? The answer is Ascension day. The kingdom began on Ascension day. The first day of the kingdom was Ascension day.

Jesus came into the presence of God the Father. We now see what the ascension was all about. Jesus received a kingdom on Ascension day that would never end. His dominion will never pass away. Jesus will rule forever. What is the ascension about? It is about the day that Jesus received his kingdom that would never end. Let’s say it a different way. Let’s say Ascension day was the day that began the kingdom of Christ. That would mean that the kingdom many await to come actually began nearly 2,000 years ago. Look what Peter said.

2 Peter 1:11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The reason those disciples were full of joy when Jesus departed from them was because it was that day that the kingdom began. Jesus was going to the throne to be inaugurated. All of creation rejoiced. Ascension day was the first day of the kingdom. We are in the kingdom. At least, that is what Paul taught.

Colossians 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

If we have received Jesus and delivered from the devil, then we have been translated into the kingdom of Jesus Christ which began on Ascension day. This is why we are born again of water and spirit.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

John 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

We are not only born again to go to heaven when we die. We are born again to see and enter the kingdom of God which began on Ascension day.

I’ve got to begin to close this lesson. I have one more truth that I want us to see about Ascension day. The book of Revelation teaches us about Ascension day. In fact, it gives us the clearest picture in scriptures of what actually happened that day. Let me show you first that John, the writer of the revelation, recorded for us as he began writing the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

John was in the kingdom of Jesus Christ nearly 2000 years ago. He was also in the tribulation, but that’s not my subject today. The book of Revelation is not only about a kingdom to come one day. It is about an existing kingdom that began on Ascension day.

The book of Revelation is divided into four “great visions.” Each great vision is shown by John going into the Spirit. Each adventure into the Spirit gives John the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Let me show you.

  1. Son of Man – Revelation 1:10 I wasin the Spiriton the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
  2. Lamb Slain – Revelation 4:2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
  3. King of kings – Revelation 17:3 So he carried me away in the spiritinto the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
  4. Lamb’s Wife – Revelation 21:10 And he carried me away in the spiritto a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

We find Ascension day in the second great vision.

Revelation 5:1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

Revelation 5:2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

Revelation 5:3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.

Revelation 5:4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

Revelation 5:5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

Revelation 5:6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

Revelation 5:7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

The great vision began in chapter 4 as John was invited to come into the glory cloud as was Ezekiel and Moses. John saw what they saw, and more. John saw the glory of the throne in chapter 4, but in chapter 5, John saw the results of the Ascension. The Ancient of Days sat in the throne and had a rolled parchment book in his right hand. That is important. The right hand is the hand of authority and power in the scriptures. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. The book held in the right hand of the Ancient of Days was sealed with seven seals. It was perfectly sealed and only perfection could open it. Sadly, no one in the entire universe was worthy to open the book. That is, no one was worthy until Ascension day. An elder came to John and told him “the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book.” John looked to see that Lion. He saw a Lamb instead that was now in the midst of the throne. This Lamb was “as it had been slain.” Jesus had just been crucified. There is no question about the identity of that Lamb. That was the event of which Daniel had spoken 600 years earlier.

Jesus the Lamb took the book “out of the right hand” of the Ancient of Days receiving his kingdom that would never end. At that instant, on Ascension day, all of creation began singing a new song from a new covenant. The redemption for every kindred, tongue, people, and nation began on Ascension day.

Revelation 5:8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

Revelation 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

Revelation 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

The twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles of the faith, i.e., twenty-four elders began worshiping. The kingdom began. Remember the disciples having “great joy” in Luke 24:52? This is why. We have been made kings and priests, or a kingdom of priests, to God. We are now to reign on the earth.

Revelation 5:11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;

Revelation 5:12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.

Revelation 5:13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

Revelation 5:14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.

That is what happened on Ascension day. Jesus ascended with the cloud of heaven to the throne of God. The manger was wonderful. God was made flesh and dwelt among us. He showed us what his kingdom was really about. The cross was wonderful. The blood of Jesus washed me from my sin. The resurrection was wonderful. It assures us that there is a resurrection day when the graves will open. But there was Ascension day. There was a day when Jesus ascended to the right hand of God and received a kingdom that will never end. There was a day that he made you and me a kingdom of priests unto our God. There was a day when the Old ended and the New began. Today is a day of the New Covenant and a new song. Today is the day of the kingdom of God. It began on Ascension day.

Other Related Sermons:

Revelation Chapter 5, Lamb Slain, Right Hand, Seven Seals – sermon video audio notes

WHAT IF…? Veteran’s Day sermon notes

Circumcise, Hill of the Foreskins – Father’s Day sermon video audio notes

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