“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11
Readings: Zecharian ch.14 and the Second Letter to the Thessalonians.
This study begins with one of eight unique events that mark Jesus out from all other prophets, priests and kings. He ascended into heaven. In the “Apostle’s Creed” we have this event affirmed:
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
Not often emphasised but crucial to a good foundation of doctrine. The key thoughts in Acts ch.1 are:
- Times and dates are not for us to know
- The apostles were to receive Holy Spirit power and authority as witnesses for Jesus
- Jesus left this world alive in His resurrection body
- He will return in the same way to the same place – asserted by two angels
All this happened at the Mount of Olives.
Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. Zechariah 14:3-4
This part of prophecy about the future has not happened yet. It is clear that Jesus will return in a physical way and that this will be in judgement that precedes a time of great blessing. This is described in terms of Israel and Jerusalem.
Paul wrote to people who thought that Jesus had already returned. He was concerned that Christians were being made upset and afraid by false teaching and prophecies. His response is to explain about two distinct things: the Coming (PAROUSIA) of the Lord Jesus and the church being gathered to Him. He stresses ten things:
- Don’t be deceived
- There are things that must happen before Christ’s Return
- Falling away from the faith
- The appearing of AntiChrist (Man of Sin)
- He will set himself up as “god” (in the Temple)
- He will perform miracles
- The presence of something that prevents this appearing
- The fact that the scene is being set
- The fact that Christ will destroy the AntiChrist and all that belong to him
- God will allow a strong delusion in humans that will sort out the real believer from the false.
The remainder of 2 Thessalonians ch.2 emphasises the need to keep the faith and make sure that the foundations are good.
How does 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4 verses 13 to 18 fit with these things?