Wednesday, 6 October 2021
who also said, “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.” Acts 1:11
Note: You can listen to today’s verse and commentary, courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
You can also read today’s verse and commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern The Bible,” at this link on YouTube. (Click Here to listen)
In the previous verse, two men were noted as standing by the apostles when Christ ascended into heaven. With that said, Luke next reveals their words to the apostles, beginning with, “who also said.”
It is as if it took their speaking to the apostles for them to even be noticed. The apostles were so intently looking up that they failed to see the coming of these two men. In their address, they say, “Men of Galilee.”
Luke makes a point of documenting where they were from, here and again in Acts 2 –
“And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?’” Acts 2:5-7
He notes the same again in Acts 13 –
“He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. 32 And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers.” Acts 13:31, 32
It appears that Luke is intentionally noting their origin to remind the reader of the prophecy of Isaiah 9 –
“Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed,
As when at first He lightly esteemed
The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
And afterward more heavily oppressed her,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
In Galilee of the Gentiles.
2 The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.” Isaiah 9:1, 2
As such, Luke is making the implication that Jesus is, in fact, the fulfillment of this prophecy. It is Galilee where this great light shined, and those who were from there are now those commissioned with spreading this good news. It is to them that the two men with them now state, “why do you stand gazing up into heaven?”
Like the questions proposed to those at the empty tomb (see Luke 24:5) and later by the Lord (Luke 24:38), the words are intended to redirect the minds of the hearers. It is as if they are saying, “Don’t you understand? These things had to take place. It is all there, right in the Scriptures. Each thing that occurs is according to God’s set plan and purpose.”
Of the possible things that could have been on the minds of the apostles, Albert Barnes provides three valid suggestions –
(1) In the feeling of disappointment, as if he would not restore the kingdom to Israel.
(2) Possibly they were expecting that he would again soon appear, though he had often foretold them that he would ascend to heaven.
(3) There might have been an impropriety in their earnest desire for the mere bodily presence of the Lord Jesus when it was more important that he should be in heaven. We may see here also that it is our duty not to stand in idleness, and to gaze even toward heaven. We, as well as the apostles, have a great work to do, and we should actively engage in it without delay.
For these and/or for other reasons, their question is intended to get the apostles to think everything through in accord with the word. As such, they next state, “This same Jesus.”
The words are given to highlight the name, and thus the Person. “We have something to tell you that you should have already deduced, and it concerns this same Jesus whom you saw crucified, buried, and risen again. It is this same Jesus also that you just saw ascend… ‘who was taken up from you into heaven.’”
Again, one can only speculate on the exact intent, but it rightly seems to be, “You have seen this human being do things that no human being has ever done before. But more, you have seen that it was prophesied of before it occurred. The things that happened to Him were at the set times and by the appointment of God who said it would come about. The One you have been witnessing accomplish these things, and who has now ascended into heaven,… ‘will so come in like manner.’”
In other words, there are yet to be fulfilled prophesies. “To the word! Remember the word! It has all been spoken of before! And they will be fulfilled by THIS SAME JESUS!”
It seems this is the unstated intent of their words. They are proclaiming that Jesus is the fulfillment of not only everything that has occurred, but all that will occur as well. His departure is not the end of the thing, but a planned part of it. As such, they can now put things together.
Christ rose into heaven, and so He will come again from heaven. A cloud received Him out of their sight, and so He will come again on the cloud. He ascended from the Mount of Olives, and so He will return again to that spot. “You are asking about the kingdom being restored to Israel? Look at what Daniel and Zechariah have already said” –
“I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13, 14
“Behold, the day of the Lord is coming,
And your spoil will be divided in your midst.
2 For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem;
The city shall be taken,
The houses rifled,
And the women ravished.
Half of the city shall go into captivity,
But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
3 Then the Lord will go forth
And fight against those nations,
As He fights in the day of battle.
4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives,
Which faces Jerusalem on the east.
And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two,
From east to west,
Making a very large valley;
Half of the mountain shall move toward the north
And half of it toward the south.
5 Then you shall flee through My mountain valley,
For the mountain valley shall reach to Azal.
Yes, you shall flee
As you fled from the earthquake
In the days of Uzziah king of Judah.
Thus the Lord my God will come,
And all the saints with You.
6 It shall come to pass in that day
That there will be no light;
The lights will diminish.
7 It shall be one day
Which is known to the Lord—
Neither day nor night.
But at evening time it shall happen
That it will be light.
8 And in that day it shall be
That living waters shall flow from Jerusalem,
Half of them toward the eastern sea
And half of them toward the western sea;
In both summer and winter it shall occur.
9 And the Lord shall be King over all the earth.
In that day it shall be—
‘The Lord is one,’
And His name one.” Zechariah 14:1-9
This is what the two men are telling the apostles. This same Jesus who ascended out of their sight, who did not directly answer their question about a kingdom for Israel, didn’t have to give them an answer. The Scriptures have already given it. Jesus never said, “You have misunderstood the Scriptures.” Rather, the rebuke of these two men is that the apostles should have faith in the Scriptures. Just as He has ascended, so shall He come again, just “as you saw Him go into heaven.”
The words of Scripture have been written. They are faithful and reliable. God’s people simply need to study them, remember them, and have faith in them. Those who deny a literal millennial reign of Christ from Jerusalem have not done this. Epic fail.
The words have already been confirmed by Jesus Himself –
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:29-31 (see also Matthew 26:64 and Revelation 1:7).
Life application: If you cannot trust a literal reading of the Old Testament verses cited above, then there is no reason to trust anything else the Bible says. The two men standing on the Mount of Olives with the apostles not only confirm that Jesus will fulfill these verses, literally, but that He is also the Lord (Yehovah) of those same Scriptures.
Go back and read Zechariah 14:3, 4 cited above. It is as clear as the purest crystal that this is what they are indicating. Those who deny the deity of Jesus Christ will not be saved because they have called on a false Christ through a false gospel. Epic Fail. Don’t be an epic failure. Instead, believe the word, call out to God through Christ, and be reconciled to Him forever. God has done it all, and He has done it through JESUS!
Lord God, the wonder and marvel of Your word is beyond comprehension. We have a sure and great hope that can never be taken from us because Your word tells us of Jesus, Your coming in human flesh. Nothing can take away our joy, and our hope in Him is secure. Thank You for Your word that reveals these truths to us. Amen!