While they are together in the upper room, Jesus commands His disciples not to leave Jerusalem until they have received the Promise of the Father “which you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:4-5).
It is the next festival in the spring season, the Feast of Weeks, which marks the first harvest of their agricultural season. You may know it as Pentecost; pente is Greek for 50. Fifty days after the crucifixion, the Holy Spirit is poured out on the men and women who had been cleansed by the blood of Jesus and had received His righteousness. You may recall that the number 50 symbolizes release, as in the Jubilee Year.
Earlier, Jesus had foretold the event to His disciples, saying it was very needful and would be better than if He remained with them. Of course, as the third Person of the Godhead, Jesus could also honestly say that He would never leave them nor forsake them because God’s Spirit would abide in them. The Spirit would not only comfort them, but also bring what Jesus taught back to their remembrance and teach them all things concerning the truths of God’s Kingdom.
But there was more. In their last time together, Jesus drives home the point of why they must wait for the Spirit to fall upon them. “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” (Acts 1:8). It is the Spirit that directs and empowers our witnessing to others. To do so apart from that empowering is simply human effort.
Notice that the statement begins with another “but.” This pivotal statement is connected to the words Jesus had just spoken in response to a question asked of Him. The question shows us that the disciples still didn’t fully understand the mystery-plan. But as we read the New Testament letters, it’s clear that the Holy Spirit is an excellent Teacher because they came to understand the plan.
At this point, though, they ask, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” They’re referring to David’s kingdom and the promise that his lineage would rule forever. Armed with hindsight, we know that the promise pointed to Jesus Christ, who was from David’s lineage. But they hadn’t seen this yet.
Jesus’ next statement is often taken out of context and therefore misunderstood. “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” Jesus wasn’t saying they could not know, for earlier He had said that they would come to perceive the times and seasons and understand what they were to do. Notice, too, that Jesus didn’t say that the kingdom would never be restored to Israel. He only said that it was not yet the appointed time. They had more important matters to attend to—namely, preaching the Gospel and establishing the Church.
What happened next is equally significant in terms of the end-times sequence of events. “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward Heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 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 1:9-11).
The Chronos Lesson: The Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost. It is what distinguished that unique day in God’s plan. It is also what distinguishes the latter Days. It is one of the corresponding kairos signs of the last Days. Another is the authority to use Jesus’ name to continue His work of signs and wonders. For it is the goodness of God that draws people to repentance.
Now let me ask you a question. Did the disciples literally see Jesus ascending to Heaven? Yes, the wondrous details are recorded in Acts 1. This means that He will literally return to the earth because that is what the angels announced. What they said is confirmed in the Old Testament prophecies. So let me ask you another question. Have we seen Jesus literally descending from Heaven? Has the whole world seen Jesus coming in the clouds yet, as Scripture foretells?
No, so don’t let anyone rob you of this truth by saying that the Kingdom has already come. We are not Third Day Christians yet! We don’t count the time using our earthly calendars, which is why Y2K was not a big deal in God’s sight. Nor has the kingdom come figuratively, because the Spirit is within us. The Spirit within simply marks the first two Days of the latter half of the great Week (Today and Tomorrow when counting from Jesus or Days 5 and 6 when counting from Adam).
Hear God’s definitive Word on the matter. “Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Heb. 9:28, emphasis added). At His first coming, Jesus appeared in order to take away the sin of the world. At His second coming, Jesus will appear to take us away to Father’s House to complete our full salvation—our soul and body made new, even as our spirit was when we first believed. This is when we shall fully and truly have the mind of Christ, and a glorified body like His.