REMEMBERING THE LORD’S ASCENSION INTO HEAVEN

The anniversary for this astounding event is Tuesday morning, May 19, 2020. Join me as we discuss this relatively obscure historical milestone.  

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And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. [Luke 24:50-51]    

What a trip it must have been. His overall mission was completed, the last forty days after the resurrection had ended, and the final instructions to His disciples were given. It was time to say goodbye.

I was out working in the yard a couple of weeks ago. A neighbor came by walking his dog. I see him on occasion, but not very often. It had been a while since I saw him last. In the midst of our conversation I happened to mention that real Christians actually believe in the resurrection and ascension of the Lord. He immediately went into controlled defense mode: “Well, that’s a matter of faith.” I was suddenly struck by how weird I must have sounded. I apparently had not broached the subject with a non-believer in quite a while.

Yes. We believe a Man who died rose again from the dead and that He did it by Himself. There was no one calling Him forth from the grave the way the Lord did with Lazarus. None of His disciples were yet filled with the Holy Spirit so they could not have done it. In fact, they were initially incredulous and unbelieving that He had done it. “Say what?!” “You saw what?!” “He did what?!”  

ASCENSION PRETENSION?

Every Resurrection Sunday/Easter multiple millions of Christians worldwide celebrate this event. Do they all really believe it? Do they think about it? Do they talk to non-believers about it? I ask these questions because the subject matter should not be matter-of-fact. It should be met with funny stares. The disciples who raced to the tomb to check it out should have thought it ridiculously quite strange.

Christianity is entirely based on the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. If it never happened then Christianity is a total fraud. We know it did happen, of course. Though unbelievers will still think us quite strange for our weird faith, it is impossible that it did not happen for the simple fact that the Gospel spread so far so fast. There were many actual witnesses. There was no way to deceive multiple thousands of people in the first few days after Pentecost, not to mention the soon-to-be hundreds of thousands and more. His resurrection unleashed manifold spiritual and historical events that cannot be denied. Books have been written about this. Apologetics is based primarily upon it. For those who want more information it is there to be had.

But what of his ascension? Quick show of hands: How many of you have ever heard a sermon dedicated to this historical event? Hello? Anybody? Why is that? I have some ideas.

UP, UP, AND AWAY

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. [Acts 1:9][1]

I brought this up in my current teaching series Early Church History 101, LESSON 4:

“The Bible records many miraculous historical events. One of the most miraculous, or downright mind-bending if you were there, was the Ascension of the Lord. Some say it defies belief. Believers say He defied gravity.”

“As they stood there on the Mount of Olives between Bethany and Jerusalem peering up into the sky at the Lord’s strange private rapture, the disciples were enthralled with an event never possibly experienced before, lost in their goodbyes, and momentarily overcome with loss. How would they manage without Him? Then the two angels suddenly showed up with more of the matter-of-fact narrative as if the Ascension were a mere ho hum event. “Why are you guys still standing there looking into the sky?”

Um, well, you see, it’s just that, uh… (Did we just see that?)

So my neighbor was being polite but he thought I was a nut.

THE 2020 ASCENSION ANNIVERSARY

It happened on a Thursday. I believe it was a Thursday morning. I believe this because the Lord’s resurrection took place in the early morning on the first day of the week. And Pentecost happened in the early morning, also on the first day of the week, about 9am. The ascension happened forty days after the resurrection. Exactly ten days later Pentecost happened.

On the ancient Hebrew calendar the ascension fell on Iyyar 26. According to the official Hebrew 2020 calendar, Iyyar 26 is this Wednesday, May 20. But this calendar is off by a day if we go by present celestial rendering. I’ve already done the math so you don’t have to. Iyyar 26 is actually Tuesday morning, May 19. Please think about it and how awesome it must have been.

Imagine if you were there.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Posted on May 18, 2020, in Current Events and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. miraculous, glorious, victorious resurrection and ascension! O how vast and unending, undying and steadfast is God our Father’s Love for us!!!

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  2. I don’t know how I missed this one, RJ. What an amazing event that must have been for the disciples–and for Jesus, winging His way back home 🙂

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    • Thanks for reading, Linda. This is an interesting subject. The Lord does not give us much detail of how it all worked but we know several things from other passages.

      We know everyone will be resurrected. Most will not make heaven and we know of their fiery fate. The comparative few who make heaven will be there in new glorified bodies built for eternity. The Lord received His glorified body at His resurrection and it proves an example for all.

      The next question? What, exactly, is heaven? We know the Lord continued on earth, after His ascension, in Spirit form. We know He indwelt real disciples. We know He continued working with His people in ministry which was a continuation of His “earthly” ministry. Heaven, thus, is not necessarily a single geographic location but anywhere in the Spirit where the Lord has full authority and dominion. It is a spiritual place, a spiritual kingdom. The “Right Hand of God” denotes the power and authority of God, and the Lord Jesus said He had all power and authority in both heaven and earth.

      Before the Incarnation God had no human tabernacle even though He appeared several times in OT history as a theophany. Since His resurrection the Lord has an eternal tabernacle. One day all His real followers will have the same. Then we will know exactly what happened on that Ascension morning, where the Lord went, and how.

      Blessings to you!

      Liked by 1 person

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