A Bible study by Paula Yingst
One thing we can say for sure about Jesus, in addition to the fact that he is the Son of God: He was full of surprises. I can only imagine what it would have been like for those closest to him to awake every morning and wonder, How will the Teacher surprise me today?
Of course that applied to Jesus’ resurrection and everything that startled so many individuals witnessed between that event and his totally unexpected “final act” — rising into the clouds before his disciples’ eyes! Talk about jaw dropping …
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “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 1:6-11)
That wasn’t the first time they had heard about THE SON OF MAN / SON OF GOD and clouds. Here’s what Matthew documented in chapter 24 …
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel [Daniel 9:27;11:31; 12:11] … then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again…. See, I have told you ahead of time.
“Immediately after the distress of those days
“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ [Isaiah 13:10; 34:4, Joel 2:28-31]
“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” (Matthew 24:3-31)
That will indeed be “jaw dropping” for those who survive “the great distress” and see the fulfillment of what the “two men dressed in white” prophesied: “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.”
See, we have been told ahead of time!