Last week we looked at Revelation 13. In this complex and confusing passage, we are introduced to two more creatures. One creature comes out of the sea and begins a reign of terror by deceiving the nations. The next creature emerges from the earth, and his job is to promote the agenda of the beast from the sea. In verse 3, we read about the beast receiving a fatal blow to the head and being miraculously cured or brought back to life. The creature from the earth forced humanity to worship the beast from the sea. In this episode, there is a blatant mockery of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The beast who was killed is now alive. Then he is worshiped as a ruler or king. Satan is the deceiver and accuser. He is not a creator nor a god. Evil does not create or promote originality; instead, it thrives on deception and mockery of all that is holy. The beast receiving the fatal blow to the head and his resurrection are plagiarism of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In the next few chapters of Revelation, we will see kingdoms established, and rulers come to power. These kingdoms and rulers are temporary and, quite honestly, a mockery of the true sovereign God and His kingdom. They are false kingdoms set up by false powers and principalities.
So, I wanted to spend some time today and pause between Revelation 13 & 14 and look at the true King who has come and established His Kingdom here on earth and of God and for all eternity.
The Kingdom of God
So, let’s start from the beginning.
Acts 1:3 “During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.” The author, Luke, establishes early in the Acts of the Apostles the validity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He writes in verse 3 that Jesus appears to the apostles on numerous occasions giving proof or evidence that He was and is alive. Aside from Acts 1, there are several resurrection accounts found in Mat. 28:18, Luke 24:36 – 37, and John 20:14 – 18 & 26 - 29. These give accounts of Jesus’ encounters with his disciples and the Marys. The Apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 15:3 – 8 about Jesus appearing to over 500 people at one time and how he also appeared to the Apostle Paul. Thus, Paul establishes the resurrection as the core of the Gospel message; without the resurrection, Christianity is empty, void, and false 1 Corinthians 15:14
Acts 1:4 - 6
The disciples anxiously ask Jesus, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” And Jesus responds, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know.” In other words, “It’s none of your business.” Jesus knew what they were asking, and they didn’t understand the big picture. People often overlook that the disciples were asking a threefold question.
The Jewish people had lived under the thumb of Gentile rules for centuries, and they were ready to take their rightful place at the top of the heap. But Jesus had something more in mind. His response may have been, “It’s none of your business.” But he didn’t end it at that. He said, “You have other things to concern yourself with.” In verse 8, Jesus says, “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.”
Jesus was telling his disciples, “Let’s not focus on when the Kingdom will come; let’s focus on how the Kingdom of God will come.” These words were both prophetic and a command. They were prophetic because the disciples were Christ’s witnesses. But in the same way, they were a command because he was telling them what they needed to do. Their witness was to begin in Jerusalem, then expand outward like ripples in a pond to Judea, Samaria, and the rest of the world. He was commissioning the disciples to be agents to spread the Gospel message to the known world. But they were to wait until the Holy Spirit empowered them before they went out. This is important to note because without being empowered by the Holy Spirit, they would have failed.
Being empowered by the Holy Spirit is essential when sharing the Gospel with someone. It is imperative for us to understand that we must be driven by the Holy Spirit when taking the Gospel message to the world. Yes, we are to use every opportunity we can to share Christ’s love, but we need to realize that it is not us who does the changing or convicting. This is God’s job, and He is pretty good at it. We need to trust that when we do share Christ’s love that God will work through us and be sensitive to know that not every situation is the right situation. Sometimes we need to WAIT for the Spirit and move when He tells us to move. This is what Jesus was saying to the disciples. Wait just a little bit longer, and when you have been empowered by the Spirit, then you will go to all the nations.
Luke records that after he had spoken these words, “He was taken up before their eyes, and a cloud hid him for their sight.” It goes on to say that they were looking intently up in the sky when two men stood beside them and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking to 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.”
It is believed these two men were angels, or maybe possibly Moses and the Prophet Elijah, although it has been accepted pretty much across the board that they were angels. Who they were does not matter so much as what they said. They questioned why the Apostles were gazing up at the sky. The Apostles were not to be stargazers. They will not be able to bring Jesus back by gazing up at the sky. He is gone; they must let him go; He will return in his own good time and in the same way.
Jesus will return one day to establish the Kingdom of God. We do not know the day, the time, or the hour. Only God knows these details. So, in preparation for Jesus’ return, we must take his commission seriously and be Spirit-empowered and go out to spread the Gospel. Revelation 1:7 says, “And everyone will see him— even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen!”
The return of Christ will be a public spectacle; it will not be private like his ascension. Jesus will return as the victorious King, and when HE returns, his sovereignty will be openly displayed. The wailing will not be the same as in Zech. Instead, it will be wailing that results from impending judgment. As Christians, we anticipate this day of the Lord’s return, but until then, we must get on with our witness, for this is Christ’s mandate to us.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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