Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 2002
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 6: New Truths of the Kingdom Aristocracy
Chapter 4 – The Historical Maturing of the Church
Lesson 204 – Jesus’ Ascension (Part 2)
03 Oct 2002
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
We’re still reviewing from last year because when we get into the new stuff this year we’re going to get into a lot of details about the return of Christ, and those details, much debated details, depend upon and are contingent upon knowing this past background in the Old Testament. Not only the Old Testament but it’s also contingent on understanding the nature of the church. This is a major issue, and if you don’t understand how the church differs from Israel, the two are not the same kind of thing, then you can’t sort out the prophecies that have to do with the Second Coming and the end of the Church Age. So that’s why I don’t apologize for spending time reviewing where we were last year.
We’re going to continue tonight with that event, the ascension and session. Next week we’ll speed things up a little bit, we’ll go into Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit and probably it’ll take us a week or two more on the results of that, what new thing happened in history when the Holy Spirit came to earth at Pentecost. Then we’re going to look at the Church Age, what’s been accomplished in the Church Age so far, what lacks, what things lack still to be accomplished so the Church Age can be finished, and go on to the next stage in history. That all demands a lot, so rather than just plunge into the prophecies having to do with the return of Christ and the end of the Church Age, I want to go through this background.
We’re still looking at the next great event in the Framework, and that’s the ascension and session of Christ. Those two words go together because they describe two parts of the same thing actually. The ascension is the Lord Jesus Christ ascending from that ridge just east of Jerusalem into heaven in full sight of everyone. And as we saw, if you turn to Luke 14, Luke is the author of both Acts and Luke so he ends his first volume, the Gospel of Luke, the very last chapter of that Gospel he ends by describing the situation where Christ rose into Heaven. The thing to remember about these kinds of passages is … and this is why I keep linking doctrine to history, you’ve got to understand that the things the Bible speaks of as truth happened in public view. It is not mystical, private, spooky religious things here. This is public, out in the open miracles that have historical evidences for their support. You have to learn to read the Bible that way.
I must say that in our generation you’ve got to lean very hard on learning the Bible this way because we’ve got an entire generation, people who have been fed from the academic world who … the moment you use the word “religion,” the moment you use it there’s all kinds of baggage that comes to bear and if you’re going to be successful at trying to bear witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, understand it’s like a missionary going into a foreign tribe and having to struggle with the language.
You don’t want to be like the missionaries that went into Korea at the turn of the century, I think it was some Roman Catholic missionaries went into South Korea and they tried to translate the Bible into Korean. One of the big things when you translate the Bible into another language is finding a word for God in a language and a people that don’t know Him. What are you going to use for God? We’ve got G-o-d, that’s our word for God. What’s their word for God? If they don’t know God, then you’ve got all this vocabulary and you’ve got to be careful you don’t pick something out. Apparently they weren’t too careful and they picked this word out for God and the translated it into Korean, and they were noticing that it wasn’t really working, the Scriptures really weren’t working, until later on the linguist that corrected the translation said whoops, you picked the wrong word; the word you picked out in the Korean language for God is the word that they mean for evil spirits. What a disastrous translation that was because they picked the wrong word.
So when you see these things, you want to understand that the Bible does not present religion like you would learn it in a college classroom, read it in Time Magazine or see it on a TV talk show. What those people mean by religion, which is the popular idea, is that religion, first of all, is your private opinion. In other words, it’s so mysterious, it’s so non-intellectual, it is so non-rational that you sort of feel our way, and I feel this religion is for me, or I feel that religion is for you, and it’s everybody’s feeling so there’s not a real content to it. What I’m trying to do in this Framework series is I’m trying to lean the other way, deliberately oppose the culture as this point and make the point that here we are having a revelation that is historically valid.
So when you see things like this passage we’re looking at in Luke, observe that verses 50-51 he is referring to places. Look at the detail in the text. He’s not talking about, “Oh well, gee, Jesus decided to really pull a good one one day and He did a disappearing, act so what He did is He just went up in the air somewhere, we felt.” Well, nobody feels it; there’s the ridge line and that’s where the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to heaven from. It happened in a place, and that’s the thing we want to understand. All this happened in places; you can go there today and see the place where the Lord Jesus Christ rose into Heaven. That’s what we mean by historical public revelation. It’s not private, it’s public. We can take a map, you can construct a map and you can say look, here’s the place, here’s Jerusalem, here’s the location of the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here’s the Temple area and this whole Temple Mount is still there. Yeah, the Temple is destroyed but the Temple Mount is still there, you can still see the corner of the wall, this wall is still there, and you can drive your car along the Kidron Valley and look up and see it. And you look across and this whole area, for about half a mile from this road north is a ridge line. That’s the ridge line, that’s where the Lord Jesus Christ ascended from.
And what’s significant about it is when you see the Bible refer to a place you always want to say to yourself, what else happened in that place. So you take a concordance or a book on biblical geography and you say I’m just curious, God tends to repeat Himself, and we found out that in the Old Testament that’s the ridge line where the Shekinah glory left the Temple prior to the exile. Why is that? Well, who is the Lord Jesus Christ? John introduces Him as the One who dwells, He dwelled among us. It’s the same concept as the Shekinah glory, except this is glory not inside a brick temple—this is glory in a person, a human being.
So Jesus Christ rose, He lifted up his hands and parted from them. Verse 51 tells you only that the Lord Jesus Christ lifted off and He parted, it doesn’t say anything else because Luke is going to tell us a little bit more in Acts 1. So turn to Acts 1, again we’ll review this point and you’ll see as the weeks go by why I have chosen to review ascension and session, because this starts to mark off the Church Age and why the church is not the same as Israel. They have different origins at different times for different purposes. That controls how you interpret the return of Christ with respect to the church and with respect to Israel.
Here we have the Mount of Olives, the Lord Jesus Christ ascends and in Acts 1, here’s Luke, the same author that you just read verses 50–51 in, now he’s describing more to us in his second volume because Acts 1:1 he says “The first account I composed…about all that Jesus began to do and teach,  until the day when He was taken up,” so he tells you that volume one of his investigation of Christianity was up to the day that Jesus was taken up. See verse 2, that’s referring to chapter 24 of the first volume, which is Luke 24:50–51. “…after he had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen.  To these He presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs,” notice verse 3, this isn’t mystical religion, this isn’t what somebody feels, this isn’t somebody’s opinion. This is something open to historical investigation, “many convincing proofs.” Jesus appeared to 500 people at once; 500 people don’t hallucinate at the same time. These people aren’t on a drug high somewhere, some hippie commune that’s having a vision.
The Lord Jesus Christ appeared repetitively in different contexts in His resurrection body. And when He appeared He’d just appear sometimes. Remember the road to Emmaus, He’s there talking, He gets through, and they look around, where’d He go, He disappeared, and the picture you get if you look at the text carefully in those days when He was appearing and disappearing was He would suddenly appear in a room and the impression you get is that He was there all along and He just suddenly made Himself aware, so now the disciples… gosh, you never can tell where He is because He could be right here and we just don’t see Him. That’s the thing, then suddenly they would see Him and it wasn’t a spirit, it wasn’t like a ghost appeared, it wasn’t like a spirit suddenly went pfft boom on Halloween or something. This is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ so that with Thomas, who said He was a spirit, what did Jesus challenge Thomas to do? You think I’m a spirit, come here, you touch me, a spirit doesn’t have these and He pointed to His flesh and bones. You touch Me, Thomas, and watch, I’m eating here. So it’s a mysterious thing, the resurrection body, it’s the first piece of the new heavens and the new earth. The Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection body is the first piece of the new creation, the ultimate eternal universe that will replace the one we live in.
At that point, verse 3, He’s appearing and He’s disappearing. Now after the ascension and session the Lord Jesus Christ’s appearances stop. From this point on in history no one sees the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ walking around. Every time people see Him He’s in heaven. The only time we see Him walking around is in the book of Revelation when He’s doing an inspection of the churches. And like a military inspector He comes in, no notice, and walks around and you have to report, inspection reports in Revelation chapters 2-3, what He thinks, positive and negative, He gives an evaluation of the churches. He says you’re doing this right, you’re doing this right, this one you’re not doing right and I want this corrected. So that’s His inspection report but apart from that when Paul sees Him, when Stephen sees Him, they’re looking up and they see the Lord Jesus Christ at the Father’s right hand. So He’s seen from heaven.
The exact “lift-off” so to speak of this, it’s almost like Cape Canaveral here, Acts 1:9, “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on,” in other words, this wasn’t that they turned their backs and didn’t see Him and He disappeared. The idea here is that the disciples were watching on this hill, and they watched Him go up and it’s interesting, they said “He was lifted up,” that’s a passive voice. Remember the difference between active and passive; active voice, subject does the action, passive voice the subject receives the action. So the Lord Jesus Christ is being lifted up. Now if you were there … try to imagine this. You’re on the Mount of Olives, Jesus has just got through talking to you so He’s five or six feet away, there you are, at your height, our height, and now while you’re standing there looking He’s going up. But apparently the way He went up wasn’t like He was swimming or Superman, you know, He didn’t physically convey the fact that He was making the motion. In other words, the idea that He was apparently passive and standing still but going up, that’s the image you get from this verse.
Otherwise in verse 9 you would think that Luke would have reported something different, you would have said in verse 9 that Luke would have said the Lord Jesus Christ said “Up, up and away” kind of thing. But that’s not the report. The report is when these people are watching He just floats up. Then it says “and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”
I’m a meteorologist; I’ve often thought I wonder how high that cloud is. You know going up there now you’ve got a feeling of about only 100 or 200 feet. This morning the cloud levels were running about 3,000–4,000 feet, they’ve lowered considerably because of the rain shield. The question is I wonder how high the cloud was that’s talked about here. We don’t know. We don’t know how fast He rose. We launch weather balloons out at Aberdeen Proving Ground and they go up a thousand feet a minute, so you just have to sit there for a minute or two and they’re up to 2,000 feet. But did Jesus rise? Was His ascent rate 1,000 feet a minute? Nobody knows. All we’ve got to go on is verse 9, “He was lifted up” out of their sight, and finally “a cloud received Him.”
Why am I stressing all of this? Because of the next verse, watch what happens in the next verse. The guys are looking up. Well, when you’re sitting there looking up, you’re not looking next to you. So here everybody is looking up and they didn’t notice that all of a sudden now two people have joined them that weren’t there before. And they turned around and said, “Who are these guys?” So in verse 10, “As they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold…” Now we’ve got two men who appear in white clothing standing next to them. [“… two men in white clothing stood beside them.”] So they don’t see these guys at first, they see them only afterwards, apparently after the cloud received Christ they said oh, okay, well He’s gone, and then they’d say well Joe, are you going home… who are you? So these two guys are here and they’re dressed in white clothes.
Verse 11, “and they also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky?” Angels tend to have a sense of humor, in the book of Acts it’s really funny to watch the angels interact with people. When you get into the original languages it comes out very forcibly, some of the things they do. When Peter is in jail it’s interesting, the angel comes up to Peter and smacks him, and says get up and get your clothes on. The angel doesn’t clothe Peter, the angel wakes him up with a smack, you wonder how hard did he hit Peter, did he knock him over, what happened there? So they’re kind of individual beings that have their own style, interaction etc. One day we’ll get a chance to see them. But here these guys say “why are you standing looking into the sky?” That’s an interesting question because the clouds had received Him, it’s all over. The ascension has finished.
The tail end of verse 11 is crucial, that’s what I want you to see because when we talk about the prophecy and the end of the Church Age and the Tribulation and the return of Christ and Armageddon and all the rest of it, Christ returns, look at verse 11, what does it say? It’s very simple, it says “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” Well how did they see Him go into Heaven? They saw Him go up and a cloud took Him. What are we going to see when we see Him coming back, He’s going to come out of a cloud and come down. So the Lord Jesus Christ comes down the way He went up. It’s the same concept, just a different direction.
Now we want to look at three verses, we did this last year, because after the cloud receives the Lord Jesus Christ up we’re out of the domain of photographic observation. At this point if you had a video cam you’d have to stop because from now on the only information we have about the Lord Jesus Christ is what is revealed to us in the Scripture because we can’t see Him. We can’t look at Him with binoculars, we can’t speculate so we have Scriptures that interpret. Let’s turn to the first one, Ephesians 1. This is Paul’s interpretation, guided by the Holy Spirit, of what happened to the Lord Jesus Christ after He disappeared in the cloud. We’re going to go further and I’m going to go into some recently discovered things from astronomy to emphasize this because I want you to walk away with the image that the Lord Jesus Christ physically left this planet and physically occupies a space somewhere because He has a resurrection body. He’s not just everywhere; in His humanity He has a body, probably less than six feet tall, 160–170 pounds maybe, and that body is somewhere tonight, and it’s at the Father’s right hand. And it’s a point that’s not here. So He traveled from here to there.
What does Ephesians 1:20–21 say? There are some things that are extremely important for the nature of the church, and our modus operandi. You see, behind all this is that in the Church Age there is a unique modus operandi, i.e., a way of living that is not characteristic of saints of the Old Testament for example. Yes, they believed, they were saved the same way we are, but in living their life the content of their faith is not the same as our content. They didn’t know…, Christ hadn’t risen from the dead in the Old Testament, so we’re the other side of that event. So necessarily the content of our faith is different than they had. In Ephesians 1:20 it says “… He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.” That phrase occurs several times in Ephesians and we’re going to come back to that; that is an important phrase, “in the heavenlies.”
I’ll say it again; He is seated “in the heavenlies.” That is something which occurs several times; in Ephesians 6:12, look at the words, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the power, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness” where? “…in the heavenly places.” This is a domain, there’s a domain in the universe called the heavenly places, and it’s in that domain that the Lord Jesus Christ reigns and sits but it’s also that domain where angelic powers compete and are on the great crusade of good and evil in the cosmos. The battle is going on. It’s not just on planet earth, it’s throughout the whole cosmos.
That’s why interestingly dramas like The Empire Strikes Back and so forth in science fiction, when you read these science fiction things and go see different movies about it, the authors of that may not be Bible believing Christians, most of them aren’t, really, unfortunately C. S. Lewis is only one of the few Christian authors that ever used the motif of science fiction in his trilogy, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and something else, [That Hideous Strength] but C. S. Lewis wrote and pioneered the use of science fiction. But in all these science fiction things, I want you to connect this, this is part of the maturing of the Christian, you ought to be able to encounter things like this and categorize it and sort it out and put it in its place so when you come across science fiction, when you come across these great cosmic dramas, think of the ascended Lord Jesus Christ. And think of the fact that the dramas are actually, I believe, as great literature because great literature does this often, because we’re all made in God’s image, even the pagan author it made in God’s image.
What does Romans 1 tell us about every person? Do they know God or don’t they? They do know God. What does Paul in Acts 17 say about the Greek poets? They knew God; they were expressing it in their literature, screwed up, not true, masked and confused with darkness and error, but nevertheless they can’t totally suppress knowledge of God. It’s impossible to totally suppress knowledge of God, I don’t care who you are, I don’t care if you’re an atheist or anything else, you can tell me all the hot air that you want to but down deep you can never totally suppress your knowledge of God. These authors can’t. In the science fiction idea where you have the whole universe, inevitably what do these authors all do? They talk about good and evil in the cosmos. Even Star Wars, you have Darth Vader, you have the dark side. What is that? It’s a screwed up version of the truth. What it bears testimony to is that these guys, even great Hollywood producers, but in the final analysis they’re Romans 1 people and they can’t suppress this. So it emerges in their art from, it emerges in their literature, it emerges in their movie pictures, it emerges in their screen writing.
What Eph. 1 says is that the Lord Jesus Christ is seated in this heavenly domain and in verse 21 a claim is made. This claim we may not think much of but if you read church history, the 1st and 2nd century Christians thought a lot of it because the 1st and 2nd century Christians were poor people, they were trodden down. Talk about persecution, they had no rights, they were looked upon as a bunch of freaks, religious idiots, and despised by Roman society and they were just oppressed. They had no earthly support. But what Ephesians 1:21 says, the risen Lord Jesus Christ “is far above,” not just above, but He is “far above all rule, all power, all dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.”
The Lord Jesus Christ, in other words, one of the ideas you want to get out of the ascension and session is that He has the supreme rank of all time. That means what if you are Satan? What did Satan want to do? What did he say He wanted to do in Isaiah? He wanted to be… “I will be like the Most High.” Well sorry, the throne is now occupied.
One of the great lines, it came out of real history actually, but do you remember seeing the movie MacArthur, Gregory Peck plays the role of Douglas MacArthur in that film, it has this great theme where they’re discussing the islands, the northern Japanese islands, of course the Russians sat around, sat around, sat around all during World War II, didn’t do anything to help us, we bled and died getting Japan suppressed, and then all of a sudden the Russians wanted half of the northern part of Japan. There’s this scene in the movie of this Russian general, this arrogant so and so comes in and he sits next to MacArthur, played by Gregory Peck, in the back seat of the car and he says, we’ve already talked, General, with your President and with the United Nations, I’m going to occupy the Sakhalin islands, whatever the islands were north of Japan, and Peck plays this Ciceronian MacArthur, it’s really great, just with that arrogance that MacArthur was known for, a brilliant arrogance by the way, and he looked at him and he said, No General, you’re not going to occupy those islands. What do you mean, we discussed in the United Nations. He looked at him and he says “They’re already occupied.” He says well who’s occupying them? “I am.” End of the conversation. That was when Americans acted like Americans. The world never likes it when you stand up for your rights. Ooh, we’re gonna’ go it alone. That’s right, we usually have to anyway.
That’s what happened here and this is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. The throne is occupied. Satan can do what he wants to in certain domains but he hasn’t got a shot at the throne now because now there sits on that throne a member of the human race that he tried to destroy in the Garden of Eden. He knew that God was planning something for the human race and he thought he had the human race taken over and he thought that he could frustrate the plan of God by sabotaging God’s plan for the human race. And now with the ascent of the Lord Jesus Christ “far above all principalities and powers,” he’s looking up at a man; before he was looking down at a man. While the Lord Jesus Christ went through His earthly ministry what did Satan try to do? Tempt Him. Remember one of the offers that Satan offered the Lord Jesus Christ? Bow down to me and I’ll give you the kingdoms of the world. The Lord Jesus Christ didn’t say “well they’re not yours to give,” did He, because at that time Satan had the power to give. Bow down to me, we’ll make a deal, let’s work this out, negotiate, a win-win situation. No, it’s not a win, it’s a win-lose situation. Jesus Christ is the winner and he’s the loser. So the Lord Jesus Christ sits at the Father’s right hand.
Now let’s go to another verse, Hebrews 4:14. We want to pick up the flavor of this. There is an emotional impact to all this and I showed you last week the painting from the medieval artist. I don’t care for this art but we have to respect the fact that the artist that did this is trying to give us a message. And you notice in that painting that he painted the Lord Jesus Christ piercing that layer of angels, and that’s the painter’s way of expressing this truth, that Jesus Christ ascended far above the principalities and powers. That’s an artistic rendition of this truth.
Hebrews 4:14, here’s another aspect to this ascended Lord Jesus Christ. “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,” notice it’s plural, not passed through the heaven, but “passed through the heavens,” and notice it’s not he went into the heavens, He “passed through” them, there’s a journey here, there’s spatial movement. That’s what I’m trying to convey. Of thousands of miles, maybe millions of miles, there’s a movement in space between planet earth and this place called the throne of God. He “passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” And verse 15 is a very practical side which we’ll return to as we go on with this and deal with the nature of the church. “For we have not a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace,” because the Lord Jesus Christ sits at the Father’s right hand He represents us in the throne room. We have representatives and representative government; we have representatives that are supposed to represent us in Washington, D.C. The Lord Jesus Christ represents you if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have a personal representative at the helm of the universe.
Let’s start connecting the dots here. Do you see what a powerful thing this is and why really it’s a sad thing that in our day, how few sermons do you hear about the ascended, seated Lord Jesus Christ? It’s a powerful truth here, that He represents us. He is face to face, He is within inches of the flaming cherubim; He is within inches of a manifest glory of God and He’s perfectly acceptable there. He is at the helm of the universe right now. It’s not run by a Martian; it’s not run by somebody out of Star Wars or Star Trek or something, some five-eyed creature in a cosmic bar. The Lord Jesus Christ comes from planet earth, He is of our DNA, and He sits at the helm of the universe, far above all of the angels and all the cosmic powers of all the planets of all the galaxies.
Let’s go to 1 Peter 3:22. I’m showing you this because different authors of the Bible are picking this theme up and using it. Peter says, “who is at the right hand of God, having gone into Heaven,” by the way, the word “having gone” means go on a journey, “having gone on a journey from point A to point B, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.” So it shows you that the Lord Jesus Christ is in a position of power and rank, and the early Christians from the time of the New Testament gave testimony to this.
Now practical examples today: you’ve heard us praying, and you’ve done it yourself, praying in the name of the Lord Jesus. Does that take on any new meaning tonight for you, when you pray “in the name of the Lord Jesus?” Do you know what we ought to be thinking about when we say “in the Lord’s name,” or “the Lord Jesus Christ,” we ought to be in our mind’s eye visualizing this ascent and session because we are praying in the name of our representative who is face to face with the living God. That is why we pray in Christ’s name.
That’s why Franklin Graham had the nerve in the middle of the inauguration two years ago to get up there in D.C. with everybody watching and say the very politically incorrect thing; instead of just praying to God, where God could be anything that you dream up, happened to conclude his prayer before the whole nation “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” And he’s taken heat for that ever since, oh people have gotten hot at Franklin Graham for doing that. He doesn’t care, he’s going to do it again, and he just did it again last month; he got up in front of the United Nations this time and it was on an AIDS conference and he got up in front of everybody and he prayed again “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Everybody fell over backwards and didn’t like it, and that’s too bad. What, are you ashamed of the Lord Jesus Christ? If you don’t like it I’ll pray twice in His name, just so you get the point. It’s not trying to be arrogant. It’s recognition of the fact that something’s changed here. We’ve got a member of the human race at the Father’s right hand. Of course, we’re praying in His name, what name are you praying in? Buddha? So we pray in the Lord Jesus Christ’s name and we’re not going to be ashamed of it, and if people don’t like it, that’s too bad.
I want to diverge for a moment here and go into something else because I want to fill your minds with this imaginative power of this journey into Heaven. Out at the Institute for Creation Research is some very exciting stuff going on. As the years go by the creationists are really coming up with some neat stuff, and it’s taken a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of money, this kind of stuff just doesn’t happen. If you’ve been around science and research at all you know that 95% of research is grunge, 5% is glory. But for every paper that’s written, for every presentation that made, for every book that’s done there are thousands of hours of going blind looking at numbers, data, crawling around trying to get this instrument to work or that instrument to work or something else to work.
Astronomers have taught for years about the red shift. These slides are taken from Dr. Humphreys at the Institute of Creation Research. This is taught in high school science texts, everybody in high school and above has heard about the red shift because this is the rationale today for arguing that the universe is expanding. The red shift is sort of … it’s not exactly like this; I want to be careful I’m not misleading you. It’s sometimes compared to a Doppler shift, that’s really not true here but for sake of illustration, if you hear an ambulance what do you notice about the sound of an ambulance with the siren on coming towards you versus the sound of the ambulance after it goes by you? You have heard the difference? It comes up and the rhythm of the siren lengthens after it goes by you. Another example, here’s a helicopter, whether it’s a medivac chopper from the State Police or whether it’s one of the Army’s, when that helicopter is coming you hear thum-thum-thum-thum-thum-thum-thum-thum-thum, when it’s coming toward you. Listen carefully next time after it goes by you and you’ll hear the shift in the sound. That’s because the sound waves are coming toward you and the speed of the wave is coming toward you so it makes them shorter. After the object is going like this, the sound wave is coming off the helicopter but the helicopter is moving this way so the waves are spread out as far as your ears are concerned, so it’s lower frequency noise.
This Doppler shift can be measured, so astronomers sit there and they look through telescopes at different stars and they notice something interesting, that the light is shifting so that the idea is that you have this red shift and the red shift is shown here … a lab, in other words if you have a flame and you look at the flame and you break it up into the spectrum you get these little lines. But if you look at the telescope, lo and behold look where the lines are. The lines are shifted to the right. And that’s called the red shift. And it’s observable, you can go and look and see it in different parts of the sky and different objects in the universe and they’re shifted red. So that has been universally proclaimed to be the signal that the universe is expanding. In other words, the pieces that are emitting this energy are going away from us.
Well, that’s interesting because what Dr. Humphreys has discovered, upon reading the literature, there’s nothing here that creationists invented, this is all data, that if you look at all the different stars and you plot the red shift, what would you expect to see? Think about this before I show you the graph. If the universe is expanding and you have all the stars moving away from us, and they’re all at different distances, you would expect stars that are closer to be less red shifted, star further away more red shifted. Since there are so many stars you’d think if you graph the number of stars with the little red shift, the number of stars with a little bit bigger red shift, the number of stars with a bigger red shift that you’d get pretty well an even graph. Not quite. The amazing thing is that when you plot the data for the galaxies, that you get this kind of a graph, and this is very weird and it’s very surprising to see the data looking like this because what this means is that the galaxies, if the red shift means distance, and the galaxies are clustering at these red shifts, what does that imply about the distance they are away from us? Are they randomly distributed? It doesn’t look like it; it looks like, in fact, there’s a cluster of galaxies X distance away from us, there’s another cluster of galaxies that are X+1 distance away from us, so forth and so on.
So here you have galaxies that are closer; they’re not spread out though, they’re clustered. And here’s another cluster, and here’s another cluster, and here’s another cluster, all have [can’t understand words]. The implication of that is that if you … there’s only one way really, if you think about geometry, and that is that we must be close to the center of the universe. The reason is that if you think of the geometry, and if we were not at the center of the universe and we were over here somewhere it would alter the distances that these galaxies are away from us and you wouldn’t have these clusters. The clusters are reflecting [not sure of word, sounds like: shelves], almost like the universe is structured the way an atom is, with electronic shelves. So what we have here is clusters of galaxies in shelves that seem to center on the earth. If you change us and say well, we’re not at the center, and you were offset, then you would get a graph like on the right, you would have it smeared all different distances.
So the long and the short of this is that the universe is circular in structure and that we are very close to the center. Humphreys argues and says we’re not exactly at the center because of various problems with light, etc. What this has said is that at the very center of the universe God made something called planet earth and the drama of redemption is being acted out on this planet at the center of the universe. And the Lord Jesus Christ ascended from the center point to this point where He now reigns at the Father’s right hand.
We want to go on and think further, do some further review, after thinking about the geometry of things. Let’s review two passages [blank spot] … in the New Testament, and then in the book of Psalms in the Old Testament and turn to Psalm 68. We’re not going to spend a lot of time on this but we want to review. In Ephesians 4 Paul is talking about an issue in the church, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling,” etc. Verse 4, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling.” All of this is ecclesiology; all this is the nature of the church. And he’s got to deal with a social issue in the church. This is the kind of passage, you’ve heard me say this before and I keep on saying it, this guy Paul is a fellow that is so deep into theology that he couldn’t tell you how to brush your teeth without bringing the Trinity into it. Here we are, talking about a social issue of personal relationship and gifts in the local church, the structure of the local church, and now he’s in the ascension and session of Christ. How do you explain this other than the fact that the nature of the church is a heavenly body that has been created from the ascended Lord Jesus; the church’s origin is in Heaven, and in verses 8-10 he’s distinctly referring to gifted people?
Go past the passage to verses 11-12 and see where he’s going, so watch where he’s going with this. In verse 11 he’s talking about apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers that are given to the local church “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service to the building up of the body of Christ,” we’ve all heard sermons on that. These are gifted positions for the edification of the body of Christ. Paul is going to do something to give us a picture of how those positions come about. The background for this passage, I am sure, is Paul’s biography. What do you know about the calling of the Apostle Paul? Where was he called? Where was his climactic moment? The Damascus Road. Was he a friend of Christ going up the Damascus Road? What was he doing prior to that? Killing Christians. He had in his hand papers to go to Damascus to take them out in Damascus; he’s going to stop this new thing called the church right now. All of a sudden on the Damascus Road bam, the Lord Jesus Christ appears to him, blinds him and he has to be humbled and be baptized by a brother who is half afraid of him in Damascus. Then he has this long period of time in his personal life of adjusting his theology to this experience of meeting the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus.
Verses 8-9 describe how God gets apostles, how He gets prophets, how He gets pastors and teachers and gives them to the church. He says in verse 7, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  “Therefore it says,” and if you have a study Bible you’ll notice that it’s referring to Psalm 68, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.’  (Now this expression, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?  He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.” Verses 9-10 show you how he taught Scripture; he taught it verse by verse, word by word, section by section. Hold the place here and go back to Psalm 68.
We’ve got to get the flavor of this passage that he used when all of a sudden he’s talking about gifts to the church. He goes to Psalm 68, of all places. Psalm 68 is a Davidic Psalm, you can tell that by verse 1, and David is talking about God blessing Israel. Verses 11-13 show you it’s a military context. In verses 17-18 he talks about “the chariots of God are myriads, thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them as at Sinai, in holiness.” Those are the angelic components of God’s army; sometimes they were visible like to Elijah, sometimes they’re not visible but they’re always there. So this is the angelic powers that God used in the Old Testament.
Then he says in verse 18, “Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captives Thy captives; Thou hast received gifts among men,” now if you’re a real sharp observer and you’re flipping between Ephesians 4 and Psalm 68 you should hit a glitch right there at verse 18 because it looks at first glance like he’s quoting it verbatim. But if you watch the verbs there’s one verb that’s different. In Psalm 68:18 are the gifts coming from men or to men? In Psalm 68:18 He received gifts from men. In Ephesians 4 He’s giving gifts to men. When you see Paul quote an Old Testament passage it’s not a slip of the memory, this guy knew the Old Testament, so when he takes a verb and he’s moving it, he’s making a point.
We could go into a lot of background, we don’t have time but last year I showed from Old Testament usage that in verse 18, when it says, “Thou hast ascended on high,” he’s talking about the Ark of the Covenant coming up on to the Mount Zion in Jerusalem after military victory. David is commemorating the end of the great campaign and the coming of the age of peace to Israel that would dominate his era and his sons. So he’s commemorating the fact that on Mount Zion he’s going to put the Ark of the Covenant. So as that Ark moves up, it’s carried by people and placed there, that is the movement of God Himself in the Old Testament. That’s the way they thought of it because God dwelled in the cherubs. I showed you last year verses that show that. But what Paul is doing is he’s saying look, this is a military metaphor of victory, so he’s making an analogy between the victory in the Old Testament and the ascent and descent of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So just as in the Old Testament the ark came to Mount Zion, its resting place, to commemorate the age of peace and the culmination of a military campaign, with the ascension and session of the Lord Jesus Christ that something has been defeated here, there’s been a great victory. That means that the high ground has been captured and in military campaigns one of the strategic objectives is to get the high ground. That’s why there’s a debate about satellites. It’s the high ground. That was the issue even back in Gettysburg; it was the charging to get the high ground. So whether it was a Civil War, whether it’s today, whether it’s the moon or the galaxy, whoever controls the high ground can eventually dominate. It doesn’t happen immediately but eventually whoever holds the high ground will dominate.
So what Paul is saying is that the Lord Jesus Christ occupies the high ground now, and now He’s taking prisoners, because that’s what the word “captive” means, that’s the people who’ve been defeated. Turn to Ephesians 4 now, he’s saying that He takes captivity captive and He gives gifts to men, but the gifts that He gives, according to verse 11 are themselves people. So what the picture is that the Lord Jesus Christ takes POWs, Prisoners of War out of Satan’s domain just like He took Paul on the Damascus Road and He equips them and He gives them to men. The irony is that in a way He gives them to Himself, so this is not a violation of the spirit of that Old Testament text. In the Old Testament text this is booty; God is a victorious God, God gets the booty. You say wait a minute, if He gives gifts to men, i.e., He gives the apostles and prophets, He’s given it to men, how is that God giving it to Himself? Because who do the people He’s giving them to belong to? The church and the church is “in Christ.” So this is Christ in Heaven giving it to Himself, it’s the booty that He gets in the spiritual conflict that He uses to build His body, it’s part of Him. The church is part of Christ in this sense. That’s the truth that you see in the New Testament. So He is giving the POWs and if you want a model, think of Paul on the Damascus Road. He was captured, he was energized by the spirit of this world, he was in the domain of darkness and he came into the domain of light through the call of God and God plugged him right back in the church as a great leader and author of half the New Testament. There’s an example of what Paul is talking about.
So we have the capture of people, and this now tells us something else, which we’ll get into next week, what is going on with Christ just sitting there are the Father’s right hand for 1,900 years. I mean, when is He going to come back? He’s going to come back only when the job is done. What job? The answer to the question of “what job” is to delve into the purpose of the Church Age. We’re going to do that as we follow on because we’ve got to deal with the purpose of the Church Age or we will misunderstand the end of the Church Age because the end of the Church Age isn’t going to come until the job is done. So we have to understand a little bit about what is the job that has to be done so that Christ can come back and the church can be raptured. The church is going to be raptured at a certain point it time; it’s going to be raptured when the job is done, when it is complete. So we want to understand this background.
If you want to read ahead, there are three Old Testament passages we want to review. These three Old Testament passages give us the background for the titles of the Lord Jesus Christ. One passage is Daniel 7; this is the passage that spawns that term that you meet in the Gospels, “the Son of Man.” The Son of Man title of the Lord Jesus Christ comes out of Daniel 7. It’s a prophetic passage. So when Jesus picks up the term “Son of Man” and He uses it several key ways in the New Testament, it’s a code word for something, and it was a code word that even the priests knew because he got so ticked off when the Lord Jesus Christ dared, in the middle of His trial, he said who are you, and the Lord Jesus looked up at him and said you’re going to see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven and He’s quoting Daniel 7. And the high priest said that’s blasphemy and he tore his garments; he was so infuriated to hear that the Lord Jesus Christ was identifying Himself with Daniel 7. What’s the problem with Daniel 7? We want to go into that.
The second passage in the Old Testament that’s important to understand the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ and what He’s doing today and that’s Psalm 2. Psalm 2 is repeatedly used in the New Testament; that’s the origin of the term “the Son of God.” It comes out of the theology of Psalm 2 and the early church prayed in several places, we’ll go through those, in the book of Acts where you see them using Psalm 2 when they’re praying, that the Son of Man has been blasphemed and so forth and so on.
The third Old Testament passage used a lot by the author of Hebrews is Psalm 110, “The Lord said to My Lord, sit Thou at My right hand until,” until “I make Your enemies Your footstool.” That tips us off that there’s something going on in church history. The thing I want to get at is that we haven’t stagnated; there’s something happening for 1900 years here and it’s going on right now, tonight. The church age, something is going on very significant, that has to be finished before that Kingdom cam come. The church isn’t the Kingdom but the church is necessary to get to the Kingdom. Psalm 110 gives us even more revelation.
So those three passages we’ll look at, Daniel 7, Psalm 2 and Psalm 110 and we’ll work with those next week and that should pretty much finish up the ascent and session and we’ll be ready to go on to Pentecost.
Question asked: Clough replies: That’s the interpretation. In other words, He’s taken captives and He’s taken booty; that was the modus operandi of war down through history, until the United States came along then we rebuild our enemies. But before us, everybody that conquered took captives. That’s one thing they did, and they took booty, not to be used for welfare purposes. The whole idea there is Paul is saying that the Lord Jesus Christ did also, He’s taking booty, He’s taking POWs, He’s taking people. Since the overall context of Ephesians 4 is talking about gifted people, it’s talking about gifts as such, he’s talking about gifted people, gifted offices and he’s saying that He gave those. The idea there is where did He get those to give? He got them by taking them out of the world system. It’s a very powerful passage.
Question asked: Clough replies: Oh no, no, He’s not receiving gifts from the righteous. In Psalm 68 He’s taking gifts from the defeated foes. In the New Testament in Ephesians 4, “leading captivity captive” He’s taking from unbelievers. Paul was an unbeliever “taken” on the Damascus road. The imagery, the overall imagery… there’s details and then there is the overall imagery, the overall imagery is the victorious military commander and the imagery in Ephesians 4 is therefore the Lord Jesus Christ as the victorious military commander. The shift in the verb is there because the way Paul sets it up, it’s the only way he can express the idea that the gifts come to the church, in Ephesians 4 the gifts are given to men; the gifted people are given to men, so he’s altering men in the sense that the men in the Old Testament passage He’s taken from the rebellious, He’s taken from, those are rebellious men. Now in the New Testament He’s taking the gifts from rebellious men and He’s giving it to men.
The question is how do you reconcile that? I think you reconcile that by the method that I was using tonight by saying that the men, that the Lord Jesus Christ is still taking it as far as rebellious men go, He’s not giving it to rebellious men in the New Testament, He’s giving it to Himself because the men who are the recipients in Ephesians 4 are men who are “in Christ.” Therefore He’s giving it to Himself; He’s not giving it back as it were. In other words, you want to be careful, if you mapped it backwards from Ephesians to Psalm 68 you don’t want to have it mapped backwards as saying that the military commander took captives and He gave them to rebellious men. So there are subtleties in the interpretation here, but the thing when you get those kind of Old Testament things you have to go to what is the central point that he’s trying to get across. The central point is the military imagery of victory. But what’s interesting about that passage is not only that He, for example in Psalm 68 it’s just the Ark of the Covenant from the plain up to Mount Zion but when you see him develop it in Ephesians he’s saying what is it when He ascended but He also descended. Well what does he mean descended? He’s talking about the incarnation, the Lord Jesus Christ descended from where He was as the preincarnate Son of God, came down, was incarnated, and now He’s back where He was before. So the dimensionality, the geometry of Ephesians 4 far eclipses the geometry of the mundane thing in Psalm 68.
Question asked: Clough replies: It’s apposition. In Psalm 68 He received gifts from men, even the rebellious men. “Even from rebellious men” is in apposition, it’s apposition to explain the nature of the men He received gifts from, they’re rebellious, they’re the ones who were defeated, they were the enemies.
Question asked: Clough replies: The people He’s defeating, yeah, and it’s receiving because He receives booty. See this whole motif of receiving booty and victorious God, there’s a lot of working Old Testament scholarship that was so illuminating, some of it isn’t illuminating at all, but this is particularly illuminating of David, because you remember in Samuel there’s a section, in David’s life it fits right around the time of Psalm 68. Remember, what was David concerned with at that point in his life. He had just become king and he had subdued the nations round about and what next on his heart? The temple, he wanted a place for the tabernacle; it had been in somebody’s house there for a while, so he wanted a place for the temple. So what he said is, he said to God, I want to build You a temple. Now when he said that it’s now known from ancient near eastern literature that he was acting like an oriental king would act.
For example we have texts where Pharaoh, after he’s been victorious, he has booty, a lot of money, gold, he’s taken it, and what do they do with it? They build a temple; they build a temple in honor of the god they believe helped them in the battle. So when David naturally says well, the Lord helped us conquer and I just want to build Him a temple, why does God prohibit him from doing it? You’re not going to build Me a temple, and what does He say, I’m going to build you a temple, 2 Samuel, that’s the Davidic Covenant and it’s a fascinating study because what that shows is that the God of Israel refused to allow the Hebrews to operate in the modus operandi of the normal ancient near eastern lifestyle. When David got to that point in his career as king, he was going to act like a king would normally act, a human king, and he would build, out of gratitude, a temple to the god who helped him. Now when he tries to do that God cuts him off, He says you’re not going to build me anything, I’m going to build you something. And that’s when He announces the Davidic dynasty and the Davidic Covenant. So it’s a fantastic [can’t understand word] of God’s grace. I mean, God could have accepted that from David but He didn’t; He said I don’t need that David, now it turns out I’m going to let your son do it, Solomon, but I don’t want you do it. You’ve done your thing and now I’m going to bless you and that’s the context of the Davidic Covenant.
Question asked: Clough replies: David was a military king and He wanted the temple done in peace, but if you look at the narrative of 2 Samuel 7, where the Davidic Covenant comes, just look at that. That’s where the grace shows up; it’s an amazing passage. When you study the cultural context of it it just wallops you with what God is doing to David there. This is one of those little passages in the Old Testament that shows you the Lord’s appreciation .… 2 Samuel 7:1, “Now it came about when the king lived in his house, and the LORD had given him rest on every side from all his enemies,” so there’s the end of the military conquest, that’s the context of Psalm 68.
Verse 2, “that the king said to Nathan the prophet, ‘See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in tents.  And Nathan said to the king, ‘Do, do all that is in your mind, for the LORD is with you.’ ” Well, Nathan kind of spoke out of hand; I mean it seemed to be wise, so yeah, go ahead David, good luck. But no sooner had he said that than God interferes.
Verse 4, “But it came about in the same night that the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying,  ‘Go and say to My servant David, “Thus says the LORD; ‘Are you the one who should build Me a house to dwelling?’  For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have been moving about in a tent, even in a tabernacle.  Wherever I have gone with all the sons of Israel, did I speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel, which I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’  Now therefore, thus you shall say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be ruler over My people Israel.  And I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make you a great name, like the names of the great men who are on the earth.”
Verse , “I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them anymore as formerly,  even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. The LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you.  When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.  He,” now here’s the Davidic Covenant, “He shall build a house for My name and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me,” there, by the way, is the background for Psalm 2 which we’re going to talk about next week, “when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men,  but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.  And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.’ ”
If you think about what normally happened in the ancient near eastern politics that is a stunning chapter. Now in practice in the Old Testament what would happen, think about the money, you know the story, follow the money and you usually find out what the real deal is, let’s think about it. Who do you suppose got the booty money in most of the politics of the ancient near east? If you were going to take millions of dollars in booty and you’re going to build a temple, who gets the money? Now the gods don’t exist, so who’s getting the money? The guys that run the temple. And who are the guys that run the temple? The priests of the false religions. So the money in warfare went to finance the temple cult of the victorious nation.
Now do you see why theologically God did not want it to look like and in practice be a payment to Him? God doesn’t make money off of war. God doesn’t make money from unbelievers. He doesn’t accept gifts that way. He gives, He doesn’t receive; what He receives is a sacrificial heart, Romans 12:1 our dedication but He doesn’t receive the mullah from unbelievers. And He cuts it off, I don’t want that, that’s not My way, but it’s My way to be gracious to you and that’s the Davidic Covenant. See, there’s a play on the word beth, the word B-e-t-h, Bethlehem, in the Hebrew beth means house, and so David is talking about… he uses the word “beth,” I will build a beth for You,” a house for You. And God says I will build a beth for you but the word “beth” the way David meant it was a physical beth and the way God meant it was a dynasty, the house of David. We still think of that, the monarchy, the House of Windsor, the kings of England, and the word “house” is still used that way. So it’s an amazing chapter. It’s kind of nice we talked about it because that Davidic Psalm, you see that passage where “I will be to him a father and he will be to me a son.” Now read Psalm 2, what does it say? This day I have declared that you are my son, and that’s why we believe that Psalm 2 is a coronation Psalm; it was actually sung when the king would be coronated and the prophet, who would be the king-maker in the Old Testament, would be there, in this case Nathan. And at the coronation of the king when he received the anointing and the crown there would be this music and ceremony and they would recite Psalm 2.
It’s interesting that the New Testament picks that up and uses it for the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, because the epistle to Hebrews says He has received a name above every name, and the author says in Heb. 1, and to what angel has He ever said “Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee.” He didn’t say that to any angel, He said that to the Lord Jesus Christ. So it’s an exciting picture of the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. I show these kind of militant places in the New Testament because I want you to see it’s not some little ugh kind of thing going on here. This is big heavy stuff associated with it, there’s war going on between the good and evil and there’s going to be a loser and there’s going to be a winner. The Lord Jesus Christ has pulled off a strategic maneuver of capturing the high ground and now from that high ground He’s going to conquer the rest of the world. The question is, how is He going to do it? That’s the question we have to grapple with and why I’m spending all this time in review because we’ve got to get all that in our heads so that when we get into this return of Christ thing it fits into the larger picture of what’s going on here.
It’s a very complicated thing. The return of the Lord Jesus Christ has lots of pieces and parts to it. That’s why it’s very difficult. You can’t have someone, if that person has become a Christian in the last two minutes, all of a sudden master all the details of eschatology. It’s not going to happen.
Question asked: Clough replies: He says you will be with Me; the body is face to face with the Lord. There’s no resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ is the firstfruit and His resurrection is it. The problem is that, going back to the New Testament, to be absent from the body is to be face to face with the Lord. That’s a powerful prepositional relationship, it’s not just oh well, absent from the body, you’re going to be around the Lord somewhere, you know, the nearest galaxy. That’s not what the text says. It says to be absent from the body is to be intimately present with the Lord. Well, if the Lord is at the Father’s right hand, guess where you’re going to be. So it seems pretty clear. The problem that you’re bringing up is looking at it from the Old Testament point, the Old Testament saint point of view. And think about it, what did the Lord Jesus Christ say to the thief on the cross? Today you will be with Me in paradise. So the inferences, because we don’t have a lot of revelation, the inference is that the Lord Jesus Christ went to the Old Testament holding ground, Abraham’s bosom it’s called in another place, i.e., the place of the departed souls, and that He took them with Him. That is a matter of discussion. I know enough to know that in two minutes I’m not going to…
Someone interrupts and says something: Clough replies: Well, there’s that mysterious passage in Matthew, I think it’s in Matthew, one of the Gospels where the graves were opened, and that’s a troublesome passage of setting it together. But the big idea here is that the Old Testament distance from God, remember holding tank idea … and by the way, the holding tank idea is there because of what reason? Think about it. What hadn’t yet happened? Atonement, the sacrifice hadn’t been made yet. The promise had been made but they were waiting on that promise to be executed. That’s why in Hebrews, if you look at Hebrews every place where they’re talking about the ascension and session you wind up solidly in the middle of Psalm 110, all the time, always talking about Melchizedek, Melchizedek, Melchizedek. And one of the things if you do that, there’s about seven or eight passages, look in a concordance, and you work your way through Hebrews, it’s interesting when you look at that the one theme that emerges is oh, He once and for all made a sacrifice, He no longer has to do that, a non-repetitive sacrifice. And the reason that’s important is because of Rome. What is mass? It’s redoing something. And if there’s one thing that Hebrews mentions it is once and for all, you don’t have to do it, it’s finished. That’s the good news.
I mean, if you were literally, because the mode that you’re talking about in the Old Testament, in a holding tank, because the work isn’t finished, that’s really a picture of what Roman Catholicism still does. It’s like it’s a holding tank. There’s no assurance, there’s no “Ah, it’s finished!” kind of thing because it isn’t, it’s being done again and again and again. Because remember mass in Roman Catholicism is very serious. It’s not a ceremony. Mass is not just a ceremony. The priest isn’t up there just doing it; there’s something they believe that miraculously is going on in mass. That is a recapitulation of sacrifice that’s happening there. It’s not a ceremony like the Protestant idea of communion.
Question asked: Clough replies: What do you mean figurative? It’s an idiomatic expression to be clothed. Well, an idiom always has a literal foundation because you can’t get meaning from non-literal things, so an idiom gets its meaning because it first is literal. And then because it’s literal you think about it and you say well, I understand the literalness of it, therefore I infer the metaphorical from it. So what we’re saying is … I mean, you see it in the book of Revelation, there are thousands of martyrs that are right there sitting at the throne, right next to the Lord, “How long, O Lord, will you avenge our blood.” And they’re talking, right next to Him.
Question asked: Clough replies: The Rapture, that’s what 1 Thessalonians and 1 Thessalonians 5 is all about.
Question asked: No, not unless you believe that the church is Israel. You’re getting into what complicates eschatology because the problem is you’ve got all these promises that talk about the Yom Yahweh, “the day of the Lord.” What is the day of the Lord? The day of the Lord Jesus Christ is totally Old Testament; it’s all given in terms of Israel and Old Testament history. So you have all these dozens and dozens, hundreds of promises of these details of the Lord coming back. And it’s interesting because when the Lord, in Matthew 24 which is all an Israel context, the church hasn’t happened in Matthew 24, it doesn’t happen until Acts 2, at that point the Lord talks about His coming back. There’s no mention of resurrection there, you don’t find it. Where’s the resurrection in Matthew 24? It’s not there. The first time the resurrection of the church shows up isn’t until Paul starts talking about the rapture and it’s in a different context than the Old Testament resurrection. That’s what complicates it so. People say ooh, gee, that’s such a complicated … sorry folks, that’s just the way it is. The first coming of Christ was also complicated. Next week we’ll go into the passage that says if you would accept Me you would have the Kingdom and John the Baptist is Elijah, but since you’ve rejected me, John the Baptist isn’t Elijah and you’re not going to get the Kingdom. What does that tell you? It tells you that Jesus Christ offered the Kingdom and it was rejected, and it was going to be rejected again in Acts 2 and Acts 3 because Peter is preaching a sermon. That’s not an evangelistic sermon in Acts 2 and 3, just a simple Church Age evangelistic message. Look at the vocabulary, in Acts 2 and 3 Peter is inviting… what does he say? Repent and receive Christ, and what does he promise, the times of refreshing will come now. The “times of refreshing” is an Old Testament thing for the Millennial Kingdom. So in early Acts there’s no recognition that the church is something distinct until after Peter does that second invitation, and then you have the fulfillment of the parable of Matthew 22, when the King has offered twice for people to come to the wedding feast. The first time they didn’t pay any attention; the second time He offered the invitation they killed His servants. No servants were killed in the Gospels; servants are killed in the book of Acts. Twice Israel is given the chance to accept the Messiah and bring in their Kingdom.
This is why I told you last year there’s a difference between Dispensational and Reformed theology. The Reform people just gag at what I just said because what they think I’m saying, and they don’t listen, they jump to conclusions and try to put words in your mouth, what they think I’m saying is that well gosh, you made history contingent on man’s volition. I mean, just think, if people would have accepted Christ you’d never have had a Cross; you’ve made the Cross plan B, it’s because of rejection, now it’s the last thing God can do so He just thinks up the Cross to… wait a minute, hold it, look all the way from Genesis 3, there’s plan B right there. What was God’s plan A? No sin. And then we have the fall, this is plan B. So now are you going to say redemption is plan B in God’s mind? Come on, I mean, you’ve got this dance that goes on that I call two steps forward one step back, two steps forward one step back, that’s the way God works all down through history. It shouldn’t be something that all of a sudden we get bent out of shape theologically because we see this process in the Gospels and Acts of two offers of the Kingdom that are rejected and somehow that makes the cross Plan B. That’s no more legitimate than fussing about Genesis 3. Think about it, when Israel came out of Egypt, what was plan A? Direct conquest. What actually happened? Forty years later. There again the same thing. It’s always two, and why do you suppose it’s always two? What is the law of evidence in the Bible? By the mouth of two or three witnesses it shall be established. What’s being established? The sinfulness of [message ends abruptly]