Ascension Sunday

Daniel 7 and Revelation 5 both deal with the ascension of Jesus Christ to the Father.

First, some background. Daniel lived most of his life during the seventy year exile of the Jews following the fall of Jerusalem. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had destroyed the city and the temple and had carried off most of the Jews into exile, scattered throughout his empire. Daniel is given several visions concerning what will happen to the Jews from this point on. In chapter 7, he sees a vision of four beasts rising out of the sea. These are four empires rising out of the surrounding Gentile world: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Daniel sees the court assembled, the books opened, and the Ancient of Days judge the beasts and take away their dominion.

Then one “like a son of man,” who comes with the clouds of heaven, the glory cloud of the Spirit, is presented before the Father. To Him is given an everlasting kingdom that will not pass away and will not be destroyed. This certainly goes far beyond the merely Jewish-Davidic kingship. All peoples, nations, and tongues – the whole Gentile world – serve Him.

Revelation 5 fills this scene out a little. The court is assembled, but the book is not opened because there is nobody in heaven or earth who is able to open the seals. John begins to weep until he hears that the Lion of Judah, the King, has conquered and is able to open the book. This is what the Jews had been waiting for, a King to deliver them. But when John looks, he doesn’t see a Lion; he sees a Lamb standing as though it had been slain. This is Christ as High Priest, who has offered Himself up on behalf of His people. And just like the lambs under the sacrificial system, after He is slain, He ascends up into the presence of the Father.

Because He has done this, because He has conquered by giving Himself up, because He has ascended to the Father, He has been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  It is interesting to note the ESV translation of Daniel 7:27, “the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.” Most other modern translations read “His kingdom” and “obey Him,” which is certainly right and true. But the ESV reading is fully supported and backed by the parallel passage in Revelation 5, “by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” We must turn our backs on the lie that tells us to sit tight and wait for our death to reign with our Lord. Christ has died and we have died with Him. He has risen and we have been raised with Him. Christ has ascended to His throne, and we are a nation of kings and priests now. We have been seated with Christ and we rule the world now.

This is what Jesus said to His disciples at His ascension, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and disciple the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”



, , ,