Our reading through the bible with Good Morning Girls kicks off the fall season in the book of Acts today. Acts is the story of the church, when it began and struggles the early Christians faced. In reading this book, what can I read that would be a call to action? What was the first verse that really spoke to me? Was I influenced because we just had a three week sermon series on Resurrection? Possibly, in chapter 1:9 I read “And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, t he was lifted up, and u a cloud took him out of their sight.” This was after Jesus resurrection from the tomb, after he spent 40 more days on earth in his resurrected body. So what can I glean from this?
As I continue my hunt for old testament pictures of Jesus, did I expect to find it here in the first chapter of the book of Acts? No, but I did! God brought Jesus up on a cloud. So what does that picture say to me? It brings me back to the Old Testament. In Isaiah 14:14
‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ – Is this a fulfillment of prophecy? More research on it to be done, but it was Lucifer saying he would make himself “like”… but only Jesus ascended above the heights of the clouds to be with the Father, from earth on a cloud that would take him even higher than the clouds!
I also thought about the pillar of cloud and what it represented in the scriptures. That pillar of cloud showed the people that God was with them, it showed them he was leading them and they could trust him and follow. So I look at God’s lifting Jesus up on the cloud, Jesus is God and he had been present on earth living among the people. I see Jesus pictured in that pillar of cloud in that way. Jesus leads people to God ~ I love this Old Testament picture even more now that I consider it through the first chapter of Acts!
So what else did that cloud do for the people of Israel? It brought them to a place of worship (Ex 33:10) and it caused nations to talk about God (Nu 14:14). Christians all over the world worship Jesus for who he is and for what he has done for them.
Just before crossing the red sea the pillar of cloud separated the people of God and the people against God (Exodus 14:19-20). Jesus separates God’s children from children of the world. In the first chapter of John we are told this… “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The right to become children of God, available to all people, given to those who receive him and believe in his name. Jesus is the separation, in John 14:6 Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The right to become children of God, available to all people, given to those who receive him and believe in his name.
… JESUS now lifted back to the Father on a cloud… the same things that were done by the pillar of cloud for the Jewish people through out their journey home, I see now in this picture of Jesus going up on the cloud to be with God.
Look forward, look at what Paul wrote in his letter to the Thessalonians “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”1 Thes. 4:17
For the Christian that hope of eternity is the hope that keeps us in peace through anything the devil throws at us! Hope, peace, joy… in Jesus!
I then thought about Elijah on the cloud, and the song by Robin Mark “These are the days of Elijah”, a song I love, but now has new meaning for me because of The story behind These are the Days of Elijah; after reading this, watch our Marines singing Days of Elijah!
These are Elijah Days, God is here, he is in control, we can bring new life to the hurting. We have the message of salvation, we have the love of Jesus, we can share the message and share his love. On this Labor Day, be thankful for those who serve and labor for us, celebrate that as you consider ways to serve others.