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Friday, August 26, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 26

The Advent Part 18

Acts 1:12, “Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey.”

After the angels spoke to the disciples and strengthened their hope with the affirmation and promise that Jesus would return in like manner as they had seen Him go into heaven, they departed leaving the disciples with their thoughts on the mount called Olivet. Not wasting any time, the disciples returned to Jerusalem, understanding perhaps more clearly than ever before the words that Jesus had spoken to them, while He walked among them.

Luke 12:35-37, “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.”

Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching! Not those servants whom when the master comes will find arguing, not those servants whom when the master comes will find backbiting, not those servants whom when the master comes will find slandering, not those servants whom when the master comes will find sleeping, not those servants whom when the master comes will find jockeying for position in their chosen denomination, but blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching.

Their ministry needed to begin, and the disciples knew that it needed to begin in Jerusalem. They also knew that they needed to wait there and patiently so until they received the power Jesus had spoken of and promised. All these men knew the words of Jesus, they knew that it was Jesus who had said ‘I will build My Church’ and they likewise knew that He had chosen them to fulfill this promise. How He would go about it, how Jesus would take a handful of ordinary man and turn the world upside down, they as yet did not know. All that they knew was that Jesus had made a promise, and that He would keep it.

Too often we overanalyze certain tasks that God presents us with, we overthink certain duties that He commands us to perform, and in the back of our mind there is always that constant knowledge that in and of ourselves we are not up to the task, that we will fall flat on our faces, make fools of ourselves, and fail miserably. Personally I believe this is a good attitude to have when it comes to the work of God, because when we think that we can’t do it on our own, when God does it through us, we won’t get tempted to take the credit, or heap glory upon ourselves. It is a far better thing to think ourselves unworthy and incapable, than think ourselves entitled and eminently overqualified for the duties that God sets before us.

Isaiah 57:15, “For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

The writer of the Acts of the Apostles, namely Luke the evangelist, also includes the geographical location of Christ’s ascension, namely the Mount of Olives, or the mount called Olivet as it was then referred to. This is by no means a tall mountain, it is by all accounts a hill on which many a soul are buried since it has been used as a cemetery for the past three thousand years or so. The garden of Gethsemane, the place where Jesus was accustomed to going and praying through the night, lies at the foot of mount Olivet. This was neither the disciples’ first visit here, nor was it Christ’s since He often taught the people that came to hear Him there, and one of His most stirring sermons is even entitled, at least in our modern age as ‘the Olivet discourse’.

Surprisingly the Mount of Olives is not that far from Jerusalem, as even Luke indicates that it is a Sabbath day’s journey. Roughly translated a Sabbath day’s journey is two thousand cubits, or a little over half a mile, the distance a devout Jew was allowed to travel on the Sabbath without breaking the commandment found in Exodus, that every man remain in his place, and that no man go out of his place on the seventh day.

Now before anyone accuses me of just making up some random number and passing it off as what a Sabbath day’s distance was, there is Biblical precedent for it, dating back to the time of Joshua when the people were commanded of God to leave a space of two thousand cubits between them and the ark of the covenant as the crossed the Jordan.

Joshua 3:4, “Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go for you have not passed this way before.”

So I guess I said all that, to say that the disciples didn’t have far to walk, yet there was no delay in their return to Jerusalem and doing what Jesus had commanded them to do. Jesus was gone, they had seen Him ascend into glory, they had been with Him for three years, had suffered the loss of Him, had gloried in the resurrection of Him, then suffered the departure of Him, so why not take a few days off, why not take a break, why not regroup and refocus and have a meeting about where to go from there?

They returned to Jerusalem, as they had been commanded, and they waited.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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