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THE

EPIPHANY OF THE ASCENSION.

While they looked steadfastly toward heaven, as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.

ACTS OF THE APOSTLES i. 10, 11.

X.

THE EPIPHANY OF THE ASCENSION.

Acts i. 6-8.

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AND now we come to the Final Interview. The Final In

terview. They therefore, having come together, asked Him, saying: “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel ?” And He said unto them: “ It is not for you to know the times or seasons which the Father hath placed under His own authority. But ye shall receive power by the Holy Spirit coming upon you; and ye shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

“Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom unto Israel ?” O ye poor, ignorant, selfish apostles! have ye been the daily pupils of the Lord these years, and have ye not yet learned the nature of His kingdom? But let us not be too severe with these Hebrew Apostles. Their expectation that the promised Messianic kingdom would be a political as well as spiritual kingdom, involving the emancipation of Israel from the yoke of Rome, and its reëstablishment in more than the splendor of Solomon's reign, was apparently well founded. Such a king

Luke i. 32, 33.

Matt. ii. 1, 2.

And now,

dom, so it certainly seemed, was the glowing theme
of many an ancient prophecy. When the Mes-
siah Ilimself was about to be born, the Angel of
the Annunciation said to the Virgin of Naza-
reth: "IIe shall be great, and shall be called the
Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will
give unto Him the throne of His father David,
and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for
ever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end."
And when He was actually born, Wise Men
from the far-off pagan East came to Jerusalem,
saying: “Where is IIe that is born King of the
Jews? For we have seen His star in the East,
and have come to worship Him.”
although the Lord in the days of His humilia-
tion had persistently rejected all attempts to
crown Him, yet the Epiphanies of the Forty
Days had been so brilliant and imperial that it
seemed to these poor Jewish Apostles that the
long-expected, resplendent hour had at last come.
“Lord, art Thou at this time about to restore the
kingdom to Israel ?” But IIe said unto them:
“It is not for you to know times or seasons which
the Father appointed by His own authority.” Ob-
serve: He neither affirms nor denies that the king-
dom is to be restored again to Israel. It may be
that the coming Messianic kingdom is to be a
kingdom of visible as well as spiritual splendor,
such as the prophets seem to foretell, and such as
the Jews were expecting; or it may be that the
coming kingdom is to be a kingdom of exclusively
spiritual sovereignty. The Lord says nothing on
this point. He leaves the question to the tuition

say

for us.

of the Spirit in the school of Time. All He does

is to rebuke curiosity: “It pertains not to you to know the times or seasons which the Father hath determined in accordance with His own authority.”. Duty, not curious knowledge, is God's law

The secret things belong to the Lord our Deut. xxix. 29. God; but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. “But ye will receive power when the Holy Spirit cometh upon you." The anointing from the Holy One is better than the knowledge of times and seasons. The Pentecostal Spirit is more imperial than any Davidic scepter. “And ye will be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria and to the end of the earth.” They are the last recorded words of the Risen Lord. In uttering them He speaks not as the Son of Jewish Abraham, but as the Divine Son of Man. Thus the last recorded utterance of the ascending Lord solemnly pledges the Christian Church to the missionary enterprise. It is only as we fulfill His parting prophecy—“Ye will be My witnesses unto the end of the earth' —that we can realize His blessed promise of the Perpetual Presence: “Lo, I am with you always, Matt. xxviii. 20. unto the end of the world.” And when He had spoken these things, He led The Ascen

sion. them out as far as to Bethany. It was the last

Mark xvi. 15. walk of the bodily Jesus on earth until He returns Luke xxiv. 50, 51. again. It was the last occasion on which it could be said that His disciples were literally His “followers”; He led them out. Was He visible to any but His disciples, as for the last time He

Acts i. 9.

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