This continuing story intrigues me. Why did Christ spend 40 days after his resurrection with his disciples? What did they talk about? Was he instructing the disciples on how to organize the restored church - how to call an apostle to replace Judas? I believe he was doing all of these things and more, much more, regarding things "pertaining to the kingdom of God."
Verses nine, 10 and 11 then jump off the page. They speak volumes. They tell me after Christ was finished training his 11 remaining apostles in the manner of how his Church was to be organized, he stood in the midst of them and "was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." Then the record says that "two men stood by them [the disciples] in white apparel" and said unto them who were looking upward, likely wondering where and how their Lord had gone - and this is the point of this story. Their words are revealing: "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."
In Chapter 3, Peter, the newly anointed leader of the apostles and Church, reinforced these words with his own. Referring to Jesus, Peter stated: "Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets since the world began."
Today, as the Christian world ponders the sacrifice Jesus made for them and for all the sons and daughters of God the Father, I ask myself when will that day come. Then I ask, when will He return in great splendor - perhaps, even with some wrath - and institute the "restitution of all things, which God has spoken of by the mouth of all his holy prophets." That will be an eventful day for many of us!
Equally important, I am anxious for the America that so many of us have grown up in and who cherish the great blessings of freedom and liberty that were given to us by the Founding Fathers via that One we honor and worship on this coming Easter Sunday. Today, I see those principles being trampled by those elected leaders willing to destroy our sacred liberty and freedom for personal power and glory. We see it daily. The latest happened this past weekend as the president snubbed the president of the only free country in the Mideast, Israel. It was strange that this man could make such a fuss over building a house in Jerusalem and totally ignore the building of the bomb by Iran, the nation who has vowed to destroy Israel and destroy America.
The words "so come in like manner" and "restitution" are challenging words. For me there is a meaning that suggests that perhaps what Peter and the other apostles were just beginning to do was to put into place the "kingdom of God" that had existed before. As I ponder how closely the creation of America, with its "just and holy principles that were for all mankind," not just Americans - resembles the creation of ancient Israel, I wonder if the consequences that befell Israel will befall America for a rejection of their God for "a king to judge over us like all the nations."
These thoughts frighten me because the consequences for Israel were very harsh. If that "restitution of all things" includes the restoration of the Jews to their lands, then I think Iran may have a very difficult time "driving Israel into the sea." And I think the president of the United States may want to give more attention to how he treats Israel. President Obama may think he is king and that whatever he says goes, but I continue to believe there is a King above him.
For the Christian world this is Holy Week. Tomorrow, the world will remember how the Anointed One was dragged through the streets carrying a cross on his shoulders, then hung on that cross, then died - but not before asking His Father to "forgive them for they know not what they do." Then Sunday came and He rose from the grave that we - you and I - might follow his example and return to whence He came. Happy Easter!
Donald Conkey, a retired agricultural economist, lives in Woodstock.