Why Stand Ye Looking Up?
Some forty days after Jesus was crucified and resurrected, He visited the disciples and gave them special instructions. One such instruction is found in Acts 1:4-5, "[Jesus,] being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence."
Not too long after, Jesus ascended up into a cloud in their sight. Awestruck, they stood, eyes fixed above at the wonder they had just seen. They had hoped that the kingdom was about to be restored, and here the King of kings was received out of their sight. Their reaction does not seem unreasonable, even to me now Ė but they had already been given specific instructions.
While they stood, staring towards the heavens, two men, dressed in white, stood by and asked, "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."
Knowing that he was returning "in like manner as he went" one would think it appropriate to gaze towards the sky, awaiting that time. Nevertheless, Jesus had commanded that the disciples wait in Jerusalem for the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Not only so, but that, having received power by that baptism, they would become witnesses unto him both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
That is quite a tall order! The disciples had no time to stand around. They had to get to Jerusalem, consecrate themselves, reach the unity of the faith, receive the promise of the Father, and embark on a worldwide evangelization tour starting right in Israel. Once they re-focused, got back to Jerusalem and obeyed the word of the Lord, the blessings flowed, as the book of Acts richly recounts.
Modern Christianity, for the most part, has found itself in the same situation. Setting aside a focus on sanctification and obedience, they have set their sights on the skies, having adopted the rapture as the central promotion of their faith. "Get saved and miss the wrath of God through the Rapture," that is preached as the great message of our day. One series of books, offering a popular version of this story, has sold more than 15,000,000 books.
Today, as did the first disciples, we must heed the word of the two men in white apparel. We must ask, as they asked Jesus, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?"
There is no time to stand around and stare at the sky. No time for "Rapture drills." The harvest is great, and the laborers are few. There is still much work to be done. Letís get busy! Jesus is coming soon!