Summary: We ask the Holy Spirit to work through the verses of Psalm 47 to gently remind us of what the ascension of Jesus means for us. We have no reason to live our lives like deer caught in a car’s headlights. In light of this Psalm may each of us be empowered
‘‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky?” Do you think the angels were really looking for an answer from the disciples when they asked that question? It doesn’t seem as though they were. The question appears to have implied that the disciples had no good reason for standing around looking into the sky. Jesus had returned to the right hand of his heavenly Father. Waiting around at the place were they last saw him wasn’t going to bring him back. And Jesus had told them what they should be doing. They were to wait for the Holy Spirit to be poured out upon them. Then they would become witnesses for Jesus in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
But for a moment let’s suppose the angels actually planned to allow the disciples to answer their question. Why were they standing there looking into the sky? Their teacher, their Lord, their Savior, their friend was gone. They were stunned and likely afraid. “What are we going to do now?” was probably a question they were asking. “How will we know what to say and where to go as witnesses for Jesus?” “Who is going to lead us now that Jesus is gone?”
Although I am sure that the disciples could have given all kinds of explanations for the fact that they were standing there looking intently into the sky the angels knew what they needed to hear. Jesus hadn’t left them forever. He will return in the same way the disciples saw him ascend into heaven. On top of that fact Jesus had promised to prepare a place for them in heaven. He had assured the disciples that when he ascended into heaven he would rule all things for their good and for the expansion of his Kingdom.
“Why do you stand here looking into the sky?” Although we aren’t literally doing that perhaps we are living our lives as though we were. When it comes to the work Jesus has given us we may frequently be afraid and confused. As we face the uncertainties of life we may often be looking into the sky wondering where Jesus is and what he is doing about our problems. In relation to our boldness in faith and Christian living we may feel as helpless as the disciples did when the angels caught them staring into the sky.
Today we ask the Holy Spirit to work through the verses of Psalm 47 to gently remind us of what the ascension means for us. We have no reason to live our lives like deer caught in a car’s headlights. (Read text.) In light of this Psalm may each of us be empowered to:
“LIVE WITH AN ASCENSION ATTITUDE”
I. Celebrate the great things Christ has accomplished
II. Live with confidence in what Christ continues to do
The portion of Scripture that I just read is from the “hymnal” that the Israelites used in their worship. Certain Psalms were picked for specific festivals and celebrations at the Temple. When I read the Psalm you may have noticed the break in the middle marked by the word, “selah.” Although we don’t know exactly what that meant some Bible scholars believe that there was a musical interlude at that point in the Psalm. That would have allowed the worshippers to reflect on what they had just heard. It divides the Psalm into two logical parts.
For what occasion did the Holy Spirit breathe this Psalm into its writer? Some think it may have been when King David brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. In a sense that would have meant that God “ascended” up into the capital city. But these verses may also have been written to commemorate a great military victory that God had brought about for his people. Some Bible scholars suggest the time of Hezekiah for this event. Whatever the occasion this Psalm makes one thing very clear. God rules all people. There is no nation, nor ruler, nor power outside of his authority. And because of that God’s people can celebrate what God has done and what he continues to do. That is also the message for us in Jesus’ ascension.
“Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth! He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet. He chose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.” The Psalm writer called on everyone in the world to give God praise for the great things he had done. The power and love that God had showed toward the Israelites was to be the reason for such a response from all nations. At no other time in the history of the world and never in such a dramatic way had God taken a nation to be his people. But as the Psalm writer reflected on what God had done for Israel he wanted the whole world to celebrate with him.