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Sun, May 22, 2005

3 - The Ascension and Prophecy

by Robert Dean
Series:Ascension and Session of Christ (2005)
Duration:1 hr 7 mins 51 secs

Daniel chapter Seven and Psalm Two

Review:

1)  It terms of the accomplishments of ascension. The ascension validated and certified Christ's prophecy that he would go to the Father. John 14:28. John 14:1, Jesus said hat He was going to prepare a place for us. So it indicates that He is doing something vital for us today in heaven, at the right hand of God the Father, that is directly related to our future destiny.

2)  The ascension itself is pictured in the various passages where it is covered with passive voice verbs, indicating God the Father's acceptance and reception of His Son back in glory in heaven. It is a validation and acceptance of what Christ did on the cross but it goes beyond that as we have seen in Old Testament passages. Various passages which cover the ascension are Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:2, 9, 11, 22.

3)  The ascension itself is pictured as a rapture, (There are about seven different raptures in the Scriptures) thus a shadow or a type of the future pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. Cf. Revelation 12:5, "… and her child was caught up to his throne." In that passage "she" is Israel, the giving birth to a son is the birth of Messiah, the child is the Lord Jesus Christ who is "caught up to God and his throne" at the ascension. The verb there in the Greek is HARPAZO [a(rpazw] which means to snatch, to seize, or to take away.

4)  We see that the ascension completes the strategic victory of Christ in the angelic conflict. The death of Christ on the cross was in essence only stage one in the strategic victory. The term "strategy" has to do with overall plan and purpose, and in the strategic victory of the cross evil is defeated, Satan is defeated, sin is paid for, and the foundation for everything that happens in the future is laid. But it isn't completed. Salvation is completed, but the term "salvation" is used in the Bible in a much broader sense. Most of the time the word SOZO [swzw] doesn't refer to what we would know as phase one salvation. The Bible more frequently uses the word not just to refer to phase one salvation but phase three glorification or the completion of all three phases of salvation in God's plan for history. For example, in Hebrews 2:3 the writer asks the question, "How shall we neglect so great a salvation?" Often we hear that verse quoted in terms of justification salvation, such a great things as happened to us when we put our faith alone in Christ alone. But if the word SOZO is exegeted in Hebrews we find that the writer is never using it to refer to phase one. He always uses it to refer to the overall completion of the salvation package, which includes not only our redemption and regeneration that occurs at the instant of faith in Christ, but our ultimate glorification and the resolution of all things in terms of the salvation of all things and the completion of the process in relation to everything in the universe by the end of the Millennial kingdom. So the word SOZO in the Bible is a word and a word group that has a much broader impact and meaning than simply deliverance from sin and from the penalty of sin at the moment of phase one. So phase one of the strategic victory is what lays the foundation for everything—the crucifixion, victory over the penalty of sin which is spiritual death, the payment for our sins. In the second stage there is the resurrection victory over the consequences of sin, the greatest consequence of which is physical death and all the physical ramifications that are outlined in Genesis chapter three. Remember that there is a distinction between the judicial penalty for sin which is spiritual death and which was enacted as soon as Adam sinned and the physical consequences. The third element is with the ascension where there is victory over Satan and his demonic armies, when Jesus Christ in His humanity, in hypostatic union, is elevated to the right hand of God the Father and placed over all of the angels. Jesus Christ in His deity has always had that authority over angels but as a man now He has earned that privilege. As a man now he is elevated over the angels and He has earned through what he did on the earth this inheritance. Analogy: Let's say Prince William who will one day be the Prince of Wales and who by birth has an inheritance right to the throne of England, was involved in a major war in which England was defeated, the monarchy abolished, and they were taken over and dominated by some foreign power. Prince Williams by birthright is who he is, the king of England. But then he goes back and joins an army as a private, works his way up through the ranks, becomes General through his own qualifications, obedience, and his own power and ability, and then leads an army back to re-conquer England and becomes king. So he is king now on the basis of two things: by birth he had that right, but then because that kingdom was lost he went back into the ranks, rose to the very top, and then took it back; so he has a right by conquest and a right by birth. This is what is going on in terms of the incarnation and what Jesus Christ is doing. The kingdom, earth, all of the creation, is lost to the dominion of Satan with Adam's fall. And so God sends His Son who enters into human history as a man, and who as a man now is going to rise through the ranks, pay the penalty for human sin in His humanity, and because He was perfectly obedient and there was no sin He was qualified to go to the cross, and at the cross He solves the whole sin and evil problem which is at the root of the whole issue, and then at the ascension He is now recognized as having accomplished the strategic victory and is elevated as a man over the angels. This helps us understand the uniqueness of the Lord Jesus Christ and it also gives a whole new picture of what God is doing in the angelic conflict and how complex and how remarkable our salvation is. It is not just salvation in terms of us getting justified and not spending eternity in the lake of fire, it is a salvation that completely resolves the sin problem, the evil problem, for all of eternity and recovers all of creation under the dominion of God. That is incredible. What happens to us as individuals in only a part of that, but it is a vital part and we play a role in it both now in the Church Age and in the coming Millennial kingdom.

5)  The ascension elevates a man to the right hand of God the Father and the command post of the universe. Man was created, in Genesis 1:26-28, to subdue the earth and rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, and to bring everything under the dominion of God. Adam failed, and even though man struggles to partially accomplish elements of that today we will never do it and can never do it because we are fallen. But Jesus Christ does it for us; He accomplishes everything. So that is what the ascension is part of. He is at the command post of the universe. Ultimately He will fulfill that initial dominion mandate and He as a man subdues everything. Acts 2:32, 33, "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear." We will come back and tie this together, but note in this passage that Peter is making in that sermon on the day of Pentecost as they are introducing the Church Age. Jesus ois exalted to the right hand of the Father so that the Holy Spirit can come and be poured out into every believer in the Church Age to accomplish a whole new thing that has never before been seen in human history, and that flows from the ascension and session of Christ. V. 34, "For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool." That is talking about the session, and what we see here is that there is a time frame here—"sit until." That tells us that right now Jesus Christ is doing one thing and God is doing something else. Jesus is sitting and God the Father is working through history to make His enemies a footstool. So that is the dynamic of what is going on today in the Church Age.

6)  The ascension marks the beginning of Christ's high-priestly ministry. Seated at the right hand of God the Father He is functioning today not as king but as priest. As we have seen He came at the first advent and was expected to bring in the kingdom. The message of John the Baptist: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Jesus message: "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." The disciples had a similar message: "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." They all had the same message. What was the expectation of the Jews? That Messiah was going to come and establish a literal, physical, geopolitical kingdom. But they forgot something. The cross had to come before the crown. There had to be a suffering Messiah before you had a glorified Messiah. The sin and evil problem had to be resolved before the kingdom could be established. They had not understood the distinction in the Old Testament prophecy. So the kingdom, because the Jews had rejected Christ as Messiah, was postponed. So that now Jesus isn't functioning as king, He is functioning as a priest. A priest represents people to God, and a priest therefore serves as a mediator—1 Timothy 2:5. The high-priestly ministry of Jesus Christ begins while He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and that is his primary function today in relationship to the Church.

Psalm 68 is used in the New Testament to describe the ascension as a victorious conquest of the enemy. The enemy is strategically defeated when Jesus Christ pays the penalty for sin on the cross, and it is completed with the ascension. All of this pictures Jesus taking the high ground.

Daniel chapter seven is one of the crucial Old Testament prophecies that goes through the whole panorama of world history. In the first verse of the chapter Daniel has a vision which he begins to explain. Vv. 2,3, "Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another." The sea represent the chaos of the Gentile nations. The first beast in the vision is a lion, representing the neo-Babylonian or Chaldean empire. Then the next image is a lop-sided bear raised up on one side, representing the Medo-Persian empire of the ancient world. The third beast is a four-headed leopard that has wings on its back, and it represents the later Greek empire under Alexander the Great. Then there arises a fourth beats, great and terrible, with huge iron teeth and it is devouring, breaking in pieces, etc. Daniel contemplates this and these beasts represent the progression of empires in the times of the Gentiles, i.e. from 586 BC. Each one of these kingdoms have contributed certain philosophical things to the history of man that are still in effect today. These ideas that come from this lineage of the kingdom of man.  So we are still living under the kingdom of man. We are still living under the kingdom of man. Note, too, that these kingdoms in the eyes of secular historians represent the very best that man has accomplished. Our picture from God's viewpoint is that they are bestial, they are domineering, ravenous. All of these pictures here represent animals that strike fear in the hearts of man. That is how God looks at these great kingdoms man has produced. It is easy for us to get enamored with many of the accomplishments of these kingdoms but this gives us God's perspective, and God then reveals to Daniel how these kingdoms are destroyed and God establishes His kingdom, and that comes in Daniel 7:9. "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened." This is very similar to the picture of the throne of God in Revelation 4 & 5; in fact it is the same scene. Then in verse 13, "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." The Ancient of days, verse 9, has to be the Father because another personage comes  up to the Ancient of days in verse 13. One like the Son of man is the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice something. The best of human history is presented as a beast  but the kingdom is presented as what man is really supposed to be. Notice the contrast between the man, true human, untainted by sin, versus the bestial nature of the kingdoms that man produces.

What is happening here? We have a courtroom scene where the ancient of days is sitting as if He is the supreme judge and one comes before Him who is like a son of man. This is the only time "the son of man" is used in the Old Testament and this becomes the basis for its usage in the New Testament. In the New Testament it is used eighty-six times. It is used eighty-three times by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is also used a couple of times in Acts and a couple of times in the book of Revelation. Jesus, when He uses this term, is telling everybody to look at Daniel chapter seven, this is who I am: I am the son of man who will come to establish the kingdom.

"And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom." When does this happen? This is a summary of what happens in the Tribulation period. The picture we have in Revelation 4 & 5 is the same: all the myriads of angels, and then someone comes out with a scroll with seven seals on it. It is all sealed up and the question is asked, Who is worthy to open the seals? And John says none can be found worthy to open the scroll. It is an overwhelming situation, so much so that the Greek says John burst out in tears, weeping uncontrollably because no one can be found who can open the scroll. Then the Lamb comes forward, and He is worthy. Why is He worthy? Because He went to the cross. That scroll is the title deed to the earth that is being given to Him as the future King. This is the same thing we have in Daniel 7. Look at Daniel 7:14. There is a point in time in which He is given the kingdom. What is He doing before that? He doesn't have the kingdom. There is a period when He doesn't have the kingdom and then something happens when He is given the kingdom. What is going to happen in the kingdom? " …  that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him." This is a multi-ethnic, international, multi-national community. Where do they come from? They come because during the Church Age what are we to do? Matthew 28:18-20. We are to go to every tribe, every nation with the gospel. God is building a kingdom.

What do we see here?

1)  That every nation might serve Him. It is not restricted to a Jewish kingdom. Who is Daniel writing to here? Jews, so there is a hint here that something is going to happen that is trans-Jewish-national. It is going to explode and be international.

2)  The phrase "to him was given" indicates that a time frame exists before this when He doesn't have dominion, where He doesn't have this glory, and where He doesn't have a kingdom. Daniel 7:18, "But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever." The word there for "saints" is kadish, for holy ones. That doesn't have to refer to Old Testament saints or New Testament saints, it just refers to believers. So without being too specific it will incorporate what will happen in the Millennial kingdom which has both Jewish believers and an emphasis on Israel and Church Age believers who are distinct from Israel. "He will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever" is what? The Son of Man in hypostatic union. He has top remain in hypostatic union because He is reigning it as the son of David and Son of Man. So Matthew 19:28, "And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." He is talking to the twelve apostles. This shows the elevation of the Church over Israel in the Millennial kingdom and their position ruling and reigning with Him.

3)  The establishment of the kingdom is still future and will be accomplished through a truly human founder and leader who will be the world-wide leader. He is a truly human leader in contrast to all the human leaders of empires in the Church Age who are all part of this bestial thing, it doesn't matter if one happens to be a believer or not. The overall character and nature of human empires in this age, until the coming of the Messiah, because of the corruption is always pictured as bestial. That is why we fight over politics so much! We as believers understand what the ideal should be but we aren't going to get there because all of the political systems are corrupted by fallen man. And our hope is not in politics or in any particular political leader, our hope is in Jesus Christ. No human being is going to resolve the problems in this age. Does that mean we put our heads in the sand? No, but we ought to recognize that there is always going to be this tension because it is part of the cosmic system.

Psalm 2, a picture of the royal Son of God reigning. It is a prophetic psalm. Psalm110 is quoted more than any other psalm in the New Testament. Psalm 2, or portions of it are quoted four times in the New Testament. Verse 7 is quoted five times in the New Testament, in Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; 5:8; and verse 9 is quoted in Revelation 2:27; 12:5.

The time frame here is really the Tribulation period. "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?" It is a picture of the mass of humanity in rebellion against God. And they are in conspiracy to try to overthrow God's authority.

"The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together [worldwide alliance against God], against the LORD, and against his anointed." We see two personages here. We had the Ancient of days and the son of man in Daniel 7; here we have the Lord and His anointed, i.e. the Messiah.

What the rulers say is in verse 3: "Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us." Their view is that God's authority, God's Word, is just something that restricts them, they can't have real freedom, it just binds them and they hate it and are resistant to it. Let's revolt against God. In contrast, "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he [God the Father] speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure." Anger is an anthropopathism referencing the expression of God's judicial condemnation of man. When does this occur? He doesn't make this decree until after this has already happened, after the kings and the nations have conspired against Him. So it is not now, it is waiting for this international conspiracy to take place. Then the Father will speak to them in His anger, saying, "Yet have I installed my king upon my holy hill of Zion." The king is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Davidic king. The Davidic covenant indicates that this future king has to have a divine element to Him, it is embedded in that promise: he will have descendants who will rule forever. He will have either an unending line of succession or somebody at the end of the line who lives forever. So that implies deity. The word for "install" is the Hebrew word which means to install or inaugurate a leader. When is the king inaugurated? After this conspiratorial revolt. We are not already in a partially formed kingdom, it is future. And the king is installed upon Zion, the temple mount in Jerusalem, not the right hand of God the Father. This is grounded ultimately in the Abrahamic covenant which promises Israel's specific piece of real estate, expanded in the land covenant; in Deuteronomy 30 there was the promise of an eternal seed to Abraham which was expanded in the Davidic covenant in 2 Samuel 7, where in verse 13 we read, "He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever." That is the core promise of the Davidic covenant, promising David an eternal dynasty. In verse 16, "And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever."

Back in Psalm 2:7, "I [Jesus Christ] will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." When does this happen? Actually the phrase means in Hebrew, "Today I have declared that you are my begotten one." The form for the word "declare" could be taken as a qal, which is indicative mood, or it could be taken hiphil, which is causative, the idea of declaration. Romans 1:4. This declaration is not a verbal pronouncement, or it is not simply a verbal pronouncement. This declaration is a legal contract. Who is speaking here? In verse 6 it is God the Father. In verse 7 the speaker changes to the Lord Jesus Christ, the King. He says, "I [the Son] will tell the decree of the LORD [the Father]… You are my Son; today I have begotten you."  There is a declaration that is laid out, "Today I declare through this contract that you are my begotten one." So what is happening is, at this time period in Psalm 2:6 when there is the installation of the King, the King says, I am going to tell you now of this decree that was made earlier." This decree is this legal contractual document. As a part of that decree, He [the Father] declared through this legal document, Today I declare you my begotten one. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." The inheritance idea there is possession. So what does this decree have to do with? It has to do with the nations becoming the possession of the King. The decree is a title deed to the Messiah for the earth. The earth was lost when Adam fell and Satan became the legitimate prince of the power of the air. He offered Jesus the kingdoms of the earth in Matthew 4. That was a legitimate offer because Satan was the ruler of the kingdoms of the earth. That was the reason for the temptations: Do you want the kingdom by just taking it from me, or do you want to go the hard way through the cross? Jesus chose the hard way through the cross and stayed obedient to the Father.

The time line in Psalm 2, just to make it clear: The "today" that He is referring to when He is installed, "Today I declared you my son," that took place in the past. The installation is taking place At the second coming but He is referring back to a time in the past when He made this formal legal decree. In between, according to verse 8, He is to ask the Father for the nations as His inheritance. So what is Jesus doing right now? As part of his high-priestly role He is praying and asking God for the nations as His inheritance. It is a waiting period. He is not the king yet. Eventually He will rule the nations, v. 9, "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." That is what happens at the second coming when He comes back to defeat the nations.

The passages mentioned earlier about the rule of iron, Revelation 2:26, 27, where we will come back with Him when He establishes this rule; and then Revelation 12:5, "And she gave birth to a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron." That is when He comes back to quash this rebellion. But what does He have in His hand? It is this title deed, this decree. In Revelation 4 & 5 why is John weeping? Because they got out this scroll that is all sealed up, but who is worthy to open it? It is the title deed to the earth. The Lamb is worthy. This is what ties all these passages together. Now the Lamb is given the inheritance, and in this rule of iron what is He doing? He starts opening these seals. And you have seven seal judgments at the beginning of the Tribulation, and the seventh seal judgment opens up the trumpet judgments, and the seventh trumpet opens up to the bowl judgments, and that is everything that leads up to the battle of Armageddon. This is when He comes back and establishes His rule. And we come back with Him to rule as kings and priests over the kingdom.

So to conclude Psalm 2:

1)  The royal divine King is accepted by God and installed with full honors in His position.

2)  But there is a delay in the establishment of that position. He has to wait, He has to ask for the nations to be given Him as His inheritance.

3)  When the King returns He will reign with a rule of iron.

In Daniel 7 we have the Son of Man returning to establish a multi-ethnic kingdom, But before He gets the kingdom there was a time period when He didn't have it. Psalm 2 tells us about that. It is a time period when He is waiting to be given the nations as His inheritance. And what He is doing is over in Psalm 110, "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." That is what He is doing right now. That is the session. Then in verse 4, "The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." Another reason for the hypostatic union—"a priest forever." It is not according to the order of Levi or the Aaronic priesthood. Why? Because Jesus is from the tribe of Judah. It is after a superior order of priest, Hebrews tells us, the Melchizedekian priesthood. Melchizedek was a Gentile priest-king, a royal priest. That is the pattern of the Lord's priesthood so that it is a priesthood that applies not just to Israel but to all nations, because it is not based on a Jewish priesthood but a Gentile priesthood that predates the Aaronic priesthood. And that priesthood functions and operates in relationship to our spiritual life in the Church Age. And that ascension is related to His sending the Holy Spirit, and that is why Jesus is able to transform the strategic victory into a strategic end-run around Satan and the angelic conflict to produce something that was never foreseen or anticipated in human history in terms of a Church Age, the Church, the body of Christ, and the spiritual life of each individual believer.