Prophecy says that, “Her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.” Revelation 12:5. This prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus ascended to heaven shortly after He rose from the dead. After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God, until the day he was taken up to heaven (Acts 1:3, 2).
The ascension of Jesus, forty days following His death and resurrection, was in harmony with the dedication of the firstborn. In The Desire of Ages, we read, “About forty days after the birth of Christ, Joseph and Mary took Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, and to offer sacrifice. This was according to the Jewish law, and as man’s substitute Christ must conform to the law in every particular. …
“The dedication of the first-born had its origin in the earliest times. God had promised to give the First-born of heaven to save the sinner.” The Desire of Ages, 50, 51.
Christ the Lamb of God had given His life on the cross to save the sinner and now He would ascend to heaven to be dedicated as our high priest in the Holy Place of the sanctuary in heaven. When the time came for His ascension, Jesus led His disciples out to the vicinity of Bethany. There He paused and “while he was blessing them, he left them, and was taken up into heaven.” “He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.” Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9.
When on the island of Patmos John was given a vision of the arrival of Jesus in heaven following His ascension. When John was taken off in vision he looked, and there before him was a door standing open in heaven (Revelation 4:1). He then describes what he saw through the open door. “There before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. … Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. … Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. Revelation 4:2–6.
“Here the prophet was permitted to behold the first apartment of the sanctuary in heaven; and he saw there the ‘seven lamps of fire.’ ” The Great Controversy, 414, 415. Revelation chapter four and five is a description of the preparations being made in heaven to welcome Jesus home from His journey on this earth and of His inauguration as our High Priest.
When John became aware of the presence of Jesus, he said, “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne.” Revelation 5:6. Jesus still retained His human form and the marks of His sacrifice as the Lamb of God.
We find another account of the ascension of Jesus and His arrival to the Holy City. “Christ had ascended to heaven in the form of humanity. The disciples had beheld the cloud receive Him. The same Jesus who had walked and talked and prayed with them; who had broken bread with them; who had been with them in their boats on the lake; and who had that very day toiled with them up the ascent of Olivet—the same Jesus had now gone to share His Father’s throne.” The Desire of Ages, 832.
All of the hosts of heaven were there to welcome their King home. “The heavenly host, with shouts and acclamations of praise and celestial song, attended the joyous train.
“As they drew near to the city of God, the challenge is given by the escorting angels—
“Lift up your heads, O ye gates;
And be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors;
And the King of glory shall come in.”
Joyfully the waiting sentinels respond—
“Who is this King of glory?”
This they say, not because they know not who He is, but because they would hear the answer of exalted praise—
“The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O ye gates;
Even lift them up, ye everlasting doors;
And the King of glory shall come in.”
Again is heard the challenge, “Who is this King of glory?” for the angels never weary of hearing His name exalted. The escorting angels make reply—
“The Lord of hosts;
He is the King of glory.”
“The portals of the city of God are opened wide, and the angelic throng sweep through the gates amid a burst of rapturous music.” The Desire of Ages, 833.
“There is the throne, and around it the rainbow of promise. There are cherubim and seraphim. The commanders of the angel hosts, the sons of God, the representatives of the unfallen worlds, are assembled. … all are there to welcome the Redeemer. They are eager to celebrate His triumph and to glorify their King.” Ibid., 834. Such is the glorious welcome the King of heaven received at His ascension.
At this time John the Revelator calls our attention to another scene. We pick up the story in the fifth chapter of Revelation. “Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?’ But no one in heaven, or on earth, or under the earth, could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll, or look inside.” Revelation 5:1–4.
What a discordant note this seems to be in the midst of this celebration. Here are all of the heavenly universe pouring forth their praises to their glorious commander and the disciple John weeping and weeping. John is weeping because no one is found who is worthy to open this important scroll in the right hand of God the Father. Why does not Jesus have the power and authority to open the scroll at this time? It is because He has not yet appeared before the Father to have His sacrifice accepted in fulfillment of the covenant.
Ellen White explains, “Not yet; He cannot now receive the coronet of glory and the royal robe. He enters into the presence of His Father. He points to His wounded head, the pierced side, the marred feet; He lifts His hands, bearing the print of nails. He points to the tokens of His triumph; He presents to God the wave sheaf, those raised with Him as representatives of that great multitude who shall come forth from the grave at His second coming. He approaches the Father, with whom there is joy over one sinner that repents; who rejoices over one with singing. Before the foundations of the earth were laid, the Father and the Son had united in a covenant to redeem man if he should be overcome by Satan. They had clasped Their hands in a solemn pledge that Christ should become the surety for the human race. This pledge Christ has fulfilled. When upon the cross He cried out, ‘It is finished,’ He addressed the Father. The compact had been fully carried out. Now He declares: Father, it is finished. I have done Thy will, O My God. I have completed the work of redemption.” The Desire of Ages, 834.
“The voice of God is heard proclaiming that justice is satisfied. … The Father’s arms encircle His Son.” Ibid., 834.
After the sacrifice of Jesus has been accepted of the Father for the fulfillment of the covenant and Jesus is inaugurated as our High Priest, one of the twenty four elders comes to John and says, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Revelation 5:5.
In response to the elder’s announcement John says, “I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned, I saw seven golden lampstands; And among the lampstands was someone ‘like a Son of man,’ dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet, and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were like blazing fire; His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace; and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars; and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword: His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” Revelation 1:12–16.
With the inauguration of Jesus as our High Priest and mediator in the Holy Place in the sanctuary in heaven completed, the word is given, “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” Hebrews 1:6. With joy unutterable, rulers and principalities and powers acknowledge the supremacy of the Prince of life. The angel host prostrate themselves before Him, while the glad shout fills all the courts of heaven, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.” Revelation 5:12.
“Songs of triumph mingle with the music from angel harps, till heaven seems to overflow with joy and praise. Love has conquered. The lost is found. Heaven rings with voices in lofty strains proclaiming, ‘Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.’ Revelation 5:13.” The Desire of Ages, 835.
In these accounts from the Bible and The Desire of Ages we have a full description of the inauguration of Jesus and the opening of the Holy Place in the sanctuary in heaven in A.D. 31. This inauguration took place during the ten days between the ascension of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost which occurred fifty days after the death and resurrection of Jesus.
We shall now turn our attention back to this earth and see what His disciples were doing during these ten days leading up to the Day of Pentecost. Luke gives a brief view into their activities at this time. “Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” (Acts 1:12–14).
The main activity of the believers that impressed Luke was that they “all joined together constantly in prayer.” In The Acts of the Apostles there is a detailed amplification of the disciples’ activities during these ten days. A thorough knowledge of their activities is important to the faithful believers at the present time, because they must make the same preparation today to participate in the latter rain.
In The Review and Herald, March 2, 1897, we find the following instruction. “The latter rain, ripening earth’s harvest, represents the spiritual grace that prepares the church for the coming of the Son of Man. But unless the former rain has fallen, there will be no life; the green blade will not spring up. Unless the early showers have done their work, the latter rain can bring no seed to perfection. …
“Unless we are daily advancing in the exemplification of the active Christian virtues, we shall not recognize the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. It may be falling on hearts all around us, but we shall not discern or receive it.”
Seeing that we are required to make the same preparation to receive the latter rain that the disciples were required to complete and to receive the early rain, we should go back and study what these requirements are.
In The Acts of the Apostles we are given a detailed record of their preparation to receive the early rain. “The disciples prayed with intense earnestness for a fitness to meet men and in their daily intercourse to speak words that would lead sinners to Christ. Putting away all differences, all desire for the supremacy, they came close together in Christian fellowship. They drew nearer and nearer to God, and as they did this they realized what a privilege had been theirs in being permitted to associate so closely with Christ. …
“These days of preparation were days of deep heart searching. The disciples felt their spiritual need and cried to the Lord for the holy unction that was to fit them for the work of soul saving. They did not ask for a blessing for themselves merely. They were weighted with the burden of the salvation of souls. They realized that the gospel was to be carried to the world, and they claimed the power that Christ had promised. …
“In obedience to the word of the Saviour, the disciples offered their supplications for this gift, and in heaven Christ added His intercession. He claimed the gift of the Spirit, that He might pour it upon His people. …
“And when the Day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” The Acts of the Apostles, 37.
When their preparation was completed and they were all of one accord, they were ready to receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. Now, when the ceremony for the opening of the Holy Place in heaven was completed and on earth the disciples had completed their preparation, the time was come for the promised blessing.
“The Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples in rich currents, and Christ was indeed glorified, even with the glory which He had with the Father from all eternity. The Pentecostal outpouring was Heaven’s communication that the Redeemer’s inauguration was accomplished. According to His promise He had sent the Holy Spirit from heaven to His followers as a token that He had, as priest and king, received all authority in heaven and on earth, and was the Anointed One over His people.” Ibid., 38, 39.
Now the hundred and twenty disciples who received the blessing of the Holy Spirit were qualified and prepared to take the gospel to the world. The foundation of their message was the death, resurrection, and ascension of a risen Savior. He was now their High Priest and mediator in the Holy Place of the sanctuary in heaven. From his position in heaven He is sending the message to all people under the burden of sin, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28–30.
It was this gospel under which thousands were converted in a day. The people of Thessalonica acknowledged that this message of Jesus’ work in the heavenly sanctuary to mediate for them was so powerful that it “turned the world upside down.” Acts 17:6.
The people of God have the promise today that when they complete the same preparation that the disciples did, the Holy Spirit will be poured upon them. The conditions for receiving this blessing are given in the following statement:
“Many have in a great measure failed to receive the former rain. They have not obtained all the benefits that God has thus provided for them. They expect that the lack will be supplied by the latter rain. … They are making a terrible mistake. … The heart must be emptied of every defilement and cleansed for the indwelling of the Spirit. It was by the confession and forsaking of sin, by earnest prayer and consecration of themselves to God, that the early disciples prepared for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The same work, only in greater degree, must be done now. … Only those who are living up to the light they have will receive greater light. Unless we are daily advancing in the exemplification of the active Christian virtues, we shall not recognize the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. It may be falling on hearts all around us, but we shall not discern or receive it.
“At no point in our experience can we dispense with the assistance of that which enables us to make the first start. The blessings received under the former rain are needful to us to the end. … Divine grace is needed at the beginning, divine grace at every step of advance, and divine grace alone can complete the work. There is no place for us to rest in a careless attitude. We must never forget the warnings of Christ, ‘Watch unto prayer,’ [I Peter 4:7, last part], ‘Watch, … and pray always’ [Luke 21:36, first part]. … It will never do to cease our efforts. If we do not progress, if we do not place ourselves in an attitude to receive both the former and the latter rain, we shall lose our souls, and the responsibility will lie at our own door.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 507, 508.
Maurice Hoppe is retired and volunteers at Steps to Life. His primary responsibility is working with the Training Program for Ministers and Church Leaders and the Training Program for Lay Workers. He also conducts a Bible Correspondence School from his home with emphasis on Bible prophecy. He can be contacted at: email@example.com.