The Ascension

 

The gospel that has been preached in Christendom concentrates on the forgiveness of sins, and "going to heaven" when we die. However, the gospel Jesus presented to the people involved a total restoration of all that was lost in the Garden of Eden. Man is designed to gain dominion over all the works of Godís hands, just as it was given to him in creation. Anything less than this declares God has failed in his purpose for creation.

 

The Ascension is not only a great fact of the New Testament, but a great factor in the life of Christ and Christians, and no complete view of Jesus Christ is possible unless the Ascension and its consequences are included. It is the consummation of His redemptive work. The Christ of the gospels is the Christ of history, the Christ of the future, and the full New Testament picture is that of a present day living Christ, or the Christ of glory living his life through his people today. This is the Christ of our own experience, the one who says, "I am he that liveth and was dead, but now I am alive for evermore." This is the Christ of the past, present, and the future.

Most books on the life of Christ begin at Bethlehem and finish at the Ascension, but Christ existed before he became visible on the earth and his ministry has continued to function after he ascended into the heavenly realm. Many Christians have not yet realized that the first Man created in Gen 1:26-27 is Christ the Son of the Living God. God only created one Son, but out of that one son came all of mankind according to Eph 2:10. In creation God and man became one, functioning in communion and fellowship with God manifesting himself through the Man. Therefore the story of Man does not begin with his birth into this world through a woman, but begins in creation and continues on beyond what we consider to be death.

The life of Man is bound up in God for his promise is "I will never leave nor forsake you." The prophet Isaiah declared manís unfaithfulness to God saying, "All we like sheep have gone astray, and we have turned every one to his own way." Man has pursued life to satisfy his own selfish desires without thought as to what was the intention in the heart of God when he made man. The result of this attitude is that man sees death as an end to life on this earth as far as he is concerned. Whatever he may believe about "heaven" is but a fantasy to him and lacking in reality.

There are many scriptures that speak of an ascension that would link together the earthly and the heavenly, removing any definite line of demarcation between the two. Immortality is a part of the gospel, but our concept of what that entails has been determined by the carnal mind. Immortality to most people means that we will live on this earth as we are now forever and ever. However if we look at those who have passed on without dying physically, like Moses, Enoch, Elijah, and Jesus we do not find any of these are still walking on the earth as they once did. Jesus Christ came into this world and Peter declared that he was "Christ, the Son of the Living God." Therefore he must have been immortal, but he laid down his life in order to take it up again in resurrection. Having passed through death it was not possible for him to die again.

However, forty days after the resurrection, Christ in human form disappeared while standing on the Mount of Olives and has never been seen again on the earth. When the Apostle Paul wrote about Jesus to the saints in Corinth he said, "Henceforth know we no man after the flesh, even though we have known Christ after the flesh, from this time on we do not know him that way any more." We know that he is alive for he returned on the day of Pentecost to indwell his people so that he could manifest himself through them. Jesus told us clearly that we could do the things that he did, and therefore the Christ that dwelt in him must also dwell in us. So Christ lives on, doing the Fatherís will, but not in the same form that he had during his earthly ministry. However, the bodies of the saints of today are now the vessels through which Christ is manifesting himself, just as he did through Jesus. This sets the pattern for everyone who will enter into immortality, for we also must ascend even as Christ to enter into the Melchisedek Order of priesthood. Moses and Elijah had not been seen on the earth in bodily form for hundreds of years, and yet they appeared on the mount of transfiguration.

We are told in Hebrews 12:1, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin, which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." Here we read about this great cloud of witnesses who are gathered around us today, although they are invisible to the natural eye. These are witnesses, those who have first-hand knowledge of this ascended life that we are seeking, and they are cheering us on so we will blaze the trail through death for them as well as for ourselves. This is like a "race" in which a participant prepares himself in every way, being determined to win the prize. Not like so many today who speak about this life in the spirit, but lack the effort and will to ascend the mountain of the Lord. These have made no preparation to lay aside every weight, or those things which can only hinder our ascension, belonging to this world of time and sense.

The chapter division between Hebrews 11 and 12 destroys the whole argument, as the first three verses of chapter 12 belong to Chapter 11, and is the natural climax to the argument presented here. In Hebrews11 we have the account of those "of whom the world was not worthy." Those "who all died in faith, but they did not receive the promise. God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." So now we have the great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, which those earlier saints did not have. Neither had they known Jesus Christ or his death, burial and resurrection, or understood his ascension. But we beloved, "beheld his glory the glory as of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth."

We are now given some clear direction as to how to achieve our goal. We are instructed in Hebrews 12:2 to, "Look unto Jesus," who, we are told is "the author and the finisher of our faith." Jesus was born of a woman and tested in all points just as we have been, yet without sin. Few people have seen Jesus as the true manifestation of man, and so we have failed to acknowledge him as the "author," or one who takes the lead, and therefore sets an example for others to follow. He is also the "finisher," or one who raises faith to the highest level. I am not speaking about blindly seeking to imitate Jesus, but rather to see him as having set the pattern for the "faith life" for us to follow.

It is said of him, that he was able to see the ultimate joy of his destiny that Father placed before him, so that the cross he would have to endure with its shame and suffering, seemed to him as nothing. Have you beloved had your eyes opened to see the ultimate end of your redemption, being seated in the heavenly realm at the right hand (the place of power and authority) of God? "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints." These are the things we must know and "see" as our spiritual eyes are opened.

The first one is "the hope of his calling." God has set in motion the whole process of salvation involving the restoration of all things "in hope," yet in the confidence that what he has spoken is already done, but we must know what is involved regarding us today. Many Christians today have little or no concept of the complete work of redemption in which the Kingdom of God is again established in mankind with the King in residence, seated upon his throne within. This is expressed in our being seated in heavenly places in Christ through our ascension in him.

The second thing we must "know" is, the glory of "his inheritance in the saints." Does God have an "inheritance" in the saints? Of course he does, for man was created as Godís dwelling place, but we became the prodigal who has taken all that belonged to us, without recognizing the God who created us. Paul reminds us, "Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them the members of a harlot?" His answer is, "may it never happen." Psalm 139 reveals to us that our body was formed in our motherís womb by the loving hands of our Heavenly Father who brought the parts of our being together even when there was nothing there.

Our body is of vital importance to God, not simply as his dwelling place but to be a manifestation of himself through which he can declare to the world his glory. Jesus said, "Father you did not want sacrifices and offerings, and offerings for sins, but you gave me a body." That body became the instrument through which Father fulfilled his will and purpose on the earth, blazing the trail for us to follow. Through that body Father fed the hungry, opened the eyes of the blind, stilled the storm, and raised the dead, etc. While we are earth-bound our body remains flesh and blood, thus limiting our effectiveness in manifesting the glory of God. But once liberated through our ascension, our body takes on an entirely new dimension as spirit materialized. There is no longer any restriction to its function. For death will have been destroyed, and the body will move as the wind, coming and going at the behest of the Father, crossing to and fro the "great divide" that man calls death. For in our ascension heaven and earth have been united.

With these thoughts in mind we need to contemplate seriously Fatherís inheritance in the saints. Paul rightly suggests that many have taken their members, which refers to the functioning parts of our body, and made them the members of an harlot! He refers to this as sexual promiscuity, recognizing that in creation God and man were one. So he says to the saints, "Donít you know that he that is joined to a harlot is one body," thus remaining carnal and earth-bound. He is making the clear distinction that the divine purpose is for man to become one with God, so making us one spirit and not, "one body." In ascension we are no longer spirit, soul, and body as Christendom has taught us, but we have been unified and made one with the Father even as Christ declared, "I and my Father are one." The spirit and soul are one as in creation and now the body and spirit are united, for it is now "the body of Christ," who is Spirit.

It is said that Jesus was willing to endure the "cross" despising the shame, because he saw beyond the veil of flesh into the eternal realities of God. For him, the Fatherís will did not end at the death, burial and resurrection. But involved his ascending far above all principalities and powers and the carnal realm of humanity and mortality, to be absorbed into the unique oneness of the almighty, who fills all things. Why is it that today most Christians give little thought to anything beyond "getting saved," and going to heaven after they die? The divine law of "circularity," which says, "everything comes out of God, and exists because of God, and ultimately returns into God," reminds us that nothing can be lost that he created in the beginning. (see Romans 11:36)

All of the Fatherís dealings with us are designed to fit us to take our place sitting at his right hand, which is the place of his power and authority. Therefore he reminds us that if we are indeed a son, then we must expect that chastisement will be a part of our lives. "My son despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of him, for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receives. If you are without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then you are illegitimate, (i.e. you are born of a concubine or a slave woman,) and therefore you cannot be a son." The word "chastisement" refers to "child training," or correction. Unfortunately, many Christians believe that once they are "saved" God then protects them from all evil, which of course is not true. However, God does not inflict punishment on us, but we punish ourselves by "sowing to the flesh," which will result in us reaping corruption. Our failures are not God making us fail, because he endures the pain of a Father seeing us making carnal decisions and functioning out of a carnal mind.

If only we could recognize the chastisement of God, or his correction in our lives, and turn to him for direction, instead of being mad with God for letting these things happen to us. What needless pain we bare because we fail to see Godís correction in the circumstances of our lives. Christians generally consider the negative circumstances of our lives are Godís punishment for our disobedience. We need to grasp the fact that God does not punish anyone, but he does correct his sons. Scripture makes it clear that if there is no chastisement in our lives then we cannot be true sons of the Father. But how does his correction work? In marriage, if a man fails to love his wife correctly, he is not fulfilling the divine will as a husband. The man will suffer because the relationship will falter, and he will have to bare the consequences of abandoning his wife and robbing his children of their right to have the love of a father and a mother in a loving relationship. Could God have reversed the situation? Yes, but if we refuse to obey Fatherís voice we will bring death and destruction into our lives!

In the case of young children we can over-ride their will, so we can protect them from foolish mistakes. But for sons, Father will not over-ride their will, nor in any way force them to obey. Jesus made the statement, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." Which infers that unless we love God, we will find it impossible to be obedient. This applies to our own children so that if we raise them "in love," then they will obey their parents because they love them. If we fail to raise our children in love then there is only one alternative and that is to raise them through law. So the parent says, "You are not allowed to do this and I forbid you to do that." Under this system we must keep on making new laws all the time to try and control the childís excessive behavior. But understand that law will never generate love. Furthermore, law has no power to produce obedience, as revealed in Israelís history.

Israel was given the law because they failed to respond to Godís love. In the wilderness journey they complained all the way, even though their shoes and clothes never wore out. They always had water even in the midst of the desert, and bread from heaven was available to every one. But Israelís response to Godís unfailing love was to resent his perceived intrusion into their lives, even though he released them from slavery under Pharaoh, and provided for them a land flowing with milk and honey. History records that all the people that rebelled against God died in the wilderness. Did God kill them? The answer is no, but if you rebel against that One who is saving you and refuse to be obedient, the "desert" will eventually get you!

In Heb.12 we are looking at Fatherís strategy to lead us into ascension where we take our place in the realm of heaven seated at the right hand of God. It is for this reason that we need to face the question of Godís dealings with us very seriously. We can never ascend above this earth level while there is a lack of love in our hearts towards God. Our heavenly Father loves us with an eternal love, and has done everything to set us free from this physical, material world that has bound us. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." This can only be accomplished as we enter into a love relationship with our Heavenly Father. Then we will be sensitive to his will for us and seek always to please him in everything we do.

Hebrews 12:15-19, "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness spring up trouble you and as a result many be defiled. Do not be like Esau who sold his birthright for one morsel of meat, and found no place of repentance." However, the scripture continues setting the stage for us to enter into a higher revelation of Fatherís will and purpose for us. He begins by stating a truth we need to grasp, "For you are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:"

Here we must pause to allow the word to penetrate beyond our carnal mind. We are told that there must be a chastisement in our lives if we are indeed the sons of God, but we must not think of it in terms of punishment, for it is a word that refers to the training of children by a loving father. This chastisement functions in two ways, first by instruction, and then by using the circumstances of life as practical lessons to teach us how we should live. Our problem in this chastisement issue is that we see the negative results of our carnal decisions as "punishment" from God, instead of allowing the spirit to use the problems we create to reveal to us a "better way" to respond in life. God said to Israel, "Your back-sliding will correct you." We must develop such a close relationship with our Heavenly Father that we will hear his heart-beat beating within us, and see exactly as he sees. Then our moment by moment desire is simply to please him in everything we do. When we fail, we cling to him until he has shown us why we missed the mark and then we respond to his correction. The Christian who never responds to the correction of his failures has no reality in his relationship with his heavenly Father and so is still carnal and in bondage to sin.

Now we must grasp the difference between the two mountains from which we have our revelation of God. The first is Mount Sinai where God came down to reveal himself to the Children of Israel. It was a mountain that could be touched, but it burned with fire, and also involved blackness, darkness and tempest. This manifestation of God could only be witnessed by Moses, because it caused Israel to be afraid. That mountain was physical and the effect of the fire, tempest and darkness filled Israel with fear, so that they did not want to even hear the voice of God. They believed if they did hear his voice, they would die. Mount Sinai has continued to fill people with fear as the weight of the Law given there presents to the natural mind a God of wrath and judgment. Scripture declares that even Moses said, "I exceedingly fear and quake."

However, Hebrews 12:22 changes the scene to another mountain called Zion, which is known as the city of the Living God, the place of the divine activity which is centered in a people. But notice that the inhabitants of this city are referred to as a mountain. For they no longer belong to the lowlands of carnal thinking, but they have been elevated to the high realms of spirit in the heavenlies. They are also referred to as the Heavenly Jerusalem, which is the true Temple of God. These are no longer a group of people who meet together in some building made with hands, but they themselves have become the true spiritual Temple in which God dwells and from which he now rules. These are the ascended ones, who begin a higher form of ministry than that which functioned on the earth. Their ministry now begins in the Sanctuary of the Lord.

These are the saints who have been joined to an innumerable company of messengers who are the "sent ones," and are made one with the general assembly of the firstborn. These are those of the "en-christed ones" who are the firstborn of all creation. This new association could not happen in the lower regions of the earth, for the whole scene is of another higher dimension. They have ascended into the high realms of Spirit prepared by the Christ who blazed the trail for us so we could follow where no "man" in his earthly state could go. This is the sanctuary of the Lord that is in the spiritual realm, far above principalities, might, and powers, and everything of this earth. Beloved, it is time we lifted our eyes like Abraham to see the place to which Father has called us, which is not of this world!

In this high and holy place in God we will receive a kingdom which cannot be moved. As we ascend to our place prepared for us in the heavens we become the vision given to John on the Isle of Patmos. "I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away and there was no more sea (or separation.) And I John saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice speaking out of heaven saying, ĎBehold the Tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be their God.í" Rev 21:1-3.

Beloved we are that city who are no longer earth-bound, but we come down from that high realm in God to fulfill the purposes of God on the earth and then return to the heavenly realm. The expression of these who have ascended with the Christ will be to demonstrate that Godís dwelling place is in man. These will no longer give lectures on the Bible or simply quote verses, but God himself will speak through them and those words will be Spirit and Life. They will be a pure manifestation of the Christ, which has never been seen on the earth since Jesus Christ ministered here. These ascended ones will declare the joining together of heaven and earth for the great gulf called death that has separated the heavenly from the earthly in our pilgrim journey will have been destroyed, "for Christ has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel."

Types of the Ascension

It was again on the top of the mountain (see Matt 17:1), that Jesus separated three of his disciples from the rest, in order to raise their spiritual consciousness to new heights. In that elevated position they saw Jesus Christ in the true reality of his being as he was "transfigured" before them. This word is translated from the Greek word, "metamorphoo" meaning, "to change into another form, to transform or to transfigure." Christís appearance was changed as the divine light burst through his human form declaring his true identity even though he was still on the earth. Down in the lower reaches of natural thinking Jesus appeared to the ordinary people simply as a human being, but in the spiritual atmosphere on the top of the mountain the "light" of his being could not be concealed. However Luke tells us that Jesus went to the mountain to pray, (chapter 9:28-36.) Every aspect of the life in the spirit has been dragged down into the earth realm, including prayer, which in so many cases has become a speech where man tells God what he expects him to do. In contrast, we find Jesus Christ ascended in spirit to commune with the reality of his own being.

Out of twelve disciples only three were at that time deemed worthy to share that sacred reality on the mountain top. Even those could not at that moment embrace the manifestation to which they were exposed that day. The sight of Moses and Elijah shook the very foundation of their lives and understanding. For them, Moses and Elijah, were heroes of a bygone era and were now dead and buried. But as the truth is revealed to them, they see there is no such thing as death in God. These ancient characters were not simply there, but they were discussing with Jesus his death that he should accomplish at Jerusalem. It is obvious Moses and Elijah knew things about the death Jesus was to die that the disciples did not know at that time. Why was his death so important to this scene on the mountain top?

The answer is that there could be no ascension without his death. The "cup" Father asked him to drink in the Garden of Gethsemane involved the taking of his "humanity" into death on behalf of all men. So from the moment he drank that cup, he surrendered to the will of his Father. For when the soldiers came and arrested him he never resisted. How could it be that the Son of God was being led away like a common criminal to be judged? Later they stripped him and put a purple robe on him and a reed in his hand as they mocked him saying, "Hail thou king of the Jews." But in all that he "opened not his mouth," for he was a man with a mission to destroy the "death" that came upon all men through the eating of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. Nothing could turn him aside from this divine purpose, so he submitted to the cross, without opening his mouth. The shout of victory has rung down the ages, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and died.

However this was no imposed death, but a laying down of his humanity, which was his life as a flesh and blood man. Did not Jesus teach the people, "For whosoever will save his (natural human) life will lose it, but whosoever will lose his (natural human) life for my sake shall find it (eternal life)"? Nobody will ever ascend into those heavenly places where we have been made to sit in Christ until they have laid down their humanity, for their human life of flesh and blood will never inherit the Kingdom of God. We are told that no man shall see God and live, which is true, for we must surrender our mortal life in order to receive his resurrection life, which has passed through death and so can never be affected by it any more. To ascend into those high realms of spirit completely destroys the limitations that our carnal mind has set upon our concept of life.

Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 2:2, "And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lordís house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow into it." The prophet speaks of a day when there shall be a new dimension added to our relationship with God. It involves a new positioning of the Lordís House, from the low lands of our former understanding to a high and elevated position on the top of the mountains. We are all aware of the carnal concepts that govern much of what is called "worship" today. For most Christians are limited to Sunday morning in "church" to be involved with worship. If there is no song leader, or music director to select the hymns or choruses and musicians to lead, most Christians cannot "worship" the Lord. It is now generally accepted that if we raise our hands toward "heaven" singing the songs and mumble a couple of syllables in an unknown tongue we have worshipped the Lord. Such is manís level of spirituality.

Abrahamís experience at the top of the mountain called Moriah brings to us a great revelation of worship. For there will never be a material "temple" built on the earth that will cause the nations to "flow into it." Godís dwelling place has always been in the Man He created in the beginning, but when man gravitated towards the earth he lost his sense of identity and his reason for being. This word "Moriah" means, "chosen by Jehovah," revealing to us that the place and character of Godís dealings with us are not determined by the whims and wishes of man, but by God. We are told that they that worship God must worship him "in spirit and in truth." To worship God "in spirit" means that the earth-bound level of worship has nothing to do with God. We must ascend the mountain of the Lord, into the heavenly realm, from which we see the divine perspective of all things. Abrahamís servants and the ass could not enter into worship so they had to remain at the bottom of the mountain with the multitude who today have turned "worship" into an earthly form.

Abraham was told to offer his son Isaac, who was born of a miracle, because Sarah was past the time she could conceive. Of course the Bible is not a history book but a revelation of Christ. Abraham obeyed the Lord and bound Isaac on the altar at the top of Mount Moriah. This was Abrahamís son and heir who would inherit all of the promises and blessings God had given to Abraham. However God would not allow Abraham to kill his son but told him to untie him and let him go, for all God wanted to know was, did Abraham recognize who Isaac belonged to? We know that Jesus told the people, "Abraham, rejoiced to see my day." For Abraham was able to perceive by the spirit that the son he was given was to be the seed that would produce offspring "as the stars of heaven." Abraham birthed the Christ, the Son of God, because he believed God, instead of the lie that has kept mankind bound in the barren wilderness of the carnal mind. In Matt 1:1 we are told that Jesus Christ was the son of Abraham.

This was Abrahamís ascension where he learned the truth about worship. No-one can "worship" God unless they have a sacrifice to offer unto the Lord. But the only sacrifice that is acceptable to the Lord is a living sacrifice. Remember Abraham said to Isaac, God will provide himself a sacrifice. So we can only give that which already belongs to him, and in Abrahamís case that was Isaac who was born out of God, and not the result of an "egg and a sperm." Isaac is a type of us today, who although our body is formed in our motherís womb, our true identity and origin is we were created in Christ Jesus. Therefore the only true form of spiritual worship is in the "Presenting of our bodies as a living sacrifice unto the Lord." Rom 12:1-2. Like Isaac this is not human sacrifice, but is a true spiritual experience, just as it was for Abraham. God simply wants to know if you recognize who you are and to whom you belong.

 

Men who did not go through Death

There are three men in the Old Testament who cheated death, and we need to consider these for

they become types for us to consider. The first one is Enoch, of whom it is recorded in Genesis 5:24, "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not, for God took him." We are told very little about this "translation," but it is very significant that we are told that he "walked with God." This statement is full of meaning, for if we walk with God, we are going to walk a very different path to those who simply choose their own way. God is spirit and so Enoch chose that spiritual pathway on the top of the mountain, rather than the lowlands of carnal thinking. This pathway brings to us all the effects of spiritual involvement, to produce in us the translation from the "natural" to the "spiritual." Paul tells us, "But we all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the spirit of the Lord," 2 Cor. 3:18.

Enoch all those thousands of years ago actually experienced what we are just beginning to understand through Paulís teaching. How precious are these glorious truths revealed to the spiritual mind in the Old Testament. Think about it, Enoch experienced what very few Christians today even understand for "he walked with God." Now let us look further, for Hebrews also has this to say about Enoch, "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God," Heb 11:5. Now if you asked most Christians what happened to Enoch they will tell you "he went to heaven." But that is a carnal assumption, for it does not say that he went anywhere. In fact, I am quite certain that he was still there, because it says that people must have gone looking for him, just as they did for Elijah after he "went up," even though Elisha told them not to go. It is also assumed that Jesus on the Mount of Olives "went up to heaven," as the disciples stood there gazing up into the sky.

This false idea is the product of the carnal mind, which has no ability to know or understand the things of the spirit. Enoch "was not." What?? Enoch was no longer visible in this physical material realm. Did he still exist? The answer is yes, but in another dimension, which is the realm of spirit. Enoch was no longer living and functioning as a mortal flesh and blood man, but he had been translated, or changed into his true reality as spirit. Beloved, ascension has rarely been preached by the majority of preachers, because its spiritual import has remained a closed book to them. Now it is generally equated with "death," which for some is considered to be their "translation." We are told about the "great cloud of witnesses that encompass us about," encouraging us on to complete the work of redemption for those who have gone on before. They all died in faith but they never "received the promise." However, it is said of them, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth," Heb. 11:13.

They saw that even though they had not received the promises, they did see them afar off, and embraced them, and were persuaded of them, by recognizing that they were "strangers and pilgrims on the earth." For most Christians today they are quite at home on the earth and have never embraced the promises the Lord has given to us. He told us that he was going to prepare a place for us, so that where he is we also shall be with him. That promise has been relegated to the "sweet bye and bye," when it is intended for the now! Paul tells us that we need the eyes of our understanding to be open to see, "what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us, according to his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead and set him at his own right hand in heavenly places, far above principalities and power and might and dominion and every name that is named, putting all things under his feet and gave him to be the head over all things to the Ecclesia, which is his body and the fullness of him that fills all things with himself," Eph 1:19-23.

What he did in Christ he has done for everyone of us for we are in him. Godís purpose was not simply to raise Christ from the dead and then translate him into the heavenly realm! No beloved, Father intends that each one of us like Enoch, will walk with God through death on the cross, burial and also resurrection, to be followed with a glorious ascension to find ourselves seated in heavenly places in Christ. Only then will our true ministry begin and the blind will see and the lame shall walk and all men shall see the glory of the Lord. There will be no more Bible lectures or sermons, but we will be life-giving spirits, ministering life to all. So Enoch, rather than being a name in a history book, has blazed a trail for us to follow through our humanity, ascending through the earthís atmosphere into the glory of the heavenly. The caterpillar has discovered the reason for his being, and has been loosed from its bondage to fly and ascend into the heights of life in the spirit.

But we must continue on and look at the prophet Elijah who ministered the word of the Lord to Israel during the reign of a wicked king called Ahab. He was used to challenge the king over his wicked ways and told Ahab of the famine that would overtake the land because of his evil ways. During this time he challenged Israel concerning their devotion to Jehovah, since many had turned to idolatry because of Jezebel the wife of Ahab. The challenge was for the 400 prophets of Baal to offer a bullock on an altar and to put no fire under it, but to call on their gods to send the fire. Of course they failed and Elijah called Israel together and at the time of the evening sacrifice he built an altar with twelve stones, representing a united Israel, and cut the bullock in pieces putting them on the altar. Then he wet the whole altar, the wood, and the stones with four barrels of water, not just once, but three times. Then he prayed and the fire fell from heaven and the peoplesí heart was turned back towards the Lord.

Elijah spent a time in seclusion after the prophets of Baal were destroyed and went into hiding, telling the Lord that he was about the only one left serving the Lord. However the Lord told him he had seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal. The Lord told Elijah there were things that needed to be done so he went in obedience. He was told to anoint another King Hazael to be king over Syria and Jehu to be King over Israel, as well as anoint Elisha to be his successor as a prophet. He did all this and Elisha became his servant and followed him everywhere he went. Now Elijah knew his work in this sphere was coming to an end and so he told Elisha to wait at Gilgal, while he went on to Bethel. But Elisha refused to leave his master so he continued with him. This journey represented a spiritual ascension beginning at Gilgal where Israel was circumcised on entering the Promised Land. This represented the removing of the flesh that could not inherit the Kingdom of God or the Promised Land. Then they went together to Bethel, which speaks of the house of God, in which we dwell together in union with God, sitting at his table and finding there an inexhaustible supply for our every need.

It was also at Bethel where Jacob received a great revelation from God that Godís plan is that there would be a joining of heaven and earth. This means that the sons of God would be able to ascend to fellowship with Father in the heavenly realm, but also to then descend back to the earth realm in order to carry out the will and purposes of God amongst the people here. All true ministry begins in the sanctuary, or the presence of the Lord, where we receive our instructions and then move to fulfill his desire among the people. Then having fulfilled his purpose through us we then return to the sanctuary.

That "ladder" speaks of a "bridge" that allows the sons of God to cross the great divide called death and return at the Lordís direction. In our ascension, which includes our resurrection in Christ, the last enemy is destroyed, and having passed through death, it now has no power over us. Now we can say with Christ, "I am he that liveth and was dead, but behold I am alive for evermore, and in my hand are the keys of the grave and death." Immortality does not simply mean that we will live as we are on the earth for ever and ever, but we will be like Enoch and just walk on with God to that place that is prepared for us seated at the right hand of God in the heavenly realm. From that position we are "sent of God" back to the earth realm to fulfill his will and desires, and then return to the realm of spirit again.

It was here that the "sons of the prophets," but not the prophets themselves, came to discourage Elisha, telling him that his master would to be taken away from him so it was useless to follow him. It is well to remember that God has no grandchildren, only sons. However Elisha brushed them aside and followed Elijah to Jericho. Would to God we could have such a single mind to "Go withersoever the Lamb goes," without being deflected by the voices of men. Elisha followed Elijah to Jericho where God manifested his power to remove every impossible obstacle that stood in the way of his people inheriting the Land of Promise. Jericho was a walled city that would have been impossible for an army to overcome by conventional means.

Jericho was yet another lesson for Elisha who needed to know that nothing could stand in his way doing the will of God. This walled city speaks to us of the false concepts and lies that have been established in our natural or carnal mind. Christendom has taught us that we do not have the power to affect changes on the earth, only Christ can do that. Then of course they put him up in the sky a million miles away, telling us that he is going to return "one day" in the sweet bye and bye and then he will put everything right. In the meantime the walled cities of our mental concepts concerning our problems and difficulties bring devastation into our lives. Marriage problems arise and the Christian counselor tells you, "I am sorry but you and your husband are incompatible, and you can never make your relationship work." You are a Christian out of work, and you are told it is very difficult to get work, as there is nothing around. So you walk away discouraged. Jericho stands as a fortress impeding your progress in God defying you to possess the victory won for you at Calvary.

Again the sons of the prophet tried to discourage Elisha from going further because they knew Elijah would be leaving him soon. After Jesus Christ went to the cross many of the disciples said, "Lets go back to fishing." But Elisha now is more determined than ever and so they now walked together on the same path of this heavenly journey. On they went to the Jordan River. Here was to be the last and greatest test before Elijahís ascension, for this river represents death. It was this river that Israel has to cross before they could enter the "Promised Land." We must understand that there can be no ascension until death has been abolished. On the mount of transfiguration Moses and Elijah spoke with Jesus concerning his death. Could Elijah have been encouraging Jesus concerning the cross, even reminding him of the time when he used his mantle to part the waters of Jordan, declaring death to be a defeated foe? Israel discovered that victory over death was an accomplished fact, when the priests stood in the bed of the river carrying the Ark of God, destroying its power right back to Adam, so Israel could pass over.

Now Elijah faces the river with Elisha and takes his "mantle" and smites the waters, and they divided allowing the two prophets to walk over on dry land, just as if there was no river there. Now having conquered death the last enemy, they have come to the end of the journey together. It is at this point that Elijah speaks to Elisha and asks him, "What shall I do for you before I shall be taken from you?" The whole experience of that journey he had just completed with Elijah convinced him that whatever it was that made Elijah such a mighty prophet of God he wanted the same anointing, only with a double portion. Elisha found the desire to be the servant of God was now the all-consuming passion in his life. So Elisha replied, "Let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me."

Elijah told him he had asked a hard thing, but he could have what he desired on one condition, and that was that he witness his masters ascension. This is also an essential condition of our own ascension that we be so identified with Christ that we died in him, we were buried in him, and we were raised from the dead in him. However this is not the end for when he ascended on the Mount of Olives, far above principalities and powers, might and dominion we ascended in him and we are now seated in heavenly places with him.

As they walked on together suddenly there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire that parted them both asunder, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind. Obviously these horses and chariots were not literal but represent symbols of the spirit world in which God dwells, for God is a consuming fire. Horses of fire speak of the anointing in the scriptures. This heavenly transport simply lifted Elijah into another dimension where his ministry would continue but on a higher plane. Elijah did not go anywhere, as heaven is not a geographical location but a state of being. This was an experience for Elisha who is now to continue the ministry of Elijah.

Immediately he picked up the mantle of Elijah, representing the divine anointing, at the same time tearing his own clothes to symbolize the futility of his natural human ability. He had witnessed his masterís ascension and now the mantle of his master was his, and whatever his master could do that same power was now fully resident in him. Elijah was no longer visible, but now his anointing was resident in Elisha to continue Godís divine program, which would continue without any disruption.

Paul tells us he prayed,

ĎThat the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. And what is the exceeding greatness of his power towards us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in heavenly places, far above all principality and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. And has put all things under his feet and gave him to be head over all things to the Church, which is his body, the fullness of him that fills all in all."

Des Walter

(to be continued)