The Meaning of Ascension Day


Ascension Day commemorates Jesus’ ascension into Heaven. This day gives us the hope of being changed and ascending like Christ. Before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He commanded His disciples to lead all people in the world to salvation. In obedience to this holy command, the saints of the early Church prayed earnestly for ten days starting from Ascension Day, and they began to preach the gospel to the whole world after receiving the former rain of the Holy Spirit.

The mission that we, who are living in the age of the Holy Spirit, must complete is the same—world evangelism. Let us reflect upon the glory and blessing that God has promised through Ascension Day and discover how to complete the mission of evangelizing the whole world.

The Origin and Meaning of Ascension Day

At the time of the Exodus, 3,500 years ago, God called Moses to ascend Mount Sinai. Moses went up the mountain on the first day of the third month in the sacred calendar—the fortieth day after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. Then God promised that if the Israelites obeyed Him and kept His covenant, He would set them high above all the nations as His chosen people.

In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on the very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” Ex 19:1–6

The Bible refers to Jesus as “a prophet like Moses.” This shows that the relationship between Moses and Jesus is like that of a shadow and reality (Dt 18:18; Ac 3:20–24). For example, Moses’ entering the Red Sea indicated that Jesus would be buried in the tomb, and Moses’ coming out of the Red Sea indicated that Jesus would come out of the tomb after His resurrection. Additionally, Moses’ ascending Mount Sinai on the fortieth day after crossing the Red Sea showed that Jesus would ascend to Heaven on the fortieth day after His resurrection.

. . . 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. . . . So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. . . . suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Ac 1:1–11

Jesus promised His disciples 2,000 years ago that He would bestow the power of the Holy Spirit on them. After asking them to preach the gospel in Samaria and to the ends of the earth, He ascended to Heaven. As Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (Jn 13:15), Christ’s ascension serves as a living example showing that those who follow Him will also be changed and ascend to Heaven.

The Glory of Ascension

Once the gospel is finally preached to the whole world and God’s work of redemption is complete, the saints of the last days who complete their mission will receive the same glory as Jesus, being taken up alive into Heaven. The Bible testifies that at the sound of the last trumpet, the dead in Christ will be resurrected and those still alive in Christ will be changed in the twinkling of an eye and go up to Heaven in glory.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 1 Co 15:50–53

Dragonflies spend most of their lives underwater as larvae, but they transform when they become adults and fly freely through the sky with transparent, silver wings. If such insignificant creatures made by God are so beautiful, how much more beautiful will God’s children become in the future? Since God promised to restore us to our original state and appearance, the day will surely come when our physical bodies will be changed into spiritual, heavenly bodies.

. . . For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. 1 Th 4:13–18

God has promised that we will be caught up in the clouds to meet Him in the air and enjoy eternal life and happiness in the Kingdom of Heaven. Thinking about the glorious moment when our bodies will be transformed to be like Christ’s glorious body and ascend to Heaven, let us continue our journey of faith through the spiritual desert with joy and hope.

The Mission of World Evangelism Declared on Ascension Day

Ascension Day is when Christ first declared the mission of world evangelism and gave us hope for the glory of ascension. For these reasons, Ascension Day is especially meaningful. Through this day, God awakened His people to start the mission of leading all mankind to repentance and salvation. On this day, Jesus showed the glory of ascension to the disciples and commanded them, “Go and make disciples of all nations, and preach the good news of salvation.”

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Mt 28:16–20

The disciples prayed earnestly for ten days from Ascension Day to the Day of Pentecost. On the Day of Pentecost, they received the former rain of the Holy Spirit to complete the holy mission entrusted to them by Christ (Ac 2:1–4). As a result, the message of the New Covenant for the salvation of mankind began to be preached rapidly to all nations of the world, reaching even beyond Jerusalem and Judea.

The apostles and other saints of the early Church were filled with the Holy Spirit and no longer stayed silent; they began to preach God’s word enthusiastically with all their hearts and minds.

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” . . . Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day . . . Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Ac 2:38–47

The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand. Ac 4:1–4

The early Church achieved remarkable growth and opened the door for world evangelism because they all fully relied on God’s power, rather than the wisdom or power of men. Since they were united in heart and depended only on the Holy Spirit given by God to preach the gospel, God added to their number daily those who were being saved.

It is the same now. World evangelism can never be accomplished with man’s abilities. We should realize that God’s power is more than enough to accomplish world evangelism. When we have confidence that everything will be done by God’s almighty power, then we can save 3,000 or even 5,000 people in a day because Elohim God is with us.

The early Church of God raised a banner for world evangelism in obedience to God’s command to fulfill the mission. Looking at their example, let us also strive for the completion of the gospel work in these last days. We must diligently proclaim the salvation of Heavenly Father and Mother wherever the gospel has not yet been preached.

God Is With Us and Helps Us

The religious leaders who persecuted Jesus were astonished at how rapidly the gospel of Christ was spreading, and they used all means possible to hinder the gospel from being preached. However, they could not stop God’s people who were filled with the Holy Spirit, no matter how hard they tried.

When they saw the courage of Peter and John . . . “But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.” Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. Ac 4:13–21

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” Ac 20:22–24

The Apostles Peter and John boldly proclaimed, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” The Apostle Paul considered his life worth nothing to him, in order to complete the task of preaching the gospel. These scenes from the book of Acts show how much the saints of the early Church loved God. They endured temporary sufferings on earth while looking forward to the everlasting glory of Heaven. Despite hardships and persecutions, they boldly preached the gospel and proceeded toward Heaven together, embracing and taking care of one another.

Even in this age, Satan does not merely sit back and watch as we preach the gospel to the whole world. In these situations, we should keep in mind that the glory of God shines even brighter in the face of adversity. In calm and peaceful times, we cannot feel the wind and we forget about its existence, but when we see the leaves of the trees blowing in the wind, we can perceive it again. In the same way, during easy and peaceful times, we are unable to realize that God is helping us; however, as we overcome challenges and difficulties, we come to realize that God is helping us every step of the way.

The Bible teaches us that everything in life is meaningless but our labor in God is never in vain (Ecc 1:2; 1 Co 15:58). The glory of this world is meaningless and transient, yet the glory of Heaven that has been prepared for us is eternal. While longing for Heaven, our eternal home, we should consider the most valuable way to spend our time and do our best to fulfill the gospel mission as prophets in the Age of the Holy Spirit.

Let Us Boast About God

There are still many people in this world who are living without hope because they are unaware of the existence of the glorious world where there is no death, pain, or sorrow. We must let them know about the glory of ascension and the Kingdom of Heaven—our eternal home.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust [boast, NLT] in the name of the LORD our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. O LORD, save the king! Answer us when we call! Ps 20:7–9

We have someone whom we should boast about—Elohim, the Savior of all mankind, who is with us forever.

Now many people believe in the Spirit and the Bride and are praising Them wholeheartedly. This amazing work is taking place all around the world. Remembering Christ’s last request, “You will be my witnesses in Samaria and to the ends of the earth,” let us be God’s faithful messengers who keep in step with the trumpet call of prophecy and preach the good news of salvation to the whole world.

When God entrusts us with a mission, He also gives us the ability to accomplish it. Parents do not send their children on an errand without giving them the means to successfully carry it out. Likewise, when God tells us to “go,” He will surely give us the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us fully arm ourselves with the Holy Spirit given by Heavenly Father and Mother and work together to preach the gospel throughout the world. By doing so, let us participate in the glory of ascension and meet the Lord in the air.