These familiar words are spoken by the “two men … in white robes” (a common way of describing angels). It is what they said to the disciples as they watched their Lord ascend upwards in astonishment “and a cloud received him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9-11). We suspect it was no ordinary cloud, but like the cloud that Moses climbed into on the mountain (Exodus 24:16).
Countless generations of believers have looked for their Lord to descend from heaven. The disciples had asked, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (verse 6) and were told by their Lord they were to be “my witnesses in Jerusalem” – but ultimately that the witnessing was to be “to the end of the earth” (verse 8). He had said this earlier, also on the mount of Olives, “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
Another sign which Jesus gave was that “Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). Today, Jerusalem is constantly the centre of world attention – and the returned Jews have made it the capital of their resurrected country. The evidence is plain that the climax of the ages is near. But we know and must emphasize that it was not for his disciples, then or now, to know exactly when. Notice again the answer of Jesus’ when the disciples asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (verse 6). They were commissioned to be “my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria” (verse 8). It is for true believers today to complete that commission “…and to the end of the earth”.
Are you his disciple? Are you helping with this commission? If you are, you will be looking for his return “in the same way (as the disciples) saw him go into heaven”.
As his disciple you will be following the examples given in the book of Acts. Notice the way in which the Old Testament is often quoted as an essential part of that message. It tells us many details of the Kingdom Jesus will set up, and gives us examples of faithful service (and failures) as we are reading in the book of Deuteronomy.