“Tarry Ye in the City …”

Luke 24:49 says, “And behold, I send forth the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high”. These were Jesus’ words during the forty days after His resurrection but before His ascension to His Father. These days were spent by Him instructing His disciples regarding His coming kingdom. Likely He charged them multiple times to “remain in the city”, that city being Jerusalem. The importance of returning to and staying in Jerusalem was so important that Luke made at least three different references to it (Luke 24:48-49; Acts 1:4). Luke 24:46-47 reads, “Thus it is written that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem”.

Only Luke includes these instructions from Jesus to His apostles. The inclusion of Jesus’ command by Luke shows the value of different accounts of the same event. Matthew includes some items which the other three do not record, and the same may be said for all four of the gospel writers. Together we have an account of all things which we need that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter1:3). Paul wrote, “Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Since the apostles would be “endued with power from on high”, they also would receive the Holy Spirit for Jesus had said, “But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you”. These words were equivalent of Jesus’ earlier statements: “Wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, ye heard from me: for John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence” (Acts 1:8, 4). But something else would also “come with power”: the kingdom. Jesus promised, “Verily, verily I say unto you, there are some here of them that stand by who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God come with power” (Mark 9:1).

Jehovah told His people at Sinai when He gave His law, “In every place where I record my name I will come unto thee and I will bless thee” (Exodus 20:24; cp. Deuteronomy 12:5). The place the Lord chose was Zion or Jerusalem (Psalm 132:13-15). God’s temple was built in Jerusalem and it would be in Jerusalem that the formation of the Son’s new kingdom also would take place. It was from Jerusalem where instructions would be given that would make possible for all men to be part of Christ’s new kingdom. Physical Jerusalem was a type of spiritual Jerusalem (the Jerusalem which is above, the church where God would meet with and bless His saved ones [Galatians 4:24-26]). Physical Jerusalem was also a type of the “new Jerusalem coming down from God” which is God’s eternal abode with His children (Revelation 21:1-5).

Isaiah, the Messianic prophet, recorded the truth that in physical Jerusalem the Law would be given which would make possible for people of all nations to be part of God’s kingdom, His spiritual Jerusalem. He wrote, “It shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of Jehovah shall be established on the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say Come ye, let us go up unto the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths for out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:2-4).

Dualism is frequently found in Hebrew literature, and it is illustrated in this passage. This is a double stating of a single truth with slightly different words. “The mountain of the Lord’s house” and “the house of the God of Jacob”. “Established on the top of the mountains” and “exalted above the hills”. “Out of Zion shall go forth the law” and “the word of the Lord from Jerusalem”. Stated simply, in the latter days — the last era of time of God’s dealing with mankind — the mountain of Jehovah or God’s kingdom would be established in the top of the mountains. His kingdom would be superior to and above all other kingdoms. In prophetic language, “mountain” meant a kingdom or government. In Jeremiah 51:25 the prophet wrote, “I am against thee, O destroying mountain”, a reference to the kingdom of Babylon.

In Daniel 2 the prophet interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in which the image of gold, silver, bronze, and iron was destroyed by a “stone cut out of a mountain without hands”. The residue from this destruction began to grow and became a “great mountain which filled the whole earth”. Daniel’s interpretation stated, “In the days of these kings, the Lord shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44). The figure “a great mountain which filled the whole earth” is equal to a “kingdom which shall never be destroyed”. And in relation to that, God’s words — the law of His kingdom — would issue forth from Zion or Jerusalem. All nations would flow into it. It would be open to all believers from every nation: Jew and Greek, male and female, bond and free. 

The fulfillment of that prophecy was about to take place in Jerusalem. The apostles would announce the terms of admission into God’s kingdom. It was imperative therefore that the apostles heed their Lord’s command: “Tarry ye in the city until ye be endued from power on high”. They did as Jesus commanded and Acts 2 records the wondrous fulfillment of the promises of God.

Jim McDonald