Before reading this brief study, please read,
- The Meaning of Eschatology
- Flashback to the Prophecy of Jesus Christ
- The Parable of the Vineyard – Part 1
- The Parable of the Vineyard – Part 2
RESTORE THE KINGDOM?
The apostles of Jesus, being Jews, asked Him this question after His resurrection,
Acts 1:6-8 (ESV) — So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The apostles of the Lamb expected the earthly Jewish Kingdom as did the other Jews. The question of the restoration of the kingdom comes from inquisitive yet delighted minds that have seen Christ now resurrected, appearing and disappearing at will. They expected Him to overthrow the Romans and establish His Kingdom of which He had taught them. They still looked at the natural and Jesus wanted them to understand the spiritual.
TIMES AND SEASONS
It is likely to read into these words the idea that there was to be, in some future “times or seasons,” a restoration of an earthly dominion to Israel. On the other hand, it is not difficult to ascribe to the words of our Lord, quoted above, a meaning that accords perfectly with the Scriptures we have been examining; and this, of course, is what we are bound to do.
Careful consideration and quiet pondering of those words lead to the conclusion that here, as on many other occasions, our Lord simply ignored what was in the minds of His disciples for His thoughts were not their thoughts, neither were their ways His ways. He might well have administered to them on this occasion the same rebuke He had administered to Peter when that disciple spoke to Him under the influence of the same Jewish expectation,
Matthew 16:23 — But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
However, at this moment He completely ignored the thought of their hearts and simply impressed upon them the fact that their all-engrossing occupation was to be that of bearing testimony to His resurrection, enthronement and the establishing of His Kingdom.
It was to be their business to declare that mighty truth of the gospel to the whole world; and for the accomplishment of that great mission, power would be given them through the coming upon them, in a few days, of the Holy Spirit from heaven.
NATURAL V/S SPIRITUAL
To understand the spiritual, they needed to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and this would open their eyes to the higher and deeper realm of the Spirit. Jesus’ kingdom was from this realm—a realm from above. Once they were born again from above—the higher realm of the spirit, they would understand heavenly or spiritual things.
This is why Jesus answered,
Acts 1:7-8 — He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Besides, a new order of things was then at hand; for after they had received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, these apostles would never again speak of that sort of a kingdom (earthly Jewish kingdom) again.
Acts 8:12 — But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Acts 19:8 — And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.
Acts 20:25 — And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again.
Acts 28:23 — When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
Acts 28:31 — “…proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.”
The Holy Spirit will remove the veil from their eyes and reveal all truth to them.
John 16:13 — When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
The apostles asked this question following what Jesus had already spoken to them,
Luke 12:32 — “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
There were many things which they would not yet understand as the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. They were not as yet ready to receive them; things they were to learn later on through the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
The “all truth” also included the truth of Israel’s relationship to the kingdom; for to any natural person especially a natural Jew that truth is unbearable. They also had to learn and perceive that “this Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
Romans 14:17 — For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
KINGDOM NOT OF THIS WORLD
Jesus said His kingdom was not of this world. His kingdom was not an earthly Jewish kingdom; but, His kingdom was heavenly, an everlasting kingdom and one that never ends. The church is part of the Israel of God. Jesus is the true Israel—the true Vine and we are the branches. The branches are growing and spreading and filling the whole earth today.
This is what the prophets foretold: to fill the whole earth with righteousness, peace, joy and the glory of God. This is why we must see the need to pray kingdom prayers and why we must understand prophecy and learn how to prophesy.
The Spirit of God prophesied the end of old covenant Israel through Moses,
Deuteronomy 32:21 — They have made me jealous with false gods, enraging me with their worthless gods; so I will make them jealous with a people they do not recognize, with a nation slow to learn I will enrage them.
What did God say? He said that He would bring the old covenant to an end and replace it with a new covenant. The fruit-bearing new covenant nation would be the Church (made up of Jewish and gentile believers of Jesus Christ). The Church will provoke old covenant Israel to jealousy and because of that jealousy, they will repent and obey the Gospel and be added to Christ and His Church.
First, let me declare that I am not anti-Semitic. I assert that natural Israel had a distinct role to play in God’s plan of the ages. When this purpose was fulfilled, Old Covenant Israel ceased to be God’s exclusive chosen people. The holocausts against the Jews throughout history are a scar on humanity. There is unequivocally no defense, from either a Biblical or humanitarian perspective, for “anti-Semitism.”
GOD LOVES NATURAL ISRAEL?
God still loves natural Israel as He would love any other race or people and wants them saved not wanting any to perish. The Jews are beloved for the sake of their fathers; they are beloved for the sake of the promises that God made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and to David.
Romans 11:28 — In regard to the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but in regard to election they are dearly loved for the sake of the fathers.
However, they cannot be saved just because they are Jews, the physical descendants of Abraham; no matter, what the end-time teachers teach. What they teach today denies what Jesus Himself taught of old covenant following Israel and its end and the establishment of the new.
Romans 9:27 — And Isaiah cries out on behalf of Israel, “Though the number of the children of Israel are as the sand of the sea, only the remnant will be saved…”
God’s ways are progressive for mankind leading them to perfection. We must be busy discipling the nations and teaching them to obey Jesus Christ which includes discipling natural Israel.
In the final part we will see the parable and its fulfillment in the journey of the Church of Jesus Christ.