Thy Kingdom Come
After Christ was resurrected He was asked if He would at that time restore again the kingdom to Israel. Have you ever thought about those words? The question is not asking when Israel is to be restored, but when the Kingdom is to be restored to Israel. What Kingdom were they asking about?
The passage of interest in the Book of Acts reads, “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).
To restore again the Kingdom implies that it had already once belonged to Israel. What Kingdom did Jesus say had been taken from them? “ The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matthew 21:43).
The question they asked Christ in Acts' 1:6 was concerning the return of the Kingdom of God to Israel. It was not about restoring the nation of Israel to its lands and former glory at some future time as has sometimes been interpreted.
Christ’s answer to the question implied that the matter was in the hands of God and they were to continue preaching the Kingdom until God decides, “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8).
Concept of the Kingdom
The concept of the Kingdom of God was there from the start. It was God’s intention to produce a family, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:” (Genesis 1:26). Mankind was created to become His children“…and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (II Corinthians 6:17-18). So that we could inherit the Kingdom through the Spirit that He gives to us, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:16-17).
He is planning a family comprising billions to accomplish things that we have not even imagined, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (I Corinthians 2:9-10).
From Concept to Reality
We will be part of that incredible future in the Kingdom that is being prepared for God by the Word through whom He has created all things, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3).
The Word was the one who became Jesus Christ, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).
As the creator of all things for His Father Christ is also the one who is creating a Kingdom of sons and daughters for His Father. All things have been put into His hands, “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.” (John 3:35). If we believe and trust what the Father is doing through Jesus Christ we can receive eternal life and be part of that Kingdom, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36).
He has been assigned to bring the concept of the Kingdom into reality which He will eventually offer up to His Father, “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (I Corinthians 15:24-28).
Entrusted to Israel
Although Christ was assigned to bring the Kingdom into reality the concept of the Kingdom and what it will be like had been entrusted into the care of the nation of Israel that was to physically portray the spiritual Kingdom to the world. Although the nation was a physical representation it was only a shadow of the reality
Spiritual aspects of the Kingdom to come were portrayed physically through the Tabernacle, rituals, sacrifices and ceremonies, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17). And of course the priesthood, “…seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.” (Hebrew 8:4-5). Also the law, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.” (Hebrew 10:1).
Even the throne that Christ would occupy in the future was entrusted to men. But God retained control as demonstrated when He took the throne from Saul and gave it to David, “And Samuel said unto him (Saul), The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.” (I Samuel 15:28). It was passed on to the sons of David, “And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David…” (II Chronicles 13:8). First to Solomon, “And of all my sons, (for the LORD hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel.” (I Chronicles 28:5).
Taken from Israel
The problem was that over time they lost sight of their purpose as a nation and had come to despise the very sacrifices, ceremonies and rituals that foreshadowed the Kingdom as the book of Malachi so clearly spells out. They made a mockery of the very rituals and ceremonies God had given them to foreshadow His Kingdom, “Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:7-8).
They also rejected Christ who was commissioned to bring the concept they had been entrusted with to reality “Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?” (Matthew 21:42).
One of the things Christ addressed was the failure of the priests to teach the concept of the future spiritual Kingdom to the people, “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” (Matthew 23:13).
That is why He said to them, “ The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matthew 21:43).
Preaching the Kingdom
The main subject Christ preached from the beginning of His ministry was the Kingdom of God, “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15).
He had to revive the concept of the future spiritual Kingdom of God, “And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.” (Mark 4:30-32).
The Kingdom was not something that they could touch or taste, “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17 NKJV). Nor was it about anything physical, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” (I Corinthians 15:50).
The Kingdom was not something they could see, “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21). The Greek word ‘entos’ can according to Vines meant within, or among and Christ could have been inferring that His presence represented the Kingdom among them, or He could have meant that the Kingdom was a concept that was still to be realised in the future.
It was a mystery that He was in the process of revealing to them, “And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:” (Mark 4:11).
Even His close disciples were astonished at what He taught about the Kingdom of God, “And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:24).
The Kingdom He preached was not about a physical inheritance of land, wealth and status. It was about a spiritual inheritance in the Kingdom of God. The priests had heard Christ preaching the Kingdom but denied who He was and what He said.
Restoring the Kingdom to Israel
After Christ had risen He was seen by a number of people including His disciples and once again preached to them the Kingdom of God, “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:” (Acts 1:1-3).
Those who heard Him preaching about the Kingdom of God asked of Him, “…saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). To which He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8). He was saying that they were not to concern themselves with when the Kingdom is to come, which is in God’s hands, but to keep preaching the Kingdom to the world.
Some may have thought that Christ had appeared after His resurrection to take over the throne and wrench Israel out from under the occupation of the Romans. But that was not the case. He was in fact urging them to wait until they received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost that would give them the necessary understanding they lacked and the power to preach the Kingdom more effectively.
The question they asked about restoring the Kingdom to Israel does not confirm the physical restoration of the nation of Israel to their lands in the future. It was about restoring the Kingdom of God which had been taken from them. The Kingdom of God that cannot be seen (Luke 17:20-21), cannot be touched or tasted (Romans 14:17) and is not even physical (I Corinthians 15:50).
Does that mean that the people of ancient Israel or modern Jews cannot be part of the Kingdom of God - of course not!
The Kingdom of God will be restored to them when they along with all of humanity will be restored to their original inheritance that involves accepting Christ as their King and Saviour. And through the process of conversion becoming a new person in the Kingdom of God where their former national identity, ethnicity and status will have no meaning, “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:10-11).
It is the inheritance in God’s Kingdom common to all of mankind that is to be restored to Israel rather than the land status and power that were mere temporary shadows of something far better to come.