As we started Acts chapter 1, we have had our focus on the Kingdom with Jesus as the King of the Kingdom. One of the prime matters Jesus discussed with His apostles during the 40 days from His Resurrection to His Ascension:
Ac 1:3 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.
The Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom, it is a spiritual and eternal Kingdom. At present it is spaced throughout two regions. The first is heaven, where God is and the second is on earth. This means that once a person believes and is born again, they immediately become citizens of God’s eternal Kingdom, even though they are still on earth. Once the Lord Jesus returns to execute Judgment and end the world as we know it, the Kingdom will only be within the parameters of “new heavens and a new earth”.
Isa 65:17 “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.”
This prophecy was made almost 800 years before Jesus came to earth.
2 Pet 3:13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
The new heaven and new earth will be a “Home of Righteousness”. The righteousness of God will be the mainstay of the Kingdom.
Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”
The eternal Kingdom will see Almighty God present with His people forever. The Gospel of Jesus leads to the Kingdom of God. Some authors have written books with the theme “Gospel and Kingdom”. That is exactly what Luke has in his thinking as he pens the opening verses of this chapter. Then you will recall how Jesus instructed his apostles to remain in Jerusalem because the gift of the Holy Spirit would arrive there. We know that this would take place at Pentecost when people from the known world would be present. God’s method was to reach people from across the world as it was known then … sending the gospel ahead of those who would become missionaries to fulfill verse 8’s demand. Now we return to the text:
Ac 1:6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 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.”
You will recall that I mentioned how confused these followers of Jesus were regarding Kingdom. Their understanding, as was the understanding of Israel as a whole, was that Messiah would come as a king David and set up His Throne in David’s City (Jerusalem). In other words they thought earthly kingdom with its headquarters in Jerusalem.
1) They asked Jesus if He was right then going to restore the kingdom to Israel.
Ac 1:6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
By this question you can understand the frustration and anger they had because Rome with its emperor had sovereign control over Israel.
(1) Their emphasis was immediate … are you at this time. We must be careful not to think badly of them. They were men of their day and largely controlled by the religious / political thrust of the day. It is like us wanting God to come right now and end all things and then we will be in heaven … but that is selfish because thousands upon thousands (maybe millions upon millions) of souls still need to be saved.
(2) Note the word “restore”. The Greek usage was generally to “give” or “bring” a person back. Luke uses it to bring back control, authority and sovereignty to Israel … that is to take it away from Rome. At the same time, “restore” also carries the following ideas:
(i) Re-establish. The nation needed to re-establish itself after losing it sovereignty to Rome. The only control she enjoyed was a religious one managed by the Sanhedrin.
(ii) Restoration. The whole leadership structure, financial budget and economy, the defense force, etc. would need to be put into place.
(iii) Renewal. Implied in re-establish and restoration is renewal. Literally the kingdom of Israel would need to be renewed to re-establish herself as a sovereign nation.
(3) The kingdom to Israel implies taking it away from Rome. What is amazing is that to do this it would need a mighty military power which Israel did not have and could not afford. Another matter is that Jesus, throughout His ministry never ever spoke of being a revolutionist, a militarist or a politician. He was a loving, caring, gentle Shepherd of the Sheep. They ought to have known this.
2) Jesus cleverly stops their thinking without answering the question directly. All He would say is that God’s timing is God’s business.
Ac 1:7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.”
God as the truly Sovereign Being has His own agenda as to how matters will play out. Keep in mind that souls who have been chosen before the creation of the world need to hear the Gospel, believe, confess their sin, be saved and live in repentance. The planet is very young … at best just over 6,000 years old. Who have been chosen? How many must be saved? How long will this take? Only God has the answers to those questions. Get this though … we don’t need to know that! Jesus said … It is not for you to know … He is about to tell them why they do not need to know and we will get there tomorrow … but we need to remember there are no answers to our “religious why questions”.
Dt 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God.
The boss or the leader does not reveal everything to their workers or subjects. God has Divine Plans that He crafted in eternity past for eternity future. Some of these plans He reveals during the history of this world … but not all. We need to accept this and understand it so that we can focus on the task at hand which we will get to tomorrow.
Lord, thank You for Your perfect planning. Help me to keep doing my allocated work. Amen.