So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking Him, “Lord, has the time come for You to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Acts 1:6-8
Why does Jesus dismiss the disciples question so quickly and easily? I have already told you (or pointed you to) a number of reasons why. The disciples’ concern is over the timing and where this is all going to happen. To both questions, Jesus answers rather lightly. He doesn’t stop to give them a full and complete answer because a full and complete answer is not necessary. As to the ‘when’ (their question in verse 6 above) he simply says, “the times are not for you to know.” I have talked to you about this before. Jesus has simply said all through Luke’s Gospel – it could come at anytime, make sure you are ready. In response to the question ‘where’ (covered in Gems 1103 and 1107 – yet to be posted) Jesus simply says, “It will be obvious. You won’t have to ask.” But we can take this a stage further on the basis of the difference in Jesus’ focus on the Kingdom of God and the disciples’ focus on the Kingdom of Israel. So which is it Lord? When will it be and where will it be?
I will leave the specific location for a moment and focus on something much wider, related to the discrepancy between the term the disciples use and the term Jesus uses. The disciples, the pharisees and all Israelites (Jews) are focused on the Kingdom of Israel. They long to see the restoration of the days of Israel as it was under David and Solomon’s rule. When Israel was at her strongest and richest and largest geographical extent in her history. Oh, bring back those glory days Father God. Restore to us the Kingdom of Israel. Isn’t that why King Messiah is coming? You told us that there would always be one of David’s descendants on the throne. The palace has gone but we are still waiting for a King and we are counting on Messiah to overthrow the Roman tyranny. Isn’t that what God wants in order to make His name great in the earth? So usher in the Kingdom, Lord. That is what we are all waiting for. That is what God wants too, isn’t it? The astute ones among you will already be a step ahead of me in my Gems writing. You will be expecting what I am about to unfold for you, I am sure.
Do some verses come to your mind related to what God thinks of all of this? It comes instantly to my mind. Is God’s focus on the Kingdom of Israel? A pithy question isn’t it? The simple answer is No. How can I say that, when the Bible is filled with references to Israel as a nation, the kings of Israel and more especially Judah and the magnificence of the Kingdom that was established. The Bible is full of prophecies related to the restoration of Israel and the Kingdom. Oh yes it is, but realise there is a major difference between God’s perspective and Jewish aspirations and desires. There are many times when God intends for something to happen and we get involved and become part of His work. Then we own it with a passion and pride ourselves in the fact that we are doing God’s work. It is a trap that all of us fall into at one time or another.
Let me illustrate powerfully from the life of Abraham. God tells Abraham over and over that He will give him a son and from that son he will have many descendants and God will bless them and make them a mighty nation. Through that nation God will bless all the people of the earth. It is a major reoccurring theme of the Bible. You are blessed to be a blessing. Abraham has a son and Abraham has another son. The first son is Ishmael, gained by Abraham and Sarah’s own methods. The second son is Isaac, the son gained in accordance with God’s promise. Then God tells Abraham to go and take his son and sacrifice him on the mountain top. Hang on a moment. You want me to sacrifice the thing you promised? You want me to kill him, God? Do you understand the depth of what is happening here? Many times God asked us to give up the thing that is most dear to us. To the vision and goal that we are focused on, to die a spiritual death in order for it to come back to us. But there is way more to this than you might suspect. Notice what God tells Abraham at the time of all this happening.
“Abraham take your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain that I will show you.”Genesis 22:2
Wow, that must have been such a shock to Abraham. God was asking Abraham to give back to Him the very thing he (Abraham) held dear. God often does that. Oh, there is so much for me to comment on in this verse. Don’t forget the symbolism and Isaac as a burnt offering. That too is huge. But in this Gem I only wish to comment on the words “take your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac.” Notice the way this description stacks up.
Your only son,
whom you love,
That construction is hugely important. These are all noun or noun phrases in apposition, building on the stack to increase the significance of what is being said. Do you get it? To this statement of God’s, Abraham could have responded, “But God, which one? I have two sons. Which do you want me to sacrifice. . . . Oh no, not that one Lord. He is the one You gave me. Not Him! He is the son of the Promise.” Notice again God’s description. “Take your son, YOUR ONLY SON.” What God is saying here is that Isaac is the ONLY ONE God recognises. He could have said to Abraham, “Yes that one there. The other one is of your doing, not mine.” God does not recognise the fruits of the work of the flesh. It’s as though they don’t exist.
So why have I told you all this? Aren’t you getting side-tracked on this Ian? I thought we were talking about the kingdom of Israel vs the Kingdom of God. Once again the astute ones will know where I am headed with this. Take a look at the following verses and weigh them up in the light of what I have just told you. Meditate on them and let the truth of something monumental sink deep into your spirit. Take a moment to capture an important principle of God.
- Gen_36:31 Now these are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the sons of Israel.
- Num_23:21 “He has not observed misfortune in Jacob; Nor has He seen trouble in Israel; The LORD his God is with him, And the shout of a king is among them.
- Deut_3:3 “So the LORD our God delivered Og also, king of Bashan, with all his people into our hand, and we smote them until no survivor was left.
- Deut_17:14 “When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,’
- Deut_17:15 you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.
- Deut_28:36 “The LORD will bring you and your king, whom you set over you, to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone.
- Joshua_10:30 The LORD gave it also with its king into the hands of Israel, and he struck it and every person who was in it with the edge of the sword. He left no survivor in it. Thus he did to its king just as he had done to the king of Jericho.
- Jdg_3:12 Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD.
- Jdg_9:8 “Once the trees went forth to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us!’
- Jdg_9:15 “The bramble said to the trees, ‘If in truth you are anointing me as king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, may fire come out from the bramble and consume the cedars of Lebanon.’
- Jdg_17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.
- Jdg_18:1 In those days there was no king of Israel; and in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking an inheritance for themselves to live in, for until that day an inheritance had not been allotted to them as a possession among the tribes of Israel.
- Jdg_21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
- 1 Sam_2:10 “Those who contend with the LORD will be shattered; Against them He will thunder in the heavens, The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; And He will give strength to His king, And will exalt the horn of His anointed.”
- 1 Sam_8:5 and they said to him, “Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.”
- 1 Sam_8:6 But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD.
- 1 Sam_8:7 The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.
- 1 Sam_8:9 “Now then, listen to their voice; however, you shall solemnly warn them and tell them of the procedure of the king who will reign over them.”
- 1 Sam_8:10 So Samuel spoke all the words of the LORD to the people who had asked of him a king.
- 1 Sam_8:11 He said, “This will be the procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots.
- 1 Sam_8:18 “Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.”
- 1 Sam_8:19 Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, “No, but there shall be a king over us,
- 1 Sam_8:20 that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
- 1 Sam_8:22 The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to their voice and appoint them a king.”
- 1 Sam_12:12 “When you saw that Nahash the king of the sons of Ammon came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ although the LORD your God was your king.
- 1 Sam_12:13 “Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen, whom you have asked for, and behold, the LORD has set a king over you.
- 1 Sam_12:17 “Is it not the wheat harvest today? I will call to the LORD, that He may send thunder and rain. Then you will know and see that your wickedness is great which you have done in the sight of the LORD by asking for yourselves a king.”
- 1 Sam_12:19 Then all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, so that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil by asking for ourselves a king.”
- Exo_19:6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”
- Deu_17:20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel.
- 1Sa_11:14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come and let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there.”
- 1 Sa_13:13 Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, for now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.
- 1 Sa_13:14 “But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”
- 1 Sa_24:20 “Now, behold, I know that you will surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hand.
- 1 Sa_28:17 “The LORD has done accordingly as He spoke through me; for the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbour, to David.
- 2 Sa_7:12″When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.
- 2 Sa_7:13 “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
- 1 Ki_9:5 then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, just as I promised to your father David, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’
- 1 Ki_11:11 So the LORD said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant.
- 1 Ch_17:11 “When your days are fulfilled that you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up one of your descendants after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom.
- 1 Ch_17:14 “But I will settle him in My house and in My kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.”‘”
- 2 Ch_12:1 When the kingdom of Rehoboam was established and strong, he and all Israel with him forsook the law of the LORD.
- 2 Ch_13:8 “So now you intend to resist the kingdom of the LORD through the sons of David, being a great multitude and having with you the golden calves which Jeroboam made for gods for you.
- Psa_22:28 For the kingdom is the LORD’S And He rules over the nations.
- Psa_145:12 To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom.
- Psa_145:13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.
- Dan_2:44 “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.
- Dan_4:3 “How great are His signs And how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom And His dominion is from generation to generation.
- Dan_5:26 “This is the interpretation of the message: ‘MENE’–God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it.
- Dan_5:28 ” ‘PERES’–your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”
- Amo_9:8 “Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, And I will destroy it from the face of the earth; Nevertheless, I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob,” Declares the LORD.
- Oba_1:21 The deliverers will ascend Mount Zion To judge the mountain of Esau, And the kingdom will be the LORD’S.
We will discuss this more in the following Gem when the importance of these verses and my opening remarks above have shed some light on what is going on here.
Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you.Jesus
In fact, we don’t even have to ask for them, they’re automatically given to us when we put God’s kingdom ahead of our own.Bob Gass
If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God first, it will make no difference in the end what you have chosen instead.William Law
The person who does not seek the kingdom first does not seek it at all, regardless of how worthy the idolatry that he or she has substituted for it.Richard Foster
Christ’s Kingdom is extended ONLY THRU HIS CHURCH – the only organisation he gave his authority & keys of the kingdom to!Rick Warren