Acts 1:6-11 Israel, the Holy Spirit, and the Second Coming
Let's get ready for our second study. This is Acts002 (1:6-11) Israel, the Holy Spirit, and the Second Coming.
"So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, 'Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?' He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.' And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.'"
We are still in the pre-Pentecost stage where the disciples are receiving final instructions prior to the ascension of Jesus. These pre-Pentecost happenings are crucial to to understanding of the entire book of Acts, and to the future development of the Christian faith. Within the Scriptures for this study are several embryonic doctrines that are central to the faith of believers.
Let's view the Scriptures one by one.
Vs6: "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?"
This one small Scripture speaks to the history of the Church age. The new covenant begins in Israel, and it completes itself in Israel. Remember I said in the first study to keep in mind verse 3, where it says that Jesus was; "appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God."
For forty days the Lord had been instructing the apostles on the issue of the kingdom of God. So the question they asked did not come out of ignorance. The Lord very plainly taught them that the kingdom of God was being removed from Israel. But He also taught them that the kingdom of God would be restored to Israel at some point. This is why they asked, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?"
But to appreciate this even more, we need to understand what the term 'kingdom of God' really means. This term speaks of the direct rule of God. When a person is born again, they come under the direct rule of God through Christ. But as for Israel, Israel had been God's visible kingdom in the earth ever since its founding as a nation.
The Lord instructed Moses, saying, "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." (Exo19:6) And so Israel was to be God's visible kingdom. He would dwell among them. They would represent Him.
When Israel rejected their Messiah, the direct rule of God was taken from them. Jesus said, "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it." (Matt21:53) And again, "Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Luke 13:5)
Will Israel receive Jesus Christ as her Messiah? Yes indeed. We will get into that as the study progresses.
Vs7: "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by his own authority."
The Lord's response is simple, but the implication is simple; 'Yes, Israel will once again come under the direct rule of God, but that time isn't for you to concern yourself with for now. It is fixed.'
Vs8: "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you..."
The power Jesus is speaking of is the power of new life. In the new covenant, all believers are imbued with the very life of Jesus. This life manifests itself according to the need.
"... and you shall be My witnesses..."
Witnesses (martus) is where we get our word martyr. But 'martus' also speaks of a witnesser, or the one who gives evidence. However, it can extend itself with the idea of a person who is the evidence. So the apostles weren't simply to bear witness to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, they would also become the evidence of the same. This evidence would spread into tll the nations until the end is come.
An example of this is how a man named, Saul, the hater of all things Christian, could be turned into a Paul, the great lover of Jesus Christ and of the Christian faith.
"... even to the remotest part of the earth."
The Christian faith was never intended to be locked up in an institutionalized religion. It is a living and vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. It was to spread throughout all the earth. And it has done this well.
A good example of this is when the Vikings plundered Christian England, they took to themselves Christian slave girls. On their return home, they married these girls, and, in turn, became Christians themselves. True Biblical Christianity carries its own witness. These girls were imbued with the Spirit of Christ.
Vs9: "After He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight."
The disciples stood there mesmerized. What they did not see was what happened when Jesus went out of their sight. The book of Daniel describes this scene from the heavenly side; "I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed." (Dan7:13,14)
Vss10,11: "...two men in white clothing stood beside them ... 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.'"
Here is something that should prove interesting. The ancient Jews had a saying that when Messiah comes, if Israel is worthy, He will come on the clouds. If Israel is unworthy, He will come on a donkey.
Here are some quotes from the Babylonian Talmud; "R. Nahman said to R. Yitzhaq: 'Have you perhaps heard when Bar Nifle ['Son of the Clouds'] will come?' He answered: 'Who is Bar Nifle?' R. Nahman said: 'The Messiah.' R. Yitzhaq said: 'You call the Messiah Bar Nifle?' He said: 'Yea, for it is written, 'On that day I shall raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen.'"
"R. Alexandria said: 'R. Y'hoshua'a ben Levi explained: ... 'If they will be righteous, [the Messiah will come] on the clouds of heaven; if they will not be righteous, [he will come] as a poor man riding upon an ass.'"
What think ye? Will Israel be worthy at the second coming of Jesus? Think about it.
This study was originally part of a series on the book of Acts given to members of Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003. They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.
Page added October 22, 2004
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