April 4, 2022
“So when they had come together, they asked Him, 'Lord, at this time are You restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know...'”
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“So when they had come together, they asked Him, ‘Lord, at this time are You restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set 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, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’” Acts 1:6-8
Virtually every Jew expected that the Messiah would deliver Israel from Roman oppression. The assumption was that Messiah would set up a sovereign, united nation, like those of Kings Saul, David, or Solomon, and again under the Maccabees and their Hasmonean descendants. (164-63 BC) This is clearly seen in John 6:15 when after feeding the 5000, they were on the point of seizing Him to make Him a king.
No one grasped Jesus’ teaching (aka the true messages of the prophets) that He had not come this first time to rule but to die as a “ransom for many” and be resurrected on the third day. (Mark 10:33-34, 45) Even Jesus’ disciples misunderstood and continued to do so after the predicted events had taken place.
It is important to note that the disciples’ question directly pertained to Israel’s national restoration. Jesus did not rebuke them or indicate that God’s plan for Israel had been replaced by “the Church,” as some “Christians” would put forth. He simply indicated it wasn’t time for Israel to reform as a nation. Israel’s national restoration occurred in 1948.
But Israel’s national reformation was not the Lord’s main concern at that moment. (nor would it be for about 1950 years) Rather, He was focused on the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the spreading of His Gospel to the ends of the earth. Jesus was keeping the “main thing” the main thing.
As in the days before Jesus’ ascension to the Father, some people within the Church-at-large are preoccupied with signs and wonders leading up to Jesus’ 2nd coming. Sadly, preoccupation with the “end times” often keeps believers from the “main thing,” which is the continued spreading of the Gospel.
Believers should each receive the Gospel and, with it, the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then, we should share the Gospel with a lost and dying world. We should know God and make Him known. As we read the Bible, we continue to understand God’s character and His requirements of us. With that increasing knowledge and experience of following the Lord comes the responsibility and privilege of participating in the “Great Commission” so that the whole world can know that Jesus the Messiah has redeemed us!