By directing His disciples to remain in tune with the Spirit and the process of restoration, Jesus offered [Israel] a source of hope amid waiting and expectation.

Coming Kingdom Restoration: God’s Heart for the Restoration of Israel

by Daniel Lim
4 months ago Christian Living

Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)

A theological framework based on the Bride of Christ necessitates a quest for an understanding of the passion of Christ for His people and their restoration. This involves a study of the affections of God, an area often neglected in our formal, rational quests in theology. As we study the heart of God—His loves, His passions, His desires—it develops a passion for Christ and His ministry within our being and mission. It also necessitates the incorporation of the greatest commandment into its core theological framework since biblical covenantal love is its central theological axiom.

According to Luke 2:4, Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea. He became a refugee in Egypt with His family until the death of Herod the Great, and then His family returned to the Holy Land where He grew up in Nazareth, a town west of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus began His public ministry after His baptism by gathering disciples around the Sea of Galilee. Jesus ministered to the Jews and the Gentiles and even to the Samaritans as the region around Galilee and Decapolis was inhabited by many Gentiles. The city of Sepphoris just north of Nazareth was a thriving capital with strong Greco-Roman influence. However, it was obvious that Jesus’ three-and-a-half years of public ministry focused primarily and intentionally on the sons of Israel. He is the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy as the Son of David. During His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on His final visit, the people exclaimed, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Son of David!” (Matthew 15:24–2821:2–11).

St. Luke recorded the account of Jesus’ dialogue with His disciples prior to His ascension. In that dialogue, the disciples were concerned about whether the kingdom of God would be restored to Israel at that time. This question may seem strange to us as, clearly, these disciples had seen the numerous notable miracles and the resurrection of Jesus. Surely they no longer doubted the promises of God for Israel as a nation and her people. Assuming the resurrected Christ was a very clear teacher on truth pertaining to the kingdom of God and there was no dullness in hearing or understanding on the part of the disciples, the question “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” probably arose from information that was not disclosed by Jesus during His teaching.

The issue of the time and season for the restoration of the kingdom of God to Israel was crucial to the disciples as the Hebraic view of their Messiah demanded them to interpret the words of Christ within a spiritual-political framework. The spiritual dimension had become increasingly clear to the disciples after Jesus’ three-and-a-half years of public and private ministry, but the near-term fulfillment of the political dimension of Jesus’ Messianic kingdom was less obvious to them. As the ascension of the resurrected Christ in bodily form drew near, the political solution for Israel under the foreign occupation of the Romans remained a pressing concern for all. This question had direct ramifications to the lives of the Jewish people in Judea and the future of their sacred city, Jerusalem.

As Christians, most of us view the kingdom of God as primarily a spiritual and moral reality, rather than a political reality. For the Israelites who lived under Roman occupation for decades, the message, the miracles, and the resurrection of Jesus must have meant the timing for their full liberation spiritually and politically. With the reality of the historical Egyptian, Babylonian, Grecian, and Roman occupations of Israel—except for a brief period of self-rule under the Maccabees—the Israelites had not experienced meaningful and prolonged political liberty. The Jewish Messiah described by the Old Testament prophets was supposed to bring the kingdom of God and destroy all other kingdoms of beasts (Daniel 27). As Jesus shared with the disciples extensively during the forty days after His resurrection, their longing for the glory of Christ’s kingdom surely increased. Consequently, this question posed by the disciples was valid and relevant.

Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? (Acts 1:6)

Jesus’ answer to His beloved disciples probably puzzled them. Jesus said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:7–8). These perhaps are the most quoted verses in missionary mobilization initiatives throughout the centuries. Although it is valid to apply the truth of these verses in a universal missionary context, these verses actually were meant to address the disciples’ specific question. In many instances, we discuss these verses without taking into account the question the disciples asked in verse 6. The disciples’ question contains three main concerns: the timing, the restoration of the kingdom, and finally, the destiny of Israel. Jesus’ answer to them contains elements that address all three of these concerns.

  • The timing: “when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”
  • The restoration of Christ’s kingdom: “you shall receive power.”
  • The destiny of Israel: “you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria.”

Jesus seemed to point out to His disciples that they can know the timing of the restoration of the kingdom to Israel by observing the timing of the works of the Holy Spirit in empowering them to be witnesses for Jesus from Jerusalem, covering all the territories promised to Israel, then to every tongue and every tribe to the end of the earth.

These disciples probably understood that the process for restoration of Christ’s kingdom to Israel was active during their generation, but the pathway of the process may not be what these disciples expected. The Holy Spirit will advance the kingdom of God from Jerusalem to all nations on the earth so “that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25–26). These words of Jesus, prior to His ascension, were crucial to keeping the disciples in their faith, as a few decades later their hope for political liberation and independence would be completely shattered.¹ With the destruction of Jerusalem and the second temple in AD 70, the Jewish people became a people without a sacred worship center.

By directing His disciples to remain in tune with the Spirit and the process of restoration, Jesus offered them a source of hope amid waiting and expectation. When Jesus said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority,” this was consistent with His words during the Olivet Discourse when He said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36Acts 1:7). In the Hebraic wedding culture, when the bridegroom is ready to go get his bride upon completion of the building of his house, he makes his intention known to his father to obtain blessing for the wedding ceremony. The father is the only one with the authority to give permission to the bridegroom to go receive his bride. The second coming of Jesus is about the Bridegroom returning for His bride: the marriage of the Lamb.

What is stirring your heart about God’s plan to restore the kingdom to Israel?

This is part 1 of a two-part series talking about God’s heart for Israel. Read part 2 here >>

Did you know that we pray for Israel every Tuesday? Join the IHOPKC prayer room on Tuesdays 6–8am, 10am–12pm, and 4–6pm (all times CT) to pray and intercede for God’s purposes for Israel. Stream live at ihopkc.org or on the IHOPKC app (available in the App Store or Google Play).

Notes:
¹The Jewish-Roman war happened around AD 66–70. It ended with the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and her temple. The failed Bar Kochba revolt sixty-five years later resulted in the Emperor renaming the city of Jerusalem and the land of Judea as the city of Aelio Capitolina and the land of Palestina. The Jews were forbidden to enter the city of Jerusalem, and the dispersion of Jewish people continued until the founding of Israel in 1948.

Daniel Lim

position

  • Senior Leader, IHOPKC
  • Facilitator, Onething Global Leadership Summit
Daniel Lim served as the Chief Executive Officer of the International House of Prayer of Kansas City (2008-2020). He was trained at a Baptist seminary (MA in World Missions) and served as a Baptist pastor in Southeast Asia. With a passion for the gospel of the kingdom of God and the glory of Jesus Christ, Daniel teaches at conferences, churches, universities, and seminaries throughout the nations.

Daniel is the author of Bible 360°: Total Engagement with the Word of God. Daniel is married with two children. One of his children went home to be with the Lord in 2008 during a crisis relief effort.

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