When will Israel’s kingdom be restored?
In the 12th of 15 arguments against the idea that Christ now reigns upon the throne of David in this article, George Zeller discussed the question that the disciples asked Jesus in Acts 1:6-8, about whether he would now restore the kingdom to Israel. Jesus said it was not for them to know the times and seasons. Zeller wrote:
“When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt Thou at this time RESTORE AGAIN THE KINGDOM TO ISRAEL? And He said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:6-8).
Please observe what the Lord did not say. He did not say this: “In not many days I will sit down on David’s throne and the kingdom will be re-established!” No, the kingdom would be restored to Israel, but not yet. God’s new program, the church, was about to begin. When God restores the kingdom to Israel, Jerusalem will be the CENTER POINT. In God’s new program, the church, Jerusalem is merely the STARTING POINT as Christ’s witnesses go forth to the uttermost part of the earth.
The things the disciples preached after the resurrection were not a new program, as Zeller suggests above, but were things that had been foretold in the prophets, although now they were understood in a new way. Luke tells how after Jesus rose up from the grave he revealed himself to the disciples, and showed them how his crucifixion was the fulfillment of prophecy.
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
And ye are witnesses of these things.
These were the things the disciples were witnesses to in the years following. Peter showed that Christ was reigning in his heavenly kingdom, and had been made Lord over all. He said, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” [Acts 2:36]
Having been made “Christ” meant that he fulfilled the prophecies about a king who was to reign on the throne of David forever.
In the synoptic gospels, several events indicate that during the ministry of Jesus the kingdom was expected to come in a literal, earthly fashion. [Matthew 18:1; 20:21; Mark 11:9-11]
Jesus indicated the kingdom was imminent, “at hand,” and even that it “had come.” He said to the Jews, “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” [Matthew 12:28] He taught the disciples to expect it to appear in their lifetimes. “Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.” [Mark 9:1]
At the last supper, he said that he would not drink wine again, until he did so with them in the kingdom of God. [Mark 14:25]
After Acts 1:6-8, there is no further mention of the kingdom being established in an earthly, literal manner; they understood it had come, and Jesus was now reigning in heaven. Jesus was a king reigning among his saints, who also became kings and priests. This was the message of the disciples, and it was confirmed by many miracles during the first century. Jesus had told them, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” [Matthew 28:18]
Paul said Jesus had been given all authority and power, and he was “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” [Ephesians 1:21-23]
Many dispensationalists today abide in a kind of partial unbelief, because they do not recognize Christ as the king who reigns on David’s throne; and because they ignore Paul’s teaching that unbelieving Jews are cut off, because they reject Christ and the gospel, according to the law. From what are they cut off? Israel. They were no longer included in the Israel of God. “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” [Acts 3:23] Paul said they are branches broken off, no longer attached to their tree. [Romans 11:17-19]
Dispensationalists also fail to recognize that the kingdom where Jesus reigns is in heavenly Jerusalem, which is his church; Jerusalem was raised up, and established in the tops of the mountains, and exulted above the hills, as foretold in Isaiah 2:2, when Jesus ascended to heaven. It is “the city of the great King.” [Matthew 5:35]