TITLE: Israel, the Church, and the Question (Aug. 10, 2014)
By Gary Davidman
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"Lord, are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?"
A few weeks before this question was asked, Yeshua (Jesus) had arisen from the dead. His disciples greeted the news with shock, disbelief, and amazement (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:11, Luke 24:37-41). Never mind the fact that they'd been warned by Him ahead of time that these things (His death, and His resurrection) would happen--they were in absolute "shock and awe" when they saw it with their own eyes. And who can blame them? You and I probably wouldn't have done much better in similar circumstances.
Luke 24:41 reveals that they were in disbelief partly because of being in a state of ecstasy! Again, who can blame them? We all know the experience of receiving news that's "too good to be true." And why was this news so unbelievably good to them? The answer lies in part in the question--the one quoted above.
This question had been being asked by prophets and other god-fearing men and women for centuries prior. Ever since the decline of David's empire, the Jewish people had been wistfully longing for a return to the "good old days." And God promised many, many times that not only would David's dynasty be restored, but it would far outshine what had once been. So deeply does God want to ingrain this glorious promise into the psyche of the Jewish nation that He establishes it through many witnesses (as the Torah commands--Deuteronomy 19:15)--including, among others, Isaiah (Isaiah 11), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 33:19-26;), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 34:23-30; 37:21-28), and Amos (Amos) 9:11-15.
So now we come to the scene in Acts 1:6. The disciples are seeing what they think is the fulfillment of a centuries-old promise right in front of their eyes. Can you understand why this was a too-good-to-be-true moment?
Many of us have been taught that the disciples' hopes were misplaced. They should have understood (so we've been told) that Jesus' purpose in dying and being resurrected was not to restore Israel, but open up the way for all men everywhere to be saved. To be sure, He did die and rise again to "bring many sons into glory" (Hebrews 2:10). But nowhere in Jesus' answer to the question does He imply that He has no intention of restoring the Davidic kingdom. He doesn't even rebuke them for asking the question! He simply says, "Guys, it's not for you to know" (paraphrase of Acts 1:7).
Did you hear me? They weren't rebuked for asking the question!
This past weekend, my wife and I attended a church conference that dealt with the need for restoring the church. Everything about this conference--the musical worship, the teaching, the personal ministry--was life-transforming. We were reminded of some desperately-needed truths.
But for all the teaching and preaching on restoring the church, nary a word was spoken about restoring the Kingdom to Israel.
Do you want to see the Church come into the destiny She was intended for? Do you want to see your own life come into the destiny you were intended for? If so, then I implore you: start asking this question! Ask God to reveal His Messiah to the Jewish people--both in Israel and in the diaspora (the nations of the world). Ask Him to raise up Jewish apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to equip the Body of Christ. Ask Him to birth this not only through you, but through those in your believing community. If you do, you may just find your congregation--and your own very life--begin to come into the purpose for which it was intended!
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