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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Restoration

RESTORATION

"So when they had come together, they asked him, 'Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?'" Acts 1:6

RESTORE: "Apokathistemi", to reconstitute (in health, home or organization); from "apo" (off or away) and "kathistemi" (to place down (permanently) and "histemi" (to stand)

The Greek word for restore meant to reconstitute, a rebuilding of something that once stood. The word carries the idea of placing something that will stand permanently.

The early Christians expected Jesus to destroy the ruthless, godless rule of the Romans, bringing the nation of Israel back to its former glory as a world power.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? What biblical evidence can you remember that describes the nation of Israel as a world power?

The last chapter of the last book of the Old Testament foretells of a day of victory and vengeance by God against all unrighteousness:

"For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts." Malachi 4:1-3

Malachi prophesied that God's victorious triumph over wickedness would be heralded by a return of the great prophet, Elijah.

"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction." Malachi 4:1-6

Rumors identified Jesus as being Elijah:

"When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?' And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'" Matthew 16:13-14

Jesus acknowledged the prediction of the return of Elijah, but His interpretation was not at all what His disciples expected:

"Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands. Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist." Matthew 17:10-13

Jesus said that John the Baptist was Elijah, although there still remained yet a more future reappearance of Elijah that would bring restoration.

An angel made it very clear to Zechariah that his son would be given "the spirit and power" of Elijah:

"Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared." Luke 1:13-17

"Restoration", then, involves more than one instance or period of time. There will indeed be a restoration of Israel's glory and power as a nation, but it will be as part of a restoration that began with the ministry of John the Baptist and continues now with the ministry of God's Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of all who are called, converted, and commissioned by Jesus Christ. The restoration of all things back to their rightful place and order under God will be completed when the new earth and heaven are created and God Almighty rules over all through His Son Jesus Christ and all those given to Him.

"The day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed." 2 Peter 3:10

"But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." 2 Peter 3:13

"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness." Isaiah 65:17-18

The disciples of Jesus were not wrong to expect a coming restoration of glory and power for God's people. Their error was in a too narrow understanding of how spiritual restoration would look, and when it would come.

"It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority." Acts 1:7

WHAT DO YOU THINK? What abuse or perversion would we likely pursue were we to know the precise "times or seasons" of God's plans? How is God glorified by His concealing exact dates and times from human knowledge?

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Does your personal theology allow for a yet future physical return of Christ and a victorious establishment of a righteous earthly kingdom? Or is God's kingdom exclusively a spiritual one with the Holy Spirit of Christ reigning in the hearts of those in His Church?

Image courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu/profile/ColinBroug