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Monday, November 7, 2011

Restoration of All Things

Restoration of All Things

"Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago." Acts 3:21 (ESV)

HEAVEN: ouranos (the sky, the abode of God, implying happiness, power, eternity); from oros (a mountain); from oro (to rise or rear)

RECEIVE: dechomai (to receive, to take or accept)

Jesus is physically in heaven, decribed as being in the sky, implying separated from earth and unreachable by mortal humans.

Luke described Jesus as being "taken up" (Acts 1:2). Later, Luke said that Jesus had been "raised up", using a different word that means to lift or sail away (Acts 1:9). Being raised up involved being carried upward by a cloud, taken up out of sight. Angels explained to the disciples that Jesus would "come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven".

RESTORING: apokatastasis (reconstitution); from apokathistemi (to reconstitute in health, home or organization); from apo (off or away) and kathistemi (to place down, designate, constitute, convoy); from histemi (to stand)

"Restoration of all things" would begin with the reappearance of Christ, descending from a cloud onto earth: the same way as he was taken up into heaven.

What are "all the things"? Luke says that God inspired prophets to foretell the restoration of "all the things". What did the prophets prophesy?

The final question that the disciples asked Jesus shortly before He was lifted up into heaven, was "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6).

One central part, then, of "all things" to be restored would be the royal government of Israel. Israel would be a sovereign nation under the rule of a king.

The prophet Micah spoke of this:

"In that day, declares the Lord, I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away and those whom I have afflicted; and the lame I will make the remnant, and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time forth and forevermore. And you, O tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, the former dominion shall come, kingship for the daughter of Jerusalem." Micah 4:6-8 (ESV)

Daniel described his vision of Christ's everlasting dominion:

"I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." Daniel 7:13-14 (ESV)

Isaiah boldly declared that there would be a govenment founded upon Christ:

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore." Isaiah 9:6-7 (ESV)

The apostle John was given a vision of this eternal kindom:

"Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever. And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth." Revelation 11:15-18 (ESV)

These references support the idea that "all things" includes primarily, if not entirely, the reign of Jesus Christ over all the earth, including the nation of Israel.

Isaiah said that this kingdom would begin at the sound of the seventh angel's trumpet, saying that Christ's kingdom "has become" the kingdom of the world, with Christ reigning forever and ever.

What do you think? What current circumstances or events do you see right now that supports our belief that Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords? How do you imagine the world will appear when Christ physically reigns over the world?

There is much conjecture about the timing of all this. Many feel that the physical reign of Christ over the earth is a yet-future event. Many feel that the prophecies have already been fulfilled spiritually at the cross of Christ with His resurrection from the dead.

The events described in Revelation could easily have already occurred. Perhaps the past events are foreshadows of future events.

However, the timing does not matter.

Jesus plainly told His disciples not to conjecture or predict:

"So when they had come together, they asked him, Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? He said to them, It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority." Acts 1:6-7 (ESV)

Jesus Christ is King Almighty over all the earth, right now! This moment He is Sovereign Ruler and Supreme Authority.

It is easy to see entire populations of people still in rebellion or apathetically ignorant of the authority and kingship of Christ. "Restoration of all things" most likely does refer to the final judgement, resulting in punishment and reward at the hand of the Almighty Lord of Lords.

Yet, we cannot forget that even now, Christ is King. How did Jesus respond to the disciple's question about timing?

"It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed 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 and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Acts 1:7-8 (ESV)

Right now, Christ is King, and His Holy Spirit indwells every believer, urging and equipping them to witness to others of the authority and character of Christ. That is all we need to know about when all things will be restored.

The remaining verses in this chapter of the Book of Acts that describes "restoration of all things" should affect us right now:

"Moses said, The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people. And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness." Acts 3:22-26 (ESV)

What do you think? What parts of "restoration of all things" can be true right now of individual Christians?

Peter regarded Jesus Christ as a Prophet like Moses. Like Moses, Jesus expected complete obedience. Like Moses, Jesus was given authority under God, even to the point of judgement and punishment. Jesus was the fulfillment of the promise given by God to Abraham: "And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed."

Jesus was, Jesus is, Jesus always will be, God's Servant, sent to bless us by rescuing us from our doom of sin.

"[Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21 (ESV)

What do you think? Imagine someone recording your daily life, as for a reality-based documentary film or television show. What would they see happening that could be directly connected with your desire to regard Jesus Christ as your King?

Image of castle courtesy of Dimitri Castrique (www.thebend.be/personal/.

Image of cloud courtesy of Patrick Hajzler.

Images modified by GIMP.