The Government of God on Earth
In the 40 days following Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, He appeared to His disciples and spoke about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). Wouldn’t you love to read a detail account about those teachings in that 40 days? While I don’t find a chapter in the Bible specifically covering this topic, I do find throughout the gospels and epistles teaching about the kingdom of God. Jesus Himself declares “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).
At one point He told them to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the gift His Father promised… the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). When the disciples asked Jesus if He would restore the government of God (restore the kingdom to Israel) in their day, what was His reply?
So when they met together, they asked him,” Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them:” It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”- Acts 1:6-8
It would seem from their question they still did not fully understand the nature of the kingdom of Christ. It seems the disciples, like the Jews, expected the Messiah’s kingdom to be at least in part secular – freeing Israel from the grip of the Roman Empire. The inquiry of the apostles evidently was, whether he would now free them from the bondage of the Romans, and restore them to their former state of freedom and prosperity, as in the times of David and Solomon. See Isaiah 1:26 and Daniel 7:27.
The disciples may have been recalling the Olivet Discourse ( Matthew 24:34-36, Mark 13:30-33, and Luke 21:29-36) where Christ had really addressed this same question. Notice the difference, though, in Matthew and Mark compared to Luke. Jesus had predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and the coming of a New Covenant, but Luke does not mention that his readers would not know the day or hour. Why? Because Luke was writing to a different audience than Matthew and Mark. Luke’s audience was the Jews and Matthew and Mark were writing more to Gentiles, and that day would be better understood by the Jewish people who were to lose their temple and sacrificial system. The significance of that day and hour would be wholly different for the Jews compared to the Gentiles.
His message to them was to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which would teach them the spiritual nature of the kingdom of Christ. They did not need to know the timing of God’s will, rather once they received the power of the Holy Spirit they would thus be enabled to be effective witnesses for Him in all the world. He was discouraging date setting (like we see so much of these days) and focusing instead on sharing the gospel without necessarily knowing the outcome. He had given his disciples instructions for the discharge of their duty, both before his death and since his resurrection, and this knowledge is enough for a Christian.
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” – Acts 1:9-11
We have here a very encouraging message that Jesus will come again. Notice here it says He will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven… in the clouds. In Rev. 1:7 we see him coming with the clouds. In Acts 1:12 we learn the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives. Likewise, we see in Zechariah 13:2-4 the Lord will stand again on the Mount of Olives and The Lord will be king over the whole earth (v.9). Were these two men dressed in white describing His coming back to judge Israel in 70AD and establishing His kingship on earth, or some other future Millennial event thousands of years into the future where He establishes His kingdom?
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. – Ephesians 1:7-10