“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.” (Act 3:19-21)
The eyes of the world are on the Middle East. We are seeing a conflagration (uncontrolled fire) working its way out from the regions of ancient Babylon. The heat is intense in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Israel, Somalia, Egypt, Syria, Libya, not to speak of all the ‘***istan’ nations of the former Soviet Union. Keep in view that all these nations with the exception of Israel, are Islamic.
So much for all the diatribe on Islam being a religion of peace.
The apostle Peter told the Jewish people that Jesus had been received into heaven and would stay there, but would send times of ‘refreshing’ [special moves of the Holy Spirit] until the period of restoration of all things.
What did he mean by the term restoration? The Greek term ‘apokatastasis‘ means a restitution of a thing to its former condition. This expression denotes the times when the ‘fullness of the Gentiles’ is completed, and the conversion of the Jewish nation is at hand.
This was a primary concern for the Lord’s Hebrew apostles. Jesus clearly taught that the kingdom of God would be taken away from the nation of Israel until the day came when they would say of Him, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
In Acts 1:6, they asked Him,
“‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ Jesus responded, ‘It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.’”
The clock is ticking
This is why May 14, 1948 is so important to redemption history. Israel lost her nationhood in the year 70 a.d. She was brought forth again as a nation in 1948, and took her place among the nations. Thus we have Isa66:8 fulfilled;
“Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons.”
Then we have this from the Lord:
“And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles [other nations] until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:24)
Some like to think that a nation being brought forth all at once has to do with the church. However, this does damage to the prophecy. Notice carefully that it is not simply a nation, but also a land that will be born in one day. The Hebrew for land [’erets] speaks of the earth. The land took on the name Israel on May 14, 1948, and land of Israel once again took her place among the nations of the world.
Without laboring this too much we also need to understand that the nation of Israel today is not the nation she is going to be. The Jews returning to the land is at the heart of Old Testament prophecy. Yet Israel today is largely secular, with Talmudic Judaism in charge of her religious affairs. The fact that Israel is largely secular is not a bad thing in comparison to the Christ-hating Talmudic religion.
(Most Jews do not hate Jesus. There are even Jewish-Christian churches and synagogues in Israel. According to my sources, the number one topic of discussion among Israelis today is about Jesus. The Lord is stirring their hearts. Any hatred towards Jesus and Christians comes largely from Orthodox-Talmudic Judaism.)
The mystery of the dry bones
When God spoke to Ezekiel about the dry bones, it had to do with the restored captivity of that time. However, it had a deeper meaning that would reach forward to the day when Israel turns to Jesus, and call upon Him as their Lord and Savior..
“He said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ And I answered, ‘O Lord GOD, You know.’ Again He said to me, ‘Prophesy over these bones and say to them, “O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.”’
“Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. ‘I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the LORD.’” (Eze 37:3-6)
Now lets combine two Scriptures, one from the old and the other from the new. Both with the same goal.
First Zechariah 12:10:
“I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me [This is Yahweh speaking] whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him [Jesus the crucified One], and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him [Jesus] like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”
Now Romans 11:25-27:
“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery — so that you will not be wise in your own estimation — that a partial hardening has happened to Israel [the Christ-rejecting nation group] until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved [nation group looks to Jesus]; just as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’”
The sins of the Christ-rejecting Israel can only be taken away when they come to faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ.
The message to Israel has never changed. When Peter addressed the Jewish leadership, this is what he said:
“He [Jesus] is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Act 4:11-12)
No one can ever be saved aside from receiving Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as both Lord and Savior. There are no exceptions.
A house restored
Let’s come back to what Peter said about the times of restoration:
“…that He [the Father] may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.” (Acts 3:20,21)
The Greek term for ‘period‘ is chronos. It speaks of a particular time or space or season of events.
The Greek term for ‘restoration‘ is a double compound. It is only used here. But interestingly enough it is also used by Flavius Josephus for the return of the Jews from captivity, and for the restoration of the year of Jubilee. That is the how the term was understood during the time of Christ.
The period of refreshing and restoration that Peter speaks of has a dual focus. It includes the Church being refreshed during her journey on heart. And while the Church is being prepared for her departure, the Jewish people are being gathered to the land of Israel to fulfill her prophesied purposes. Hence, God is working with the Jews and with the Christians.
For the Jew there is a period of tribulation they must endure before the Savior comes out of Zion. The Bible also gives place for a pseudo-Church during the last hours of this age. (Pseudo refers to something that appears to be true but is not. A false pretender.)
The true church refers to those who are inborn of the Spirit and will not follow anyone other than Jesus, in spite of signs and wonders. The true Church will make her departure from the earth at the proper time. The pseudo Church will follow after lying wonders.
Tears for Jerusalem
Let’s listen to some of the last words that Jesus spoke over Jerusalem.
“When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44)
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me UNTIL you say, ‘Blessed is He [Jesus] who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Matt23:37,38)
So, will the kingdom of God be restored to Israel? Will Israel really turn to the Lord Jesus and become part with His people? Can it be proved by the Scriptures? I believe it can. For your extra study consider these Scriptures: Isaiah 1:26; Jeremiah 23:3-6; Hosea 3:4,5; 5:15; 6:1-3.
That’s it for now.
Here is your song. Let the Lord refresh your heart. ‘There’s a Promise Coming Down’ by Joy Gardner…