In this short study, I will seek to establish that the consummative restoration of Israel was accomplished in the first century, and therefore Israel has received her Messianic Kingdom.
This study is not based on the doctrine of “replacement theology” which teaches that national Israel was “cut off” at the cross due to her national rejection of Jesus and replaced by the church as the new “people of God”, and therefore the promises of kingdom and restoration made to Israel are no longer Israel’s, but instead belong to the church. In my opinion, this is a misunderstanding of the scriptures.(Romans 11:1-2)
This study is also not based on the doctrine of “postponement theology” which teaches that the promises of Israel’s national restoration and kingdom were postponed due to her national rejection of Jesus, but will still be fulfilled in the future once the “church age” ends and God once again resumes his covenantal dealings with Israel. In my opinion, this is also a misunderstanding of the scriptures. (Acts 2:22-24)
This study is based on the doctrine of “realized theology” or “realized eschatology” which teaches that the promises of national restoration and kingdom made to Israel were in fact fulfilled to “Israel according to the flesh” in the first century. This means that all promises made to Israel have been fulfilled in the righteous remnant while she still remained the covenant people of God according to physical descent, that is, while she existed under the old covenant prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the “casting out” of the old covenant and her sons (Galatians 4).
We will look at several texts which prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the remnant of Israel (consisting of all 12 tribes) was being restored and was receiving her kingdom in the first century. (all scripture in the NASB)
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. (Acts 2:1-5)
I suggest that the events of Pentecost understood in the context of Acts chapter 1 is powerful evidence that Israel’s messianic restoration had begun. So, in order to understand Pentecost, we must begin in Acts 1.
So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)
We might do well to ask the following question. Why did the disciples ask this question at this time? In other words, what prompted them to ask Jesus about the restoration of Israel ? Was it something Jesus had said? I believe in fact it was, let’s take a look….
On the day of the resurrection, two confused and disillusioned disciples met the risen Lord on their way to the village of Emmaus and spoke of their hope which had been shattered, a feeling which I’m sure was shared among the rest of the disciples
And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel….” (Luke 24:19-2)
It should be evident that these disciples were confused about the nature of Israel’s redemption. In their mind, the rejection by the Jews which led to the death of Jesus had crushed their kingdom hopes. They obviously though (incorrectly) that Jesus was going to establish a literal earthly kingdom in Jerusalem and squash the power of the Roman oppressors with a “rod of iron”. They were looking for a kingdom like the other nations, but Jesus had said “my kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Nor did they yet understand that the rejection of the Jews and the death of Jesus was the official initiation of the eschatological (last days) restoration of the kingdom to Israel and that the rejection by the masses was necessary for the restoration and salvation of the remnant. But that was all about to change. Jesus would spend the next forty days with his disciples correcting their concepts of the nature of the kingdom and opening their understanding of the scriptures.
Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45)
To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)
Here is what we need to understand. Prior to the forty days with Jesus, the disciples were still confused and disillusioned about the nature of the kingdom of God and the restoration (redemption) of Israel. But now they had just spent forty days with Jesus who had divinely opened their understanding to the things concerning the kingdom of God. Wouldn’t you agree that the disciples are no longer in the dark concerning the kingdom? Doesn’t it just make sense that the disciples would now have a proper and inspired understanding of the nature of the kingdom and of the restoration of Israel? I’m convinced that they would have.
So at the end of the forty days, Jesus says the following words (stated slightly different in Luke than in Acts)
And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49)
Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5)
It is in this context and in response to Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit that the disciples as the question “…. Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” We are now back to the question we asked above…. “what prompted them to ask about the restoration of Israel?” I suggest it was the words of Jesus, as they now understood the old testament “source and fountain” from which he was drawing.
It was Jesus’ mention of the coming “Spirit” which caused the disciples to immediately think of Israel’s restoration to the kingdom, and rightly so. To the first century Jew who was familiar with their scriptures, the giving of the Spirit to Israel would mean that their Messianic restoration had begun.
Here are at two scriptures (of many) that support this claim.
For the land of my people in which thorns and briars shall come up; Yea, for all the joyful houses and for the jubilant city. Because the palace has been abandoned, the populated city forsaken. Hill and watch-tower have become caves forever, A delight for wild donkeys, a pasture for flocks; Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high, And the wilderness becomes a fertile field, And the fertile field is considered as a forest. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness. And righteousness will abide in the fertile field. And the work of righteousness will be peace, And the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever. Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, And in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places. (Isaiah 32:13-18)
Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.’…. “Therefore, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land….. They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever” (Ezekiel 37:11-26)
In both these texts, Isaiah and Ezekiel connect the time of Israel’s consummative restoration with the time when they would receive the Spirit. Ezekiel also says that the making of the “everlasting covenant” (Hebrews 13:20) would be at the same time, meaning that Israel’s restoration would come through the new covenant.
Therefore, besides the obvious reference to Joel 2 (indicating that the last days were present and the day of the Lord was at hand), the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on Israel on the day of Pentecost was powerful proof that her Messianic restoration had begun, and her new covenant was being established.
Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn with an oath to seat one of His descendants on his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’ Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:29-36)
In this text Apostle Peter is drawing primarily from two old testament scriptures.
First, when he says “that God had sworn with an oath to seat one of His descendants on his throne”, he is citing 2 Samuel 7.
When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2 Samuel 7:12-13)
This of course is the Davidic covenant. God had promised David to set one of his descendants on his throne, to establish his kingdom, and to build a “house” (the Messianic temple not made with hands). Peter tells us that through the resurrection and ascension of Jesus (the Seed of David), that David’s throne was now occupied by the King of Israel…. “he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ…. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.”
But that’s not it for Acts 2, Peter also said….
“….and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’ (Acts 2:33-35)
Not only did Jesus’ ascension fulfil the oath of 2 Samuel 7:12-13, but it also fulfilled the promise of the Spirit in Psalm 110.
David by the Spirit said “The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” (Psalm 110:1). Psalm 110 is about Jesus, the King and High-Priest of Israel taking his rightful throne and beginning to rule and reign in the midst of his enemies. His people would “volunteer freely” in the day of his power, but he would shatter his enemies in the day of his wrath (verses 3, 5)
By Peter saying that through his ascension Jesus had fulfilled 2 Samuel 7:12-13, he was saying that the Davidic kingdom, and the new Messianic temple had begun to be established. And, by Peter saying that through his ascension Jesus had fulfilled Psalm 110, Peter is saying that Jesus as both Lord and Christ was now in the process of both establishing the new covenant as mediator and his priest, and subduing his enemies as a footstool under his feet.
Before we move to our next text, allow me to make one more point related to our text in Acts 2. The old testament is clear that when Jesus was raised up (resurrected) to sit as King on David’s throne it would be the time of the restoration of all 12 tribes of Israel.
Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely, And do justice and righteousness in the land. “In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness.’ (Jeremiah 23:5-6)
Therefore, the ascension of Jesus to the throne of David is powerful and definitive proof that the consummative restoration of Israel had in fact begun. Not a restoration to the physical land of Palestine or to an earthly throne, but restoration to a kingdom not of this world and to covenantal relationship in Jesus Christ.
After they had stopped speaking, James answered, saying, “Brethren, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name. With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written, after these things, I will return, and I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen, and I will rebuild its ruins and I will restore it, so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the gentiles who are called by my name. (Acts 15:13-17)
James is of course quoting the prophet Amos….
“In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, And wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins, And rebuild it as in the days of old; That they may possess the remnant of Edom. And all the nations who are called by My name,” Declares the Lord who does this. (Amos 9:11-12)
Both Amos and James said that the calling of the gentiles into the blessings of Israel was proof that the restoration of Israel was taking place. Notice his words again….” I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen, and I will rebuild its ruins and I will restore it, so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord…”.
The rebuilding of the tabernacle of David was so that the gentiles could be saved. In other words, if the tabernacle of David was not being restored, than the gentiles would never received the gospel. (this is powerful proof in itself that Israel has been restored, after all, we are saved aren’t we?)
So the question is, what is the tabernacle of David that James is referring to, and how was it “fallen down” ?
Now therefore, O Lord God, the word that You have spoken concerning Your servant and his house, confirm it forever, and do as You have spoken, that Your name may be magnified forever, by saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel’; and may the house of Your servant David be established before You. (2 Samuel 7:25-26)
David’s prayer was that the house the Lord promised him would be established according the his promise.
Next we see the house of David established under the reign of his son Solomon.
Now therefore, as the Lord lives, who has established me and set me on the throne of David my father and who has made me a house as He promised, surely Adonijah shall be put to death today.” (1 Kings 2:24)
Therefore, the house (tabernacle) of David was the kingdom of Israel, all 12 tribes.
But under Rehoboam the son of Solomon we see the fall of the house of David
When all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying, “What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse; To your tents, O Israel! Now look after your own house, David!” So Israel departed to their tents. (1 Kings 2:16)
This story is reiterated in 2 Kings.
So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah…. When He had torn Israel from the house of David, they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. Then Jeroboam drove Israel away from following the Lord and made them commit a great sin…. until the Lord removed Israel from His sight, as He spoke through all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away into exile from their own land to Assyria until this day. (2 Kings 17:18, 21, 23)
The house of David that had “fallen down” was his kingdom, the united kingdom of Israel which had been divided. So if the “falling down” of David’s house (tabernacle/booth) was the dividing of the kingdom of Israel, then the “raising up” and the “rebuilding” of David’s house would be the restoration of all 12 tribes back into one united kingdom.
The prophet Ezekiel prophesies about the raising up of the house (tabernacle) of David as the restoration of Israel under the messianic reign of Jesus.
Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms…. My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them. They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. (Ezekiel 37:21-27)
So the question is, were all 12 tribes (Israel and Judah) being gathered together into one body, as one nation, and one kingdom through the everlasting new covenant under the kingship of the Lord Jesus in the first century? The honest and obvious answer is yes, as the faithful remnant.
And if they were, then the house (tabernacle) of David was in fact being raised up and Israel as was being restored to her kingdom.
Here are just a few of the many texts that we could site as proof that this was taking place….
Jesus had been raised up to sit on David’s throne (Acts 2:30-36) and had become the one chief shepherd (1 Peter 5:4)
The everlasting (new) covenant had been inaugurated with Israel through the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 13:20, Hebrews 8:13, 10:9) and was awaiting consummation
Jesus was making all Israel one new man (Ephesians 2-3), uniting both Jew and Gentile as one holy nation and one royal (kingly) priesthood (1 Peter 2:9)
The one new man was being built up to become the dwelling place of God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22)
Notice the words of Ezekiel in verse 27 at the end of his great prophecy…” My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people.”
Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians writes the following….
Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God and they shall be their people. (2 Corinthians 6:16)
Did you catch that? Paul said that they were the temple of God, as Ezekiel said (as it is written)…..
In other words, the body of Christ (the Jewish remnant and the Gentiles) was being built up as Ezekiel’s temple where God was dwelling with them by his Spirit.
In summary, we have demonstrated that the restoration of Israel (Israel after the flesh) was taking place in the first century through the ascension of Jesus and the building up of the body of Christ as the messianic temple of God. The righteous remnant of all 12 tribes of Israel (national ethnic Israel) were being gathered together into one body along with the gentiles who had been made partakers of their promises in Christ through the gospel. The ascension of Jesus, the pouring out of the Spirit, and the raising up of the house of David are all old testament prophecies that were to take place when Israel was being restored to her kingdom in the last days. Since the new testament clearly teaches that each one of these eschatological elements were being fulfilled in the first century, this is powerful and definitive proof the Israel’s consummative kingdom restoration was taking place in the first century.
Israel wasn’t cut off at the cross and her promises given to the church, nor has Israel’s kingdom hasn’t been postponed since the first century awaiting a future fulfilment. Israel’s restoration and kingdom promises were in fact being fulfilled in the righteous remnant in the first century, in Christ. This help us to understand the nature of the kingdom and the restoration. Both the kingdom and restoration are of a heavenly and spiritual nature…. not a return to a physical plot of land and a literal temple, but a return to the most holy place and the presence of God in the temple of Christ.
Israel’s restoration was inaugurated at the cross, established at the ascension, and consummated at the Parousia….but that is another study.