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6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
It is evident from this that they regarded Israel as having once possessed the kingdom, and expected the same Israel to possess it again. No other meaning can be put upon their words; for to restore a thing "again" to a party implies that they had once possessed it before. When Israel had the kingdom, they were ruled by Israelites, and not by Gentiles, for a foreigner could hold no office under their law.
This was not the case in the days of the apostles, for they were ruled by the Roman senate, and kings of its appointment. But it will not be so when the kingdom is restored to them again. The horns of the Gentiles will then be cast out of the land, and they will be ruled by "Israelites indeed," who will have become Jews by adoption; for no Jews or Gentiles after the flesh, can have any part in the government of Israel and the Israelitisb empire, which will embrace all nations, unless their Jewish citizenship is based upon a higher principle than natural birth.
The flesh constitutes a Jew a subject of the kingdom, but confers on him no right to sit and rule upon the thrones of the house of David. This is reserved for Christ, and his apostles, who "shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel," when he sits upon the throne of his glory; and for all other Jews and Gentiles, who shall have become "Jews inwardly," for whom the dominion under the whole heaven is decreed in the benevolence of God.
...The work of grafting Israel into their own olive belongs to God, who, as the scripture saith, "is able to graft them in again." No one, I presume, will dispute his ability. As I have shown elsewhere, he has assigned the work of restoration to the Lord Jesus, who will graft them in again upon a principle of faith. He will bring their unbelief to an end in a way peculiar to the emergency of the case.
When the fulness of the Gentiles is come in, then Israel's blindness will be done away.
The restoration of the Jews is a work of time, and will require between fifty and sixty years to accomplish. When Gogue comes to be lord of Europe, like Pharaoh of old, he will not permit Israel to remove themselves and their wealth beyond his reach. His dominion must, therefore, be broken before the north will obey the command to "give up," and the south to "keep not back;" and even then Israel must fight their way to Palestine as in the days of old.
The truth is, there are two stages in the restoration of the Jews, the first is before the battle of Armageddon; and the second, after it; but both pre- millennial. God has said,
"I will save the tents of Judah first."
This is the first stage of restoration. Jesus has already been "a stone of stumbling and rock of offence" to Judah and his companions for 40 years, that is, from the day of Pentecost to the destruction of the temple, so that they need not be subjected to a like process any more. But the word saith, "He shall be a stone of stumbling and rock of offence to both the houses of Israel" (Isaiah 8:14); now it is well known that this has not been fulfilled in relation to the ten tribes. They did not inhabit Canaan at the time Jesus sojourned and ministered there. The gospel of the kingdom has never been preached to them in his name; hence, they are only acquainted with him as they have heard of him by the report of Jesuits, and the priests of Gentile superstitions -- a report which is incapable of making men responsible for not believing.
It remains, then, after Judah's tents are saved, to make use of them as apostles to, their brethren of the other tribes, to preach to them a word from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2), inviting them to come out from the nations, and to rendezvous in "the wilderness of the people," preparatory to a return to a land flowing with milk and honey, in which Judah is dwelling safely under the sceptre of the Seed promised to their fathers.
Judah's submission to the Lord Jesus, as the result of seeing him, will give them no right to eternal life, or to the glory and honour of the kingdom. It just entitles them to the blessedness of living in the land under the government of Messiah and the saints. So with the Ten Tribes; their faith in the word preached will entitle them to no more than an union into one kingdom and nation with Judah; and a participation in the blessings of Shiloh's reign during their natural lives. If any of them attain to eternal life and glory, it will be predicated on some other premises than those which precede their restoration.
Elpis Israel 3.6.
7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
'...the Jewish State, as constituted by the Mosaic code, should be abolished? And, till this was set aside, He could not come in His kingdom; for then He is to sit and rule, and be a Priest upon His throne (Zech. 6:12, 13, 15); which He could not be co-existent with the law; because the law of Moses would permit no one to officiate as a priest, who was not of the tribe of Levi; and Jesus was descended from Judah (Heb. 7:12-14).
"Heaven and earth," or the Mosaic constitution of things in Eden, "shall pass away," said Jesus: "but of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father" (Mark 13:31,32).
....The kingdom could not be restored again to Israel under the Mosaic code. This had "decayed, and waxed old, and was ready to vanish away" (Heb. 8:13). It was to be "cast down to the ground," the daily sacrifice was to be taken away, and the temple and city to be demolished, by the Little Horn of the Goat, or Roman power" (Dan. 8:9, 12, 24 ; 9:26).
To tell them of the times and the seasons of the kingdom, would have been to have informed them of this national catastrophy; of which they were kept in ignorance, that they might not fall asleep, but be continually on the watch.
But, though Jesus did not then know the times and the seasons of the kingdom, He knows them now; for, about thirty years after the destruction of Jerusalem, "God gave Him a revelation of the things which must shortly come to pass" (Rev. 1:1); and in this apocalypse, the times and seasons are set forth in order.
Elpis Israel 2.1.
..but this had a special bearing on the time and the persons in reference to whom the words were uttered, in no way conflicting with the present enquiry.
They were spoken to the disciples on the eve of his ascension at a time when they needed such words. Their minds were filled with solicitude for the manifestation of the kingdom. They had asked,
"Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?"
They did not know that the time for the kingdom was yet afar off. They were apparently ignorant that a great interval had to elapse, even "the times of the Gentiles." They did not know that the hard work of preaching the Gospel had to be done; and the harder work of developing a people for God by the faith preached involving much suffering for His name, much long and weary waiting through a long night of centuries, for his coming.
The idea that the kingdom was then to be established was an obstacle in the way of the work on which they were about to enter, and therefore Jesus dispels it by telling them it was not for them in their circumstances, to be thinking of times and seasons, but to return to Jerusalem, and there await the effusion of the Spirit which was to qualify them to give testimony for him as his witnesses throughout all Judea and Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth.
Christendom Astray - Times and Seasons
11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
The common idea is, that the Lord Jesus is to make a perpendicular descent, and to touch the earth for the first time upon Mount Olivet. The text in Acts i. 11, is cited to prove it. But this says nothing about the place he should first descend to; but only that he should come again; and that he should come again "in like manner" as he departed. This was verified in his descent to Sinai; and, as we have seen, he arrived at the place of his departure, "travelling in his strength" "from the way of the east."