I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.
Israel’s promised kingdom was put on hold, for their King had returned to heaven. Jesus had told his Jewish brethren that He would return at a very special time. Jesus would only return to set up His kingdom when Israel repented of their sins, acknowledged their offense, and called on His name: for I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’ Matthew 23:39
What joy filled the hearts of the apostles and other believers after the resurrection. The reality of Christ’s resurrection gathered pace as more and more saw their Lord. He first appeared to Mary and the women, then Peter – then to James and His disciples in the upper room. His meeting with His absent apostle caused Thomas to cry out, my Lord and my God.
What joy must have rippled through the crowd of 500 who saw Him at the one time.1 Corinthians 15:5 He appeared over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God, and He gave them many convincing proofs that He was alive. Acts 1:3
How their hearts must have stirred as they heard Christ speak of His coming kingdom. For centuries the little nation of Israel had been expecting their promised Messiah, and for three days and three nights their hopes must have been dashed to the ground – for the One they thought was to redeem the nation – lay cold in a borrowed tomb.
But the shock-horror of the crucifixion melted on that glorious resurrection morn. Their deep despair changed to awe and wonder as He talked of the coming kingdom. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God, and curiosity prompted the question – When will You restore the kingdom to Israel? Acts 1:3-4
Little did they understand that the kingdom of God had been postponed – for a time. Little did they realise the Church-Age was to run its course before Christ’s coronation. But a day is coming when this world’s kingdom will become the kingdom of Christ – and the Lord Jesus Christ will reign over His people – forever and evermore. Revelation 11:15
But it was not for the apostles to be told the time the kingdom of God would come.. nor are we to know the times or dates that the Father has set by His own authority. But they rejoiced to hear that they would shortly receive the Holy Spirit’s power, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth Acts 1:8
Those days of waiting must have been trimmed with anticipated excitement. They were to receive power. The kingdom was coming. All would be well…. They met together and prayed together and waited together as they have been told.
They selected Matthias to replace Judas – the one that betrayed Jesus with a kiss, for they knew that the twelve were to sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Matthew 19:28
For three long years, Jesus had taught the disciples of the coming kingdom of God. They had confessed Him as their long-awaited Messiah – the Son of the living God. They had tried to book their kingdom seats – one on the right and one on the left. They had been permitted a glimpse of His glory on the mount of transfiguration. They knew that the apostles would sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, – and Christ’s resurrection categorically confirmed His credentials as God’s anointed.
In joyous anticipation, they waited for the power from above, and the kingdom of God. In prayerful expectation, they stepped, by faith, into the unknowns of the Church Age. I doubt if any of the apostles could have imagined what the coming years would hold. Like their Master, they too were to be despised and rejected – hated and killed.
Like Christ, they also had to learn obedience through all they would suffer, and they were to learn that Christ’s grace would be all-sufficient for them – they would need to imitate their Master and say, 'Thy will not mine be done'.
But many lessons they needed to learn would come through the apostle Paul. They would have to come to understand that God is no respecter of persons – but it was to be a steep learning curve for every Jewish believer in Christ. They would need to accept the gospel was equally for Jew and Gentile alike. They would need to come to an understanding of the one new man in Christ.
And Paul was the vehicle, who opened their understanding of the gospel of grace. Paul was the apostle that revealed the mystery of the Church and the body of Christ. Paul was God’s mouthpiece concerning our heavenly position and privileges, for Paul was to be the chosen vessel to take the gospel to the Gentiles.
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