Jesus was asked by His disciples whether He would restore the kingdom to Israel at that time, to which He replied:
Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:6-8)
Jesus’ answer implied that although the time of favor for Israel was at that moment to pass over to the Gentiles, there would be a time when God would restore again the “Kingdom to Israel”. This truth is clearly taught throughout the Scriptures: after the fullness of the Gentiles is brought into the kingdom of God, He will again give His ancient people, the Jews, another time of grace and favor.
There are a number of verses in the New Testament which further spell out this principle. Peter, speaking to the Jews, said:
And He shall send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. (Acts 3:20-21)
Later in the book of Acts James says:
Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: ‘After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up’ (Acts 15:14-16)
It is quite clear from these verses that before “restoring the kingdom to Israel” and building “again the tabernacle of David”, God would turn in grace to the Gentiles and call out of them a people unto His name. After this God promises to return and build again the tabernacle of David.
This agrees with two other passages which state that when the fullness of the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled, Jerusalem will again be restored to Jewish sovereignty.
… Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:24)
In Romans Paul states:
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. (Romans 11:25-26)
Here the same point is stressed: the completion of God’s purposes with the Gentiles marks the beginning of His renewed grace to the people of Israel. After the time of the Gentiles has been fulfilled, after the fullness of the Gentiles has come into the kingdom, then ALL ISRAEL will be saved, the “times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord”. (Acts 3:19)
This agrees with the many Old Testament passages which clearly refer to an eternal purpose of God for His ancient people – eternal promises that will be fulfilled to them, not just in a temporary way as if they were only God’s example from ancient times for the “Church Age”, but fulfilled practically, literally and completely.
Paul, in his fundamental chapters 9, 10 and 11 of the Epistle to the Romans, teaches these same principles concerning the Jewish people:
I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! (Romans 11:1)
It is obviously the plan of God to receive them back in mercy:
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29)
There are many Old Testament prophecies which have not yet had their fulfillment, and cannot in all honesty be explained away as having been spiritually fulfilled through the first coming of Christ. The New Testament also makes clear reference to prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled. Only in the light of these New Testament verses do the as yet unfulfilled Old Testament prophecies make sense. For example, it was spoken by Simeon at the birth of Jesus:
For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel … Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel … (Luke 2: 30-34)
It should be evident from these verses that Jesus would be first a light to the Gentiles and cause the fall of many of His own people, but afterwards He would become the glory of Israel and cause the rising again of many in Israel. Such New Testament promises underline that all the glory God has promised through the prophets for Israel in the latter days will indeed be revealed:
- The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat. (Isaiah 11:6)
- The people shall beat their swords into plowshares. (Isaiah 2:4)
- The nations shall come up to Jerusalem to learn the ways of the Lord. (Isaiah 2:3)
- The Lord will be King in Jerusalem and reign on His holy hill where He desires to dwell forever. (Psalms 2:6)
- Israel will be back in her land that God promised to her as en everlasting possession. (Isaiah 11:10-12)
- Righteousness and peace will flow like a mighty river from Jerusalem and cover the earth like the seas. (Isaiah 11:9)
- The Lord will become the glory of His people Israel. (Luke 2:32)
There are but a few of the prophecies which have not yet been fulfilled but are promised by God. As Jesus said:
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. (Matthew 5:17-18)
This emphasizes that everything the prophets foretold will be fulfilled, not just convenient portions of it. Jesus Himself states that He will see to it that all the prophecies will come to pass before any of God’s word is removed. This includes those prophecies which were not fulfilled by Jesus’ first coming.
It therefore is right, in the light of these clear New Testament passages, to expect a literal fulfillment of all that has been promised through Israel’s prophets concerning her future.
Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! … For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? (Romans 11: 12, 15)
What a wonderful time in which to live!
Recognizing this truth brings the apostle Paul to great joy. We Gentiles ought also to share in that joy, for in Christ we are allowed to inherit with Israel all these biblical promises which are yet to be fulfilled.
For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
Not for nothing did Christ teach us to pray: Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
It is difficult to see how the first coming of Christ could have fulfilled all of the promises which have clearly been made by God. The prophets foretold that there would be a day on earth, under the reign of the Messiah in Jerusalem with His nation when:
- All wars would cease.
- Each man would live “under his fig tree” in equality and justice.
- The child would play with the viper so that there would be harmony between mankind and the animal world (no more killing of whales).
- Nature would be fully restored: the trees would “clap their hands” and the Dead Sea would become a sweet water lake.
The Jewish people know that these are to be the fruits of the coming of the Messiah, and so find it difficult to believe that He has already come since these things as yet have not been fulfilled. We believe with Paul that the Messiah has come once; and we join him in rejoicing at the restoration of Israel, for we know that it signals the return of the Messiah and the fulfillment of all the prophecies, for:
For the Lord shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory. (Psalms 102:16)
For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:32-36)
Jan Willem van der Hoeven, Director
International Christian Zionist Center