Monday, 27 December 2021
and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, Acts 3:20
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
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The words now continue the thought of Peter that is being expressed to the men of Israel. As they are a continuation of the previous verse, it is right to restate them together –
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before,
The context demands that attention is paid to who is being addressed. It is specifically Israel. They had killed their Messiah, and they are being asked to repent of this. Like Peter’s words of Acts 2, the matter has absolutely nothing to do with Gentiles. The “times of refreshing” are a certain reference to what we now know as the millennial kingdom. To Israel, it was a time anticipated in the prophets concerning a coming messianic kingdom where the Lord’s Messiah would reign among them.
This is then more fully confirmed with the words of verse 3:30, which say, “and that He.” This is referring to “the Lord” who was just noted in the previous words, “so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” The times of refreshing will come from the Lord, and Peter notes that it is He who then “may send Jesus Christ.”
The Jews standing there have been told that their Messiah had been glorified (verse 2:13). In the coming verse, Peter will explain that this means He is currently in heaven. Thus, Jesus is not among them, nor will He be among them until a set time and after a specific event has taken place.
This is an obvious conclusion when Peter has already noted that what happened to Jesus at the hand of the Jews was “foretold by the mouth of all His prophets,” as noted in verse 3:18. Those hearing Jesus’ words would more clearly understand that there is a set purpose and a set time for all things to occur, including the absence and then return of their Messiah.
As noted several times already, Jesus has clearly and unambiguously told the people when He would return –
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Luke 13:34, 35
Jerusalem is the seat of power and authority. It is from where Israel’s rulers direct the affairs of the nation. At the time of Jesus’ words, it was anticipated that they would reject Him. This came to pass, and Peter is again telling them that what they did to their Messiah required that they repent of it as individuals, but also on a national scale. Until the leaders of Israel acknowledge Christ Jesus as their Messiah, He will not return. When they do, He will. And when He does, the times of refreshing – the messianic age – will come to pass. All Scripture will be fulfilled, and not a word of the Lord shall fail.
It is this scenario, concerning this Jesus, that Peter next notes, “who was preached to you before.” This is certainly referring to the words he conveyed to the people in this same location on the day of Pentecost and who he again stood and proclaimed now after the healing of the beggar.
They had seen the coming of the Spirit, they had seen the healing of the man, and they had choices to make. And those choices must be rendered both individually and collectively. Again, the passage before us has absolutely nothing to do with Gentiles. They have not ever been mentioned in any of what is occurring in the narrative. Israel must be first presented with the opportunity to receive her King. As that fails to come to pass, the message will begin to go out to those who would gladly receive the good news of salvation by faith in His completed work.
Having said that, nothing is said – here or elsewhere – that if the Jews rejected their Messiah, they would be rejected as the people of the Lord. In fact, the opposite is explicitly stated in both testaments of Scripture, including the verse now being considered. It is up to the Jews for them to be restored. When they do what is expected of them, it will come to pass.
Life application: Two particular points should be considered from the verse that is being looked at. The first is that it is never said in Scripture that the Lord is returning to His church so that times of refreshing may result. The church isn’t under punishment and in need of refreshing.
Instead, it has been a part of the nations of the world. Anyone who calls out to God through the gospel of Jesus becomes a part of the church. The idea of “refreshing” implies that such is needed. Israel would be judged for the rejection of Christ, and the resulting punishments of the curses – laid out in the Law of Moses – would be realized. It is from that state that refreshing would be needed. Jesus will return to Israel when they first return, that is repent and acknowledge Him.
However, Jesus never returns to the church because He never left the church. Jesus will gather His church together in the air, exactly as Paul describes in 1 Thessalonians 4. It is not a return at all; it is a rapturous event.
The second point is that just because it says that the Lord (implying Yehovah of the Old Testament Scriptures) will send Jesus Christ, it in no way negates that Jesus is the God/Man. This cannot be used as a verse to deny the deity of Christ. In the Old Testament, there are times where one verse will speak of God and another of the Lord. Both are clearly presented as God.
At times, the Angel of the Lord is sent by God, and yet – when He is – He is clearly identified as the Lord (Yehovah). This is the same with Jesus in the New Testament. The Lord (the divine God) will send Jesus Christ (the Man who is the Messiah) to the people of Israel. But He does it by sending Himself in the form of a Man, just as occurs so many times in the Old Testament. There is no contradiction at all here. Rather, the Person of Jesus is the full, final, and forever expression of who this “Angel of the Lord” is who is found in the Old Testament.
We now know and more fully understand what Israel could not even guess at. If they did, they would not have crucified their Messiah (1 Corinthians 2:8). But in rejecting Him, they rejected the Lord God. The two are One. He is the God/Man. He is JESUS.
Heavenly Father, how great it is to know that You have expressed Yourself in the Person of Jesus so that we can understand who You are. We can also appreciate all that You were willing to do in order to reconcile us to Yourself. Thank You for the story of redemption and love that is so beautifully expressed in the coming of Jesus. Amen.