Tuesday, 28 December 2021
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 3:21
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Peter has asked the men of Israel to repent and be converted so that “times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Further, he told them that the Lord would send Jesus Christ. Now he explains when this will happen, beginning with the words, “whom heaven must receive.”
The Greek word is dechomai. Helps word studies notes that “The personal element is emphasized … which accounts for it always being in the Greek middle voice. This stresses the high level of self-involvement (interest) involved with the ‘welcoming-receiving.’” Further, Charles Ellicott says, “The words have a pregnant force: ‘must receive and keep.’”
Christ Jesus has been received into heaven, welcomed from His time of service on the earth. And He will remain there “until the times of restoration of all things.”
The Greek word translated as “restoration” refers not only to the rule of the Lord in a true theocracy, but in a condition suitable for that rule. This means that even the physical earth will be restored to a more perfect condition.
Some say it will be like the earth before the fall. This may be true to some extent, but there will still be a problem with man’s relationship with God, and those born at that time will still be susceptible to death. This is found in various Old Testament passages. Three will be cited of this thousand-year epoch to get the idea of where things are marvelous, but are still not perfect –
“No more shall an infant from there live but a few days,
Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days;
For the child shall die one hundred years old,
But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit;
They shall not plant and another eat;
For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people,
And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain,
Nor bring forth children for trouble;
For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the Lord,
And their offspring with them.” Isaiah 65:20-23
Despite men living to extremely old ages (as the days of a tree), something seen before the flood of Noah, Isaiah notes that there will still be death. Further…
“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. 17 And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. 18 If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. 19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.” Zechariah 14:16-19
Zechariah’s words show that there is anticipated rebellion by the nations, refusing to honor the King, the Lord of hosts. And more…
“Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. 9 They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Revelation 20:7-10
Revelation shows that there will be the desire for rebellion and war in the hearts of men. Eventually, a large-scale rebellion against the Lord and His people will occur. These show us that the “restoration of all things” is more in line with the pre-flood world than it is with the pre-fall world.
Unlike the pre-flood world, though, its defining character is that righteousness will be more prevalent than sin. Genesis 6 shows how desperately wicked man on earth became. On the other hand, with the messianic rule, man will be guided to (for the most part) make right moral choices and to live in a manner honoring of the Lord. Peter, citing Isaiah, will refer to this epoch of time later in his second epistle –
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:10-13
It will be this time of long life and one dominant ruling government under the Lord that Peter speaks of now to the men of Israel. Of this, he next says, “which God has spoken.”
The words signify divine inspiration. It is what Peter will also refer to in his second epistle –
“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:19-21
God speaks, His words foretell, and what He says will come to pass. But His words are conveyed through men. Israel understood this because they were the people who kept these oracles of God. As such, Peter continues with, “by the mouth of all His holy prophets.”
This does not mean that all of the prophets spoke of this future period. Rather, it means that there is a united message from God that is conveyed by His true prophets. Their message is one because God is One. What God speaks through His many prophets is, therefore, a reliable testimony of what He has done, is doing, and will continue to do throughout all of redemptive history. And that message is ultimately given for one overarching purpose which is to reveal Himself through the Person of Jesus Christ.
This consistent message of prophecy has occurred “since the world began.” The Greek reads “from the age.” It signifies from the earliest point. God spoke the universe into existence, and yet John 1 says that the Word was there at the beginning with God. It says that all things were made through Him. Thus, even though those words were penned long after they occurred, both Moses and John spoke of things concerning the very beginning.
Everything about the creation account ultimately points to God’s work in Christ. When evaluated from that perspective, the words come alive as to why the Lord had them recorded in His word. Further, Moses records the words of the Lord in Genesis 3:15, the first explicit prophecy concerning the coming of Christ known as the protoevangelium –
“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”
Everything in the word is given through God’s prophets to lead us to this wonderful understanding of God’s workings in and through His Messiah, Jesus.
Life application: When reading the Bible, we should continuously ask ourselves why God used the specific words and stories. In our asking, we should question how these things point to Christ. When we discover the answer, the narrative comes alive in an entirely new way.
However, we have to be extremely careful to never insert our ideas into the Bible. It is very easy to decide a passage means what we want it to mean. That is not a healthy way of reviewing Scripture. Rather let us evaluate what is presented and compare it with the rest of Scripture in order to form a sound picture of the typology that God is presenting. Otherwise, we can find ourselves making anything say anything. This is not honoring of God and of His precious word.
Lord God, thank You for the wonderful gift You have presented to us in the pages of Scripture. It is a wonder, a marvel, and a treasure. Prompt us, O God, to open it and seek out its secrets all the days of our lives. Thank You for Your majestic and superior word! Amen.