208. Kingdom of Israel.
When Jesus spoke to his disciples about the kingdom of God, they thought he was talking about the kingdom of Israel, for they asked him, "Lord are you at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?" (Acts 1:6-7) The Jews believed that the nation of Israel was exclusively the Kingdom of God on earth and it was true under the old covenant, because the Lord had said to them at Mount Sinai, before cutting a covenant with them : "Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations, you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." ( Exodus 19:5-6 ) Therefore, they couldn't comprehend how God's kingdom could transcend their borders, when Jesus spoke of a kingdom that has no borders! He admonished them by saying, "It is not for you to know the times and dates the Father has set by his own authority. But ... you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth." ( Acts 1:7-8) What he meant was, the setting of the world-wide Kingdom of God was more urgent than the restoration of the kingdom of Israel. Infact, they had to wait for over 1900 years, until 1948, to once again govern independently, a nation of their own. ( The restoration of the kingdom of Israel in 1948, took place because of God's eternal covenant with Abraham and not because of the old covenant that had become obsolete after the death of Jesus. Infact, the new covenant is the fulfillment of God's covenant with Abraham.) God had promised Abraham: "I will make you into a great nation .... and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." ( Genesis 12:2-3) God's purpose for the nation of Israel was not only to birth the Messiah through the lineage (direct descent) of Abraham, but that the nation of Israel might also become a 'light for the Gentiles, that they may bring his salvation to the ends of the earth.' ( Isaiah 49:6) But somewhere along the way, they lost their vision because they envied the stronger nations around them and their desire for political greatness obscured their original calling. They lost sight of God and asked for a king. (1 Samuel 8:6-7) But the kings eventually failed them and they lost their nation to the Assyrians Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and Romans. But 'in the time of those kings, the God of heaven set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people.' It began with John the Baptist preaching in the Desert of Judea saying, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matthew 3:1-2) And the kingdom of God came with power on the day of Pentecost and ever since, has been forcefully advancing, but in the unseen realm! We get to see the Church in the physical realm but not all who are members of the visible Church have entered the unseen kingdom of God. In other words, only those who have entered the kingdom of God make up the true Church. They too, like Israel, have become 'a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God'. (1 Peter 2:9) If you haven't entered yet, seek to enter the kingdom before it's too late! Soon the kingdom of God will be visibly revealed to the world at the second coming of King Jesus and then the kingdom of Israel too will be restored to its glory and 'David will be their Prince forever.' (Ezekiel 37:25) Amen.