(God Has A Plan For Israel part 3)
The way Jesus answered questions that were asked of him was very revealing. At times, questions were used by those who opposed him to try and trap Jesus into saying something that they could use against him. When that happened, Jesus would give the answer they deserved but would still teach something in the process.

What I am looking at right now, though, is a sincere question that was put forth that Jesus obviously answered as best he could in Acts 1:6-7.

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 NKJV)

There are some things which jump out at me from this encounter. The first of which is that the disciples had earlier had their minds opened to understand the Scriptures and what had been written about him in the Law and Prophets at the end of Luke’s prior account.

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, (Luke 24:44, 45 KJV)

Having received this supernaturally accelerated education, the question gets asked about a physical restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. This was not, as some commentators would have us believe, the last vestiges of a misunderstanding about the true nature of the Kingdom. If that had been the case, then Jesus would have answered something like “that will not happen” or “the Kingdom will only be in your hearts” instead of telling them that only the Father knew the timing of the events. His answer implies that the events will actually occur. If the Kingdom were ONLY spiritual, then his answer is misleading, and we know that cannot be the case. It would also mean that they had not really had their minds enlightened to understand the Scriptures after all. This was not asked by just one person, either. The verse says “they” asked.

What Jesus said was that the Kingdom would be spiritual before it would be physical. In short, Jesus got them to focus on the part of the plan that was up to them. They would receive power from on high and go into all the known world and preach the Gospel. Don’t worry about the part of the plan that will come later. They needed to get inboard with the part they were to play and leave the other part to God.

This also means that the endless debates about whether or not we are in the Kingdom now as opposed to later are pointless. The answer is that yes, we are the Kingdom of God now in a spiritual sense, but at a future time the Kingdom will also manifest literally in a physical sense. The two views are not contradictory, but are consecutive. We have been debating as if the two manifestations of the Kingdom are mutually exclusive when they are not.

As I said before, Acts 1:6-7 would have been the perfect time to set the record straight by telling the disciples an answer like “He is not, it will only be I your hearts” but Jesus did not do that. Rather than deny the future restoration of the Kingdom to Israel, he simply told them they would know the time or season it would happen.

There are some, possibly many, who will still say that there is no future restoration of the Kingdom to Israel, and that the Kingdom is strictly spiritual. But they will need to answer the question of verse 6-7 for themselves. And please do not post comments that are cut and paste from commentaries. Think for yourselves and wrestle with this as I have. Ask how it is that if the “only spiritual I our hearts” doctrine is correct, then how do we explain the Kingdom destroying all earthly empires in the vision of Daniel 2? How is it that in Isaiah 9 God said, “Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:7 NKJV)
Or how will Jesus Christ rule the nations with a rod of iron (Revelation 19:15)?

No, only the “first the spiritual, then the physical” interpretation works for the passages about the Kingdom and reconciles them in a way that keeps us from having to consign whole passages to being taken as allegory when they are in fact all describing actual events. In future posts I will attempt to expound upon the “first, then” pattern in the Bible, but space demands that it be separate. As I said, feel free to comment, but please first consider the plausibility of what I have written instead of jumping to proof texting. May our discussions be fruitful!