The Restoration of All Things

There is a rhythm in scripture which beats to the heart of God and whether we realise it or not, we are in the middle of the greatest love story ever encountered on planet earth. Even though the final outcome was already determined before time began, the final analysis is far from over. The greatest challenge facing the church today is not from the outside but from the very heart of who she really is. Critical to the Master plan, is that the Church fulfil her true role in a partnership between heaven and earth. Jesus initiated this plan when he came preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, but passed the baton over to His Bride the Church.

Long before the Incarnation of Jesus lay a deep rooted anticipation spoken by the prophets over past centuries of the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. When Jesus came, it was in direct fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy, and among a society that had been waiting for the Messiah, to herald the coming of the Kingdom of God. But their understanding of the Kingdom was incomplete, that so many failed to observe the King of Kings in their midst. How tragic that the only crown Jesus received from Israel, was when they crucified Him and placed a crown of thorns upon His head and mockingly declared “Behold the King of the Jews”

The error of the Jewish nation at that time was they were looking for Mashiach Ben David (Messiah the Son of David) who was to be a warrior king, and not Mashiach Ben Yosef (Messiah the son of Joseph) who was the suffering servant Isa 53. They had a physical and political viewpoint for a King and a Kingdom. When Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey they used palm branches which is used for a victorious ruler.

They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” John 12:13

Jesus contradicted their beliefs when He came riding on a donkey, not a usual symbol for a victorious king, and it wasn’t until later that the disciples understood from scripture the significance.

“Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.” John 12:15,16

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:36,37

Some Pharisees asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God would come. His answer was, “The Kingdom of God does not come in such a way as to be seen.” Luke 17:20

As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Luke 11:29

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” John 3:3

It was not just difficult but actually impossible for the Jews (or Gentiles) to see the Kingdom, unless they had first been born again. But their religious pride refused to accept the message of John the Baptist who prepared the way for the coming King and His Kingdom with a message of repentance. Even after the resurrection, Acts records

“After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the Kingdom of God.” Acts 1:3, and then just before Jesus ascended into Heaven, the disciples ask “Lord are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?” v6. To which He replied “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” v7,8

Looking at this passage alone, we would conclude that the Kingdom has not yet come, but if we look at what the Lord taught

But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” Luke 4:43

But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Luke 11:20

We are presented here with a paradox. Two statements which appear at first glance to contradict one another. Either the Kingdom is here now or it is not. But this would suppose that there is only one aspect of the Kingdom, and here lies the key to understanding.

The restoration of the Kingdom anticipated by the Jews was of God’s visible conquest over His enemies, and the restoration of the Davidic throne, raising Israel’s supremacy to rule with power and glory upon the earth. They expected prosperity and peace. And yet, if Pilate was still the governor of Judea, if the temple was not rebuilt, if foreigners were not coming to Zion for instruction, and many more prophecies concerning the restoration, then the Kingdom of God had not yet come.

Even John the Baptist struggled with his own convictions whilst in prison. “When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Matt 11:2,3

Making Sense of It All

We propose here that the Kingdom of God has both come and yet is still to be consummated in its full glory upon the earth. Jesus came to inaugurate the Kingdom but it was not yet time for the restoration of the Kingdom as Israel had expected. Before the Kingdom of God can be established upon the earth it must first be established within the heart. But also because salvation for the Gentiles had to come first, this is part of the mystery now revealed, that salvation is both for the Jew and the Gentile. Jesus said that there were other sheep of a different sheep pen that He had come for.

“I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:16

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; “nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20,21

Jesus taught that before the Kingdom comes in its consummation and fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy it has already come through His own person, and He demonstrated this in great power with signs and wonders. In His answer to John “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” Matt 11:4,5. So the kingdom is both the present spiritual reign of God and the future realm over which He will rule in power and glory.

This doesn’t mean that the Kingdom of God is not to be demonstrated now upon the earth. On the contrary we are called to be salt and light of the world Matt 5:13-16, and to live Kingdom life now. Even more, we are called to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom in all the world, Mark 16:15 and to make disciples of all nations teaching them to obey everything our Lord taught, Matt 28:19-20 and His teaching was all about the Kingdom.

The key to understanding all of this, is to remember God’s Eternal Purpose. We have learnt already that God is at work throughout history unto this present day and will continue to work until the completion of the plan which He has always had from before time and creation. To provide a bride for His Son, that He shall reign forever and ever Rev 11:15, and we shall reign with Him 2 Tim 2:12 as His Eternal Bride. And so before the coming of the Kingdom there is first the wedding. And before there can be a wedding there must first be a Bride.

There are preparations necessary therefore before the ultimate completion of God’s plan. This means there are preparations for the Bride, and also preparations for the Kingdom.

And so as we see there is more to be done, this is what the Bible calls the restoration of all things

“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`

The restoration of all things speaks of the administration of God’s grace in bringing everything which has fallen, decayed or been destroyed through the effect of sin and the kingdom of darkness upon the earth to be restored. In short we could say this is the restoration of God’s creative purpose. This includes the new heaven and new earth, but we will focus for now our study on the Bride and the Kingdom.

Preparations for the Bride

I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband ……. “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Rev 21:2,9-14

And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb: “Great and marvellous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations. Rev 15:2,3

In Revelation 21, John is shown a picture of the Bride. The vision is awesome and beyond anything he has ever seen before and he attempts to describe the vision with limited human words as best as he can. But one thing to note here is the inclusion of both Jew and Gentile believers. The city he describes has twelve gates upon which are written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. It is our blessed inheritance that we have been grafted into the olive tree like branches Rom 11:24, whose root is Christ. The gate through which we have entered into our faith and our destiny is through Israel and God’s covenant promise with Abraham, that through his seed all nations would be blessed. Gal 3:14,28,29

The gates of the New Jerusalem have written upon them the names of the tribes of Israel, but the Great City has twelve foundations, and on them are the names of the apostles. This represents the new age of the church. So in this beautiful depiction of the Bride, the Lord has brought together both Jew and Gentile and made them one. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Gal 3:28,29.

“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” Mal 4:5,6

The angel spoke to Zechariah about his future son John the Baptist

“He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to restore the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:17

There is profound revelation in this description of John’s calling. There are two fulfilments of this prophecy from Malachi, related the first and second advent of Jesus. The final fulfilment is believed to be the restoration between Jew and Gentile. Prophetic meaning of “the hearts of the fathers to the children” refers to the Jew acceptance of the Gentile. It is the Hebraic root that we receive the fathers of our faith, and the gentiles the children who receive their inheritance. But also in Luke we read “the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous”. The word righteous here means of those who seem to themselves to be righteous, who pride themselves to be righteous, who pride themselves in their virtues, whether real or imagined. This refers to the Jews, so that the spirit of Elijah will cause the disobedient (Gentile) to turn to the wisdom of the Hebrew Fathers. Then the purpose for this reconciliation is to make a people prepared for the Lord. May the depth of this truth impact our hearts and thinking, that it has always been God’s heart for one new man to be prepared as the bride for His son.

Following on with this understanding before the final consummation of the Kingdom of God upon the earth, it is first necessary that the Bride is prepared. The Bride represents both Jew and Gentile, but also referring to our previous teaching on compatibility, the only suitable helper for Jesus, must be of the same kind of life. It was necessary therefore that Jesus should come the first time to bring redemption, and that through redemption we are restored to what we had lost through sin. In Christ we are reconciled not only to God, but also to one another. In Christ we are born again, we are children not born of human origin, but born of God, John1:12,13 Furthermore, we are not of this world anymore than Christ is of this world John 17:16

We have no doubt, the Bride must be prepared. In future sessions we will explore this in much more detail, but at this point the preparation of the Bride includes

  • Jew and Gentile together as one
  • Sanctification through the Word
  • Being dressed through righteous acts
  • Anticipation and desire of the Bridegroom

Preparation for the Kingdom

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matt 24:14

There is an implied responsibility here, and a direct connection between the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom, and when the end will come. Notice that it is not the gospel of salvation, but the gospel of the Kingdom which must be preached, the two are not the same. If the Kingdom is the manifestation of the reign of God whether upon hearts or the physical earth, it would be a safe assumption to say that that this message would include the deep desires of the King himself, that is to say, the message of the gospel of the Kingdom would include the message of Jesus as the Bridegroom King, for Christ is at the centre of it all, and in Him will be the consummation of all things.

The catalyst that heralds for the end to come is the preaching of this Kingdom message in the whole world. This message is compared to being like a seed. A seed contains within it the DNA to become the mature and complete expression of its kind. If we sow wheat the seed will produce wheat, if we sow maize the seed will produce maize and so on. Whatever we sow we will reap. The harvest depends upon the seed, and the conditions in which that seed is embedded. If we use the wrong seed, we will have the wrong harvest.

This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come. Mark 4:26-29

The farmer sows the word. Mark 4:14

There are three points here. First the seed must be sown, and not just any seed, but the seed containing Kingdom DNA. Second, the seed must be sown throughout the whole world, this is as a witness or testimony to all the nations. All the nations must witness the message of Kingdom of God. And third, the farmer will not harvest the seed but the fruit of that seed, when the grain is ripe is when he puts the sickle to it, and so there is seed, then time and then harvest. The seed must be given time to produce the full grain. Returning back to Revelation, we learn that the earth will be harvested. In this passage there are actually two harvests, and two harvesters. The next sessions will look at this in more detail, suffice to say at this point, that there is a preparation of the Kingdom to come, by the preaching of the Kingdom today.

I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.” The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. Rev 14:14:19

There are differences in what is taught today about the restoration of the Kingdom and how that relates to the timing Jesus’ Second Coming. Without getting too deep into this subject, (you are encouraged to research the scriptures for further study), there are two main beliefs. First that the church today will become ever more victorious upon the earth and establish the complete restoration of the Kingdom, and in some cases even overthrowing the anti-christ, all before Jesus returns. Second that the church will demonstrate to some degree of glory the Kingdom of God upon the earth, but will be not be totally victorious, for it will be upon the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, that the Kingdom will be fully restored. It is this second view that Time Out Mission believes the Bible teaches and aligns with what the Lord taught about the last days.

“If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened” Matt 24:22

The Spirit of Elijah

Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. Acts 3:21

“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” Mal 4:5,6

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist. Matt 17:9-13

Before the first coming of Jesus the spirit of Elijah was at work through the person of John the Baptist, and similarly before the second coming of Jesus, the spirit of Elijah will manifest again preparing the way of the Lord. Elijah was an Old Testament prophet who was used powerfully by God to bring repentance and restoration back to Israel. He was radical and burned with a holy fire for the glory of God. Elijah is best known for his act of intercession upon Mount Carmel putting his life in danger by calling the nation together for a demonstration of power between the Baal gods they were serving and the One True God Almighty. He could be considered a reformer, a preacher, a prophet and an intercessor. These same traits we see in John the Baptist, who came preaching a message of repentance for the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. Jesus later confirmed that John the Baptist was the Elijah who was to come, yet this is only partial fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy.

Do we see the spirit of Elijah operating in the world today? If we do, we may not find him or her amongst the crowds, but in a secret place of aloneness with God. Just like Elijah in the Kerith Ravine, or John the Baptist in the wilderness, the Elijahs today will be those who have discovered God, not in the crowd but in the lonely places. Whose lives have been transformed by a holy fire that burns within them that they cannot conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but they find themselves often opposed to it, and possibly even the church, with a message that has been given by God. They are intercessors, and know the place and importance of prayer within their lives. They are prophets, who are not self seeking, or caught in a super spirituality which lurking beneath is pride and an unbroken spirit. This is the generation that God is raising up today, the Elijah generation with definite similarities and mandate to that of John the Baptist. It will be this generation who will preach the message of the Kingdom. At this time, there is a global movement of prayer and intercession as never seen before, could this be the stirrings of Elijah once more. If it is, then we are entering into the restoration of all things, which will release Jesus to return to earth to take His Bride and reign together with her for eternity.