The Restoration of Israel

In Acts 1:6 the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, will thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”

Jesus’ answer was, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” Verse 7.

The question assumes that Jesus will one day restore again the kingdom to Israel. It was not a matter of if, but of when. The disciples wondered if that time had come. Jesus does not disappoint them in their assumption and say that the kingdom will never be restored to Israel, but rather explains that the timing of such events is under the Father’s authority. When it will happen was not for Christ’s disciples to know.

Why should the disciples expect the restoration of Israel? Well, was not their master "He of whom it was written, that He should 'raise up the tribes of Jacob,' and 'restore the preserved of Israel'...? Isa. 49:6." The Desire of Ages, p. 63.

Furthermore, Jesus had plainly said to them, “And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Luke 22:29, 30. There, in reference to His coming kingdom, Jesus had not only confirmed the existence of Israel, but of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Another reason they should expect this was that the angel Gabriel had declared to Mary before Jesus was conceived in her womb, “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke 1:31-33.

In receiving His kingdom Jesus would sit on the throne of David. He would reign over the house of Jacob.

This was the same angel who 530 years earlier had appeared to Daniel beside the Tigris River saying,

“Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.” Daniel 10:14. There he states the purpose of the Daniel 11 prophecy. It was to show what would befall Daniel’s people in the latter days.

Gabriel traced the rise and fall of kings down through the centuries. There would come a time, he explained, when “the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall.” No human power could bring about the purpose that God had designed for Daniel’s people.

After outlining the political developments extending down through the time of the end, Gabriel finally reached his stated objective:

“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” Daniel 12:1.

Who are Daniel’s people? He tells us plainly in Chapter 9.

“And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God; Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being cause to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.” Daniel 9:20-22.

Gabriel explains,

“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city.” Verse 24.
Daniel 9 and the 70-week prophecy foretell the initial fate of Daniel’s people Israel and the holy city. The prophecy of Chapters 11 and 12 tells the rest of the story—what shall befall his people in the latter days. Michael will stand up for them, and they shall be delivered.

Revelation 5 describes a book with seven seals in God’s right hand. To the question,

“Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?” the answer is given, “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” Revelation 5:2, 5.

Why, in the New Testament apocalypse, is Jesus identified as the Lion of the tribe of Judah and as the Root of David? It turns out that Jesus’ “prevailing,” mentioned here, was a victory for the tribe of Judah and for the house of David.

“The Lion of Judah symbolism is, of course, based on the promise of rulership to the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:9-10).” Symposium on Revelation, Book I, DARCOM, Biblical Research Institute, p. 220.

“Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Genesis 49:9, 10.

The sceptre would not depart from Judah. Shiloh (Jesus) will take it up.

“For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda.” Hebrews 7:14.

And of David, God had promised,

“My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in the heaven.” Psalm 89:34-37.

I will not break my word, God says. “I will not lie unto David.” His seed and his throne will last forever.

“The enthronement of the Lamb implies the reestablishment of the eternal Davidic dynasty promised in the OT. The Lamb is the promised Messiah. Thus, Jesus is understood to have reestablished the Davidic dynasty when He proclaimed the arrival of His kingdom.” Biblical Research Institute, Symposium on Revelation, p. 220.

In a reference to Zechariah 6:13, Ellen White clarifies the timing of exactly when Jesus receives the throne of David:

“He ‘shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne.’ Not now ‘upon the throne of His glory;’ the kingdom of glory has not yet been ushered in. Not until His work as a mediator shall be ended will God ‘give unto Him the throne of His father David,’ a kingdom of which ‘there shall be no end.’ Luke 1:32, 33. As a priest, Christ is now set down with the Father in His throne. Revelation 3:21. Upon the throne with the eternal, self-existent One is He who ‘hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. . . .’ ” The Great Controversy, p. 416.

So Jesus is now sitting with His Father on the Father’s throne. But when “His work as a mediator shall be ended” He will then receive the throne of His father David.

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia Jesus declared,

“These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.” Revelation 3:7, 8.

What is this key of David? We find out in Isaiah 22:22.

“And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.” The key of the house of David is now in Jesus’ possession!

To Zedekiah, Judah’s last king, God had said, “And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end, Thus saith the Lord God; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.” Ezekiel 21:25-27.

The crown was removed from Zedekiah, and control of Judah was overturned again and again as prophesied. But the crown of David would be reserved for Him whose right it is.

“ ‘Remove the diadem,’ the Lord declared, ‘and take off the crown.’ Not until Christ Himself should set up His kingdom was Judah again to be permitted to have a king. ‘I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it,’ was the divine edict concerning the throne of the house of David.” Prophets and Kings, p. 451.

The Lion of the tribe of Judah would win back the crown of the kingdom of Judah and the throne of the house of David forfeited by Zedekiah! And as Judah was about to be taken into Babylonian captivity, further assurance was given through Jeremiah:

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days, at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness. For thus saith the Lord; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel.” Jeremiah 33:14-17.

“Thus saith the Lord; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne.” Jeremiah 33:20, 21.

“Moreover the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which the Lord hath chosen, he hath even cast them off? thus they have despised my people, that they should be no more a nation before them. Thus saith the Lord; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them.” Jeremiah 33:23-26.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem in His triumphal entry, the multitudes shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Matthew 21:9); “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Luke 19:38); “Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Mark 11:10).

When the Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke the multitudes, He replied, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” Luke 19:40. Jesus thus affirmed the unshakable truth of what was being declared concerning Him. He, as God had promised, was to restore the kingdom of David.

Nathanael, in whom Jesus said was no guile, understood Christ’s true position: “Rabbi, thou are the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.” John 1:49. And upon the cross as Jesus gave His life it was written, “JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.” John 19:19. Having prevailed on their behalf, He is the rightful heir to their throne.

Taylor Bunch wrote, “Christ ‘sprang out of Judah’ and because He is ‘the Son of David’ He will occupy the long vacant throne of David and reign forever. . . . His Calvary victory gave Him the authority to unlock the house of David. . . . Therefore He alone can break the seals of the scroll of the events that lead to the kingship of the ‘Lion of the tribe of Judah.’ ” The Revelation, p. 19.

So, when does Christ actually take up this kingship?

“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13, 14.

This coming of Jesus to the Ancient of days is when He entered the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary to begin the work of investigative judgment. And the product of that process is the kingdom that Jesus receives at its conclusion. That’s why we are told, as noted earlier, that

“Not until His work as a mediator shall be ended will God ‘give unto Him the throne of His father David,’ a kingdom of which ‘there shall be no end.’ Luke 1:32, 33.” The Great Controversy, p. 416.

That is the moment described in Daniel 12:1. “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.”

The disciples wondered when Jesus would restore again the kingdom to Israel. He will do it at the close of human probation when He stands up and takes the throne of David.

It is often assumed that the Christian Church supersedes and replaces the Jewish nation as the new covenant people of God. But biblically, there is a better explanation. Instead of drawing the line of distinction between national Israel (the Jewish nation) and spiritual Israel (Christians), we find a more significant contrast between true Israel and nominal Israel within the Jewish nation even before the cross. Jesus referred to Nathanael as “an Israelite indeed” (John 1:47). This supports Paul’s statement that “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Romans 9:6). To be an Israelite indeed required the possession of certain attributes not naturally possessed by all Jews. Jacob was given the name Israel, meaning “a prince of God,” when he had “power with God and with men” and “prevailed” (Genesis 32:28). This quality is what Paul recognized when he said, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly, . . . but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly” (Romans 2:28, 29). This distinction did not originate at the cross, but always existed, separating the true Israel of God from nominal Israel throughout their history.

Christianity does not create a new body of true believers that replaces the old; but instead, under a charter provision in Israel for incorporating Gentiles, the gospel revitalizes authentic Israel and carries it forward to realize its original aims.

Paul declared “that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6). This incorporating of Gentiles into the body of Israel is emphasized in Isaiah 56:

“Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the Lord, speak, saying, The Lord hath utterly separated me from his people.” Verse 3.

“Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.” Verses 6, 7.

Referring to Israel, Jeremiah wrote, “The Lord called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.” (Jeremiah 11:16). Paul explained the significance of this to the Gentile Christians:

“And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?” Romans 11:17-24.

When Gentiles come to Christ, their stock does not thereafter replace the Jewish tree. No, they, as branches, are taken from their native tree and grafted into the Jewish tree. They are thus identified with Israel, not by replacing Israel, but by joining it. We have an example of this in the story of Ruth. When Naomi urged her to return to her own Moabite people, Ruth replied, “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” Ruth 1:16.

Ruth did not found a new religion. She became a part of Israel. In her words to her Jewish mother-in-law, she identified herself with “thy people.” In that very same way, we Gentiles may be included among “thy people” (Daniel 12:1). The Gentile church does not replace the Jewish nation, for “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).

This explains why, when Christ’s kingdom is made up and His servants are sealed in their foreheads, the subjects of His kingdom are identified as the twelve tribes of Israel (Revelation 7:4-8). The point in time is the same in Revelation 7:4 as in Daniel 12:1—the close of human probation. At that time Jesus receives the throne of David and the kingship of the house of Judah. Since that is the kingdom He plans to rule, His subjects will all belong to Israel. For “if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). “And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 8:11.

If “God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Luke 3:8), then certainly He can make us “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” Ephesians 2:11-14.

From the summit of Mount Nebo, Moses was given a prophetic view of Israel's glorious future:

"He saw that though the people of Israel . . . had failed to become the light of the world, though they had despised God's mercy and forfeited their blessings as His chosen people––yet God had not cast off the seed of Abraham; the glorious purposes which He had undertaken to accomplish through Israel were to be fulfilled. All who through Christ should become the children of faith were to be counted as Abraham's seed; they were inheritors of the covenant promises; . . . Moses saw the light of the gospel shining out through the disciples of Jesus to them 'which sat in darkness' (Matthew 4:16), and thousands from the lands of the Gentiles flocking to the brightness of its rising. And beholding, he rejoiced in the increase and prosperity of Israel." Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 476.

In his 1875 “Sermon on the Two Covenants,” J. N. Andrews selected as his text Hebrews 8:10, “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord: I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts.” He then develops this thought:

“The language of inspiration is very explicit in stating that the new covenant is made with the same people that were the subjects of the old covenant. Thus Jeremiah, speaking in the name of the Lord, says: ‘I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah’ [Jeremiah 31:31]. And he further alludes to the fact that the new covenant is made with the Hebrew people when he adds: ‘Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt’ [verse 32]. And yet again he identifies the Hebrew people when he says: ‘This shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel’ [verse 33]. And Paul quotes at length, in Hebrews 8, this entire statement of Jeremiah respecting the old and new covenants’ being severally made with the Hebrew people. And, as if this were not enough, he makes a statement in Romans 9:4, 5, that exactly meets the case. Thus he says of the Hebrews: ‘Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever.’ Thus it appears that everything valuable God has given to the world through the instrumentality, or by the means, of the Hebrew people. Those who choose to do so can venture to despise the law of God because given to the Jews, and to reject Christ because he came of the Jews; but one thing they cannot do. They cannot say, ‘We accept the new covenant because it pertains to the Gentiles, whereas the first covenant, and the law, etc., pertained to the Jews.’ No such distinction can be drawn. Both the covenants pertain to the Hebrew people, according to the explicit statement of Paul; and both are said by Jeremiah and Paul, or rather by the Spirit of inspiration speaking through them, to be made with Judah and Israel.” SOTC 4.1.

Developing this further, Andrews says,

“The Gentiles were made partakers of the spiritual things which God had wisely and justly placed in the hands of Israel. Romans 15:27. But being thus brought nigh by the blood of Christ, Paul says of those who were Gentiles ‘in time past’ (but not now) that they were ‘no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God.’ They were no longer Gentiles, but Israelites. They became sharers in the name and in the riches of Israel. And it is by this adoption into the commonwealth of Israel that they became sharers in the blessings of the new covenant.” J. N. Andrews, Sermon on the Two Covenants, 11.2.

“And their debtors they are.” Romans 15:27.

Noting the Messiah’s Davidic roots, Isaiah wrote,

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.” Isaiah 11:1. “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.” Verse 10.

So the Gentiles’ hope rests in seeking the root of Jesse. Receiving Christ, we unite with His people.

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people.” Verse 11.

“The remnant of his people” are ultimately described in Revelation 12:17. They are the remnant of the woman introduced in the first verse of that chapter.

That woman is the nation of Israel. Her crown of twelve stars identifies her with the sons of Jacob (Genesis 37:9, 10) and therefore with the twelve tribes of Israel. This cannot be the Christian church, for the church wasn’t there before Jesus was born (Revelation 12:2-4).  It is the daughter of Zion that is likened to a comely and delicate woman (Jeremiah 6:2). The “remnant of her seed” (Revelation 12:17) are precisely the remnant of her seed. The remnant church is the remnant of Israel.

The end-time restoration of the Sabbath is accomplished by “they that shall be of thee” (Isaiah 58:12, 13), namely, of “the house of Jacob” (Isaiah 58:1), to whom is promised “the heritage of Jacob thy father” (verse 14).

With this understanding, all the Old Testament promises for Israel “are yea, and in him Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20). They are neither canceled nor reassigned.

Isaiah wrote,

“And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 59:20, 21.

“With them,” here refers to “them that turn from transgression in Jacob.” This prophecy is specifically addressing the family of Israel, and to them a most glorious prediction follows:

“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.” Isaiah 60:1-5.

“And the sons of the strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee. Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought.” Isaiah 60:10, 11.

Complementing Daniel 12:1, Isaiah’s prophecy climaxes,

Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.” Isaiah 60:21.

“Thus God’s purpose for Israel will meet with literal fulfillment. That which God purposes, man is powerless to disannul. Even amid the working of evil, God’s purposes have been moving steadily forward to their accomplishment. . . . The seer of Patmos, looking down through the ages to the time of this restoration of Israel in the earth made new, testified: ‘I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.’ ” Prophets and Kings, pp. 720, 721.

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