Volume 25, Number 3, June 1964

There are two statements made in the early chapters of the Book of Acts which can, be considered together, for in many ways, though some months apart, they lie in the same context.

"This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11). "And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you; Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all (things), which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:20, 21). The first passage was addressed to the disciples by "two men in white apparel" (usually accepted to have been angels), following on Jesus having promised them that they would "receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and . . . He was taken up; and cloud received Him out of their sight." The scene was on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. In the course of the next ten days this promise of the Lord was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. Subsequently, Peter and John, "going up into the Temple at the hour of prayer," stopped at the Beautiful Gate and healed a lame man. This being accomplished in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and in the power of the Holy Spirit, the lame man "leaping up, stood, and walked, and entered with them into the Temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God, and. . . all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering."

Thus the stage is set, in the Temple precincts, for Peter to address the people as "Ye men of Israel" Peter tells them of Jesus Christ, and that through faith in His Name alone the lame man had been healed. Therefore, they should take heed to what Peter and John had to say concerning Him. Peter concludes by calling upon them, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. (Acts 3:19).

Then follows the second passage that is under consideration. There are three items that are common to these two passages in their contexts: 1. The return of the Lord Jesus Christ. 2. The presence of Peter and John. 3. Israel, as distinct from the Gentiles.

The men in white apparel announce the manner of the return of the Lord Jesus. Peter proclaims the conditions governing that same return, and that when these conditions are fulfilled, God will send Him to put into effect God's promises for Israel's reconciliation with God.

No Scripture, understood correctly, contradicts any other portion of the Word. These two passages speak of the same event, the return of the Lord Jesus, but the former is on the occasion of His being taken up and going into heaven, and the latter states categorically, "Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all (things) . . .'"

It is understood that the term 'Heaven' means the same in these two passages, and if language means anything, the Lord Jesus Christ remains in Heaven between His ascension and the "times of restitution." This calls for the examination of a similar passage: 1. Thess. 4:16. "For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven. . . Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them, to meet the Lord in the air." One cannot escape the conclusion that this is the first part of the series of prophesied events, relating to the Lord's return, culminating in the fulfilment of all prophecy relating to God's promises to Israel in His Covenant with Abraham.

More particular attention should be paid to the way in which the Scriptures refer to or speak of the Lord in the various passages, and of the titles given to Him. They are not used indiscriminately, and like names and titles in widely separated passages link them together and indicate with whom they are associated.

In the two passages (Acts 1 and 3) we read "This same Jesus" and "He shall send Jesus Christ (Messiah)." In using these appellatives, He is none the less Lord, which title occurs in all three contexts.

The particular title and Name used in connection with the church which is His body, (the believers under the Gospel of the uncircumcision, that which was committed to the Apostle Paul together with the secret which He proclaimed), is Christ Jesus our Lord, the Head to the Church which is His body. The plain name Jesus is used particularly in connection with Israel as a Nation. Those who believed that Jesus was the Messiah called Him so, and acknowledged Him to be Lord, and being "the seed of David according to the flesh," He is King of Israel, and King of kings of the nations of the earth.

To us He is Lord, and Lord of all lords of creation. Of Jesus Christ, the Man of the gospels, born of the virgin Mary, on Whom the Holy Spirit descended as a dove and the voice of God proclaimed, "This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased," it is written, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." He consistently called Himself "the Son of Man," a title, which, by His use of it, particularly connects Him with His return to earth in power (see Daniel 7:13; John 1:51; Matt. 26:54; Matt. 24:30 and 25:31). This event is given a timing in relation to another event in Matt. 24:29 and 30.

"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and THEN shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and THEN shall all the tribes of the earth (land) mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."

The identification of these passages with Zechariah 14:3 and 4, is unmistakable, and comparison with Zech. 12 will indicate that it is the context to chapter 14 Zech. verse 4, which clearly prophesies the fulfilment of the words of the two men in white apparel: "Then shall the Lord go forth. . . and His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the East. Zech. 12:10 prophesies a particular aspect of His coming and His personal presence, standing in His power and glory as Son of Man upon the Mount of Olives. He focuses our attention "upon me Whom they have pierced." This pierced One was foretold by David in Psalm 22:16, "they pierced my hands and my feet," fulfilled literally upon the person of Jesus, the Son of Man, when He was crucified on Golgotha. In addition, John 19:34 says, "One of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side." This piercing of the body is taken up by Thomas, when the other disciples said that they had seen the Lord, as an indication of the necessary requirement before he would believe. But a week later the Lord appeared and gave him the opportunity, chiding him. This brought forth that wonderful confession by Thomas: "My Lord and my God." This is but a foretaste of what is going to happen in that day as is given to us in Revelation 1:7, "Behold, He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen."

In connection with all these events, both before and during the great tribulation there will be those on earth who believe that Jesus is the Christ. They will be those who will believe the gospel of the circumcision and they will form assemblies in many places. Seven of these with their various characteristics are mentioned in the first three chapters of Revelation. These will be the ones who will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air at the outset of the "times of restitution of all (things)." These people are told to observe times and seasons, to expect signs indicating the approach of their day of salvation. They will be called upon to endure to the end. Upon this endurance much depends. Not so, however, with the church which is His body the called out from the nations, of which Israel now is only one among many. Our hope to-day is certainly a looking forward to being with the Lord in His presence, but not in connection with His coming from heaven, which, as we have seen, cannot take place until after the great tribulation, but at some unknown moment, without sign or forewarning, when the last foreordained member of the body believes and thereby completes it. "We shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." (I. Cor. 15:51-53). This is the principle governing all resurrections unto life. "Ye were sealed with the holy spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession." (Eph. 1:13 and 14). "We look for the Saviour (or better: we ardently await a Saviour), the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body (or, body of humiliation), that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body. . ." (Phil. 3:20 and 21). The translation of these verses has presented much difficulty, and the A.V. does not give the true sense.

"If ye then be risen with Christ. . . For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear (or, be manifested), then shall ye also appear (or, be manifested) with Him in glory." (Col. 3:1-4).

"I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. . . . Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing" (not necessarily to take place on earth and not likely to do so without violating Acts 3:21 and 2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Following this transformation and translation of the members of the church His body, Israel as a Nation, who have had their understanding darkened because of unbelief, will be taken up again and restored to the land of their fathers in full belief of Jehovah, the God of Israel, and to their temple worship. The church of today does not go through the great tribulation. The church at the time of the end does do so. This Article is from Commander J. G. H. Steedman. (A.T.)