So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or the dates, which the Father has fixed by His own authority.”
Jesus shattered the expectations of so many in Israel. They anticipated the Messiah’s arrival to mark the beginning of a revolution. The Christ would finally restore their nation’s sovereignty and subdue their enemies. The apostles held the same hope.
Instead, Jesus moved through life clothed in humility until He died on the cross as if He were a common criminal. The apostles’ hope was lost. Other disciples wondered if they had been wrong about Jesus, having believed He would “redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21).
Then, the unthinkable happened. Jesus rose from the grave. He renewed their aspirations concerning the nation. Once He promised them the Spirit would descend in a matter of days, their minds likely recalled the prophecies of Ezekiel 36 and Joel 2. Both prophets connected the outpouring of the Spirit with the restoration of Israel. It must be time, the apostles thought.
To be sure, they asked, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” But Jesus answered, “It is not for you to know the times or the dates, which the Father has fixed by His own authority.”
The Old Testament never provided a timeline between the first and second comings of Christ. Neither did Jesus. The time was fixed, appointed by God, but no man can know the day or the hour when He will return and the fullness of the kingdom will come.
Soon after this conversation, Jesus ascended into heaven and took His seat “at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3). It is a place of authority where Christ reigns to this day and will continue to reign until His return. In the meantime, God’s elect are still being born and reborn, inducted as citizens into His kingdom. Eventually, we will see what John was blessed see:
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth.” For the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no more sea. I, John, saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven, saying, “Look! The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them. They shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. ‘God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. There shall be no more death.’ Neither shall there be any more sorrow nor crying nor pain, for the former things have passed away.”
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, her light like a most precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were written: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
He who talked with me had a golden rod to measure the city and its gates and wall. The city lies as a square, its length as long as its width. He measured the city with the rod: one thousand four hundred miles. Its length and breadth and height are equal. He then measured its wall: two hundred feet by the measurement of a man, that is, of an angel. The wall was built of jasper and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all kinds of precious jewels. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; and the twelfth, amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.
I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city has no need of sun or moon to shine in it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall never be shut by day, for there shall be no night there. They shall bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. No unclean thing shall ever enter it, nor shall anyone who commits abomination or falsehood, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Some think the nation of Israel will be restored just as the apostles expected prior to the end of time. Personally, I believe we will not see an “earthly” kingdom until after the new earth is formed, and a new Jerusalem descends from heaven. Its citizens will not be natural Israel but spiritual Israel, “heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29).