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Volume 24 - Page 34 of 211 Index | Zoom | |
"It was necessary that the word of God should FIRST have been spoken unto you, but
seeing that ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we
turn to the Gentiles . . . . . unto the ends of the earth" (Acts 13: 46, 47).
The more the opening chapters of the Acts are scrutinized, the less is warrant found
for the introduction there of "the church". All is intimately bound up with the hope of
Israel's restoration. When we say "all", we mean every item that is brought forward,
such as the forty days' exposition of the O.T. Scriptures (Acts 1: 3), the association of the
baptism of John with Pentecost (Acts 1: 4, 5), the extension of the witness to the ends of
the earth (Acts 1: 8), and the coming of Christ to the Mount of Olives (Acts 1: 11, 12). All
these have a bearing upon the restoration of Israel: not one can be made to speak of "the
church", without dislocation. With the return of the disciples to Jerusalem and their
meeting together in prayer with the women, and Mary, and the Lord's brethren, the
introduction to the Acts finishes, leaving the way open for the examination of the new
story of Acts itself, which commences at 1: 15.
In view of its prominence in the opening chapters of the Acts and its close bearing
upon many points of doctrine and practice found both in the Acts and in the epistles of
the period, it will be of service if we give the matter of Israel's restoration further
consideration before commencing the study of the Acts proper, that is Acts 1: 15 to the
end of the book. The very use of the word "restore" presupposes "loss", "forfeiture",
"cessation", or "lapse", and the history of Israel clearly shows that the covenants and
promises that were made with them and the fathers were withdrawn, or postponed,
because of the faithlessness of the people.
Three great causes of Israel's rejection are indicated in the Word, viz., (1) Idolatry;
(2) Rejection of Christ; (3) Antagonism to the preaching of the Gospel.
intermediate, causes will be found, but these are the most prominent.
Before Israel entered the land of promise, and before a king sat upon the throne,
Moses warned the people of the consequences of departure from the covenant of God:--
"Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus with this land? What
meaneth the heat of this great anger? Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken
the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, which He made with them when He
brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: For they went and served other gods, and
worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, who had not given to them any portion (see
margin) . . . and the Lord rooted them out of their land in anger . . ." (Deut. 29: 24-28).
Before proceeding the whole of Lev. 26: should be read. The chapter is full of
teaching on the subject of Israel's rejection.
The second great cause of Israel's rejection was their blindness and hardness of heart
at the coming of Christ:--
"And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou
hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace,
but now they are hid from thine eyes" (Luke 19: 41, 42).