Saturday, June 23, 2012

More on Acts 1:6-7 etc

The reason I frequently point to the disciples’ question in Acts 1:6 is because it challenges the supercessionist view. Their question was driven by a virtual tidal wave of OT passages and literal expectation. Jesus’ response is notable in that He does not correct their anticipation. In contrast to this the supercessionist response is significant because it doesn’t resolve the problem for that view. The supercessionist fabricates an answer that he feels comfortable with but ultimately doesn’t gel.

An example of this is Stephen Sizer’s “Christian Zionism, Road-Map to Armageddon?” (p169). Sizer cites John Calvin: “There are many mistakes in this question as there are words.” He appeals to O Palmer Robertson when, reflecting on Jesus’ response, he states:

“Jesus redefines the boundaries of the kingdom of God and thereby the meaning of the chosen-ness. The expansion of the kingdom of God throughout the world requires the exile of the apostles from the land. They must turn their backs on Jerusalem and on their hopes of a materialistic kingdom. They are sent out to the world but never told to return. Subsequent to Pentecost, under the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the apostles begin to use old covenant language concerning the land in new ways...”

Sizer uses 1 Peter 1:4 as an example of this “new old covenant” concept.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1Pe 1:3-5

The context of these verses is resurrection and salvation. Sizer assumes a redefined kingdom in a text where it isn’t to be found. Salvation and resurrection are expectations found in the OT alongside the land promises to Israel. One does not cancel the other. Nowhere are the disciples told to go out and expand the kingdom (compare Acts 1:7-8 & Matt 28:19). Neither are they told to forsake the mountain of scriptural evidence of future land fulfillment for Israel as indicated in the OT; which was the same source from which they had expected a literal Messiah. Nothing is changed – compare Jer 31 with Acts 3:25-26 and Romans 11:26-29.

On p 160 he appeals to metaphorical language and the alleged redefinition of the OT by the NT (Acts-Joel-Amos). Speaking of the prophecies of the “fulfilled” return from the Babylonian exile, Sizer declares:

“While it is true that only 50,000 exiles had returned in around 538 BC, compared with the 603,550 men (excluding women and children) that had come out of Egypt a thousand years earlier (see Num 1:46), and although they returned to only a small part of their original territory and built only a small replica of Solomon’s temple, God’s prophets nevertheless describe this restoration as so wonderful that it goes that it goes well beyond the limitations of any literal realization. Haggai and Zechariah, for example, describe a glorious future where Jerusalem becomes a great city surrounded by a wall of fire and into which the Gentile nations stream to worship. As Palmer Robertson explains, the imagery here metaphorically bursts the limitations of the old covenant wineskin.”

Sizer would have made a great car salesman – “We don’t have the Ferrari you’re looking for but that VW Beetle in the back corner of our lot is a better choice.” I love the old VWs but they aren’t a patch on a Ferrari. I once owned a tricked up Karmann Ghia; as nice as it was it didn’t have the prestige or power of a Porsche 911.

What is missing from his narrative is the lack of exposition of texts that deal with God’s promises to Israel. Go to the Index of Biblical References (p 296) and you’ll find Amos 9:14 referenced on pp 154 & 158 but there is no exposition and neither is the text given. Moreover, he fails to reference v 15 and omits Jeremiah 31 entirely! Amos 9:15 declares:

“I will also plant them on their land, And they will not again be rooted out from their land Which I have given them," Says the LORD your God.”

Was God speaking metaphorically?

On pp 106-108 of “Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate”, Matt Waymeyer lists 8 biblical reasons why a restoration of Israel in the land is still future. One reason is Zech 10:8, which Sizer perhaps inadvertently acknowledges (see above). Also, the sinful nature and consistent disobedience of Israel cannot be reconciled with the passages that speak of spiritual renewal following that restoration. God said He would destroy the nations to which He had scattered the Jews, yet this hasn’t happened. The promise of the return was presented as an integral part of the New Covenant but that covenant wasn’t inaugurated prior to Christ.

Speaking of Matt Waymeyer, you can read his commentary on Acts 1:6-7 and the Restoration of Israel HERE.


According to Luke 24:45, Jesus not only taught His disciples during this time period [the 40 days], but He also “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” The Greek verb translated “opened” is the word used in Acts 16:14 of how the Lord “opened” Lydia’s heart to respond to the gospel. In Luke 24:45 it speaks of a supernatural opening of the disciples’ minds which enabled them to understand the things spoken about Jesus throughout the Old Testament.

In light of this, how can one insist that the disciples were deceived in thinking that God was planning to restore the kingdom to the nation of Israel? Jesus Himself instructed them clearly, and He even enlightened their minds to understand the things He taught, so how could they be so radically misinformed about features of the kingdom as basic as its nature and recipients?

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