Our Great Debt!

Our Great Debt

The book of Acts is an inspirational book built around stories of faith, and the effect of their illuminating spiritual messages. Like the Gospels, there are a myriad of events not recorded in the text (John 21:25). But what is written was inspired by the Holy Spirit for our edification and spiritual growth. 

Get your bible and let’s look briefly at the beginning of this profound story:  

 Acts 1:4, 6 – 11

Verse 4:  Jesus commands the apostles not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised. Shavuot (Pentecost), one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals, was upon them. Passover & Sukkot (Tabernacles) are the other two festivals.  So, they waited for something mysterious to happen. 

Verse 6: Jesus’ words to them just days before, during the Passover meal, was “I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom” (Luke 22:16). He also said, that they would “sit on thrones” in His kingdom (Luke 22:16).  Perhaps these words were on their minds when they asked Jesus, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Or perhaps they were thinking about God’s promises to restore David’s kingdom (Jeremiah 23:5, 6; Amos 9:11, 12). They wanted the Roman oppression to stop and birthing the Messianic Kingdom would do exactly that – stop the Roman Empire.

Verse 7:  Jesus basically said to His Apostles it was not for them to know when the complete fulfillment of the Kingdom will happen.  Yes, it will happen, but not now.  

The words “times” (chronous), and “seasons” (kairous) are specific periods of time, a definitive time, a mysterious set-time, an unknown set-time.  In other words, God has a divinely appointed time as to when the Kingdom will occur – they do not need to know the day or hour.

Verse 8: Meanwhile, until the literal Kingdom begins, they have a spiritual kingdom to build. Not by military or political conquest, but by conquering human hearts through their witness of the gospel. They are to go “to the end of the earth,” or all the land, everywhere (Greek, ghay; Hebrew, eretz). The scope of the mission is unlimited.

In the Gospel of Mark Jesus says, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” – to all creation (Mark 16:15). This is a very broad concept to land on Jewish ears.  They would think, “Why go to the whole world, Gentiles live out there?” This mandate was difficult for them to understand at first. Their main desire would have been to reach Israel – not the pagans.

In Matthew’s account, Jesus says“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations (Gentiles), baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19, 20).  

“Teaching them to observe” is a very Jewish thing to do. They would have thought, “Oh, you mean, we are to go to the world (Gentiles) and to teach them to observe the things of God?”  This principle they would have understood. 

Ascending

Verses 9 – 11: The phrase that Jesus was taken up by a cloud “out of their sight” looks backward to stories in the Tanakh (Old Testament).   Elijah, ascended upon a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:9, 10); and Mosesascended into the cloud on Sinai and received the Torah (Exodus 19:16 – 20; 24:15 – 18); and to Daniel’s vision of the “Son of Man” coming on the clouds (Daniel 7:13, 14).

He Gave

Before Elijah departed he gave Elisha a double portion of his spirit. Moses gave the people the Torah and before his departure he imparted his spirit to Joshua as he carried on Moses’ mission (Deuteronomy 34:9).

Just like the passing on of the spirit and holy missions from Elijah to Elisha, from Moses to Joshua, now Jesus is passing onto His apostles the Holy Spirit and a holy mission (John 16:7).

As to Daniel’s vision, Jesus indicated that he is the Son of Man foreseen by Daniel (Luke 21:27).  And as the Messiah He has the authority to speak such things. 

The apostles lingered.  They didn’t want to leave.  Perhaps they thought [my paraphrase], “There’s got to be more!” The two angels then said, ‘Why are you standing here?  You have work to do. He will come back, he will descend, just as you saw Him ascend.’”  They returned to Jerusalem and waited. 

He Came

The Holy Spirit did come upon them in Acts chapter 2.  Peter preached and 3,000 came to faith in Jesus.  The assembly began to grow – all these events happened in the A.D. 30’s.  By the A.D. 40’s the Jewish believers began to reach out to Gentiles as recorded for us in Acts 10, 11. 

Today, the majority in the church is comprised of Gentile believers. Gentiles owe a great debt to the Jew for obeying the Master’s command to go to the whole world and to teach the Gentiles to observe His commands and to learn His story!

Our team and network comprising of both Jews and Gentiles, brings hope to Jews and Arabs living in Israel.  Your continued prayers and generosity empower us to provide thousands of meals, and present the gospel in an effective way.  

Now, more than ever your outstanding prayerful and financial partnership is vital.  God is softening hearts to the gospel during these challenging days.  With new open doors before us in S’derot and Be’er Sheva we need to advance the gospel.  

Thank you for standing with ITM helping us feed children, Holocaust survivors, and families in Israel, and presenting the gospel!

Shalom and Blessings,

Until He comes, we are

Together Under His Wings,

Dr. Jeff