Acts 004 – How Firm a Foundation (pt. 2)

Acts 004 – How Firm a Foundation (pt. 2)
Acts 1:8-11 • Dr. Andy Woods • November 30, 2022 • Acts


Acts 004

How Firm a Foundation, Part 2

Acts 1:8-11

November 30, 2022

Dr. Andy Woods

All right. Let’s let’s open our Bibles, if we could, to Acts 1:7. On this last day in November- you guys believe that? This year’s almost over. So as you all know, we started a study on the Book of Acts a few weeks back. We took Thanksgiving off. Did anybody show up last week by mistake? Think they missed the rapture or something? But basically what we’ve done so far in the study is we went through the introduction to the book in the first two lessons. And then the last time we were together, we started verse-by-verse in Acts chapter 1, and we made it all the way, if I remember right through verse 7. So Acts chapter 1- and I’ve kind of entitled our teachings in Acts chapter 1 How Firm a Foundation. Because what’s happening here- I’ll explain it, as we get moving into this- is that the foundation for the church and the age of the church is being laid here in this chapter, even though the Holy Spirit has not yet fallen as He will and Acts 2. So a building is only as good as the foundation it comes from. And the Lord is making sure that the foundation is right. Because what is going to start is a worldwide movement starting just from twelve apostles. And that worldwide movement is going to, as a worldwide movement implies, go all over the earth. And we are the recipients of it today in the 21st century.

But the first five verses deals with the Prologue. We went through that. It’s a connection to Luke’s gospel. There’s some information about Jesus’ post-Resurrection ministry, and then in verses 4 and 5, Jesus makes the promise that not many days from now the disciples are going to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. So they are on the Mount of Olives as this post- Resurrection Ministry of Jesus is unfolding. We’re told His post-Resurrection ministry, before He ascended, lasted 40 days. And it’s there, verse 5, He says, “But John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit, not many days from now.” And He’s speaking of something that they had never learned before or knew before abut a ministry that would start in Acts 2 called the Baptizing Ministry of the Spirit. Baptize, in Greek, we always think of water, but the phrase actually means identification, baptizó. So the Holy Spirit, beginning with the age of the church, the dispensation of the church, is going to start a brand new ministry where he’s going to take men and women who have trusted for personal salvation in the Messiah, rejected by national Israel. And the moment any person, Jew or Gentile, male or female exercises faith in the Messiah for personal salvation is the moment the Spirit is going to begin to take them instantly at the point of faith, alone in Christ alone, and baptize or identify them into a new spiritual man called the Body of Christ.

So that’s what’s going to start here in  Acts 2 and that’s what Jesus is referring to in verse 5. And you’re really not going to get a full explanation of it until the writings of the Apostle Paul. Who, later, will be saved and be used strategically by God to write thirteen letters explaining what started in Acts 2. And he will say, “For by one spirit wee are all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greek, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” And Jesus is saying that ministry, which the disciples knew nothing about, basically until this point in time is going to start an Acts 2. And then when you move to verses 6 through 11, we have the information about His ascension. The forty-day ministry is going to come to an end and He is going to ascend back to the Father’s right hand, verses 6 through 11. So you’ll remember verse 6, that we looked at last time, it says: “So when they had come together, they were asking Him, ‘Lord, is it at this time You-” going to or- “is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?'” So obviously they weren’t thinking in terms of church age truth. They were thinking in terms of the kingdom. And the reason they were thinking in terms of the kingdom is Old Testament Scripture is very clear that when the kingdom starts, it will be characterized by the fullness of the Spirit.

They were probably thinking of Ezekiel 36:24-28, a Kingdom passage, where Ezekiel predicted, “I will take you,” that’s Israel, “from the nations and gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean.” Verse 26, “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.” So the disciples understood that the kingdom was associated with the Spirit. Jesus just got finished talking about the baptism of the Spirit. And so they were confused. They thought, well, this He must be referring to the beginning of the Davidic kingdom. When in reality Jesus wasn’t referring to that at all. He was referring to the church age or the body of Christ. So consequently, they asked this question. “Is that at this time you’re restoring the kingdom to Israel?” And then Jesus gives a response. “It is not for you to know times or the epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” The Greek word for times is “chronos”, where we get the word chronology. And the Greek word for seasons or epochs is “kairos”. He’s saying it’s not for you to know the chronos or the kairos, the times or the seasons for the manifestation of the kingdom, because the kingdom is going to come when the Father has determined it’s going to come.

And Eschatalogically we know exactly when the kingdom is going to come. It’s going to come at the end of the seven year tribulation period, the 70th week of Daniel. And Jesus is saying, don’t worry about the kingdom. What I was just referring to in verse 5 is not the kingdom. It’s something unique that the Spirit has never done before germane to the church age. Just because the Spirit is going to be working in the church age in a new way doesn’t mean the kingdom won’t come one day. It will come. But it’s not for you to be focused on that right now. The kingdom is on schedule. The Father has fixed its arrival according to His own authority. The kingdom is going to come at the end of the seven year tribulation period, but we’re not in that time yet. The Spirit now is going to be doing something totally different and totally unique in the church age through His baptizing work. So if there was ever a time for Jesus to say, What is the matter with you guys? Don’t you understand that the kingdom will never come? Or don’t you understand that the kingdom is here now in spiritual form? If there was ever a time for Jesus to correct their misunderstanding of the kingdom, this would be it. But He does not correct their misunderstanding of the kingdom.

He only corrects their misunderstanding of the time of the kingdom. And that’s a very crucial distinction to make because a lot of people think what Jesus is saying here is there’s not going to be a kingdom. Well, there is going to be a kingdom one day. It’s just in the current age, as the Spirit is doing His baptizing work, the kingdom hasn’t been canceled, but it’s been what? Postponed. It’s in a state of delay. So J. Dwight Pentecost, in his excellent book, Thy Kingdom Come, correctly says on this passage, Acts 1:7. “This passage makes it clear that while the covenanted form of the theocracy has not been canceled and has only been postponed,” That’s a key word there, Postponed. “this present age is definitely not a development of the Davidic form of the kingdom.” the kingdom is going to come, but it’s going to come after what Jesus is focused on here, the church age and the key distinguishing marker of the church age, the baptizing Ministry of the Holy Spirit. So you’re right about the kingdom. You’re wrong about the timing is essentially what Jesus is saying. Now, you would not believe how many people have completely messed this up. And they make it sound like there’s never going to be a kingdom on the earth one day. I mean, shouldn’t we all be following John Calvin and everything he says? You know, some churches, the way they talk about John Calvin, I mean, I don’t know if they’re more impressed with John the Apostle or John Calvin.

I mean, you cannot question John Calvin and his interpretations of the Bible in many reform circles. And yet John Calvin completely and totally butchers this passage in his Acts commentary. Gets the whole thing wrong. And let me just show you what he says here. And of course, it’s sort of older English, his commentary, but Calvin was an interesting guy. He commented, I think, on almost every single passage of the Bible. There are some exceptions. And so it’s not hard to see what Calvin thought about different passages. And if you read what he says about Acts 1:6, I mean, he completely misses the point of the passage. And as as I read this quote, you’ll see how totally arrogant and condescending he comes across. So Calvin says, “he’s showeth,” that’s Jesus showing. “He showeth the apostles. We’re gathered together when as this question was moved, that we may know that it came not of the foolishness of one or two that it was moved, but it was moved by the common consent of them all.” All of them are idiots, in other words, is what he’s saying there- the disciples. “But marvelous es there rudeness, that when as they had been diligently instructed by the space of three whole years, they betray no less ignorance than if they had heard never a word. There is as many errors in this question as words. They ask him as concerning a kingdom; but they dream of an earthly kingdom, which should flow with riches, and dainties, with external peace, and with such like good things…”

Basically he’s saying the apostles are completely missing the point. Jesus is obviously telling them here that there’s never going to be an earthly kingdom through Israel. He goes on and he says of these apostles, “They are greatly deceived herein, in that they restrain Christ’s kingdom unto the carnal Israel, which was to be spread abroad, even unto the uttermost parts of the world…but, in the meantime, they declared thereby by how bad scholars they were under such a good Master. Therefore doth Christ briefly comprehend in the short answer all the errors whereinto they fell in this their question, as I shall straightaway declare.” And what he’s basically saying here in this quote is the apostles stupidly, because they’re such poor scholars, foolishly thought that there was going to be an earthly kingdom one day. And Jesus is basically correcting the idea that there is going to be an earthly kingdom. And I’m here to tell you folks that that is Not- with a capital N- that is not what Jesus is saying. He is not saying, Oh, there’s not going to be a kingdom. What He’s saying is, you’re right about the kingdom. You’re wrong about when it’s going to come because the age of the church is going to precede the kingdom.

Concerning the What question, you’re right. Concerning the When question, you’re wrong. Calvin is saying they’re wrong. Concerning the What question. And you would not believe how many people follow Calvin, almost like lemmings. And so here’s Hank Hanegraaf in his book, The Apocalypse Code. Which I have to tell you, I had to read this for my dissertation because my dissertation was on the subject. I’ve read a lot of, you know, bitter, acrimonious books, but this one takes the cake. I’ve never seen anything quite like this in terms of acrimony and bitterness. He doesn’t like Tim LaHaye at all in the book. And he mentions Tim LaHaye, if you do a word search, over 400 times. It’s like a hit piece on Tim LaHaye. And of course, Tim LaHaye, who’s with the Lord now, was a Amillennialist, meaning he taught a future kingdom one day. And Hanegraaff is saying Tim LaHaye misses the whole point of what Christ is saying here in Acts 1:6-7. So Hanegraaff says concerning these verses, “The quintessential point of understanding for John as well as for the rest of the disciples began to dawn at the time of Christ’s post-resurrection appearances. Previously they had been under the same misconceptions as modern-day Christian Zionists.” Now people say, well, Andy, are you a Christian Zionist? I’m absolutely a Christian Zionist. A Zionist is basically somebody who believes that God has a plan for future Israel and that Israel, in her current form, is preparatory for that final work of God.

So if that makes me a Christian Zionist, then I plead guilty. But this is who Hanegraaff is going after in this particular book, The Apocalypse Code. “They,” that’s the apostles, “had expected Jesus to establish Jerusalem as the capital of a sovereign Jewish empire.” Now we know he’s going to do that, right? Because the book of Zechariah, which we just got finished studying, tells us Jesus will do that. But Hanegraaff says, “The notion was so ingrained in their psyches that even as Jesus was about to ascend into heaven, they asked, ‘Lord, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ Jesus not only corrects their erroneous thinking, but expands their horizons from a tiny strip of land on the east coast of the Mediterranean to the farthest reaches of the earth. ‘You’ll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you,’ said Jesus as he was about to be taken into heaven; ‘and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ Hanegraaff says, “In effect, Jesus left his disciples with instructions to exit Jerusalem, embrace the earth,” Watch this very carefully here, “and never again entertain the thought of establishing an earthly Jerusalem. The disciples are no longer permitted to view Israel in an exclusivistic parochial categories.”

You know, these guys, they really know how to call names. You know, I don’t even know what parochial categories is, but it must be bad. “their sights instead must be elevated to an inclusive Israel.” Now, watch this, Now, “As Paul put it in the book of Romans, ‘Not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. True Israel,” watch this now, “consists of people ‘from every tribe and language and people and nation. (Revelation 5:9).” And what he’s basically saying is God is through with Israel. God has transferred all of His promises from earthly Israel to the church, which is the new Israel. And God is through with the Jew. All of these prophecies about a kingdom one day headquartered in Jerusalem that we studied extensively in Zechariah 14, those are all altered. And if you think otherwise, you’re as naive as the apostles. So, where is Hanegraaff getting these thoughts from? He’s getting them obviously from John Calvin. Where’s John Calvin getting these thoughts from? When you read Calvin’s Institutes, he says over and over again- and by the way, he was 26 years old when he wrote Calvin’s Institutes. I mean, if you guys ever find something I wrote when I was 26 and you make, like, a religious movement around it, I’m going to come out there and wring everybody’s neck. Because the only thing I can say about the stuff I said when I was 26 is, “Thank God the Internet wasn’t around then.”

So Calvin, in his institutes, keeps saying, Augustine says, Augustine says, Augustine says- quotes Augustine all the time. Just get his institutes and do a word search on Augustine, and you’ll see how frequently he, as a 26-year old, is borrowing from Augustine. It’s Augustine back in the fourth century who taught, in a formal sense, the doctrine of a-millennialism which is replacement theology. God is through with Israel. All of Israel’s blessings have been transferred to the church. God has broken His word to the Jew. Now, if God has broken His word to the Jew, then how in the world can you, as a Gentile, trust Him to keep his promises to you? And that’s the whole problem with Augustine’s theology- is it puts God’s character on trial. And makes it sound as if God doesn’t keep His word. And if God doesn’t keep His word to Israel, then everything He’s said to me about eternal security and everything else is not worth the paper that it’s written on. So you’ll notice that both Calvin and Hanegraaff are building this case that there’s not going to be an earthly kingdom through their misreading of Acts 1:6-7. You know, they’re making it sound as if Jesus is challenging the disciples on the What question. He is not doing that. He is not challenging the disciples on the What question. What He is challenging them on is the When question.

The kingdom will come, but it’s not in the current age, is what Jesus is saying. Hanegraaff and Calvin and Augustine all want this passage to read as if Jesus is saying there’s not going to be an earthly kingdom at all. And cheer up, folks, it gets worse. Entering the picture is Rick Warren in his book. He has a big following here, I can tell. His book, Purpose Driven Life, which was like- it was a runaway best seller. It’s the number one best-seller, I don’t know for how long. But one of the most popular books in evangelical Christianity. And on pages 285 to 286, he says- it’s there in print. Just get the book and read it. Some of the most scathing things about people that are interested in Bible prophecy. And he builds his understanding on Christ’s words here in Acts 1:6-7. So Rick Warren says, “When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism.” That’s what he thinks Jesus is doing here. Tell us about prophecy, Jesus. Let’s not talk about prophecy. Let’s talk about evangelism. I mean, I guess he’s never read Matthew 24 and 25, where the disciples ask Jesus a question about prophecy, and he spends two chapters, as recorded in Matthew’s gospel, explaining Bible prophecy and what we call the Olivet Discourse. It’s almost as if Rick Warren hasn’t even read those chapters.

“When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism. He wanted them to concentrate on their mission in the world. He said in essence, ‘The details of my return are none of your business.'” Is that what was said here? It says in verse 6, “So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?'” Verse 7, “He said to them,” Jesus speaking, It’s none of your business. Oh, it doesn’t even say that, does it? He says, “It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the father has fixed by His own authority.'” And I’m just wondering where- I mean, if this is a best seller, what do you do with all of these people that buy this book and read over this paragraph and think absolutely nothing of it? It’s stunning, really. “He wanted them to concentrate on their mission in the world. He said in essence, ‘The details of my return are none of your business. What is your business is the mission I have given you. Focus on that!'” And here comes the straw men. As my friend Brandon House says, Straw man alert- you know what a  straw man is right? A straw man is you don’t respond to the person’s argument. You respond to your misrepresentation of the person’s argument. And then you spend your time tearing down your misrepresentation of what your opponent supposedly believes.

I mean, if you’re interested in politics, politicians do this to each other all the time. If you vote for my opponent, it’s going to take your Social Security away. And the other guy’s like, Well, wait a minute, I never said anything about Social Security. But if you repeat something long enough, it becomes a truth, right? So here comes a straw man alert. “If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy. Speculating on the exact timing of Christ’s return is futile, because Jesus said, ‘No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels…nor the Son, but only the Father.’ Since Jesus said He didn’t know the day or the hour, why should you try to figure out? What we do know for sure is this: Jesus will not return until everyone God wants to hear the Good News has heard it.” Now we focus on prophecy at this church. But have you ever heard myself or any of the preachers or teachers here give a date for the Lord’s return? No, because the Bible doesn’t give a date. So he’s building a straw man that if you’re interested in the 27% of the Bible dealing with prophecy, you’re obviously a date-setting kook. He goes on and he says, “Jesus said, ‘The good news about God’s kingdom will be preached in the whole world, to every nation. Then the end will come.”

That’s a tribulation passage: Matthew 24:14. But, who’s keeping record here? “If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not on figuring out prophecy. It is easy to get distracted and sidetracked from your mission-” and here he’s going to use the S-word, Satan. “It is easy to get distracted and sidetrack from your mission because Satan would rather have you do anything besides sharing your faith. He will let you do all kinds of good things as long as you don’t take anyone to heaven with you. But the moment you become serious about your mission, expect the devil to throw all kinds of diversions at you. When that happens, remember the words of Jesus” ‘Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I planned for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God.'” So if you’re interested in prophecy, you’re distracted. Satan is using you. You’re not serious about your mission. Completely overlooking that it’s the prophecies related to the imminent return of Christ that motivate behavior and the present. You know, we’re dealing with a lot of that in Sunday school in our Thessalonians study. You’re not fit for the kingdom of God. And you’re kind of one of these crazy datesetters. And where is he getting all of this from? From his reading of Acts 1:6-7 where Jesus allegedly said, The details of My return are none of your business.

That is not what Jesus is saying. Rick Warren does not have it right. John Calvin does not have it right. Hank Hanegraaff does not have it right. Augustine does not have it right. Jesus is not challenging the disciples on the what question. He’s not challenging them on some idea that the kingdom is never going to come. What He’s challenging them on is the When question. And all of these interpreters are tripping over themselves trying to make it sound like Jesus canceled the coming kingdom, which He did not. Jesus did not cancel the coming kingdom. Jesus taught that the coming kingdom, as Dwight Pentecost says accurately, is in a state of postponement. Now, what is the prequel to the Book of Acts? The Gospel of Luke. And in Luke 19:11-15, Jesus taught the parable of the minas. A mina was a monetary sum. Why did He teach the parable of the minas? What was the occasion that gave rise to the parable of the minas? It’s in Luke 19:11. “While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the Kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.” So the disciples, they thought, this is the Messiah. He’s going to set up the kingdom. Jesus is trying to communicate to them that I’m going to set up the kingdom one day, but it will be in a state of postponement where you are to occupy until I come.

And that’s the whole point of the parable of the miners. Just a few verses from the parable of the minas, Luke 19:12, “So He said, ‘A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back.'” Occupy until I come, in other words. “But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ When he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him so that he might know what business they had done.” So in the prequel to the Book of Acts, Jesus, in the parable of the minas, has already disclosed an age of time called the Inner Advent Age, when the kingdom won’t be here. Why did He have to talk to them about it? Because they were near Jerusalem and they thought, Luke 19:11, that He was going to set up the kingdom right then and there. And He’s saying, it’s not going to be that way. I’m not going to challenge you on the What question. I’m going to challenge you on the When question.

There’s going to be a long age of time when the kingdom will be in postponement. But you better be about your master’s business, because when I do set up the kingdom, I’m going to reward those servants of Mine that are faithful during this inner advent age, when the kingdom is in a state of postponement. So where are we today in the year 2022, moving into the year 2023? We are not in the kingdom. We are in that age of time that Jesus spoke of when the kingdom is not canceled but postponed. And God has entrusted to us certain things and we need to be investing those things for Him. And we’ll be rewarded for that when He returns one day and sets up His kingdom. So they should have grasped it from Luke 19, but they didn’t. And so when the sequel, in the Book of Acts, they’re struggling with the same issue. You know, they thought the kingdom was going to materialize immediately. They probably made the mistake because Jesus had spoken to them about the Spirit. Since the Kingdom is characterized by the Spirit, they thought the kingdom was going to come. Jesus does not challenge them on the What question, contrary to all these other interpreters, He challenges them on the win question. Because the Book of Acts is not about the establishment of the kingdom. The Book of Acts is about the beginning of the church age which will take place during this entire advent age while the kingdom is in a state of- not cancellation, but postponement.

J Dwight Pentecost in this sentence has it completely and totally accurate. Concerning Acts 1:6-7, “This passage makes it clear that while the covenanted form of the Theocracy has not been canceled and has only been postponed, the present age is definitely not a development of the Davidic form of the kingdom.” So with all of that being said, we now can start our Bible study with verse 8. Everything I’ve said thus far is introduction. So he says in Acts chapter 1 verse 8, “But you,” that’s the disciples, “will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” You’ll notice the word, but, which is a contrastive. In other words, during this time period when the Davidic Kingdom is in postponement, God has given us resources to occupy until He comes. And the primary resource that He’s given us is something that Jesus was talking about to the disciples over and over again a few days or so earlier in the upper room. And that’s the Ministry of the Holy Spirit. He’s already told us that the Holy Spirit is coming a few days from now, and He wants us to know that in this age when the kingdom is not here, He has not left us as orphans, but He’s given us power to do what He wants us to do while the kingdom is not here.

And that power comes from the Ministry of the Holy Spirit. He also says there in verse 8, “AMd you shall be my witnesses.” Witnesses is interesting. It’s our position as inheritors of the kingdom, while the kingdom is not here. We are not currently reigning in the kingdom. Now we will reign in the kingdom when the events of Revelation 20 versus 4 through 6 come to pass. It says, “they came to life and reigned with Christ for 1000 years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these, the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for 1000 years.” Reigning time is coming. You will reign with Christ for 1000 years as part of your inheritance, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. But the current age is not that time period. We are not currently reigning the way it describes it here in Revelation 20:4-6. If we were reigning, like it describes in Revelation 20:4-6, then explain to me all of the Christian martyrdoms that have happened over the last 2000 years. I think it’s the voice of Martyrs Ministries, talked about there were more Christian martyrdoms in the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century than all of the martyrdoms of all of church history over the last 2000 years combined.

Martyrdoms and persecution against Christians is not decreasing. It is increasing. And if that is so, then how in the world can anybody with a sane mind say that the church is reigning right now? We are not reigning right now. We are witnesses to a coming kingdom, showing people how they can enter and have citizenship in the coming kingdom during this age when the kingdom is in postponement. So that word, witnesses, is going to be used multiple times as we study through the Book of Acts. So while the kingdom is not here, what are we supposed to do? It’s right there in verse 8. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest parts of the earth.” Now, when we were introducing the book in the first couple of lessons, I said, That’s your outline for the Book of Acts. Jesus just gave us an outline for the Book of Acts that Luke follows. First Jesus said, You’ll be my witnesses in Jerusalem. City. That is Acts 1 through 7. Secondly, Jesus says, You’ll be my witnesses in Judea and Samaria. To put this in modern-day terms, those are like counties outside a city. So verses 1 to chapters 1 through 7 would be like the city of Sugarland.

Chapters 8 through 12 would be like outlying areas like Fort Bend County. So you’ll be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Acts 1 through 7. You’ll be my witnesses in Judea and Samaria- by the way, notice Jesus didn’t say you’re going to be my witnesses in the West Bank. Why doesn’t Jesus use the word West bank? Because the West Bank is a political term used to describe Judea and Samaria. Because the world community basically wants you to believe that Israel is illegally occupying the West Bank. West Bank and Judea and Samaria are synonyms. The Bible does not call it the West Bank- a politically loaded term. It gives its proper designation, Judea and Samaria, because the moment you use the expression West Bank, you’re describing a political situation from the Jordanian point of view. Because Judea and Samaria are not west of Israel, they’re on the East bank. So when you use the expression West Bank, you’re not using the Israeli point of view. You’re using the Jordanian point of view because that territory is west of Jordan. And you are without even knowing it, verbalizing a narrative that Judea and Samaria really belong to Jordan. That’s why the distinction between West Bank and Judea and Samaria- you should learn that. Every time someone uses the term West Bank, say, Oh, I don’t like to use that words. West Bank. I prefer the biblical description, the pro Israeli description of Judea and Samaria.

So Jesus says, You’re going to be My witnesses in Jerusalem, that’s Acts 1 through 7. You’re going to be my witnesses in Judea and Samaria, that’s Acts 8 through 12. Then you’re going to be My witnesses to the remotest parts of the earth, which would include what? The activity of the church outside of Israel’s borders. The first missionary journey, Acts 13 and 14. Paul’s second missionary journey, Acts 15:36 through Acts 18:22. Paul’s third missionary journey, Acts 18:23 through Acts 21:17. And then, I call it Paul’s fourth Missionary journey, or his trip to Rome- I call it a fourth missionary journey because it was a missionary journey, it’s just Paul took it in chains. But he knew exactly what he was doing because he kept demanding a trial before Caesar which was his right as a Roman citizen. And this is how he got the gospel all the way to Rome. And that’s in Acts 21:18 through 28:31. And then the only other thing to remember is sandwiched in between missionary journey number one and missionary journey number two is the Jerusalem Council. Where the church, primarily Jewish, has to make a decision. Wait a minute- all of these Gentiles are getting saved. What do we do with these people? Do we make them Israelis? Do we make them submit to the law of Moses or not? So that’s what they’re trying to figure out in Acts 15.

And, of course, all of this is very important information for Theophilus who’s getting an understanding of the birth and the growth and the maturity and the development of the church. You keep moving and you go to verse 9 and it says, “After He had said these things,” so it gives you the the timing. It says, second part of verse 9, “He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing into the sky while he was going,” So what is this describing here? It’s describing the ascension. So the forty-day post-Resurrection Ministry of Jesus is over. We have the ascension. He’s lifted up a cloud. It says, “received Him out of their sight.” It’s kind of interesting that it’s not something that took place instantaneously because they could actually see Him ascend. I don’t know how fast He was going. Was it like a helium balloon going up into the clouds? I don’t know. But it was slow enough where they could at least see Him ascending to the point where a cloud blocked their view. And thus terminates the Messiah’s earthly ministry. The Messiah’s earthly ministry is over. So I guess that means Jesus is no longer ministering. Well, you’d be wrong there because He continues His ministry not from the Earth, but from the Father’s right hand in heaven through the church- that’s about to be birthed in the next chapter.

And His first order of business when He took His seat, not on David’s throne on Earth but His Father’s throne in heaven, is to send the Holy Spirit which He promised He would do in the upper room. And that’s going to happen in Acts chapter 2. So don’t think that the ascension somehow ended the Ministry of Jesus. Quite the contrary. Jesus is ministering. He’s been ministering for 2000 years. He’s just using you, myself, all of the Christians over the last 2000 years to do his ministry, which is an amazing thing when you think about it. Jesus wants to minister to people through your life. He wants to have as real a ministry through your life as He had when He was on the Earth. But rather than doing it directly, He’s going to do it indirectly from the Father’s right hand through you. And so the Ascension takes place. And then if you look at the second part of verse 10, it says, “Behold, two men in white-” “two men in white clothing stood beside them.” Now, who are these two men? I mean, if I was a betting man- which I’m not- but if I was a betting man, I would say they’re angels. Why are the angels? Because it mentions the fact that they’re dressed in white. And when you study angels in the Gospels, you see it always calls attention to the fact that they’re dressed in white.

Matthew 28:3, this is the Resurrection account. It says, “His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing was white as snow,” speaking of an angel. Mark 16:5, more Resurrection account. “Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.” Luke 24:4, resurrection account. It says, “While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing.” John 20:12, resurrection account. “She saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying.” So I think these two men that appear are angels. So here are the disciples watching Jesus ascend to the point where they can’t see Him anymore because a cloud blocks their view and they’re still looking. I mean- what are they looking- why are they looking? Well, they think maybe He’s coming back down, right? And so these two angels show up to correct them, in terms of the fact that Jesus is not going to appear again today. And you see that in verse 11, it says, they said. Men of Galilee. So why do the angels call the. Disciples, men of Galilee, because they were Galilean. And you continue on with verse 11. It says, “Why do you stand looking into the sky?” And if I was there, I’d say, Well, why do you think I’m looking in the sky? I just saw my Savior go into the sky.

A cloud blocked the view. I guess He’s coming back in the next split second. So they ask them, Why are you looking in the sky? And sort of what they’re getting at, these two angels, is do not expect an immediate return of Jesus. Because we’re entering a new age of time called the church where Jesus is going to be ministering from the right hand of the Father through the church. So don’t expect an immediate return. Oh, does that mean Jesus is never coming back to the earth? No, because look at the rest of verse 11. “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched him go into heaven.” So He’s coming back one day. It’s just not going to be today is basically what these two angels are telling these disciples. So the physical, bodily appearance of Jesus is a doctrine that is a settled doctrine in Christianity. And we’re not dealing here with the rapture. We’re dealing here with the bodily return of Jesus at the end of the seven-year tribulation period to establish His kingdom upon the earth. That doctrine is as old as the Book of Job. What’s the oldest book of the Bible? The Book of Job. And in Job 19:25, Job says, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last-” or in other words, at the end, “He will take His stand on the earth.”

So when people say, well, Jesus is never coming back to the earth, I mean, not only are they attacking every ecumenical creed within Christendom for the last 2000 years- because all of them, whether it’s the Creed of Nicaea, the Apostles Creed, you name it, they all said Jesus is coming back. We differ with some of those creeds as to details, but they all say He’s coming back. And the oldest book of the Bible says He’s coming back to the earth. So from this statement, you can develop characteristics not of the rapture but the bodily return of Jesus at the end of the 70th week of Daniel, because these angels say to the men of Galilee who are looking up into the sky, “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you watched Him go into heaven.” So I want to know about how He’s going to come back to the Earth. And how do I learn about that? Well, how did He leave the earth? And how He left the earth is how He’s coming back to the Earth. So how did He leave the Earth? Physically. So he’s coming back physically. How did he leave the earth? Visibly. So He’s coming back one day, visibly. In fact, it’s going to be so visible that the Book of Revelation 1:7 says, every eye will see Him when He comes back.

And that automatically should make you suspicious of Jehovah’s Witness doctrine where a lot of them will say, well, Jesus already came back. And He’s like hiding in- one of them at one point said He’s like hiding in an apartment in New York City or something like that. I’m sorry. That’s not what the Bible says. The Bible says when He comes back, every eye is going to see Him. How did He leave? Bodily. He’s in His resurrected body. How’s He coming back? In a body. How did He leave? From planet Earth. Where is he coming back to? Planet Earth. Where did He leave from? Where did this whole conversation take place? On a mount called Olivet. Mount of Olives. So where is He coming back to? The Mount of Olives. When we were in Zechariah 14:4, I showed you the prophecy where His feet will touch the Mount of Olives and the Mount of Olives will split. And we made reference to the fact that the Mount of Olives sits on- I forgot the term that’s used to describe it, but it’s like a fault. There we go. Don’t point out too many of my faults out there. A fault, meaning if it’s aggravated in any way, it causes a split. So there’s a fault that runs right through the Mount of Olives.

And what that fault is waiting for is the feet of Jesus. So if you want to understand what His return is like, study verse 11, because the angels say He is coming back one day, not today. This is 2000 years ago. Not today because the church age needs to start. But when He comes back, He’s coming back to the Mount of Olives. So I thought it was pretty simple and then Arnold Fruchtenbaum came in and mixed me up some more and sort of convinced me that He’s really not coming back to the Mount of Olives first. Cause I’d always thought He’s coming to the Mount of Olives first. Fruchtenbaum’s point is, He’s coming back to the Mount of Olives second. Where is He coming back to first? A place called Bozrah in modern-day Jordan to rescue the Jewish people. And that place is called Petra. So why does he think that? Because this is where the Jewish people will flee to in the second half of the tribulation to escape the Antichrist. It’s a place prepared by God. And there’s all the verses there where you can look these up and see if these things be so. It’s a place of divine provision of food and water. It’s in the wilderness. It’s in the mountains. It’s a defensible area. It’s in Jordan. And the name of it is Bozrah. You’ll notice where Bozrah is. It’s in modern-day Jordan or Moab area, basically Moab, Amman.

And it’s a place called Petra. Modern-day Petra. That’s where Jesus is coming back to to rescue the Jewish people. Because Petra fits these seven descriptors. There’s no other place that fits these seven descriptors. And this is a description of where the Jewish people are going to run to in the second half of the tribulation period to be protected by the Antichrist. And that place they’re running to is described with these seven descriptors and only Bozrah, in modern-day Jordan or Petra, as it’s called today, fits the seven descriptors. So there’s a picture of it.

Arnold Fruchtenbaum says, Another suggestion is the city now known as Petra…this author prefers the identification with Petra. Petra is located in a basin within Mount Seir, and is totally surrounded by mountains and cliffs. The only way in and out of the city is through a narrow passageway that extends for about a mile and can only be negotiated by foot or horseback. This makes the city easy to defend, and its surrounding high cliffs give added meaning and confirmation to Isaiah 33:16. Only a few abreast can enter through this passage at any one time, giving the city even greater defensibility. The name Bozrah means ‘sheepfold.’ An ancient sheepfold, had a narrow entrance so that the shepherd could count his sheep. Once inside the fold, the sheep had more room to move around. Petra is shaped like a giant sheep fold, with its narrow passage, opening up to a spacious circle surrounded by cliffs…Furthermore, by modern Petra is a site known as,” and I don’t think I can even pronounce that but it, “retains the Hebrew Botzrah…It will be a veru defensible city located in Mount Seir…Furthermore, as they flee and while they are living there, food and water will be miraculously provided.”

So this is where we believe that the Jewish people are going to flee to from the ActiChrist in the second half of the tribulation period. And once they call Jesus back to the earth to rescue them, that’s where Jesus goes. He goes to Bozrah or Petra to protect the Jewish people. Isaiah 34:six. Actually verses 1 through 7. And Isaiah 63:1-6 describes Jesus dripped in blood coming from Bozrah. Why is he dripped in blood? Because he’s killing off all of the AntiChrist’s invaders and army. And He’s doing what he promised to do, which is to protect the Jewish people once the Jewish people call upon Him and He goes to where they are. Isaiah 34:6, says, “The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, It is sated with fat, with the blood of lambs and goats, With the fat of the kidneys of rams. For the Lord has a sacrifice in Bozrah And a great slaughter in the land of Edom.”

If you look at the map here, you can see that Edom is very near Petra also. Isaiah 63:1 says, “Who is this who comes from Edam, With garments of glowing colors from Bozrah, This One who is majestic in His apparel,” sounds like Jesus returning, doesn’t it? “Marching in the greatness of His strength? ‘It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.'” So here He comes to do exactly what He said; rescue the Jewish people in Petra or Bozrah. And then He hasn’t forgotten about the angelic promise that He’s coming back to the Mount of Olives. So He makes the journey to the Mount of Olives. His feet get up there on the Mount of Olives and Mount of Olives splits in half. This is the difference between taking an Israel trip with somebody who believes that God has a future for Israel versus somebody who doesn’t think God has a future for Israel. If you take the trip with the latter what they’re going to keep talking about is what Jesus did. Here’s where He was born. Here’s where He gave the Olivet Discourse on the Mount of Olives. Here’s where we went into the upper room. But you see, that’s only part of the picture. If you take an Israel trip with the right person who believes in a future for Israel, holds to a dispositional, pre-tribulational, pre-millennial understanding of scripture, then the tour guide is going to not just tell you what Jesus did 2000 years ago, but here’s what He’s going to do.

I mean, here’s the Mount of Olives, it’s going to split in half. I went over here, we went to Jordan, and here’s where He’s going to rescue the Jewish people. And if you want to see something very interesting, being a tour guide situation or a tour where you’ve got two tour guides, sometimes an Israeli tour guide, sometimes an evangelical Christian, where the first guy believes in what happened in the past but doesn’t believe what will happen in the future. And when the guy who starts talking about what Jesus will do in the future, watch how uncomfortable the first guy gets. Because all they want to talk about is what He did. And the other guy is saying, yeah, let’s talk about what He did 2000 years ago, but let’s take all of the Bible literally and let’s talk about what He’s going to do. So when you go to Israel. Just make sure you go with the right person because you want someone that’s not just going to tell you what He did 2000 years ago. You want someone who’s going to tell you what He’s going to do. And I say, when you go to Israel because you will go to Israel. You guys know that, right? That’s God’s will for your life. Isn’t that nice for someone to come along and tell you what God’s will is for your life? Here’s God’s will for your life.

God’s will for your life is to go to Israel. Because when you go to Israel you will be seeing all of the things that you’ve been studying all these years in the Bible. And the Bible will come to life. But the price and the cost and the- I watch on TV all these Middle Eastern terrorist activities. The truth of the matter is, folks, you’re probably safer in Israel than you will be driving home tonight. Think about that. And if you’re worried about money. I’ll tell you what the guy around 1998 encouraged me with when he told me it was God’s will for me to go to seminary. He says, Andy, it’s God’s will for you to go to seminary. And I said, Well I don’t have any money. He says, Well why is that a problem for God? That was a pretty hard pill to swallow. I don’t have any money. He goes, Well you’re acting like you’re not serving God. I mean is God broke? I mean, if God wants you to go to seminary, He’ll provide. If God wants you to go to Israel, He’ll provide, right? And I believe it is God’s will for you to go to Israel. Now, if you happen to die and you don’t go to Israel, you’re still going to go to Israel because that’s where the millennial kingdom is going to be orchestrated from for 1000 years.

So any way you cut it, you’re going. I would suggest you go before you die so you can kind of claim your real estate once you go over there. So we’re going to stop there with verse 11 and we’re going to pick it up with verse 12 next time. I believe next week is our last Bible study of the fall quarter. Is that right? And then subsequent to that is the gingerbread house competition. And that’s a lot of fun. That’s tradition here so we can’t uproot that. But I think after next week we’re going to reconvene. I want to say it’s like January the 8. That sound right? It’s the second Wednesday in January that we start again. So next week will be our last study of the fall corridor. Is it January 11th when we reconvene? And we are going to try to finish Acts chapter 1 next week. I think we can do that. So your assignment for next week is to read the rest of chapter 1. Then your assignment over Christmas break is to read Acts chapter two. All right. Let me pray. Father, we’re grateful for Your word, Your truth and how it speaks to us. Help us to be good stewards of Your prophetic word in the book of Acts. And we ask for Your continuing hand of blessing on this Bible study. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, God’s people said, Amen. And I guess you can get in there late and pick up your kids. And if anybody wants to do…