In Luke 13:35, we have the following judgment pronounced upon the nation of Israel: “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” The “house” in this verse refers to the temple in Jerusalem. The temple had been known as the “Father’s house” and is so spoken of by Jesus in John 2:16. However, it is clear from the above quotation that it was no longer owned as His. It was to be “desolate.” Anything that is godless is desolate.
The guilty nation of Israel was remembered by Jesus Christ while He was lifted up on the cross of Calvary. He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). This prayer was heard by the Father and the nation of Israel was given another chance. The doom in connection with the judgment which Christ had pronounced upon them was postponed. This is the truth that Christ explained to His people in His post-resurrection message recorded in Luke 24:45-49: “Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”
The promise of the Father has reference to the gift of the Holy Ghost. The pouring out of the Holy Ghost upon Israel was promised through the prophet Isaiah. He said, “Upon the land of My people shall come up thorns and briars; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city; because the palaces shall be forsaken; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.” All of this was included in the promise of Christ when He said, “And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you.”
The rebellious people of Israel rejected the Father and refused to let Him “reign over them” in the days of Samuel (I Samuel 8:7).The same nation hated Christ and said, “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). However, the grace of God is such that this wicked nation could have received the kingdom blessings upon earth if they had only received the message of the Holy Spirit when He came during the book of Acts period according to the promise of the Father, and of the Son. But, just as they had rejected the Father and the Son so they rejected the Holy Spirit when He came on the day of Pentecost. God graciously and patiently dealt with them through the Holy Spirit for a period of thirty years. This thirty year period is covered by the book of Acts.
A chapter by chapter study of the Acts of the Apostles will be of little value unless the student recognizes the scriptural distinction between the Jews, the Gentiles and the church of God (I Corinthians 10:32). In order to do this, one must carefully apply II Timothy 2:15 where we are told to study to show ourselves approved unto God, and become workmen that need not be ashamed, “rightly dividing the word of truth.” This means that we are not to frustrate the grace of God by endeavoring to mix God’s message to the Jew with His message to the Gentile. We must remember that God committed “the gospel of the uncircumcision” to Paul, and that He committed “the gospel of the circumcision” unto Peter (Galatians 2:7-9). The word “gospel” means good news. God sent good news from heaven to the uncircumcision (Gentiles) through the apostle Paul. In like manner, He sent good news from heaven to the circumcision (Jews) through Peter. These two brethren were made to understand their respective fields of labor, when the Holy Spirit brought them together, moved upon them to extend to each other “the right hands of fellowship” and then go on their respective missions (Galatians 2:9).
Throughout the entire book of Acts, God makes a clear distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles. In the opening chapters of the book, He directs His message to Jews only, later, He includes the Gentiles, but specifically states that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation “to the Jew first” and also to the Gentile (Romans 1: 16). Throughout the entire book the Jews have the advantage. The reason for this is set forth in the question and answer of Romans 3:1-2. We quote: “What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” However, it is clear that their day of advantage passed with the setting aside of national Israel when they made their final rejection of the Holy Spirit and judgment was pronounced upon them according to Acts 28:25-28. They were not set aside when they rejected the Father in the days of Samuel, neither were they set aside when they crucified the Lord of glory; but their house was left unto them desolate when they trampled under foot the message of the Holy Spirit during the thirty year period of the book of Acts.
Acts 28:28 marks the setting aside of national Israel. As a nation, they must grope in darkness among the nations of the world “until the time come when they shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” When that time comes “all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins” (Romans 11:26-27).
The Christ-rejecting nation of Israel that had to be set aside by the God of glory at the close of the book of Acts, will struggle through the great tribulation that follows the rapture of the church and will be whipped into line by the chastening hand of God in that day of Jacob’s trouble. At the close of the tribulation period God will graciously manifest His grace toward His chosen people again. His promise is, “I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12: 10).ne same Holy Spirit who plead with Israel for thirty years following the cross and was stubbornly rejected will graciously move in the heart of that downtrodden nation at the end of Jacob’s trouble and will open their blinded eyes and let them behold the One whom they pierced. When they see the nail-pierced Saviour, their hearts will be filled with repentance and made ready for the new covenant blessing.
This time is spoken of by Jeremiah the prophet as follows: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which My covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity: and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
This will be the time when “the Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel” (Joel 3:16). This will be the time when the Lord Jesus shall fulfill His promise to the twelve as recorded in Luke 22:28-30. We quote: “Ye are they which have continued with Me in My temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as My Father hath appointed unto Me; ‘Mat ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” In that day “there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: and the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts: I will go also. Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, we will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you” (Zechariah 8:20-23).
This will be the time when the Lord shall fulfill His promise: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one” (Zechariah 14:9). This is the King that shall come forth out of the stem of Jesse, “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord: and shall make Him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears: But with righteousness shall Hejudge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked” (Isaiah 11:2-4).