The Resurrected Messiah’s Appearances; The Command To Wait In Jerusalem For The Coming Of The Holy Spirit; The Question About The Restoration Of The Kingdom Of Israel; His Ascension And The Promise Of His Return; The 11 And Others United And In Continual Prayer; The Replacement of Judas With Matthias
Something is very seriously wrong with humanity. The evidence is overwhelming and is all around us and is in us. The Word of God tells us that we are not just a little sick, but we are infected with a deadly disease. Because of our trespasses and sins, we are spiritually dead. We are far from God and life and blessing and hope.
We are too sinful, too weak, too dead to overcome the very real and overwhelmingly powerful and utterly ruinous forces of Satan, sin and death on our own. Politicians, economists, scientists, military men, educators and entertainers can’t help us overcome our greatest problems. We are in the most desperate need of the help and salvation and redemption and victory that only the true God, the God of Israel, can provide! We have the greatest need for a great God-sent Savior!
In his first book, Luke has taught us that that great Savior has come! Yeshua of Nazareth is the Seed of the Woman, the Messiah, the God-sent, God-approved, God-blessed, God-anointed Prophet, Priest and King.
He is the Supreme Teacher Of Truth. He gave confused human beings the greatest teachings. He did the greatest miracles, showing us that He was very closely connected to God. He is able to bring estranged humanity closer to God, and bring God closer to alienated human beings. He is the rightful ruler of Israel and the rest of mankind.
He died the most special death that any human being ever died – a unique atoning death that alone made possible for all who know and believe – reconciliation to God, and the complete forgiveness of all of our sins.
Then, Messiah rose from the dead, showing His superiority to the utterly destructive forces that have conquered and dominated humanity – the very real powers of Satan, sin and death.
Luke continues this greatest story of redemption with his second book, the book of Acts, describing how some very special Jewish men carried on the great mission of the Son of God, bringing Good News and the only source of genuine hope to a sinful, wretched and dying world.
The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Yeshua began to do and teach.
To do: the focus was on Messiah’s deeds, especially His great miracles that did so much good for broken humanity, supernatural wonders which showed us that Yeshua was very close to and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God; that He is the One who ultimately will supernaturally heal and restore broken and dying humanity.
And teach: Yeshua gave the greatest teachings to confused humanity. His teachings were consistent with the Torah and Prophets and Writings of Israel, but also gave us new truth. His fantastic teaching taught us many things, and clarified who He was and corrected some of the errors that had infiltrated the Judaism of His day. Yeshua is the Supreme and Authoritative Teacher of Israel and also of the rest of humanity!
Luke continues: The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Yeshua began to do and teach until the day when He was taken up to Heaven after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles (the emissaries, the representatives) whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs (proving that He was alive by appearing to many at the same time, and eating real food in front of them, and allowing them to see and touch the wounds He received during His suffering and death), appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.
This special 50 day period between Passover and Shavuot was a time of transition. Even though Yeshua had died and had risen from the dead, the Risen Rabbi was still on Earth with His disciples, teaching them. Yeshua continued His great teaching ministry after His death and resurrection! But soon He would leave them, and they would need to carry on His great mission. They would be the body and arms and legs and heart and mouth of the Son of God on Earth bringing the message of salvation to dead humanity.
For this great supernatural task, they would need great supernatural help – which they were about to receive! Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which”, He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”.
We can’t live well enough, righteously enough on our own, holy enough on our own. We need help!
We can’t understand the Scriptures well enough on our own. We need help!
We can’t form the One New Man, a new and united and redeemed humanity, a humanity that is closely united to the Three-In-One God and to one another, on our own. We need help!
We can’t successfully carry on the great task of world evangelism on our own. We need help!
The help that we need can only come to us in the Person of the indwelling, living, transforming, uniting, righteousness inducing, empowering, inspiring, enlightening and immersing and filling presence of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of God the Father and the Spirit of God the Son! When we know that Yeshua is the Messiah and the Son of God, who died and overcame death, and we yield ourselves to these truths, the Holy Spirit will baptize us – transferring us from the control of this sinful world, and immersing us into Messiah’s eternal community. The Spirit joins us to Messiah’s community, and to God the Son and to God the Father.
These special men needed the special coming and immersing and then the continual filling of the Holy Spirit, and so do we! My question to each one of you is: Has the Holy Spirit come to you? Has He immersed you into Messiah’s New Covenant Community? Is he filling you and guiding you and directing you, and helping you live a God-honoring life? If you have any question about whether He has and is doing these things, make sure that you talk to me.
Israel’s greatest prophet and rightful King Yeshua had been rejected by the vast majority of the leaders. The One through whom the universe had been created, and everything in it had been publically humiliated, and made to suffer, and then executed by being nailed to a cross. But now the One who is rightly called Immanuel had been vindicated by God! He alone of all humanity had overcome death! There was no doubt that He was the powerful King of Kings and Lord of Lords! God the Father had taken the Stone that the builders of Israel had rejected and made Him the Cornerstone, the essential foundation of a new and eternal and glorious universe!
And, these men had given up much to follow their Rabbi and Messiah and Lord. They too had sacrificed and suffered. And, Yeshua had promised to reward them. He had promised that they would sit on 12 thrones, ruling the 12 tribes of Israel. Is was only natural for them to ask the risen Messiah the following question: So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel”? In their theologically well educated minds, there was no question that the times of the Gentiles, the times when the nations of the world dominate the nation of Israel, would come to an end, and that Israel would be restored as an independent Kingdom, with Yeshua ruling as King on the throne of David. They wanted to know if this was the time? Could they expect the rightful King of Israel to reveal Himself to the entire nation, and take control of all of Israel?
Here is Messiah’s response. He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority. Note well that Messiah didn’t respond:
“God has replaced Messiah-rejecting Israel with the Church, and all of God’s promises that He made to the Jewish nation through the prophets have been nullified”.
“There is no Kingdom for a restored Israel on Earth. God is finished with fallen Israel and therefore Israel’s Kingdom will never be restored”.
“The nation of Israel is now no different than any other nation, and will not be treated in any special way”.
No, the King of Israel did not respond with Replacement Theology or Amillenialism. He simply answered that the time of the restoration of Israel as an independent Kingdom was not for His representatives to know. That was “need to know” information and they didn’t need to know! According to God’s wisdom, that information would not be revealed to them – even though they were Messiah’s very special men.
What they did need to know was not when, but what – what they needed to be doing until that glorious restoration of the Kingdom to Israel took place – which it will! He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but 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 part of the Earth” .
Before people leave on a long journey, they will say the most important things to the people they are closest to. Final words before a long parting are very important, and these are Yeshua’s last recorded words before He left Earth and returned to Heaven – which is a very real place.
The King of Heaven had come to Earth making salvation possible for fallen and dying humanity. Yeshua had declared Good News announcing the possibility of salvation to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. These men were to take up where He had left off. Yeshua Himself would no longer be physically present on Earth, but they would! They were His body! They were His mouth! They had seen His miracles. They knew His teachings. They saw Him die, and then they saw Him do what no other human being had ever done – rise from the dead! They were His witnesses!
The Lord’s special representatives needed to make sure that they were empowered by and filled with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit of the Son and of the Father. Then, after that happened, they were to continue the great mission of the Son of God.
They must start this great mission of world evangelism where the Son of God left off – with Israel and the Jewish people, in the very center of the nation – in Jerusalem. They needed to begin in the eternal capitol of the Chosen People, and then move outward establishing communities of the redeemed in the rest of Israel, and then in Samaria, which had a connection to Israel, and then to the other nations of the world. To the Jewish people first – that was God’s order for salvation to be offered, and that was Yeshua’s command. Yeshua Himself followed that order. His emissaries followed that order, and we must too! Jewish evangelism is still a divine priority in Heaven’s evangelistic strategies.
Yeshua’s final teachings and instructions to His foundational men were finished. He had been with them at least three or fours years before His death , and now forty days after His resurrection. His ministry to them was accomplished! It was now time for Him to leave them and return to Heaven, to the right hand of God, where He would continue watching over them and protecting them and helping them and directing them and empowering them – and many others who would experience salvation because of their witness.
And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Yeshua, who has been taken up from you into Heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into Heaven”. The eternal Son of God really and truly came from Heaven to Earth. He really became a real human being. He really suffered and died. He really and truly rose from the dead and has a real and new and immortal body. He really and truly ascended back into Heaven in that honorable and eternal body. From there, when the time is right, the Very Same Person will really and truly return to that very same spot in the very same way! Yeshua of Nazareth, and no other! These two heavenly messengers were sent to make absolutely sure these men knew that.
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem (on the East, overlooking the City of Peace and the Temple Mount), a Sabbath day’s journey away (which was 2000 cubits, or less than half a mile. Jewish people were limited how far they could travel on the Sabbath outside of the city by a tradition based on Exodus 16:29. This implies that the early Messianic Jewish Community in Israel were observant of the Sabbath. They knew and respected this Sabbath travel restriction).
Who were these eleven very special men chosen by the Son of God, this very special wise men, these men through whom God did miracles, these men who were great witnesses and evangelists and the foundational pillars of the Messianic Community, and future kings of Israel? Luke tells us. When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.
They had returned to Jerusalem as they had been instructed. They were waiting for the Holy Spirit to come to them in a new and greater way. Until that happened, they were praying all the time. These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer. They were praying continually and they were united. They were united in their understanding. They were united in their relationships. There were no struggles for control or supremacy, like there had been only a short time before.
They were united, and they were devoted to prayer, constantly making talking to the Father and to the Son their priority. When a group of men know sound doctrine, and are united, and praying, the Lord is able to do great things through them. May we become more and more like them – a united, loving, well taught, praying, worshiping and witnessing community!
These men were the leaders of the New Covenant Community. They were invested with great spiritual authority to teach and to lead. But they were not the only ones who were part of this earliest Messianic Jewish community. Other significant people had joined them in Jerusalem. Along with the women, and Mary the mother of Yeshua, and with His brothers. The women who loyally followed Rabbi Yeshua were there and were a welcomed and honored part of this precious formative community. The family of Yeshua, who were special because they were the King’s relatives, and were close to Him, and were also honored members of the royal family of King David, they were there in Jerusalem, knowing that Yeshua had risen from the dead and really was the Son of God and the Messiah! All of these Jewish men and women were united and continually praying and waiting for the Holy Spirit to come to them in a new and greater way, just as Yeshua had promised.
It was good that there were 11 great Messianic Jewish Emissaries, but just as there were 12 tribes that made up the fullness of the nation of Israel, there needed to be 12 apostles to lead the Israel of God. At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Yeshua. For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry”.
(Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) How appropriate that the field that was bought with the blood-money of the Righteous One, was the very same field the blood of His betrayer was poured out! The great sins of Judas very quickly found him out! And, your sins will eventually find you out – especially if you betray the Savior of the world!
For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his homestead be made desolate, and let no one dwell in it’; and, ‘Let another man take his office’. These are an indirect prophecies about the Messiah and His betrayer. If David’s adversaries would be punished for their betrayal of Israel’s rightful king, how much more would the betrayer of the Yeshua, the ultimate King of the Jews! The Word of God helped make it clear that the traitor needed to be replaced with a qualified man.
Peter continued: Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Yeshua went in and out among us – beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us – one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection”. Not just anyone was qualified to be one of these very special representatives. He had to have been in close contact with Yeshua from the beginning of His public ministry, been of the Yeshua’s disciples, and had to have been an eyewitness of the Resurrected Rabbi. At least two men met these qualifications.
So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place”. And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias (Matthew); and he was added to the eleven apostles. They prayed, and they cast lots, which is a kosher way to determine the will of God in situations like this, since God is so powerful and so all-knowing that there is no such thing as chance. The casting of lots revealed the providence and will of God. Another Matthew, different from the first Matthew who wrote the book of Matthew, and not Paul, became the twelfth apostle.
Now the foundational leaders were back at their proper number. They were in Jerusalem as they had been instructed. Everything was ready for the next major outworking of the saving plans of God, which was connected to the next Jewish holiday – Shavuot – the holiday of the seven weeks.