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    7: THE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST EXPECTED A LITERAL KINGDOM

    “WHEN they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6.SAIN 43.1

    AT the time our Saviour began his teaching, the Jews were in expectation of the Messiah, not, however, in the form in which he came, but as a king, to take to himself the scepter of the kingdom, reign over Israel, and destroy his enemies. We see from the movements and expressions of his disciples, that their minds were strongly impressed with the same idea,—that Christ was then to take possession of his kingdom. With this view of the subject, we can understand the meaning of their words, when they said, If thou art king of the Jews, tell the people plainly. And at another time, when Jesus had performed a notable miracle, he “perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, and he departed into the mountain himself alone.” 1John 6:15.SAIN 43.2

    Again, just before his betrayal and crucifixion, as he rode up to Jerusalem, seated upon the colt, what a shout of “Hosanna to the Son of David!” was raised by the people! What caused them thus to shout? Did they understand that in a few days he was to be nailed to the cross, and die, while all nature would be convulsed at the scene?—No; they remembered the words of the prophet, “Shout,” for “thy King cometh ... riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass,” and they supposed he was riding into Jerusalem to take possession of the kingdom and throne of his father David. Jesus died. Sadness filled their hearts. And when, on the morning of his resurrection, he appeared to the women of their company, it was “as they mourned and wept.”SAIN 43.3

    Why this mourning, if they had a clear understanding of the plan of God for the salvation of lost man? Why such sadness, if they really had faith in Christ’s resurrection? Why were they not looking forward with joyous hope to the third day, when they should again see him whom their souls loved? Instead of their manifesting such feelings as we should expect, had they understood clearly what was to be accomplished by the death of Christ, we behold them going that very morning to the sepulcher to embalm his body, and two of them, in the close of the day, conversing of their disappointment respecting him, as they walk in the way to Emmaus. We read that Jesus drew near and walked with them, “and he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?” They answered, “Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass?” He said, “What things?” They said, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth; ... the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel; and besides all this, to-day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulcher; and when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.” 2Luke 24:17-23. “Astonished” to hear of the resurrection of Christ! Who would claim, with such testimony before them, that those disciples understood clearly the plan of redemption that was to be accomplished through his death and resurrection? If they understood it, what necessity for Jesus to begin “at Moses and all the prophets,” and expound “unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself?” Their testimony, then, in this conversation, that they trusted that Christ would redeem Israel, must embody the idea that they supposed Christ would redeem them from under the hands of the Romans, by whose tetrarchs their civil affairs were then ruled. If Christ redeemed them from this, they supposed it would be by establishing his own kingdom.SAIN 44.1

    This company returned to Jerusalem, however, believers in Christ’s resurrection, and with their minds enlightened somewhat on the subject of Christ’s death. But did this banish from their minds the idea that Christ was then to begin his reign? We will see presently. Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, makes this next mention of them: “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” 3Acts 1:6. They were now more than ever satisfied that Christ was the one whose right the kingdom was. He had been raised from the dead, and had shown them that it was necessary that this should take place, that the Old Testament prophecies concerning him might be fulfilled. And now, seeing nothing in the way of its establishment, they ask this question respecting the kingdom: “Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” 4Luke 19:1-12. Israel once had it, but lost it in the days of Zedekiah. The question is, Will Christ now restore it? They had not yet seemed to grasp the meaning of the parable which Jesus spoke when he was nigh to Jerusalem, for the benefit of those who thought the kingdom of God was immediately to appear, in which he showed that the Son of man (like the nobleman) must go into a far country, and returnSAIN 45.1

    The light also which Christ gave them when their hearts were saddened on account of his telling them, “I go to him that sent me,” “whither I go, ye cannot come,” seemed obscured from their minds. Said he: “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself.” 5John 7:33; 13:33; 14:2, 3. But what was his reply to their question concerning the restoration of the kingdom? He does not tell them he never shall restore it, but, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” This is virtually admitting that the kingdom was to be restored to Israel; not after the flesh, but, as Paul says, “the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” 6Romans 9:8. Our Saviour continues, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” 8John 16:13. This language clearly indicates that they would understand this matter, after they should receive the Holy Ghost, and be endowed with power from on high. Christ had said, “When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come.”SAIN 46.1

    Some persons have asserted that the expression used by Christ, “the kingdom of God is within you,” is evidence that he did not teach us to look for a literal inheritance, but that the only kingdom is the work of grace in the hearts of men. Let us examine this text. “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation;; neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” 9Luke 17:20, 21.SAIN 46.2

    Notice: It was the Pharisees, whom the Saviour had previously called hypocrites, to whom he said, “The kingdom of God is within you.” Now while we freely admit that in the New Testament Scriptures the gospel work is called the kingdom of God,—being the gracious tidings of peace proclaimed from the throne of grace,—it is not a fact that this kingdom of grace was established in the hearts of hypocrites. We would need to say so if our Saviour meant by this testimony that the kingdom of God was in the hearts of the wicked Pharisees. The demand in the text is, When shall the kingdom of God-the saints’ inheritance-come? He does not reply that it has already come, but his very answer shows that the coming of the kingdom here intended, was a future event. He says, “Neither shall they say [when it comes], Lo here!” etc.SAIN 47.1

    If our Saviour meant us to understand that the kingdom was already established, how shall we understand the prayer which he taught us through his disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come”? 10Matthew 6:10. Everyone who understandingly offers that prayer virtually says that the kingdom has not yet come. Let “thy kingdom come.” Some, seeing the inconsistency of praying for the kingdom to come, while believing that it has already come, have changed the language, when uttering the prayer, saying, “Let thy kingdom be extended in the earth.” Every saint to the end of the gospel age may pray, “Thy kingdom come,” because that kingdom will not come until “the nobleman” returns, “having received the kingdom.” The idea of the text under consideration, then, is this: When the kingdom of glory does come, it will not be in a secret manner, but all will know it. There will be no opportunity nor necessity for any to say, “Lo here! or lo there!” for the kingdom of God will be within you, or as the margin reads, “among you.”SAIN 47.2

    That this is the idea Christ meant to convey is plain from what he immediately told his disciples: “And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there; go not after them, nor follow them. For as the lightning that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.” 11Luke 17:22-24. This language is very similar to that used by the Saviour concerning his second coming; 12Matthew 24:26, 27; Mark 13:21-28.SAIN 48.1

    Should we claim that the kingdom of Christ only relates to the proclamation of the gospel, and that this kingdom was established in the days of Christ’s first advent, we should be confronted with this difficulty: According to the vision of earthly rule, given in Daniel 2 under the symbols of the great image of gold, silver, brass, iron, and iron mixed with miry clay, which are there explained as representing the kingdoms of this world from Babylon down to the fourth kingdom, which was to be “strong as iron,” and which, in fact, was the kingdom of Rome which was to be divided, the kingdom of the God of heaven is not said to be set up until after the fourth kingdom (the Roman empire) is divided into ten parts. In the days of Christ, and for three hundred years after, no such ten parts existed. The Roman empire was divided into ten parts between the years 356 and 483 A. D. The image could not be smitten on the feet before the feet existed, or in other words, before the division of the Roman empire. So the kingdom of God, which is to fill the whole earth, brought to view in the prophecy of Daniel, was not established in the days of Christ’s first advent.SAIN 48.2

    Were we to claim that the image was smitten in the days of Christ’s first advent, and that since that time the kingdom has been gradually set up, we should find that the facts in the case were against us; for, if we call the gospel the kingdom (stone), where has it had power to break one toe of the image in pieces? Facts show that, instead of the people of God smiting the image, the image has, all the way through this dispensation, been smiting the true church of God. For proof of this, we refer the reader to the persecutions that have befallen the gospel church by the hands of the pagan and papal powers of Rome. Of this, abundant proof may be found in “Fox’s Book of Martyrs,” or “Buck’s Theological Dictionary.”SAIN 49.1

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