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In Acts Chapter one we find:

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:6-9, ESV)

Is there a link between the Jewish expectation of a literal Messianic kingdom and the command to witness to the ends of the earth? Is Jesus command partly to correct their existing notions about the literal kingdom, or is it not directly related to their existing beliefs about that?

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Yes, and Yes.

As you know, the New Covenant shortly followed. Pentecost was the day when the New Covenant was declared to the Nation of Israel. (It was the EXACT SAME DATE in history that the Old Covenant was declared to the Nation of Israel on Mount Sinai.) In other words, the theocracy in the Old Covenant (and New Covenant!) began on the day when God made his "tabernacle" among men on earth.

In the New Covenant, Pentecost therefore marks the first day that God made his "tabernacle" among men on earth by indwelling the bodies of believers. What unfortunately happened in the Old Testament was that the Shekinah Glory had departed Solomon's temple shortly before the Babylonian captivity. (Thus the visible theocracy on earth ended, and the "Times of the Gentiles" had begun, since Gentile world powers from that point forward would command the world.) It was during the Babylonian captivity that the prophets wrote extensively about the New Covenant, which was couched in terms of the visible (political) redemption of Israel. For example, when the people cried "HOSANNA!" to Jesus as he entered Jerusalem on the foal, they were expecting him to deliver (or save) them from Gentile rule, since the son of David would fulfill Psalm 2 (among other passages in the Hebrew Bible) to rescue the nation. (Hosanna = "Save us," and of course the palm branches were a clear reference to "tabernacles", when God came to man in the desert on Mount Sinai.) So let me emphasize again, the prophets during the Babylonian captivity (Ezekiel, Jeremiah, et al.) painted a picture of the New Covenant that had included political as well as spiritual redemption. So there is this expectation in the minds of the faithful remnant that the New Covenant will include the visible re-establishment of the theocratic kingdom on earth. That is why the disciples asked Jesus about the re-establishment of the visible theocratic kingdom on earth.

What happened was that the New Covenant was established WITHOUT re-establishing the visible theocratic kingdom on earth. To help describe what I am saying, please see below.

enter image description here

This graph is my own personal rendition of my own understanding of the Kingdom of God on earth as it relates to the Jewish expectation of a literal Messianic kingdom on earth. Again, we are not looking through a microscope, but taking a macro view from 30,000 feet.

Essentially, Jesus was telling his disciples to wait until Pentecost, when the New Covenant would be announced. (The "Times of the Gentiles" would therefore not end!) The Kingdom of God would be literal, but also invisible. In my "opinion", the prophecies in the Hebrew Bible will be fulfilled yet future, and therefore I believe the reference of Jesus to "the times and seasons" in Acts 1 is to what I have tried to depict on my graph -- i.e., the postponement of the visible theocratic kingdom on earth until the invisible kingdom of God on earth ("to the farthest reaches of the earth") is consummated. At that time, "all Israel will be saved" (Romans 11:25). When Jesus will deliver Zion, he will have removed ungodliness from Jacob (Romans 11:26), which is the purpose of the tribulation period (i.e., to remove ungodliness from Jacob). At that time, the New Covenant will be restored to the Nation of Israel (Romans 11:27). From that point forward, the VISIBLE theocratic kingdom will be established on earth, and the temple then will be occupied by the "Glory of the Lord," whom Ezekiel equates with the Shekinah Glory. Of course that Glory is Jesus the Christ.

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+1 - Great answer and a lot of positive enthusiasm. I think literal Israel will receive Christ long before the second coming, but that is way besides the point. Also to support your connection their are many proofs Jews believed Messiah's reign was to extend to the ends of the earth and nobody needed to wait for invisible power for it. Psalms 2:8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. Excellent post! Cheers –  Mike Jan 4 '13 at 17:06
The revelation at Sinai was the public declaration of the Old Covenant (to Israel), and Pentecost was the public declaration of the New Covenant (to Israel). In both instances, the Kingdom of God had began at the same time. In the former case (visible), the head of state was Yahweh (as revealed through the Shekinah Glory at Sinai), and in the latter case (invisible), the head of state is Jesus Christ (as revealed through the HS at Pentecost). At Sinai, the tabernacle had to be constructed, but the Kingdom of God had already begun with Shekinah as head of a theocracy on earth (with no equal). –  Joseph Jan 4 '13 at 20:45
Hi Joseph. (I don't think I've formally welcomed you to the site, but I've noticed some of your posts with interest. Welcome to our little Q&A site!) The first few paragraphs really don't add much to your answer and sound a little, um, condescending? Would you be open to me trying out an edit on the answer? We can always rollback or re-edit if it doesn't work out. Feel free to drop by The Library at any time if you'd like to discuss it (or anything else about the site). Thanks! –  Jon Ericson Jan 4 '13 at 20:54
Mike: Like you, the Puritans believed in the national conversion of Israel before the Second Coming. Here is a review I wrote in response to the "Puritan Hope" (goo.gl/ZQh0J). While I believe that a faithful remnant will finally emerge ONLY through the "removal of ungodliness from Jacob" in the Tribulation (time of purification), the Puritans believed that the nation of Israel would only finally be converted after the world was evangelized, and thereby their final conversion as a nation would therefore precipitate the Second Coming of Christ. –  Joseph Jan 4 '13 at 20:57
From the perspective of a Christian, prophecy usually is viewed through multiple lenses. As such, to flatly disregard the near interpretation is irresponsible. I've not really digested your full answer yet, but there's a lot of theological tradition littered throughout it and I see little evidence of an actual hermeneutical process. Would you mind editing to insert the research (rooted in the text) that you did to come to your conclusions? –  swasheck Jan 4 '13 at 21:28

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