Sunday: The Restoration of Israel

There are two kinds of Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, one that anticipates a kingly Messiah who would rule forever (Ps. 89:3-4Ps. 89:35-37Isa. 9:6-7Ezek. 37:25Dan. 2:44Dan. 7:13-14), and one that predicts that the Messiah would die for the sins of the people (Isa. 52:13-53:12Dan. 9:26). Such prophecies do not contradict each other.


Image © Lars Justinen

They just point to two consecutive phases of the Messiah’s ministry: first He would suffer, and then become King (Luke 17:24-25Luke 24:25-26).

The problem with first-century Jewish Messianic expectation, however, was that it was one-sided. The hope of a kingly Messiah who would bring political deliverance obscured the notion of a Messiah who would suffer and die.

At first, the disciples shared this hope of a kingly Messiah. They believed that Jesus was the Messiah (Matt. 16:16Matt. 16:20) and were sometimes caught bickering among themselves about who would sit on either side of Him when He was enthroned (Mark 10:35-37Luke 9:46). Despite Jesus’ warnings about the fate that awaited Him, they simply could not understand what He meant. So, when He died, they became confused and discouraged. In their own words, “We had hoped that [H]e was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21, NIV).

Read Acts 1:6. What does this question say about what they still didn’t understand? In Acts 1:7, how did Jesus answer them?

If Jesus’ death represented a fatal blow to the disciples’ hope, the resurrection revived it, raising their political expectations perhaps to an unprecedented level. It seemed natural to conceive of the resurrection as a strong indicator that the Messianic kingdom would finally be established.

In His reply to their question, however, Jesus gave no direct answer. He did not reject the premise behind the disciples’ question of an imminent kingdom, but neither did He accept it. He left the issue unsettled, while He reminded them that the timing of God’s actions belongs to God Himself, and as such it is inaccessible to humans.

According to Luke 24:25, what was the real problem of the disciples? Why is it easy to believe what we want to believe, as opposed to what the Bible really teaches? How can we avoid this trap?

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons