The End Times is often portrayed as a time of doom and gloom. But that is not the full story! When Peter spoke his famous sermon on the day of Pentecost, he not only spoke to the people in his day, but also shared a key insight about the End Times from a different perspective.
The key is found in Acts 3:21 where Peter declares “that He may send Jesus Christ… whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets”
In other words, Peter predicted that the Messiah would return not in a time only known for great turmoil and tribulation, but also in a time period marked by restoration.
By definition, this implies that there would be a time of loss for God’s people in the period prior to the End Times – leading up to the time of restoration. Interestingly, the history of Israel and the Church for the past 2000 years precisely follows this pattern.
A Period of Loss
Since the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, the Jewish people have experienced significant loss. They lost their land; they lost the Temple and also lost the use of the language of Hebrew.
Likewise, the Church went through its own dark ages. During this period, church services where held in Latin and were non-intelligible for the common man. The gifts and power of the Spirit were lost and the Church was far from its Jewish roots.
However, as we entered the early 19th Century, a period of unprecedented restoration began to take place.
A Restored Language
As the Jews were scattered all over the world, the language of Hebrew had become extinct except for use in religious ceremonies. But one man named Eliezer Ben Yehuda had a vision to restore the language. Diagnosed with deadly TB at the age of 18, Eliezer none-the-less dedicated himself to bring the ancient language back to life. From 1881 to 1921, Eliezer worked tirelessly and succeeded by the end of his life to see Hebrew recognised as one of three languages in Palestine.
The ancient prophet Zephaniah declared “…I will restore to the peoples a pure language” (Zeph 3:9). While this verse definitely predicts the restoration of a pure language, which language is he speaking of?
The previous verse contains the clue. Zeph 3:8 is the only verse in the entire Hebrew bible to contain every single letter of the Hebrew alphabet – including 5 special letters that have a unique form when they appear at the end of words. It seems therefore that Zephaniah predicted this restoration of the Hebrew language that has happened in our day.
The language of Hebrew was not the only language that was lost during the time of Israel’s exile. In the early centuries of the church, the gifts of the spirit appeared to die out. However, in the late 18th century, many believers began to earnestly seek and pray for a new Pentecost. On New Years eve 1901 in Topeka Kansas, there was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit evidenced by the speaking in tongues. This was the beginning of a mighty Pentecostal revival which swept the globe.
It is fascinating to note that the restoration of the language of the Spirit to the Church happened precisely in the middle of the 40 year period in which Hebrew was being restored to the Jewish nation.
Restored Faith in Miracles
During the holocaust, many Jews lost their faith in God. A tale is told of a rabbi’s son who witnessed a truck ferrying desperate Jews to the gas chambers of Auschwitz. In desperation, he cried out – “God, stop this truck!” But the truck did not stop, and the young rabbi’s son turned his back on the scene emotionally declaring ‘There is no God’.
However, only 3 years later, the infant state of Israel miraculously fended off an invasion from five modern Arab armies. On the battlefield and in successive wars, the Jewish people experienced miracle after miracle of divine protection. 1948 clearly marks the beginning of new move of miracles in the nation of Israel.
The church had also lost faith in the God of miracles. For centuries it had been taught that healing was not for today. However, in 1947, a healing revival broke out in the US – which would radically change the churches understanding. Again, there was a dual restoration of Israel and the church – this time in the area of the miraculous.
1967 Restoring Unity
During the 1948 war, the city of Jerusalem was divided – and it remained divided until the miraculous 6 day war of 1967.
Meanwhile in the Church, the move of the Holy Spirit had become a source of division in the wider body of Christ. 1967 marks the beginning of a significant change – as the Holy Spirit began to be poured out in mainstream denominations including the Anglican and Catholic churches. Thus 1967 marked a period of restored unity for both Israel and the Church.
The Ongoing Restoration
Since 1948, Israel has experienced a 16-fold increase in its harvest – and this tiny, dry and desolate land has literally become the fruit bowl of many nations. Meanwhile, the church has experienced an unprecedented harvest in global evangelism.
I believe the greatest is still to come – I believe the church is going to be restored to a fuller and deeper understanding of the Jewish roots of our faith in the years ahead. I believe also that we are going to see a greater move of the Holy Spirit in our midst – restoring and bringing us back to the power displayed in the book of Acts.
I believe Israel is also going to experience further restoration – to inherit the full extent of her promised land and ultimately be restored back to her Messiah!
Truly the Messiah is going to come in a time of restoration – and we are now closer than ever!