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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 8 - Acts 3:19-21 - The Restoration of All Things Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius

Israel and the latter-day glory may be said to be the burden of this passage, that glory, according to the Old Testament prophets, being intimately connected with Israel's turning to the Lord. The word "when" means more exactly "in order to" (όπως άν), and the exhortation would run thus, "Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." The passage divides itself into two parts,—(1) the practical; (2) the prophetical.

I. The practical. Of this there are three parts: (1.) Repentance. A thorough change of mind. Repent,—Pharisee and Sadducee,—repent all Israel. It was the Lord's own message,—John the Baptist's,—theirs from the first. Come down from your high thoughts; cease to think of earthly glories; become as little children, and be willing to receive the kingdom as such. (2.) Conversion. This is the fruit of repentance; a change of course must follow a change of mind. It is the Old Testament exhortation, "Turn ye, turn ye." Be converted. (3.) Forgiveness. On repentance and conversion there follows pardon; pardon for Israel, pardon for us,—"Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins." The blotting out or washing away is a well-known Old Testament figure. David cried, "Blot out all mine iniquities"; and God speaks of Himself thus, "I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions." Forgiveness is the burden of the gospel.

II. The prophetical. This part brings especially two things before us: (1) the Lord's coming; (2) the glory of the latter day.

(1.) The Lord's coming It is described here a "sending" from the Father; "He shall send Jesus,"—Jesus who went up to heaven, and who is now in heaven, arid is to remain there till the appointed time,—Jesus who before was preached,—this same Jesus. How special the Apostle is in describing this coming one! And as at His first advent He was the "sent one," so at His second, He is still to be the same the "sent of God" to suffer; the "sent of God" to reign. There is a coming, and a coming one. The Jewish church looked for a coming one, so does the Christian. He comes! Behold the Lord cometh! Behold He cometh with clouds! He comes in glory. He comes quickly. He comes as a thief. He comes as a Judge. He comes as a King. He comes as the second Adam. He comes as the true Melchizedec, the true Solomon. It is not our going to Him that is here referred to, but His coming to us. It is not death; it is not Jerusalem's destruction. It is the coming predicted by Enoch, by David, by Isaiah, and all the prophets. It is the coming which the church loves, and Satan dreads, and creation groans for, and Israel expects; before which Antichrist is to be smitten, and in which all nations are to be blessed.

(2.) The glory of the latter day. This glory is described by a twofold figure.

(1.) Times of refreshing. The earth is parched, dried up, physically and morally. There has been a long drought, with few and partial showers. All things are withering; the whole creation groans; the church is parched; humanity is parched; all nations and kindreds, Jew and Gentile, are parched. But this is to be reversed. The windows of heaven are to be opened; the abundance of rain is to be given. The face of nature is to revive (see Isaiah 35; Hosea 14:5; Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13). Of this refreshing there are to be "times"; it is not so much one as many; ages of refreshing; and all this "from the presence of the Lord." It is at the Lord's return that this begins; and it is during His presence here that this is to go on. And if an absent Lord has done so much, What will not a present Lord do? He will come down like rain upon the mown grass, like showers that water the earth (2 Samuel 23:4, Psalm 72:6-16).

(b) Times of restitution of all things. Restitution means setting things to right; as when it is said of the man with the withered hand, "His hand was restored whole as the other." This is the bringing back of Paradise; restoring and reorganizing all things under the dominion of the second Adam. (1.) Earth is to be set to right (Romans 8:19). (2.) Israel is to be set to right (Psalm 53:6, Isaiah 54:11-14, 60:1-22). (3.) The Gentiles shall be set to right (Psalm 72:8; Daniel 7:14). (4.) The church shall be set to right (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 20.). She shall be saved, glorified, crowned. Thus all things above and beneath shall share in the restitution,—"New heavens and a new earth." Hence it is said, "Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad," &c.

Up till the time of this restitution, Christ is to remain in heaven. But when the fullness of the times is come, then He descends, and the voice is heard, "Behold, I make all things new."

For that coming we wait; for that restitution we wait; looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God. Are our desires really toward it? There is a glorious time coming. All men count on it. A millennium is in the creed of every body. But what is it to be? A mere triumph of art, and science, and human intellect; of music, and painting, and philosophy, and literature, with cathedrals to shed a religious light on all? That would be man's millennium. The triumph of infidelity, or pantheism, or atheism? That would be Satan's millennium. The triumph of religion and morality? That would be the millennium of the greater portion of the professing church. But God's millennium is that in which Christ is present and personal King,—in which the Spirit is poured out universally,—and Christ reigns supreme in hearts and nations everywhere.