In our last message, we saw how the beginning of the Acts period foreshadowed the coming, manifest kingdom in many ways. Both start with a sound, both include signs of fire, both see God’s chosen representatives powerfully marked out for all to see, both involve the pouring out of the power of the Holy Spirit, and both break down barriers that exist between people in this world. Thus we saw that, in many ways, the beginning of the Acts period foreshadows the beginning of the kingdom of God.
Yet there are other ways besides how it started in which the Acts period foreshadows the future, manifest kingdom of God. One way is in the unity that existed during Acts, particularly during the earliest time when all believers were together in one large group. We read of this unity in Acts 2:44-45.
44. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45. and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
There were many elements to the great unity that existed among the believers at that time. First of all, they were all together in one place. Until the stoning of Stephen when the believers were scattered, they were all in one large group in Jerusalem. Yet the unity extended far beyond just location. They were also unified in all physical and material things, for we read that the possessions of every man belonged to all. Those among them who had been wealthy sold their possessions and goods. They no longer kept their possessions for themselves, but sold them in order to share with their poorer fellow believers. What love and compassion for each other they must have had! Then, the proceeds from this sale were divided among them all. This was done according as every man had need, as we read in verse 45.
How can we be certain that this distribution was fairly made? How can we know that no believer tried to scam the system and ask for more than he needed? When it comes to handouts in this world, we must always take into account the dishonesty of people asking for them. And yet, this would not have been a problem in the great unity. For one thing, the distribution was made by the apostles themselves. We read of this in Acts 4:34-35.
34. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35. and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.
So the proceeds from the sale of every man’s investments were brought by them to the apostles and put under their control, which is the meaning of “laid them at the apostles’ feet.” Then, the distribution was made by the apostles, these men who had God inspiring their every action. These men could not be fooled. These men could not be scammed. We see what happened when someone tried it in Acts 5 in the story of Ananias and Sapphira. Thus, the distribution of these funds was made fairly. It could not help but be fair when the apostles were the ones making it.
Secondly, I do not believe that anyone would have tried to scam the system. We read why in Acts 2:46-47.
46. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47. praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
The word translated simplicity here, the Greek word aphelotes, can also mean singleness. The believers were one in heart. This is proclaimed even more strongly in Acts 4:32.
32. Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.
The situation is described here that the believers had one heart and one soul. In our modern-day idiom, we would say that their hearts beat as one. Of course, if everyone truly cared as much for each other as for themselves, if they were truly unified, then no one would think of scamming the system and taking away from what should have been given to other believers. Thus not only is it true that the believers COULD not have scammed the system for more than they needed, but none of the believers WOULD have done so because of their singleness of heart. The story of Ananias and Sapphira, on the other hand, shows us the lengths to which the Spirit went to preserve this unity. Here was a couple whose hearts started to beat out of rhythm. They were no longer one with their fellows, in seeking more credit than they deserved. There was no leniency given to them for this fault. Instead, they were removed from the unity by death. This oneness was watched over by God Himself, and He would allow no spirit of selfishness to enter and break it up.
So how might this whole situation have foreshadowed the Manifest Kingdom of God? I believe it was an example of the peace that will characterize that time. We read of this peace in Psalm 37:11.
11. But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
We are probably familiar with this verse from the Lord Jesus referring to it in the beatitudes in Matthew 5:5. Yet few might be familiar with the last part of the verse. The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, has to do with soundness, tranquility, safety, health, and such things. It is still a common greeting between Hebrews wishing each other well. If we would look at the world today, there can be no doubt but that peace is not found in abundance. We know that that which is abundant is present with more than even what is needed. This world certainly needs more peace than it has! Yet in this glorious unity that existed in the Acts period when all these believers were truly one, we see a glimpse of how God can create a situation that is very different, when peace is truly in abundance. We see a foreshadowing of the kingdom of God.
Another way in which the Acts period foreshadows the kingdom of God is in the miracles that were worked at that time. Many of these reflect various conditions that will prevail on earth during the coming kingdom. One such miracle is the healing of the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the temple in Acts 3:1-10.
1. Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; 3. who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. 4. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” 5. So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” 7. And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. 9. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. 10. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
This was indeed a wonderful and amazing event, but it also was a foreshadowing of the Manifest Kingdom of God, as we read of it in Isaiah 33:24. There, speaking of Zion (verse 20), Isaiah says:
24. And the inhabitant will not say, “I am sick”;
The people who dwell in it will be forgiven their iniquity.
The healing of the lame is specifically mentioned in Isaiah 35:6.
6. Then the lame shall leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the dumb sing.
For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness,
And streams in the desert.
What the apostles did was not a fulfillment of this, even though the lame man did leap, as we read in verse 8, for the waters did not then burst forth in the wilderness. No, this prophecy awaits its final fulfillment in the kingdom of God to come, and yet it was clearly foreshadowed by this miracle that took place in the Acts period.
The next miracle we will consider is the shaking of the room and filling of the Holy Spirit that we read of in Acts 4:31. The apostles Peter and John after healing the lame man had been arrested by the priests, captain of the temple, and Sadducees, who, since they were opposed to the idea of resurrection, were particularly against the story of the resurrection of Christ. Even they could not bring themselves to punish these two men for healing a lame man, however, and so they were forced to merely threaten them, commanding them not to proclaim any longer in the name of Jesus Christ, and then let them go. They returned to the rest of the apostles, and then together they prayed for guidance. We read their closing words in Acts 4:29-30.
29. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30. by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”
The response of the Lord to this request was immediate and dramatic, as we read in Acts 4:31.
31. And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
The fact that they were doing the right thing in God’s sight could not be doubted, for the clearest, miraculous evidence was given them. First, the place where they were assembled together was shaken. Then, they were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Through that power their request was granted, for they received the boldness they needed to speak the word of God without fear.
All this foreshadows the Manifest Kingdom of God as well. At that time, all God’s people will have their ways directed by Him, as we read of it in Isaiah 30:21.
21. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
“This is the way, walk in it,”
Whenever you turn to the right hand
Or whenever you turn to the left.
This describes an amazing condition of things, and one which seems even more amazing to us who live in the dispensation when God always acts in secret and never speaks in a clear, audible way. This describes a time when God will offer His input on every decision and crossroads of life, when we can rely on Him to lead and guide us in all we do. This is the way it will be in the full kingdom to come. You will hear a word behind you saying this is the way you should walk in whenever a decision must be made. And this glorious condition of things was foreshadowed by the miraculous guidance and confirmation the apostles received of the path they were taking in Acts 4:31.
Next, the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira, already referred to multiple times in this article, foreshadow the Manifest Kingdom of God. We read of this event in Acts 5:1-10.
1. But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4. While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
5. Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. 6. And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.
7. Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8. And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?”
She said, “Yes, for so much.”
9. Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10. Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband.
Thus we read that this couple, for their wicked actions in attempting to deceive God, lost their lives and were cut out of the great unity God was creating, leaving those who remained to continue in unity. This also foreshadows the full kingdom to come, when the wicked will daily be cut off from Jerusalem, as we read in Psalm 101. David in this psalm speaks of how he will rule in the kingdom of God when he is placed on the throne as the prince over Israel (Christ Himself being the king). He says in verses 5 and 7-8:
5. Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor,
Him I will destroy;
The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart,
Him I will not endure.
7. He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house;
He who tells lies shall not continue in my presence.
8. Early I will destroy all the wicked of the land,
That I may cut off all the evildoers from the city of the LORD.
Thus the wicked slanderers, the proud, the deceivers, the liars, and all the wicked will be cut off from Jerusalem by David, the chief ruler over it. This same pattern, I believe, will be followed all throughout the earth, as the Lord purges from His kingdom all who do not submit themselves to being made worthy of it. This condition of things is foreshadowed in the cutting off of Ananias and Sapphira from among the believers in David’s future capital of Jerusalem.
The next miracle that foreshadows the Manifest Kingdom of God is the release of the apostles from prison, as we read of it in Acts 5:19-20.
19. But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20. “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.”
This time all twelve of the apostles were imprisoned, but they were the Lord’s servants, and He did not judge them to be worthy of any sort of imprisonment. Therefore, He acted to reverse this unjust sentence upon them, as we see in this passage. This foreshadows the release of the prisoners in the kingdom, as we read of it in Isaiah 42. This is speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ, as we can clearly see from verse 1, and it declares that He will set the prisoners free, as is made clear in verse 7.
1. “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold,
My Elect One in whom My soul delights!
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.
7. To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the prison,
Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.
All the Lord’s imprisoned ones, whether they had done anything to deserve that imprisonment or not, will be freely forgiven and brought out of the prison house when the Manifest Kingdom of God begins. This was foreshadowed in the release of the apostles in Acts 5.
Next, the full kingdom is foreshadowed in the conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus. We read of this miraculous event in Acts 9:3-6.
3. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
5. And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”
Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
6. So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”
Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Saul had formerly been, in his own words, “a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man” (I Timothy 1:13). Yet Christ had stepped in and changed his course. Saul had believed entirely the wrong thing about the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ stepped in and straightened him out. At that time, this blasphemous, persecuting, insolent man became a loyal and faithful servant of Jesus Christ. Saul, also called Paul, truly was a converted sinner, and his miraculous conversion was rather unique in the annals of the Acts period. Yet it will not be unique in the Manifest Kingdom of God to come, but rather it foreshadows the conversion of sinners at that time. We can read about this in Psalm 25:8.
8. Good and upright is the LORD;
Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.
Many find it difficult to believe that the LORD will teach sinners His way in the kingdom of God to come. They seem to believe that He will destroy the vast majority of people, and will only allow a small number in. Yet this is not the testimony of Scripture. It reveals to us that there will be many like Paul when the Manifest Kingdom of God comes, and they will be just as miraculously turned from their wicked course and set on the way to following and serving God. This is also the truth proclaimed in Psalm 51:13.
13. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.
This Psalm was written as a prayer of confession after David’s great sin with Uriah and Bathsheba. Yet in it he anticipates the time when he will be restored to God’s salvation, and promises at that time that he will teach transgressors God’s ways, and the result will be that sinners shall be converted to Him. This is how it will be in the kingdom of God. Finally, this truth of the conversion of sinners is taught in Psalm 64.
1. Hear my voice, O God, in my meditation;
Preserve my life from fear of the enemy.
2. Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
From the rebellion of the workers of iniquity,
3. Who sharpen their tongue like a sword,
And bend their bows to shoot their arrows—bitter words,
4. That they may shoot in secret at the blameless;
Suddenly they shoot at him and do not fear.
5. They encourage themselves in an evil matter;
They talk of laying snares secretly;
They say, “Who will see them?”
6. They devise iniquities:
“We have perfected a shrewd scheme.”
Both the inward thought and the heart of man are deep.
7. But God shall shoot at them with an arrow;
Suddenly they shall be wounded.
8. So He will make them stumble over their own tongue;
All who see them shall flee away.
9. All men shall fear,
And shall declare the work of God;
For they shall wisely consider His doing.
10. The righteous shall be glad in the LORD, and trust in Him.
And all the upright in heart shall glory.
This passage describes the wickedness of men as it will be just previous to the beginning of the Manifest Kingdom of God on earth. Indeed, we see wicked men and seducers acting just this way today, Yet this passage predicts the sudden wounding of such men, resulting in them stumbling over their own tongue. In Hebrew, this indicates that they will give themselves a tongue lashing! What will cause sinners to change their tune so suddenly and completely? Nothing but the coming in of the Manifest Kingdom of God!