We have been examining the fact that the Acts period foreshadows the kingdom of God in the miracles that were worked at that time. Many of these reflect various conditions that will prevail on earth during the coming kingdom. We have seen that the healing of the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the temple in Acts 3:1-10 foreshadows the healing and health that will be enjoyed by all in the kingdom of God, as we see in Isaiah 33:24 and 35:6. The shaking of the house in Acts 4:31, directing the apostles in how they were to act, foreshadows the direction God will give men in the kingdom in Isaiah 30:21. The deaths of Ananias and Sapphira foreshadow the punishment that will fall upon evildoers in the kingdom in Psalm 101:5, 7-8. The release of the apostles from prison in Acts 5:19-20 foreshadows the setting of the prisoners free in Isaiah 42:1,7. The conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus in Acts 9:3-6 foreshadows the enlightenment of sinners in Psalm 25:8, 51:31, and 64:1-10. This brings us up-to-date to our current examination.
Next, the amazing story of the resurrection of Tabitha in Acts 9:36-42 foreshadows the Manifest Kingdom of God to come.
36. At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. 37. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38. And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. 39. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40. But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.
This miracle was a sensational display of the resurrection power of God. Never will His resurrection power be plainer than at the start of the full kingdom of God to come. We read of that power in Ezekiel 37:11-14.
11. Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ 12. Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it,” says the LORD.’”
The LORD could not say it more plainly. When the future kingdom of God begins, He will open the graves of all His people Israel and bring them out of them, bringing them back to the land of Israel. There will be no doubt then that He has done this, and that an amazing, new time has begun on earth at last! Thus Tabitha’s resurrection foreshadows the Manifest Kingdom of God.
Paul too was resurrected when he was unjustly stoned to death, as we read in Acts 14:19-20.
19. Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. 20. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
Paul was God’s apostle, and so God did not at all agree with his execution. Therefore, He would not allow it, and raised him from the dead. This foreshadows the time when none can hurt or destroy those in God’s kingdom, as we read of it in Isaiah 11:9.
9. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea.
Mountains in Scripture are often used as a symbol of governments. So in all God’s holy government none shall hurt nor destroy. This will extend even to the animal creation, though its most important aspect will be with men. The “holy mountain,” I believe, will take in His worldwide government, for I do not believe that one could hurt or destroy as long as he was outside the boundaries of Israel, but then could no longer do so once he crosses the border. These glorious conditions will not be limited to the land of Israel. This is the way it will be throughout the earth. For, as we read here, the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD. No longer will violence and destruction be allowed. This glorious reality is foreshadowed in God’s disallowing the death of Paul in the Acts period.
The next noteworthy miracle of the Acts period we will consider that foreshadows conditions in the Manifest Kingdom of God is the sending of handkerchiefs from Paul to heal the sick. We read of this unusual miracle in Acts 19:11-12.
11. Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12. so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.
This particular miracle, which was unusual even by Acts period standards, displays the power of God to work at a distance. The presence of His apostle with the sick person was not necessary in order for that sick person to be healed. The Lord was working from heaven, and He did not need a human servant on the spot in order to work. This kind of miracle foreshadows the day when the LORD will speak from heaven and the earth will melt before Him. We read of this event in Psalm 46:6.
6. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
For God to speak from heaven is all that is necessary for Him to melt the nations and kingdoms of the earth before Him. He does not need to come back personally in order to force the nations to serve and obey Him. All He needs to do is to speak from heaven, and all the world will become His footstool. Then will be true what the LORD stated in Isaiah 66:1, “Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool.” This subjugation of the earth will be accomplished by the LORD working at a distance, just as He did in the healing miracles of Paul through handkerchiefs or aprons while he was in Ephesus.
Another foreshadowing miracle of the Acts period is Paul’s immunity to the poisonous beast. We read of this in Acts 28:3-6.
3. But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. 4. So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.” 5. But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. 6. However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.
This was indeed an incredible event, and it is no wonder that the islanders thought it was the work of a god, though they in confusion identified the one who was the true God’s messenger as being the very God Who gave him the power. Yet this event, while amazing on its own, also is another miracle that foreshadows the Manifest Kingdom of God. In the kingdom, God will bring into subjection the animal kingdom. This will result in complete safety for all people as far as wild animals are concerned. We read of this truth of the kingdom in Isaiah 11:6-8.
6. “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.
7. The cow and the bear shall graze;
Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
This passage speaks of the incredible change that will take place in the animal kingdom when the Manifest Kingdom is a reality on earth. This passage inspired the song that speaks of the “lion and the lamb” dwelling together in peace, though it does not actually state this. It is clear that the songwriter changed things a bit, since “lion” and “lamb” have a nice alliteration to them. Since this is the line everyone remembers (though it is not in the passage at all), it is clear the songwriter was correct about the alliteration being catchy. Yet this passage speaks of many equally impressive and unlikely combinations of animals dwelling together. It also mentions little children playing with the most dangerous of snakes without harm, and so we can be certain that when the Manifest Kingdom comes, fierce and dangerous animals will no longer be a threat to men.
This passage is actually immediately before the verse we already talked about above, Isaiah 11:9.
9. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea.
As we said above, the main thrust of this is probably that human beings will not be hurting nor destroying, yet in the context animals certainly are meant as well. That “the mountain” covers the entire earth and not merely Israel should be clear enough. Imagine a wolf, standing outside the land of Israel, seeing a lamb standing inside the border, and charging towards it. Then, as he crosses the border, he loses all interest in eating the lamb, and begins dwelling with it instead. Then one day, as these two fast friends both wander together back across the border, things suddenly change back to how they were, and the wolf leaps on the lamb and devours it. No, this is not the idea, and such confusion is not worthy of God and the glories of His coming government. The whole earth will experience peace this way, not just the land of Israel. This glorious condition of things, with absolute cessation of violence among animals, was foreshadowed in the experience of Paul with the poisonous snake.
So we have seen that the Acts period foreshadowed the Manifest Kingdom of God in the way it began, in the perfect unity that existed among believers, and in the miracles that occurred during that time. Yet there are still other ways that the Acts period is like the yet-coming Manifest Kingdom of God. One way is that we see in the Acts period the governments of this world humiliated and God’s government triumphant. An example of this is in Acts 16:35-40.
35. And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officers, saying, “Let those men go.”
36. So the keeper of the prison reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Now therefore depart, and go in peace.”
37. But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.”
38. And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans. 39. Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city. 40. So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.
These magistrates had had Paul and Silas beaten the day before in order to satisfy an angry mob that had formed against them. This was not justice, however, and they knew it. The next day, therefore, they hoped to sweep the whole thing under the rug by letting them go and asking them to leave the city. Paul does not allow them this easy way out, however. They have openly beaten Roman citizens without having condemned them of any real crime, as well as throwing those citizens into prison without real charges. This was contrary to Roman law, and would have been something Rome would have looked on with very little leniency, for they took care of their citizens throughout their empire. Thus the magistrates are forced to come to the prison and plead with Paul and Silas to leave the city. Instead, they leave the prison and enter the house of Lydia, one of the leading citizens of Philippi. Thus, these earthly rulers were humiliated before God’s Israelite Acts period rulers over His government.
This was not just an Acts period event, however. It foreshadowed conditions in the full kingdom of God to come. In Zechariah 8:23, we read how in the Manifest Kingdom, even the great among other nations will be humbled before God’s often-maligned people of Israel.
23. “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’”
This clearly shows men of other nations being humbled before God’s people, just as these city leaders were humbled before God’s rulers during Acts. Thus in this Acts period event, the humbling of other people before God’s rulers in Israel in the full kingdom of God is foreshadowed.
Another way an Acts period event foreshadows the coming, Manifest Kingdom of God is in the fact that governments of this world will want to hear the truth from God’s governors. We see an Acts period example of this in Acts 24:24-26.
24. And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. 25. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” 26. Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him.
In this passage, we read of Felix, the Roman governor, who sent for Paul to hear from him concerning the faith in Christ. Here was a ruler interested in the truth of God and His kingdom. The same will be true, only much more so, in the future, Manifest Kingdom of God. We read of this in Micah 4:2.
2. Many nations shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion the law shall go forth,
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
In this passage, we read of nations, represented in their rulers, desiring to go up to the mountain of the LORD (that is, His government), and to the house of the God of Jacob in Jerusalem. There, they hope to learn of His ways so they may walk in His paths. This attitude on the part of the nations will be a different one indeed than the attitude most nations display towards God and His ways today. Yet God will have drawn all these peoples to Himself through a glorious display of His judgments, set forth at the beginning of His Manifest Kingdom. This condition of things is foreshadowed in the desire of Felix to hear the truth in the Acts period, though certainly Felix’s response to the truth leaves something to be desired.
One last way we see the Acts period foreshadowing the Manifest Kingdom of God is in Paul’s statement in Romans 8:2 that the Spirit was setting him free from the law of sin and death.
2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
We can see this in the reality of the Acts period as it was experienced by Paul and others. These people did not just experience perfect health and healing through the miracles of Acts, but also, through faith in Christ Jesus and their connection to the Spirit of life, they had been made free from the law of sin and death altogether. They were no longer growing old and dying, as sin would have them to do. Now this suspension of the usual law of sin and death for them was only temporary, for when the kingdom of God was interrupted at Acts 28:28 and the Manifest Kingdom was postponed, the law of sin and death started working in them once again. Yet in the Manifest Kingdom, this law will have been permanently rescinded. We read of this in Isaiah 65:20.
20. “No more shall an infant from there live but a few days,
Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days;
For the child shall die one hundred years old,
But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.
This verse tells us that infant mortality will be done away with completely. No longer will any child die after hardly having lived. Moreover, the same will be true of old men, who will no longer die without having lived out their lifespan. The expected order of things will be entirely changed. If someone dies at one hundred years old, instead of being thought to have lived a particularly long life, he will be thought to have died as a mere child. And if someone dies at one hundred, it will not be mere chance, but will be because he was a sinner who was cut off in his sin. This is because no one will die who has not done something to deserve it, and those who are good and faithful citizens of the kingdom will not die throughout the entire course of it. This will be the glorious reality then, and it was foreshadowed in the Acts period by their being set free from the law of sin and death.
Thus we have seen that the Manifest Kingdom of God is foreshadowed in the New Testament during the period of history recorded in the book of Acts. This period was actually an early period of the kingdom of God, and showed in part what that full kingdom will be like when it comes. It foreshadowed the kingdom in how it began, in the perfect unity that existed at the time, in the miracles that happened then, in the humiliation of the governments of this world before it, in the seeking of governors and rulers to learn more about it, and in the freedom from the law of sin and death that existed then. Thus there are many things taught us about the full, Manifest Kingdom of God by the kingdom of God in part as we see it displayed in the Acts period.