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James Robison

The divine hope is the stamp of quality of the work of the Holy Spirit. This eternal promise appears as part of the prophecy of Pentecost: "I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten" (Joel 2:25-27). The passage as a whole promises a total recovery: a basic characteristic of the age of the Holy Spirit. In a manner that characterizes the encouraging qualities of his ministry of world evangelization, the author of this study calls attention to the course of the promise that recurs throughout the Scripture, offering hope when all seems to contradict it, and promising restoration when its obvious that only God can supply it. This article explains each one of the following aspects:

1. The New Testament prophecy about restoration (Acts 3:19-21)
Restoration in each dimension of human experience is fundamental to the evangelical Christian. It is intertwined in all the Scripture and should be found in the entryway of our ministry of truth.

In Acts 3:19-21 is found the most cited reference to restoration in the New Testament. Peter makes an urgent call to return to God to be cleansed of sin. Add to this return the road being paved to a period of refreshing revival as a result of the Lord's presence amidst his people. Also, the return of Christ will be made ready, when, according to Peter, "whom the heaven must receive (or detain) until the times of restoration of all things, of which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets who had been from ancient time" (Acts 3:21).

Many think that it's now, in these last days, that "all things" prophesied will be fulfilled and the restoration will be complete. The final restoration is the return of the Church, the bride of Christ, to the majesty and glory God prepared for her. For this restoration to take place, God has begun to allow his power and purity to flow without measure on its behalf. "The restoration of all things" has begun, so that the unshakable kingdom will be manifested.

2. Biblical definition of restoration (Job 42:10-12)
According to the dictionary, "restore" means to reestablish something to its original condition. Therefore, when something is restored in Scripture, it always grows, multiplies or improves, so that its final condition is superior to its original state (see Joel 2:21-26).

For example, under the Law of Moses, if someone steals a bullock or sheep, it wasn't sufficient to restore the animal he had taken. He had to pay for the equivalent of five bullocks or sheep (Exod. 22:1). When God restored Job after the terrible proofs to which he was submitted, he gave him double that which he had lost and blessed him more abundantly in his final days than at the beginning of his life (Job 42:10-12). Jesus told his disciples that everyone who left something to follow him would receive 100 times more (Mark 10:29,30).

God multiplies when he restores, and thus, to restore nowadays, God not only returns to the Church the glory that it reached in New Testament times, he wishes to make it more powerful, glorious and majestic, like nothing the world has ever seen!

3. Restoration "in the beginning" (Gen. 3:21)
The biblical theme of restoration is found in the beginning of all things: the book of Genesis. God created the human being in his own image, man and woman. The human being enjoys God's image, his intimacy and an uninterrupted companionship with Him.

However, the human being decided to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. By doing so, he wanted to take his life in his own hands. Instead of depending on God's wisdom, righteousness and resources, he would live by his own limited resources, according to his own opinion.

With this tragic decision, the human being lost his divine image, as well as the intimacy and companionship of the Lord, his Creator. But God's restorative work began immediately. As the human being was already self-conscious, trying to cover his nakedness by his own hands, God provided him clothes made of animal skins. This revealed with complete clarity God's redemptive and restorative plan for the fallen human. This first sacrifice, which provided him with clothes, pointed toward the final sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus himself.

4. The human being rushes to degradation (Gen. 6:5)
After being expelled from the Garden, and separated from the Tree of Life which was in its midst, Adam had sons in his own image, disobedient and self-centered, and not in God's image. From this moment forward, the human being fell further and further into depravity until God decided to destroy the race, and begin again through one single family, Noah's.

The covenant of the rainbow (Gen. 9:13) was one of the most important signs given by God during this period, a sign through which his desire was indicated to restore that which had been lost in Adam and Eve's time. That constituted the making of an eternal reminder of God's plan to restore, through righteousness, the human being according to his will.

With the calling of Abraham (Gen. 12), he began to develop this plan, by manifesting God's will through a specific individual. the "great nation" that he promised to prosper through Abraham began to gestate with Israel, but was destined to be transformed in the Church, the house of God. Although there are many prophecies dedicated to Israel, we can be assured that from the beginning God would have the Church in his heart in that pertaining to its realization. The Church wasn't a mere anticipation in the divine mind, as neither was the promise of the Messiah: Jesus Christ.

5. The anticipated restoration (Gen. 41:42,43)
The outline of God's restorative work is vividly demonstrated in Joseph's life. Joseph was abandoned, falsely accused, forgotten. But he finally became favored by God and restored to the role God assigned him.

    1. Abandoned. When Joseph revealed to his brothers that God had called him to rule over them, they reacted enviously, sending him as a slave to Egypt.

    2. Falsely accused. God prospered Joseph, even as a slave, to the point that his master put him in charge of his belongings. But the master's wife falsely accused him of assaulting her, and he was sent to prison.

    3. Forgotten. Being in prison, Joseph interpreted the dreams of Pharoah's cupbearer and baker. The cupbearer rejoiced to know he would be freed, and Joseph asked him to intercede for him before Pharaoh. But, once out of prison, the cupbearer forgot about Joseph.

    4. Favored. God didn't forget him, however. Two years later Pharaoh had a dream. The cupbearer remembered Joseph and spoke of him to Pharaoh. Joseph interpreted the dream, announcing seven years of famine to him. Pleased with the warning, Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of all the riches of Egypt. not only was Joseph restored by this action, but when the drought came, he was in a position to save his people.

6. Futile human efforts of self-restoration (Jer. 8:8,9)
God promised to send a prophet like Moses to the Israelites in order to guarantee their definitive freedom. It was necessary that they should have refused to listen to God, and insisted on him speaking directly only to Moses (Deut. 18:15,16). Their fear of hearing him without intermediaries placed them under the letter of the Law, where human effort tries to obtain and retain divine favor. But God, knowing the limits of the Law, instituted the Mosaic system of animal sacrifices to atone for sins. He also converted the Law into a demonstration that pointed to definitive salvation through the shed blood of Jesus, the sacrifice made once for all (Heb. 10:10).

The failure of their efforts is graphically presented in Jeremiah 8-10 and Lamentations 2, in the destruction of Jerusalem and dispersion of the people. These chapters paint a dark picture of human folly, rebellion, immorality, idolatry and general corruption that the nation of Israel suffered, which had forced God to discipline them in such a manner that "he came to be like an enemy" (Lam. 2:5).

Jeremiah 9:3 resumes their difficult situation, which brings to mind that of many in today's church, "And they have not known me". In spite of his great insistence, they still had not established a personal relationship with God.

7. The corruption and restoration of leaders (Ezek 34:1-10)
Having chosen to listen to others in place of God, the people quickly began listening to liars (Jer. 9:3). Ezek. 34:1-10 exposes the weakness and depravity into which the Jewish leaders had fallen. They used their offices and ministries for personal gain, not to serve the people. They didn't feed the flock, but themselves. In his wrath, God confronted these evil shepherds, warning them that he would take the sheep away from them and would put an end to their despised exploitation.

The analogy of the pastor is maintained in the promise of restoration that follows these sentences of divine censure, "behold I, myself will go seek my the flock recognizes the shepherd...thus will I recognize my sheep" (verses 11.12). God, then and now, wishes that his people would relate directly with him, hear him, respond to him and have a more abundant life. The Lord has never turned away from his promise to restore the loving relationship that was lost in the Garden of Eden.

8. Restoration and the futility of ritual religion (Amos 5:21-23)
As the human being has always sought to gain God's acceptance through his own efforts, people come to think of their relationship with him always in ceremonial terms. They think that observing certain rules and regulations, practicing certain rituals, and pronouncing set words could retain God's favor.

The Lord makes it clear that those concepts are erroneous through the message of the prophets. They made known that he despised the worship ritual and formal sacrifices (Amos 5:21,22), ridiculous solemnities (Is. 58:4,5) and lip-service (Jer. 7:4). He rejected their songs in which they intoned praises that meant nothing to them (5:23). He promised to convert their songs into lamentations, to transform their voices into cries of grief (Jer. 7:34).

9. Removal of human works (Heb. 12:26,27)
All that Israel and Judah had built for themselves by their own effort for generations were abomination to God, and he handed everything that they had achieved through "the work of their hands" over for destruction (Jer. 1:16; 32:29-36).

The message that is attached about the Israelites' false beliefs extends to our days, and the author of Hebrews speaks of the removal that God plans to bring to pass (Heb. 12:26,27). He has promised to remove every human work built up by the energy and wisdom of the flesh. Only the unshakable things - that which has been built thanks to the wisdom and eternal power of the Lord - will remain.

The great removal, prophesied in Hebrews has begun and continues in the Church today. And, for that reason, due to the same evils that affected Israel - seeks to please God through ritual worship, idolatrous practices and moral decadence, corruption of the leadership, and worshiping the work of human hands - is also manifested in the Church. The removal of those things forms part of the process of restoration.

10. Repentance in the restoration (Is. 58:1-14)
After judging and energeticly disciplining the people for their apostasy, God offers them wonderful promises of restoration. He tells them that their salvation will soon be allowed to come to pass, that it will be "like a watered garden". He will free them from their iniquities, will heal their apostasies, and will love them "out of pure grace" (see Is. 58; Jer. 31-33; Hosea 14).

Nevertheless, in his warning of justice and his promise of restoration, the prophets of God make an important exhortation, "Repent! It is indicated in Isaiah 58, "if you abandon your ritual fasting and practice true fasting". The lamentation of Ephraim is heard in Jeremiah 31:19, "Because after I was turned away, I repented". And it echoes in the plea of Hosea 14:1, "Return, oh Israel, to Jehovah your God".

"Repent" doesn't mean to redouble your efforts to please God by keeping the Law or achieving good works. The calling has always been to simply return to God to allow Him to cleanse and restore the sinner.

11. Restoration of the tabernacle of David (Acts 15:16-18)
In Acts 15:1-29, the question arises of whether Gentiles can be accepted as Christians without submitting to the Law of Moses. Peter responded, making note that neither the Jews of his time, nor their fathers had been able to support the weight of the Law; therefore, they should not think to ask the Gentiles to submit to it, "on the contrary, we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we are saved, as are they (the Gentiles) also" (verse 11). James confirmed Peter's declaration, citing the passage in Amos in which God promised to rebuild "the tabernacle of David...that the rest of men might seek the Lord" (Acts 15:16,17).

The tabernacle of David is mentioned in many other places in the Scripture, although this name is not always used. Frequently the term "Zion" is used, the mountain of Jerusalem where the tabernacle was erected, the place where God dwelled alongside his people.

Joel 2 begins with an emotional calling, "Play the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain". Hebrews 12:22 says, "You must come to Mount Zion". In both cases, the reference is to the tabernacle of David. An understanding of the concept of the divine restoration of that tabernacle is essential, because it allows a clear biblical vision of the Church today.

    The tabernacle of David: origin and description
    The tabernacle of David was established shortly after David succeeded Saul as king. The ark of the covenant, which represents the presence and power of God, had been captured by the Philistines. After a series of plagues, they returned it to Kirjath-jearim, where it was brought to the house of Abinidab (I Sam. 4:1-7:1). David yearned to have it by his side and near the people of Israel, so that God's presence would be manifested. He had the ark returned to Jerusalem, placing it in a tent on Mount Zion (II Sam. 6; I Chron. 13-16).

    Before its capture, the ark had been situated in the tabernacle of Moses, resting in its most sacred habitation, the Holy of Holies. Only the high priest could come near it, and only he sprinkled its cover, once a year, with the blood of a sacrificed animal (Heb. 9:1-7). The people could only approach the outer patio of the tabernacle in order to present their sacrifices and worship God.

    The tabernacle of David marked a revolutionary change in this practice that separated the people from God. Without violating the spirit of the Law of Moses, David cultivated intimate relationships between the people and their Lord.

    Significance of the restoration of the tabernacle of David
    The great significance of the tabernacle rested on the fact that the ark, representative of God's presence, occupied a central place among the people of Jerusalem. David taught the people to worship God with praises, thanksgiving and rejoicing. Some 16 ministers were ordained to cover the 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week. None of them were associated with guilt or condemnation; they all expressed recognition of God's grace and mercy, and their unconditional acceptance of all who approached Him with faith.

    The restoration of the tabernacle of David nowadays means to discard formality, legalism and condemnation, and bring the suffering people of the Church and the world back into the arms of a loving God. (Heb. 10:1-25). The Lord invites all to return to Him, to cast their sins behind them, and to receive the refreshing that comes from being in his presence (Acts 3:19).

12. Restoration of the image of God (Is. 4:2,3)
Just as the tabernacle of David represents the restoration of companionship with God that was lost in Eden, the analogy of renovation symbolizes the restoration of God's image: holiness and family ties with God. Isaiah 4;2,3 speaks of the "renovation" of Jehovah, which will flourish in the future. The renewal is Christ, the head of the true Church, composed of those who have received salvation and the new birth by grace through faith. Jesus identified himself with the vine, and his disciples with the branches, and said that they would bear much fruit if they remained in Him (John 15:5).

In many other places, the Scriptures denote that, in Jesus Christ, God restores his people to the father-son ties that were broken by Adam's disobedience. All those who believe in Him are returned to God's house (Eph. 2:19) and conformed to his image (Rom. 8;29).

13. Restoration of intimacy with GOD (Rev. 19:7-9)
The Lord illustrates the restoration of intimacy with his people through the analogy of the husband and his bride. The passage in Revelation 19:7-9 describes the wedding of the Lamb, Jesus, when he calls his spouse, the Church, once she's ready to be presented before Him. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul explains how the Wife is prepared; submitting herself to God and allowing him to cleanse her "in the washing of water by the Word" in order to present it before the Lord without "stain or wrinkle or any such thing" (Eph. 5:25-27).

When the Wife is prepared and Jesus returns for her, the tie, broken in Eden, will remain completely restored, and Christians will become one in Christ and God, as Jesus prayed in John 17. But as in the "first marriage", the spouse will be bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, that is, it should be like Him. The Lord will not return for an impure or defeated wife. In these days of restoration, God prepares the wife in beauty and power and his visible glory.

14. The Holy Spirit: agent of restoration (Joel 2:28,29)
God's work of restoration is a work of the Holy spirit in and through the lives of those who have believed in Jesus and been born again from on high (John 3:3). The prophet Joel prophesied of when God would pour out his spirit "upon all flesh" (Joel 2:28,29). In this way, his power would be received by all and would not be limited to a special individual. This explains why Christ said to his disciples that it was necessary that he go to the Father (John 16:7), because then the spirit would be sent to dwell in them, to fill them and authorize them so that God's wonders would be done through them.

Titus 3:5,6 reveals that even salvation - the regeneration of the Spirit dwelling in the human being and the cleansing that makes the new creature acceptable before God - is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, in Acts 1:8, Jesus tells the disciples that they may do nothing until the Holy Spirit comes. the Lord promises that they will receive power to testify about Him and to spread the good news to all the earth.

15. Significance of restoration for the individual (John 10:10)
Perhaps the best way to sum up all that the restoration means to the individual believer should be to call on a simple word used so much in the Old Testament as in the New: life. In Deuteronomy 30:20, Moses says of the Lord, "He is life for you". In Colossians 3:4, Paul speaks of "Christ, our life". And Jesus says, "I have come to give them life, and so that they may have it in abundance" (John 10:10).

Restoration, for the individual, means to replace spiritual death with spiritual life. Ezek. 36:25-28 graphically describes that substitution. But we not only receive a new type and quality of life, but we should also grow in it. In many verses, we see this process of growth reflected as a work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:23; 17:22; Rom. 8:13; Phil. 1:6; 2:13; Col. 1:27). Through the Holy spirit, God continues and perfects the work that began with our salvation.

16. Significance of restoration for the Church (John 13:34,35)
For the church, as a whole, restoration signifies something more than being converted into a duplicate of the New Testament church. Remember that Restoration means the creation of something that surpasses the original.

In the first place, restoration means that the Church will deploy the type of love that Jesus manifested during his ministry on earth. Jesus said that people would know his disciples by their love (John 13:34,35). Restoration also means the manifestation of God's unlimited power through his church. It should occur when the gifts of the spirit flow through the people of God and work without limitations and restrictions under the direction of the Holy Spirit of divine love.

Through the full manifestation of the gifts and ministries marked out by God, and working according to the love essential to his divine nature, the Church will reach a level of maturity that can only be measured in terms of the "measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). While the Church is converted into a holy temple (Eph. 2:21, inhabited by a consecrated priesthood which offers acceptable sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ (I Pet. 2:5), all people are drawn to the Lord, and the world will finally see God's glory through this restored Church.

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