30] “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31] Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32] And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also in the Holy Spirit whom God has given to them who obey Him.”
The thing we’re interested in in this portion of Scripture is what Peter says about what happened to the Lord Jesus after His resurrection: God exalted Him to His own right hand. The question is, what is He doing there right now? Not “doing there” as if there were some question about His right to be there, but rather, what are His activities there?
A common view is that He is ruling His church as its Head.
Is that what the Scripture teaches?
Our Scripture tells us He is “Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (emphasis added). We emphasized “to Israel” because a common view is that God is done with Israel, that their crucifixion of Jesus forever closed the door to them, that the church has taken her place as “spiritual Israel,” and, ultimately, the Old Testament prophets didn’t really mean Israel when they said, for example, Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit, Isaiah 27:6.
It is true that Israel as a nation has been set aside in this age, but Scripture says that is only until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, Romans 11:25, (emphasis added.) Earlier in the chapter, Paul wrote, I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! Romans 11:11, 12. Though I’ve seen it done, you can’t really say that “their fall” and “their failure” refer to Israel without also saying that “their fullness” refers to Israel.
What is that?
Instead of the crucifixion cutting them off from God’s grace, it is through that very thing that they will be brought to the feet of the Crucified One. Zechariah 12:10, 11 quotes God as saying, “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one grieves for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem.” John quotes part of this verse at the Crucifixion, John 19:37.
Just in passing, Zechariah quotes “the word of the LORD” in this portion, the word “LORD” being capitalized refers to Jehovah, and yet it is He Who is crucified. This is just one of many incidental references in the Old Testament that demonstrate that Jesus is Jehovah. He wasn’t just a Man born illegitimately to a peasant girl in Israel, but was God Incarnate.
God is not done with Israel. Though Zechariah 14 describes a terrible time for her just before the Lord returns, yet He will return and claim her for Himself. Zechariah 13:1 says, “In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.”
But our Lord won’t just come back as Savior. Peter says He will come back as Prince, or Ruler. Perhaps Revelation 20:4 is the best known verse about this: And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” Leaving aside the uproar about “the Millennium,” except to say that the Holy Spirit inspired John to use that phrase five times in six verses for some reason, perhaps to indicate that He meant “1,000 years,” this isn’t the only verse to refer to our Lord as King. In giving a further description of our Lord’s return, Revelation 19:14-15a say this: And the armies of heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself shall rule them [the nations] with a rod of iron.
Zechariah 14 gives us a little idea of this “rod of iron.” It says, And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall come to pass that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there shall be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the LORD strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, vs. 16-19.
And Matthew says, The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth, Matthew 13:41, 42.
There will be no “diversity,” no “freedom of religion.” Everything will be in accord with the Word and will of God, to “saved” and “unsaved” alike. That is why Satan will be able to get together people against the Lord, whose number is as the sand of the sea, Revelation 20:7. This will forever answer those who say that people go wrong because of education or environment or economic conditions. Conditions will be the best they have been since the Garden of Eden and people will still rebel against God.