The Times of Restoration Have Already Began
Through the work of Jesus, the earth is already being restored. The Lord is transforming everything right now—not just in the "sweet bye and bye." I’m not saying that this work is completed. Nor am I suggesting that the Kingdom is fully realized. But I’m saying that things are shifting and a new era is already underway.
I think one of the best passages to summarize this reality is Acts 3:19-24:
"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days." (Acts 3:19-24 NKJV).
What's striking about this passage is how so many believe the phrase, “times of restoration,” is referring to the distant future—a time when Jesus appears in final judgment. Admittedly, the way this passage is rendered in most English translations contributes to a wrong way of thinking.
Everything in the context and flow of these verses suggests that Jesus has already begun His glorious work of restoration. Let me elaborate.
Among other things, this text refers to Moses’ prophecy about a forthcoming prophet who would be greater than him (Deuteronomy 18:15)—a new lawgiver if you will. Jesus obviously fulfilled this as he came to earth.
Later in this section, Peter reveals that Samuel and other Old Testament prophets spoke of the present day. Everything throughout these inter-related verses screams “fulfillment!”
Why would Peter preach about Jesus going back to Heaven and remaining there until the “end-times” when the rest of message was about present-day fulfillment?
Understand, when Peter says "heaven must receive [Jesus] until. . . ," he is referring to the Lord's pre-incarnate life. (The New Living Translation and the International Standard Version render it, "he must remain in heaven until. . .") The apostle is telling us that Jesus stayed in heaven with the Heavenly Father until the time for Him to be born as a man. Contrary to popular thinking, this passage is not referring to the second coming.
Acts 3:19-24, when examined in context, confirms that the promised one has appeared and the time of restoration has begun. Jesus is already at work transforming the cosmos. Nothing will remain as it was. The whole earth is being progressively changed.
It is time for us to learn how to walk in what Jesus is already accomplishing. Believers should embrace the incredible things the Lord is doing in our world.
It may not always look like it, but the restoration has already begun!