Times of Restitution

PETER AND JOHN were ardent exponents of the Gospel of Christ. They experienced the same opposition from the religious rulers of that time as Jesus encountered. We read, for example, that “as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.”—Acts 4:1,2

This notation of the unpopularity of Jesus’ disciples, so far as the priests of that time were concerned, follows the record of a very interesting episode in which Peter preached one of his informative sermons. It was shortly after the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which had been followed by that wonderful sermon by Peter in which he affirmed that Jesus had been raised from the dead, had returned to the presence of his Heavenly Father, and had “shed forth” the divine power, the mighty demonstration of which they had all witnessed at that time. This led to the conversion of “about three thousand” Jews, who “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship.”—Acts 2:41,42

Some time after this, “Peter and John went up together into the Temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. 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 of them that entered into the Temple; who seeing Peter and John about to go into the Temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.”—Acts 3:1-5

This poor, unfortunate man did receive something from Peter, and much more than he expected. Peter said to him, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the Temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.”—Acts 3:6-8

Evidently many people were in and about the Temple when this miracle was performed, and it attracted much attention, as can be readily understood. Concerning this the account reads, “All the people saw him walking and praising God: and they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the Temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.”—Acts 3:9-11

Peter was quick to sense the possibilities of the situation and to use it as an opportunity to present to the Jewish people important facts concerning Jesus and the divine plan of redemption and restoration centered in him. First he disabused their minds of any thought they might have had that he possessed superhuman power to heal this lame man. On this point Peter said, “Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?”—vs. 12

Peter explained to these Israelites that it was through the resurrected Jesus that this lame man had been made to walk. But before he got to this point he said to them, “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of Life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.”—vss. 13-15

Peter did not unduly censure these Israelites for their responsibility in connection with the crucifixion of Jesus, for, as he explained, his suffering and death had been foretold and what had occurred had been in fulfillment of prophecy. The prophecies had also foretold the purpose of Jesus’ death, saying that “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”—Isa. 53:5

Thus, this and other prophecies explain that Jesus was to die as the Redeemer of the world. Jesus himself said that he was to give his “flesh,” his humanity, for the life of the world. (John 6:51) The promise God made to Abraham that through his “seed” all the families of the earth would be blessed could be fulfilled only because redemption from sin and death would be provided. While Jesus, the promised “Seed” of the Abrahamic Covenant, was destined to be a great and powerful Ruler whose dominion would extend from “sea to sea,” it was first necessary that he be the Redeemer of those who were to be blessed by and through his kingdom. It was this that was accomplished at Calvary.—Ps. 72:8

Having reminded his hearers of the death and resurrection of Jesus, Peter then explained to them that it was through faith in Jesus’ name that this lame man had been made to walk—“The faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.” (vs. 16) Peter set before his amazed audience that the one whom they had rejected and crucified was responsible for the fact that this lame man was now able to walk, having been given “perfect soundness.” It was important that they understand this, even as it is important now for us to realize that the hope of the world centers in Christ, who is the seed of Abraham through whom all the families of the earth are to be blessed.

When our first parents transgressed God’s law, he withdrew his favor from them. This meant that even as a plant dies when the sunshine is withdrawn, so the human race has been dying. It does not mean, however, that God ceased to love his human creation. The statement made in Eden that the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head gave assurance that God would do something to rescue man from the dilemma into which he had been plunged by his own sin. God’s later promise to Abraham that his seed would bless all the families of the earth was a further amplification of this. And now Jesus had come and had died as man’s Redeemer, which was a proof of God’s goodwill toward mankind.

Herein is revealed an important aspect of the divine plan to bless all the families of the earth through the seed of Abraham. The blessings were not due to come to the people at the First Advent of Jesus. He came then to open the way for these blessings by dying as the world’s Redeemer, but it is not until he returns that the blessings made available by his death are actually dispensed to the people.

In keeping with this, Peter explains further the nature of the blessings which will result from the Lord causing his face to shine upon the people, describing the period in which they will reach mankind as “times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (vs. 21) Restitution means restoration. The lame man was restored to health, and Peter is saying that all lame men will, in God’s due time, be restored to soundness of limb. He tells us that this had been promised by all God’s holy prophets.

Isaiah was one of God’s holy prophets. He wrote, “Then shall the lame man leap as an hart.” (Isa.35:6) Peter’s healing of the one lame man who sat at the gate of the Temple called Beautiful, was merely an assurance of the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy on behalf of all the lame and otherwise crippled ones during the coming times of restitution of all things. And not alone will those who are lame be healed. Isaiah further prophesied, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.” He also assures us that “the tongue of the dumb” shall sing.—vss. 5,6

In the miracles performed by Jesus we have a further illustration of the wide scope of restitution blessings which will reach the people of all nations during the times of restitution of all things. Jesus will heal all manner of diseases as a result of his return and the establishment of his kingdom. Concerning that time the Prophet Isaiah further wrote, “The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: [for] the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.”—Isa. 33:24


The most devastating of all the maladies which now afflict mankind is selfishness. This is a disease of the mind and heart which more or less distorts all human thinking, and is the cause of most of the maladjustments of human society. It is the cause of family jealousies and of neighborhood strife. It is responsible for worldwide crime and war. What lasting benefit could accrue from giving a man his physical health, only to have him use it selfishly and at the expense of the well-being of others? But selfishness, with all its blighting effects upon the human race, is to be eradicated from human hearts during the times of restitution of all things.

Through Jeremiah, another of God’s holy prophets, the Lord promised, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.” (Jer. 31:31-34) This statement was made in connection with God’s promise to make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, and the Scriptures reveal that these promises to God’s typical people will actually be fulfilled on behalf of all mankind—‘all the families of the earth’.

God created man in his image, which means, among other things, that unselfishness, or love, was a very part of his being. When man disobeyed divine law he was sentenced to death, and driven out of Eden and forced to eat bread by the sweat of his face. The fight for survival soon began to engender the spirit of selfishness. Now, six thousand years later, selfishness has become the motivating principle behind practically all human endeavor. In many instances this spirit of selfishness manifests itself in cruel forms, inflicting untold suffering upon the human race.

But when the Lord again puts his law in the inward parts of the people, and writes it in their hearts, it will mean that his spirit of love will control their thoughts and actions. And how blessed this will be in human experience! On the international level, for example, one of the results will be, as foretold by another of God’s holy prophets, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid.”—Micah 4:1-4

How refreshing it will be when love replaces selfishness in all human thought and action, when the spirit of helpfulness welling up in every heart will meet a kindred response in every other heart, and benevolence will mark every act! In one of Jesus’ revealing parables he uses sheep to picture those who during the time of his kingdom, the—times of restitution of all things—will be judged worthy of enjoying the favor and blessing of God forever. He indicates that the attitude which qualified these sheep to receive divine blessings was one which induced them to think of others. In the parable Jesus says to these, “I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” The “sheep” asked when they had done these things, and the reply by Jesus was, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”—Matt. 25:35-40

Thus does Jesus, the greatest of all the prophets, add his testimony to the forecasts presented by the holy prophets of the Old Testament assuring us that in the times of restitution of all things the divine image of love, as manifested in the spirit of helpfulness, will be restored to those who accept the provisions of divine grace and obey the laws of Christ’s kingdom which will then be in force throughout the whole earth. The completeness of their restitution is shown in the invitation which will then be extended to the ‘sheep’ class “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matt. 25:34) This is the dominion over the earth that was given to our first parents, and which they later lost because of sin.—Gen. 1:28


In addition to informing us that all God’s holy prophets had foretold the times of restitution of all things and the great boon it would be to the peoples of earth, Peter quoted some prophecies which they had given. One of these was a prophecy by Moses. Peter quotes it thus: “A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.”—Acts 3:22; Deut. 18:15,19

This is a remarkable prophecy. The ‘prophet’ referred to is Jesus and his joint-heirs, the seed of Abraham; and Peter reveals that the time of its fulfillment follows the Second Advent of Jesus and during the times of restitution of all things. The prophecy was made to the Israelites living in Moses’ day, and Moses said that the prophet would be raised up to them. This means that those Israelites of Moses’ day are to be raised from the dead and given an opportunity to hear and obey this great Prophet.

Thus the blessings of restitution for the world include the resurrection of the dead. Even the enemies of the Gospel who heard this sermon by Peter recognized this fact. Some of these believed in the resurrection of the dead, and some did not; but they were all grieved that Peter should preach that the resurrection would come to the people through Jesus.—Acts 4:1,2

With the exception of the sect of the Sadducees, the Jewish people believed in the resurrection of the dead. In a speech before Felix, when condemned by certain religious leaders of Israel, the Apostle Paul said, “This I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the prophets: and have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.”—Acts 24:14,15


It is clear from Paul’s testimony that the doctrine of the resurrection is set forth by the Old Testament prophets, those referred to by Peter as God’s “holy prophets.” However, the word “resurrection” is not used in the Old Testament, the resurrection being described by other words and phrases. The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “The ransomed of the Lord shall return, … with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isa. 35:10) The ransomed of the Lord are all mankind; all who were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. Paul wrote that Jesus gave himself “a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”—I Tim. 2:3,4

In a prayer Moses said, “Thou [God] turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.” (Ps. 90:3) It was in the Garden of Eden that God turned man to destruction by sentencing him to death. But God still loved his human creatures and made provision, through Christ, for their return from death. So Paul wrote, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”—I Cor. 15:21,22

The Old Testament likens those in death to prisoners who are held captive by the great enemy, Death. Their awakening from death is described as a releasing of prisoners. In this vein, Isaiah, in a promise to the seed—Christ and his faithful followers—wrote, “Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; that thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves.”—Isa. 49:8,9

Through the Prophet Jeremiah God promised, “I will bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days.” (Jer. 48:47) And again, “I will bring again the captivity of the children of Ammon, saith the Lord.” (Jer. 49:6) And then in the 39th verse of this same chapter, the Lord assures us, “It shall come to pass in the latter days, that I will bring again the captivity of Elam, saith the Lord.” In all these promises the ‘captivity’ referred to is the captivity of death. And thus we are assured that such wicked people as the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Elamites are all to be awakened from death in the “latter days.”

Here, the expression, ‘latter days’, simply refers to the great consummation age in the divine plan, when the seed of promise will deliver the world of mankind from sin and death. It is the same period of time described by Peter as the times of restitution of all things. In Ezekiel 16:53 we are assured by God that the Sodomites, the Samaritans, and the Israelites are also then to be released from the captivity of death.


The Prophet Job also foretold the resurrection of the dead. God had permitted severe trials to come upon Job, and in a moment of discouragement he asked God to let him die. (Job 14:13) After making this request Job wondered just what it would mean to him in the event God answered his prayer and let him die. So he asked the question, “If a man die, shall he live again?” Job, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, expressed his belief that he would live again. He said, “All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change [from death to life] come. Thou wilt call, and I will answer thee: thou shalt have a desire to the work of thine hands.”—Job 14:14,15

Flow reassuring to know that God has a ‘desire’ to the work of his hands! Man, in his perfection, was the direct creation of God, the work of God’s hands. God created him in his own image and loved him. And although man transgressed the divine law, God still had a ‘desire’ for him, and in his great plan of redemption through the promised seed provided for his recovery from sin and death, a recovery that will require an awakening from the sleep of death, an awakening that will be accomplished during the times of restitution of all things. What a wonderfully refreshing experience that will be for all mankind!


Another Old Testament promise quoted in part by Peter as due to be fulfilled following the Second Advent of Christ is the one made to Abraham in which he was assured that through his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed. Certainly ‘all the families of the earth’ have not as yet been blessed, and we are glad to learn from Peter that these promised blessings were due to reach the world of mankind after the return of Christ and the establishment of his worldwide government.

And how wonderfully the divine plan for the blessing of the people opens up and becomes understandable as we trace the many promises of God which are recorded throughout his Word. Abraham could not know that the seed which God promised to him, the seed that was to bless all the families of the earth, would be Jesus Christ, who would give his life as a sacrifice for sin and later return to earth to establish his kingdom of blessing. Nor could Abraham know that the blessing of all the families of the earth would mean the healing of all the diseases of mankind, so universally and so completely that none of the inhabitants of the earth anywhere would say, “I am sick.”

Abraham did have faith in God’s ability to do anything he purposed to do. He believed when God asked him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering that he would raise his beloved son from the dead. However, it is doubtful if Abraham understood that God’s promise to bless all the families of the earth included the resurrection of all the dead.

Abraham himself was an unselfish man. When difficulties arose over pasturage for his flocks and for the flocks of his nephew, Lot, he invited Lot to choose whatever part of the land he wished, which he did; and Abraham was content with what was left. But Abraham could hardly know that the promise to bless all the families of the earth involved the eradication of selfishness from all human hearts, making an end of all strife and war.


When Abraham proved his loyalty to God by his willingness to offer his son, Isaac, in sacrifice, the Lord said to him, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” (Gen. 22:18) It will also be necessary for all who receive the promised blessing through the seed, that Prophet, to be obedient. God’s blessings will not be bestowed upon anyone who is in open, willful rebellion against him.

This is emphasized by the Apostle Peter, who, in telling us about the times of restitution, adds, “It shall come to pass that every soul, which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:23) Here we are assured that the human race, restored to perfection of mind, heart, and body will not be subjected to the menacing efforts of any who are out of harmony with God, and who prefer greed and selfishness rather than helpfulness and love.

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