God had just become their King—when they complained about it! It didn’t take long for them to go astray.
They wanted an earthly king “like all the nations.”
That tragic desire and decision, was the beginning of the end. Soon, they would be living like those nations: worshiping idols, following practices that were opposed to Scriptural commandments, etc. Ultimately, it would bring destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the people for good! How tragic!
But it began early.
God’s people don’t outwardly cry out for a king other than Jesus Christ Who is the King over His church. But they often live like the world around them—which, in the end, is precisely the same thing.
Believer, do you find yourself wishing to be more like the nations (world) around you? Have you become no different from the unsaved people who live on your street?
Israel had no more than become a theocracy—i.e., a nation governed by God—than they went astray. Think about this thoroughly. If you need help, read the rest of the book of 1 Samuel and you’ll understand the results of doing so!
The capital of the Northern kingdom of Israel was Samaria. The city was located on a hill at the bottom of which, today, archeologists have found a number of its ruins. As Amos tells us, through nefarious business and political practices, the upper crust had virtually enslaved the poor of the land—much as we see in dictatorships today. All of this followed King Jeroboam’s rebellious reign, in which he determined to set up a rival religion to Jehovah, that would keep his people from traveling to Jerusalem. Rather than follow God’s directions about the true temple, sacrifices, and priesthood, he set up his own temples, festivals, altars, images of golden calves, high place shrines, and non-levitical priesthood. This was a mongrel religion with mixtures of truth and paganism. Much like a present-day cult, there was enough similarity to the real thing that the people were easily duped. Besides, as he told them, why travel all the way to Jerusalem to worship when you can do here, right at home in Bethel or Gilgal? They needed little persuasion, but flocked to these religious centers.
The apostles, who had just spent 40 days talking to the risen Lord about things concerning the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3), raised a question that probably grew out of those discussions:
Lord, is it at this time you will restore the kingdom to Israel?
O. Palmer Robertson, in his interesting book, The Israel of God, suggests that the answer to that three-fold question is found in vv. 7, 8:
It isn’t for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has set by His own authority; instead, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be witnesses in Jerusalem, in the rest of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
To the first part of their question—when will the “restoration” occur—Jesus told them that God wasn’t about to tell them. To the second part of the question he replied that the restoration would be of such a nature that it would involve the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them in power (in other words, it would be a fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise that would institute a wholly new phase of Israel’s existence), and in answer to the third part—Israel, from henceforth, would include Gentiles from all over the earth where they would be sent to preach the Good News.