A few days ago we finished Second Kings, the temple had been dismantled, the land had been conquered, and the once dominant kingdom had been destroyed. One glimmer of hope remained--the King of Judah, a descendant of David, had been released from prison and was allowed to eat with the king of Babylon.
As the people, descendants of Abraham, returned to Israel, they waited and hoped for the arrival of the Messiah, who would conquer the invading forces and restore the kingdom to the glory days of David and Solomon.
And then Jesus is born. He heals. He feeds multitudes. He brings the dead to life. And religious leaders and the masses begin to think he just might be the Messiah. Which leads to his crucifixion.
And so as we begin the book of Acts, the disciples ask him, "So is this it? Are you going to restore the kingdom now?"
The thing is, God was always about establishing a kingdom, a group of people, who would worship him and love him and serve him.
And no matter what kind of government the people of Israel had, whether it was Moses, Joshua, the judges, Samuel, or kings, they kept getting sidetracked. They disobeyed the commandments, they put other things ahead of God, they bowed down to idols.
And so Jesus, the Messiah, the promised one, of David's kingly line, came to earth not to establish an earthly kingdom, but to establish the kingdom of God in our hearts.
Earthly kingdoms will always fail as kings get more interested in power than in serving the one who is greater than them, as men and women get distracted, and as they begin serving other gods.
Acts tells the story of the beginnings of this new kingdom, the development of the church, the arrival of the promised Holy Spirit. It gives us a glimpse of God's new plan, to bring salvation not only to Abraham's descendants, but to the entire world.