When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
We live in a very politically charged culture today. This problem is nothing new. During the first century, there were several political parties vying for power among the Jews. The Pharisees and Sadducees were the two major parties in the Jewish courts. The scribes (also known in history as the Essenes) were like the bureaucrats working behind the scenes just like in our time.
These three groups agreed on some historical things for Israel, but they were divided on pretty much everything else. Each had their opinions about sin, money, family, etc. They often got into very heated debates. If they had Twitter in that day, it would have been full of political insults, probably worse than we see now. Each really wanted power and the ability to have it their way.
They fought constantly but they agreed on one thing – they hated the Roman Empire. It went against all their beliefs that God’s “chosen people” would be subjects to an earthly, heathen king. They were all looking for Sir Lancelot to come in and wipe out their enemies.
In short, they were looking for a political Messiah and a visible kingdom where they would be in charge.
The disciples were influenced by this way of thinking as well. They often forgot the plain teachings of Jesus, and that He said His kingdom was not of this world. Jesus reminded the disciples of the true kingdom and their part in it. The kingdom was not one of nations or politics. The kingdom of God is manifest in the church and the spread of the gospel.
The unbelieving Jews, and the disciples, looked for a visible kingdom and a political Messiah. If we are looking for God to conquer our political enemies, we are just as wrong as the Pharisees. No matter how oppressed we feel as Christians in America today, it is nothing like what the disciples faced in the early years of the church. They found a way to live under a despot that hated God. I believe we can do the same thing in our semi-free society. I am not suggesting that we do not involve ourselves in politics at all. However, if we think who ever is in charge in Washington will bring us peace, we will never have peace.
The kingdom of God reigns on earth in the lives of His children regardless of country, race, creed, or wealth. If we seek peace, we need to pray for it as we are instructed in God’s word.
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
1st Timothy 2:1-2
We should pray for our leaders with a very specific goal in mind – that we can continue to worship in spirit and truth as God dictates in His word.