Behold Your King—Part 5

“Times of Refreshing”

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” —Acts 3:19-21

TEN days after that little group of ardent disciples stood gazing up into the heavens in bewilderment, wondering at the phenomenon of their beloved Master rising bodily from their midst and disappearing into the clouds, they were startled by another manifestation of the miraculous. It was the day of Pentecost, and as they were waiting and praying in the upper room in Jerusalem, the power of God manifested itself in their midst. It was the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to them, and in keeping with that promise, their minds were now enlightened with a better understanding of those things yet to come in the outworking of the divine plan and purpose.

Even before Pentecost they had been assured that their Lord would return. The angel had said that “this same” Jesus shall so come “in like manner” as they had seen him taken into heaven. But not until the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost did they begin to understand the full purpose of his return. Their faith had been strained by the fact that his ministry had come to such an abrupt and fatal end and before many of the promises of God concerning the work of the Messiah had been fulfilled.

Acts, Chapter Three

Peter preached a very enlightening sermon at Pentecost, and a short time later another sermon, which is recorded in Acts, chapter three. Much of the background material for this latter sermon was the miracle performed by Peter and John, namely, the healing of a man who had been unable to walk from the time of his birth. Naturally the people on hand at the time were both excited and curious about this miracle, and Peter took the opportunity to explain matters for them.

Among the audience, apparently, were some who were directly responsible for the death of Jesus, and Peter took occasion to remind them of this. But he explained also that God had raised Jesus from the dead and that it was through faith in him that the impotent man had been healed. Then he said to them, “Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when [so that, Diaglott] the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord [Jehovah].”

The expression as here used, “the presence of the Lord,” literally means “out from the face of the Lord.” The thought is a common one in Oriental figurative language, in which turning one’s face toward another denotes friendship, or favor, while turning the back is a symbol of enmity, or disfavor. Moses, the ancient Lawgiver of Israel said, “The Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and give thee peace.”

But Peter did not stop with this good news of forgiveness through Christ, for he continued, “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you, whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things”—Acts 3:20,21

Peter then explains that this foretold “times of restitution of all things” had been spoken by the mouth of all God’s holy prophets since the world began. Peter continued: “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning everyone of you from his iniquities.”—Acts 3:24-26

How enlightening is Peter’s explanation of the meaning of God’s promises! He wants his hearers to know that through repentance they could enjoy forgiveness of their sins, even though they had crucified the Lord of glory. But, as he explains in verse twenty six, they were merely destined to be the first to receive this blessing, for at the second presence of Christ there would be times of restitution of all things. Then the Lord would raise up a Prophet like unto Moses, and hearing and obeying him would be mandatory upon all who would live; for any who should fail to obey would be destroyed from among the people.—Acts 3:23

Repentant and consecrated believers of the present age receive life upon the basis of faith in the shed blood, and they receive this life for the purpose of laying it down in divine service. These are begotten to a spiritual life, whereas those who “hear that Prophet” during the Millennium and are faithful to the laws of the kingdom will be restored to the perfection of human life.

Applying the meaningful symbol used by Peter, we see that God turned his back upon man because of his transgression of the divine law. The psalmist wrote, “In His favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Ps. 30:5) If there is life in God’s favor, the reverse is true—death results from his disfavor. So it was that, when God no longer caused his face to shine upon his human creatures but, instead, turned his back upon man, death was the result.

And with the lack of God’s favor came sickness, sorrow, and weeping. Thus, as the prophet declares, weeping has continued throughout this long nighttime of sin and death. And how pitch dark the night has been! The light and warmth experienced by those upon whom God causes his face to shine has been unknown except by the comparatively few throughout the ages who, by faith, have sought the Lord and have been taken into his confidence and shown his plan.

Yes, it has been a dark, cheerless, dismal night. It has been characterized by the chill of human sin and selfishness and made gloomy by the wail of the suffering and the dying. The brief span of a dying existence experienced by each individual has usually been plagued by nightmares of fear lest the uneasy lot of today be engulfed in the calamities of tomorrow. How well Job expressed it when he said, “Man that is born of woman, is of few days, and full of trouble.”—Job 14:1

But the bitterness which followed in the wake of transgression, when God turned his back upon his human creatures, is not to last forever. “Joy cometh in the morning,” wrote David. Obviously, if it was the withdrawal of divine favor that caused a pall of darkness to settle down over the race to black out human happiness and peace, then the coming of Jesus as the gift of God’s love implies the return of that favor to those who accept him and obey his laws.

And this is exactly what Peter meant when he said that times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. During the Millennium that refreshing will come upon all who will then hear “that Prophet.” This will be on a global basis and will dispel the darkness of the world’s night of weeping, and the light of his countenance will refresh and bless all who in that daytime of divine favor accept the provisions of God’s grace and obey the laws of the kingdom of Christ then operating throughout the earth.

“Times of refreshing”—how meaningful are these words! They imply life and light. The wilderness of sin and death has been as arid as the night has been dark. David calls it “the valley of the shadow of death.”

World Knows Not God

The Bible speaks of a famine in the land “for the hearing of the words of the Lord.” (Amos 8:11) How true this has been, and how the people have suffered because they have not known God! Created in the image of God, the very nature of man has caused him to cry out for some understanding of the reason he exists and of his ultimate destiny.

Groping through the darkness in an endeavor to find some word of comfort, some assurance that out of all the welter of uncertainty and affliction, sometime, somewhere, there will come a happy tomorrow, man has laid hold upon the poisoned waters of error and superstition, the drinking of which, instead of refreshing the soul, has filled his mind with hallucinations which plague him all the days of his unhappy life. Satan, the great deceiver, has ever been ready to offer to the unsuspecting, one or another of his concoctions, mixed for the express purpose of poisoning the mind against the good God of love.

In the delirium caused by the various poisonous potions, those affected are no longer able to reason. They become blind to logic and deaf to the thunderous tones of the Bible which ring out the assurance that “God is love.” Although the Bible states unequivocally that the wages of sin is death, those whose minds have been poisoned by Satan’s lie continue to insist that eternal torture, not death, is the penalty for sin. Look where we will, both in heathendom and Christendom, and we find that with few exceptions attempts to approach God and understand his purpose are thwarted by misleading notions and theories, which instill fear into the hearts of the people and obscure their vision of the one and only true deity, the Creator of heaven and earth. Truly there is a famine in the land for the hearing of the Word of God!

Other Famine Conditions

And famine conditions have prevailed along other lines also. There has been a shortage of all those things which make life truly worthwhile. Even along material lines, what a pitifully small portion of the human race in any period of its existence has really had enough to eat, proper shelter, and comfortable clothes to wear! The number of poverty-stricken and underprivileged persons right in the United States, which has the highest standard of living of any country in the world, is appalling. And how barren of the ordinary comforts of life are untold millions in other parts of the earth.

How scarce indeed has been the commodity of peace and goodwill! And how unhappy the world has been without it! Only a few of all the thousands of years of recorded history have been free from the blight of war. And there have been wars other than those precipitated by nations. There have been community wars and family wars. And even worse than all of these has been the lack of peace in human hearts—a lack that cannot be remedied while man is estranged from his Maker.

Look where we will, and from whatever standpoint we may pursue our investigation, we find that the experience of man throughout the centuries has been one of “want,” of “thirst,” of “desolation.” Driven from Eden, and his dominion taken away, he has found himself a wanderer in a dry and thirsty land. How heart-cheering, then, is the promise that this “solitary place” shall be “made glad” for man, that “the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.”—Isa. 35:1,2

God’s Countenance Lifted Up

How can so great a change be possible, you ask? It is because God will lift up his countenance upon mankind, and all who repent and obey will be refreshed in heart and soul. And what refreshing that will mean when, after approximately six thousand years in the wilderness with the Creator’s back turned toward him, man again experiences an abundance of cheer resulting from the sunshine of God’s smile.

During the Gospel Age, through repentance, faith in Jesus’ shed blood, and full consecration to the Lord, the footstep followers of Jesus gain forgiveness of their sins and sonship with God. But these are only the “first” (Acts 3:26) to benefit from the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Eventually, in the times of restitution, or times of refreshing, all mankind will have the opportunity of being restored to God’s favor; and without this refreshment the human race ultimately would perish. The famine resulting from the loss of God’s favor would continue to spread its blight of death. Mental and physical starvation would continue to fasten their fangs upon the dying race. But thank God for the assurance that he will lift up his countenance upon the people and that thus they will be refreshed and blessed!

They will be refreshed with a true knowledge of God and of his plan for their eternal life and happiness. They will be refreshed with the assurance of economic security and prosperity of mind and body. They will be refreshed with health, mentally and physically—health so vibrant and vital that sickness of all kinds, even the disease of old age, will become but vague memories of the darkness of the past; for “there shall be no more death.”

No single word picture is adequate to portray fully the contrast between the experiences of man during the time God’s favor has been withheld from him and the future time, now near, when the Creator will lift up his countenance upon the fallen race to refresh the people with his favor. It is as the difference between night and day. But even though we conjure up before our mental vision all the ugly things characterizing the darkness and then visualize by contrast the joys which attend the coming of dawn, still we will have failed to grasp the full significance of what times of refreshing from the face of the Lord will mean to this poor benighted world.

It is a truth of such magnitude that it defies description and complete understanding. It is not mysterious, or vague, or visionary, or beyond the human realm, but it involves the fulfillment of God’s promises to bless all the families of the earth with life; and our imperfect minds are unable to grasp the full meaning of perfect life and full peace with God.


Justification to life by faith came upon those few who repented as a result of Peter’s preaching. But Peter explained that when Jesus returned, actual human life for the whole world would result from belief in the returned Lord. He called it restitution—“times of restitution of all things.” Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. His first visit prepared the way for man’s return to God; and throughout the age some, by faith and repentance, have returned to him. And this is in preparation for the “times of restitution” during the Millennium, which, as Peter adds, were foretold by the mouth of all God’s holy prophets since the world began. And each of the prophets did contribute to the melody of hope and inspiration which this divine purpose for man is certain to engender in the hearts of those who hear and believe it.

Moses recorded God’s promise to Abraham that through his seed all the families of the earth are to be blessed. Moses also foretold that God would raise up a Prophet like unto him, only greater, and that this Prophet would give life to the people. Peter quotes this prophecy and applies its full import to the work of restitution which would follow the second advent of Christ.

David foretold the coming kingdom of righteousness and described the abundance of its blessings.

Isaiah told of the time when death would be swallowed up in victory and when God would wipe away tears from off all faces. He also foretold that in the “times of restitution” the people would build houses and inhabit them, plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them.

Jeremiah described the great change that will come in human experience, assuring us that it will no longer be true that men and women will die because of inherited sins and weaknesses. He declares that the people will not then say, “The fathers have eaten the sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”—Jer. 31:29

Ezekiel assures us that both Jews and Gentiles shall be restored to life, returning to their “former estate.”—Ezek. 16:53-63

Daniel describes the permanence of Messiah’s kingdom and says that those who “sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake.”—Dan. 2:44; 12:2

Hosea assures us that God will plague death until its prisoners are released and that death itself will be destroyed.—Hos. 13:14

Obadiah explains that when the kingdom of God is operating in the earth, “saviors” shall come up on Mount Zion. (vs. 21) Jesus is the great Savior of the people, and associated with him will be those who have suffered and died with him during this present Christian era.

Job was one of God’s holy prophets. His whole life’s experience was a portrayal of God’s dealings with the human race. Job was a faithful servant of God, but divine wisdom permitted affliction to come upon him just as God has allowed evil to afflict the entire human race. But finally God intervened on behalf of Job; his health was restored, and blessings of wealth, etc., similar to those he lost, were restored to him. After hearing a series of questions by God, Job exclaimed, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.”—Job 42:5

To “see” God will be the most refreshing experience enjoyed by man when, ‘through the returned Christ, divine favor is restored to the human race. There have been few of all the millions who have lived and died that have not heard of God “by the hearing of the ear.” His name has been upon the lips of the multitudes, but in the hearts of only a few. They will not be able to see him until he lifts up his countenance upon them and they contrast the good they will then enjoy with the evil that plagued them unto death. Even Job will then see God much more clearly than was possible during the time when death was reigning in the earth.

While his affliction was still weighing heavily upon him, Job asked God to let him fall asleep in death until the time of divine disfavor was past. Job was willing to die because he had faith that the time would come when God would turn his face to the people and that then the dead would be restored to life and be refreshed by the smile of his countenance. Then “thou shalt call, and I will answer thee,” Job said in his prayer, “Thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.” (Job 14:15) Yes, man is God’s creation, the work of his hands. Man has fallen from his original perfection, but God’s work in creating him has not been in vain. He will live again! Life, human, unending and perfect, is his destiny.

The “Sun of Righteousness”

One of the Bible’s most beautiful word pictures of the coming times of restitution is that painted by the Prophet Malachi. He likens the returned Christ to the sun—the “Sun of Righteousness.” This “Sun” will rise, declares the prophet, with “healing in his wings.” (Mal. 4:2) Here the rays of the sun are likened to great wings upon which it rises and under the shadow of which is found health and life—“healing.” It is the rising of this “Sun” that will scatter the mists and gloom of the long night of sin and weeping through which the human race has been stumbling over the broad road leading to destruction.

Malachi explains that “unto you that fear [reverence] my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise.” This is in keeping with Peter’s admonition when he said, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” (Acts 3:19) Neither of these statements should be misconstrued to limit the grace of God to those who repent and accept Christ in this life. They do indicate, however, that those who are blessed with a knowledge of God’s plan and are so in harmony with the principle of righteousness which it reveals that they long for the kingdom of Christ will be among the first to receive its blessings. Indeed, those who have dedicated their lives to following in his footsteps and are faithful even unto death come forth in the “first resurrection” to live and reign with him.—Rev. 20:4,6

Time Required

The limitations of our finite minds make it difficult to visualize the work of restitution in all its aspects. Time enters into it as an important element for consideration. We are so accustomed to thinking in terms of our own short span of life that we are inclined to suppose that what God has promised to do must be accomplished speedily. Actually, however, an entire thousand years is set aside in the plan of God for the refreshing of the people with the returning favor of God.

When the healing rays of the “Sun of Righteousness” first begin to manifest themselves, those who respond and are blessed will not need to die. In due time the dead will begin to be awakened. The work of the kingdom will continue for a thousand years. Not until the end of that age of warming and healing sunshine will all the mist of darkness be scattered and all the desert conditions of the past made fruitful and plenteous.

It will require the entire millennial reign of Christ and his church before all the dark corners of the earth and of human minds and hearts and bodies are reached and thereby blessed and refreshed. Even then, the only ones to be blessed eternally by the life-giving rays of that Sun of Righteousness will be those who respond in belief and in loving obedience. Those who close their minds and shut up their hearts to the light, refusing to respond in obedience to the divine will then made known, “shall be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:23) But for all others there will be “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.”

Click here to go to Part 6
Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |