Times of Refreshing & Times of Restitution
Elijah is prophesied to “turn the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers.” There has been no day like the present when family life is disrupted almost beyond repair, where marital breakdown has thrown so many children into the category of “one-parent families”.
But Jesus affirmed that “Elijah will come first and restore all things,” which has a wider connotation. The verb to restore, is apokathistemi in Greek, a verb describing a complete restoration, as found, for example in Matt.12:13 where Jesus said to a man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other.”
Peter remembered Jesus’ words, and then confirmed them at Pentecost, when he said, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 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 3:19-20
Restitution is apokatastasis, the noun derived from apokathistemi, meaning restoration, or restitution.
The coming of Elijah is therefore connected with the return of the Lord Jesus, and this restitution cannot be accomplished in a few days. To “restore ALL THINGS” is a lengthy task, and a most important one. How many of my readers have heard sermons about the second coming of Elijah? Few, I suspect, due to the widespread teaching about a rapture. But Jesus said that Elijah “will come FIRST, and restore all things”.
See how Isaiah (1:26) was given a telescopic view of future restoration events. “I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counsellors as at the beginning. Afterwards you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.”
And in Joel 2:25, “And I will restore to you the years the locust has eaten.”
But Peter also mentioned “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.” What are these? The word “refreshing” is anapsuxis in Greek, and if used today might refer to “air conditioning”. In regions of high temperature and humidity, it is always “refreshing” to enter an air-conditioned room. These are the times of localized revivals that have occurred through the years. Each revival is like a foretaste of the Great Revival, and when it happens it feels like spiritual refreshment.