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Through the Bible with Les Feldick, Book 47
Lesson One • Part I
The Coming Glorious Earthly Kingdom
We pray as we teach that the Word will be opened up where you can understand it. The letters Iris and I enjoy the most are those that tell us that, for the first time in your life, you’re understanding the Bible, you’re reading it, studying it, and enjoying it, and that’s all we can ask. We don’t claim to be the only one that is right, but we certainly attempt to stay with the Scriptures and compare Scripture with Scripture.
Now back to our teaching in the Book of Hebrews. The last time we taped, all four of our programs came from Hebrews 2:3 and hopefully today we’re going to make a little more headway. We’re going to start with verse 4. Again I’m going back up to the very first word of verse 3, because you see this question carries right on through to the end of verse 4. The question is all the way through verses 3 and 4.
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which (modifying the word salvation) at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, (a reference back to His earthly ministry) and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;" In other words, not only just the Twelve, but there were other witnesses to His resurrection and teachings. Now continuing on with the question, "How shall we escape."
"God also bearing them witness, (those who had heard the Lord during His earthly ministry) both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?"
And there’s your question mark at the end of that verse. So these whole two verses are tied to the word "How." How shall we neglect, and all of this confirms that we have no reason to neglect so great a salvation, and that’s the way we have to look at it. How can we neglect something that has been so meticulously, so miraculously, revealed to the human race? See, I think this is where the Lord has blessed even our teaching ministry, that we are making these things so understandable that we’re not just throwing stuff out there expecting people to believe it, but the Scripture meticulously, intrinsically puts it all together. Now verse 4, and the last half of the question.
"God also bearing them witness, (those who heard the Lord during His earthly ministry in particular) both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?"
Now, there are only two places that I’m aware of where all three of these words are used in one verse. This is one of them and the other one is back in Acts chapter 2, and we’ll look at that one a little later.
Now these three words in the Greek, and this is probably a good time to use our chalk board, the first word is "semeion" in the Greek, and is usually translated and should be translated "signs," and signs were given to the Nation of Israel to teach them something in particular. That was the whole idea of these miraculous signs.
Then the next one in the Greek is "teras," which was translated "wonders." These were the wonders we’ve heard of so often in Christ’s earthly ministry, and these were given to have an effect on the Nation of Israel, the Jewish people.
Then the third one was "dunamis" from which we get our English word, Dynamo, out of which we get a generator, and "dynamos" was for the sake of power, and it, too, was to bring about the work, or as is translated so often, "the miracles." Maybe I should put it the other way around, but whatever, the miracles and works were to show the manifest power of God.
Now these three words were used throughout the New Testament, and especially the Four Gospels. But in two verses they’re always used together, here in Hebrews and then in Acts chapter 2. Now in Acts chapter 2, I think they’re reversed in their order, but it’s the same thing. So as we come through our study in this half hour, we’re going to be looking at how, during Christ’s earthly ministry, He gave signs, which were to teach a particular lesson to the Nation of Israel.
But let’s get one thing straight. Whether it’s signs or wonders or miracles, they are all miracles. But not all miracles are signs. Not all miracles were necessarily wonders in order to have an effect on the Jewish people, but they all played a particular role and, consequently, this is why we have three different words. Otherwise they could have just used one word, and said, miracles.
But as we’re going to see a little later in the half hour, when we come to the signs, especially in John’s gospel, they taught a particular truth to the Jewish people that the Lord expected them to understand. So let’s come back for a minute to Matthew chapter 9 verse 35, and pick up just a little bit of this miraculous working of Christ during His earthly ministry. And, as I’ve stressed over the years that I’ve been teaching, what was the basic purpose of Jesus performing miracle after miracle after miracle. To prove Who He was! That was the whole idea. The Messiah had been promised ever since Genesis, and the prophets foretold of His coming. But in order for them to understand He was the promised Messiah from the Old Testament covenants and promises, He performed miracle after miracle. But the various categories of miracles had different effects upon the Nation of Israel and, consequently, they’re divided. The signs were given to teach, the wonders were to have an effect, and his other miraculous works were to show that He was exercising the power of God.
Now it takes a little while to sift all of that through, but hopefully before we get to the end of the half hour, you’ll see what I’m trying to say. In Matthew chapter 9, and verse 35, this is more or less at the beginning of His earthly ministry we find:
"And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and (not just one now and then, but) every disease among the people."
Now that was part and parcel of His earthly ministry. Now come on over a little further in Matthew to chapter 15, and drop down to verse 29. And this was just commonplace in those three years of His earthly ministry. Here it is:
"And Jesus departed from thence, (from the borders of Tyre and Sidon, back in verse 21) and came nigh unto the Sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. 30. And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were (now look at this) lame, blind, dumb, (unable to speak) maimed, (crippled) and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them:" He healed everyone, not just some of them. Now verse 31. What was the effect? Well here it is:
"Insomuch that the multitude wondered,…" He’s got them thinking. You know I was thinking last night as I was putting some of my thoughts together, what I attempt to do when I sometimes may say things that you don’t hear constantly, or traditionally, is to shock people into thinking. People don’t have to go necessarily by what I say, but just think about it and search the Scriptures. Mull these things over, and not just take it blase and say, "Well, I’ve heard the Word this week, and that’s all I need." Our churches are full of people who merely go to fill an hour of worship.
In fact I read an alarming statistic in one of the religious news magazine that I get, and it was a poll that was taken by a Christian poll taker that said about 80% of the congregations really had no solid commitment. And, if I remember right, I think the pastors that were interviewed more or less came to the same conclusion, that it was hard to keep people to maintain their membership over a period of years. They come in and they go, they come in and they go, and I think it’s all part and parcel of the time in which we live, but you see when the Lord Jesus performed these miracles, it was to make people sit up and take notice of Who He was. He wasn’t just another prophet, He was One Who had power and could perform these miracles without any of them ever failing.
Now with that, we’ll go to John’s gospel chapter 4, and in John’s gospel I always like to point out the fact that there are miracles, and they are all "semeion (signs)." The word in the original Greek, in all of John’s gospel, all 8 of them are this word here, "semeion." And even though the King James and some of the others translate it as miracles and so forth, it really should have always been, these 8 signs. So let’s begin in John 4:46. Until now, I hadn’t even decided where we were going to start in this passage. I think I was just going to use one verse, but we’ll also use a few more. Now this is the second sign already in John’s gospel, the first one of course is when He turned the water into wine in chapter 2.
"So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum." Now if you know your geography of Israel, you know Capernaum sits right on the north edge of the Sea of Galilee. It’s a beautiful, gorgeous city, and even the remains are beautiful, let alone what it must have been like in Christ’s day. So Christ goes up to Capernaum, and now verse 47:
"When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. (now verse 48. There’s more here than meets the eye. Look what Jesus said) 48. Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe."
Now that’s what Jesus told them. You see, I think we’ve got some reasoning to do here. You want to remember that at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry there is as yet no New Testament written. The only thing that they had was the Old Testament, so they didn’t have the advantage that we’ve got. See, we’ve got the advantage of having a whole New Testament now in front of us but they didn’t. Now that may be part of it, as I’m trying to cover for them a little bit, because I don’t want to come down too hard on those Jewish people of Christ’s day, but nevertheless this is what He said.
"Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. 49. The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. 50. Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth…" And we know the fever left, and the son lived, but the part I wanted you to see is in verse 54.
"This is again the second miracle…"
Now my own idea is that when the Scripture makes a reference to a particular chronological order, that is telling us, that if this is the second, then what should we look for? The third, the fourth, the fifth, and that’s the admonition.
"This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee."
Well if you do follow that through, you’ll see that there are seven of these miracles in John that were all signs. These signs were teaching Israel something. In other words, when He turned the water into wine, it was a miraculous sign that He was the only remedy for their lack of joy. They had a lot of religion, but they were in Spiritual darkness, and He had come to give them truth, life, and joy. And so that’s what turning the water into wine showed them.
Well, when He healed the nobleman’s son, it’s another spiritual lesson for Israel, because spiritually they were sick, and He alone could bring them Spiritual health. And all the way through John’s gospel we have those seven signs and miracles. Then when we get to the last chapter I think it is, come on over to chapter 21 we now come to the 8th miracle or sign. This is so interesting, and here is where I tell people, "How can they scoff at this Book, when it is so intricately put together? Now here is just another good example. Seven of these signs and miracles that had a direct application to the physical and the natural life of Israel were all registered before He was crucified and resurrected.
This one in chapter 21 then becomes the 8th one and it was after his resurrection. Now when you have an understanding of numbers in Scripture, 7 is the number of completions, and 8 is the number for new beginnings. So this final sign miracle in John’s gospel was a reference to the Nation of Israel’s remnant who will all be saved when Christ returns. So we’ll begin at verse 10.
"Jesus saith unto them, Bring of fish which ye have now caught, 11. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, and hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many yet was not the net broken."
Now in every other case in His earthly ministry, when they had a net full of fish, what happened? The net broke. But this time it doesn’t. Well what’s the miracle part? It was an indication that the remnant of Israel that God keeps during the last 3 years of the Tribulation, that when Christ returns at His second coming, not a single one will be lost, they will all be kept for God’s purposes.
Now to come in once again to our miracles, signs and wonders, come with me to Acts chapter 2, and this is just to show how the Book of Hebrews says, that we cannot neglect so great a salvation, that begin with the Lord’s ministry, was witnessed by the Twelve, and others, and the Apostle Paul, who of course we still feel is the writer of Hebrews, and then it was all confirmed by the miracles and signs and wonders that Jesus performed. But not only Jesus, it carries on now after He’s ascended to glory by the apostles, and we’re going to see, to a smaller extent to the Apostle Paul himself.
Now for Acts chapter 2 verse 22. This is the other verse where all three of these are mentioned in one place. Here Peter is preaching that sermon at Pentecost, and look what he says:
"Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth…."
Remember this is what we’re stressing in the Book of Hebrews, Jesus of Nazareth, was Who? The Son! And we’re going to be seeing throughout the Book of Hebrews how the Son was higher than the host of angels, how that the Son had a greater priesthood than Aaron, so here again this is where I want you to see the correlation, that now Peter is proclaiming that:
"…Jesus of Nazareth a man approved of God among you (how?) by miracles and wonders and signs,…" Just like we have them here on the board, but in the reverse order. I Peter said He did the dunamis, the miracles, showing the power of God. He did wonders that were to have an effect upon the people, and He also performed the signs which also had a particular subject to teach the Nation of Israel. So reading the verse again.
"…Jesus of Nazareth a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:"
So all the way through now then, we’re going to see that even the Twelve are going to continue on this using the signs and miracles to convince the Jewish people now, not that Jesus of Nazareth walking up and down the dusty of roads of the land of Israel is the Messiah, but now the subject is, "The crucified One." The One that was crucified, and was buried, had been risen from the dead. And since He was risen from the dead, He could still fulfill all those Old Testament covenant promises. So look what happens. Peter is just sort of picking up the mantle more or less like Elisha did from Elijah. And Peter continues on with the same ministry.
"Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. 2. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3. Who (this lame man) seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. 4. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. 5. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them."
I always have to think, and I don’t say this with any idea of being funny, but I think most of us, if you’ve been in a big city and seen a beggar sitting there on the sidewalk, usually has a tin cup. And what does he expect? For you to drop in a few coins, and if he can do that all day long, he can gather enough to stay alive. So I think this is what this fellow did. He looked up at Peter and held out his container for a coin or two, and that’s all he expected, but you see, he’s going to have more than that this time. Peter, James, and John or now in a modus operandi like Christ was, and they’re going to perform miracles. Now verse 6.
"Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ancle bones received strength. 8. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God." Well you come all the way down to verse 11, and here’s the effect.
"And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering."
What is this healing doing to them? It’s making them think! What are these men doing and how are they doing it? So it made them attentive to what the Twelve were proclaiming. Now I know that a lot of people think that’s the only way you can reach people today, but I don’t think so. I don’t think the Holy Spirit needs that today for various reasons, but primarily because we now have the completed Word of God. And we don’t have a manifestation of the miraculous power of God, because the Bible itself is all the manifestation I need of Who God is and His power.
But, nevertheless, remember what Paul is stressing to the Hebrews This was all done to get this whole system of what we now call Christianity off the ground. And it takes the miracles, signs and wonders. Now we’ve got one more reference in the Book of Acts and this half hour will be gone. So come to Acts chapter 19.
"And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: (Paul is already out there now in his missionary journeys) 12. So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them."
So all of this again was for the precise purpose of proving to even Paul’s listeners that he was not just another human being, He was the apostle to the Gentiles.
Lesson One • Part II
The Coming Glorious Earthly Kingdom
Turn to Hebrews chapter 2 verse 5. Remember in this Book of Hebrews we’re trying to see Jewish people, some of which were believers, and some were what I call on the fence, and the pull of Judaism was still having it’s effect on these people. So Paul is trying to make the point, that this Jesus of Nazareth, whom the nation for the most part rejected, was Who He said He was. He was indeed the Christ, He was indeed God the Son, and He was indeed the Creator, and is the coming King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. So this is what we’re really looking at here in chapter 2. And since He is the heart of the plan of salvation, this was the question in the last 5 program, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" Which began with Christ’s earthly ministry, and was confirmed with the signs and wonders and miracles as we saw in the last program. But now verse 5, and we’re looking ahead instead of looking back at what He has accomplished, we’re going to look ahead to what He will accomplish.
"For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak." Now, the casual reader would say, "The world to come? That must be heaven, and eternity." No, because the Greek word here spoken of as the world, as the inhabited earth, so just look at it that way and read it in that context.
"For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, (the inhabited earth that is coming. So what’s he talking about? The Kingdom! The thousand-year reign with Christ over which He is indeed going to rule as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. ) whereof we speak." Now let’s read it again.
"For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, (the inhabited earth, the Kingdom that is coming) whereof we speak."
Now I’ll never forget, I hadn’t been on the air very long, and we had just branched out to one of our far off states, and I had a call from a pastor who was really upset over just one thing. He said, "Where in the world do you get this idea that there is going to be an earthly kingdom?" I said, "Well, the Bible is full of it." Well, fortunately he volunteered to break off the conversation, and said, "I would like to debate with you." And I said, "No, I don’t debate or argue," and he hung up. Well that was my first inkling that there are a lot of people out there who have no concept of this coming earthly kingdom.
Now those of you who have been hearing me for the past 10 or 11 years on television, have heard me say it more than once. "The Kingdom, is the Kingdom, is the Kingdom! There is only one Kingdom, and it’s the Kingdom that Christ will establish on earth, ruling from Jerusalem when He returns at His second coming, and set everything straight. At that time Satan will be taken off the scene, and it will be heaven on earth, but it will be on the earth. That’s why the Greek word for world here means the inhabited earth. Not up in heaven, but here on the inhabited earth. So we’re going to spend this half hour just looking at various Scriptural connotations concerning this coming earthly Kingdom, and you’ll see the Old Testament is full of it.
First, go back to Isaiah chapter 2, because that’s one verse that I like to use over and over. It just says it so clearly, that the time is coming for that to happen. Now lets begin with verse 2, and this will be when Jerusalem, as the capital of this coming Kingdom on earth, is going to be the very fountainhead of everything.
Now just to make a secular reference to that, I like to think of Washington D.C. in our present time. The whole world, you might say, is dependent on what comes out of Washington. Even other world economies - if it wasn’t for Washington, I just wonder how long they would last? And wherever Iris and I travel overseas, and when you see a lot of promotion of things, and we can ask our guides, "Well, I thought this was a poor country?" He answers, "It is!" Then we ask, "Then where are they getting the money for all this beautiful, whatever?" Well, I’ll never forget the answer for one of those situations. He just said, "From you!" Well what did he mean? The American taxpayer. So Washington D.C. you might say, to a certain degree, is the very core of all the world’s economic, political, and military activity. Well it’s not going to be Washington, in this day of the Kingdom on earth, but rather it’s going to Jerusalem. Now look what Isaiah 2:2 says:
"And it shall come to pass (when the Bible says, ‘this is going to come to pass, it’s going to, I don’t care what the theologians say, it’s going to come. So it shall come to pass) in the last days, that the mountain (kingdom. The word mountain and kingdom are synonymous) of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, (or the Kingdom over all the other kingdoms) and shall be exalted (that’s also the word the Bible uses for Christ’s position as King. He will be exalted) above the hills: and all nations shall flow unto it."
Get the picture? Just like the spokes in a wheel, everything will go to the very vortex of that Kingdom, which will be Jerusalem. Now as you come through the Book of Isaiah, there is a constant reference to this coming Kingdom. So as we’re turning, I see one in Isaiah chapter 11. I wasn’t even expecting to use this one, but we will. And I like this, especially when people ask me if we can have our pets when we get to glory. Well I don’t think we’ll have pets in the heavens of Heaven, but when this earthly Kingdom comes about, every animal is going to be a household pet. The lions and tigers and everything else will be part and parcel of that glorious Kingdom that is coming. And let’s just jump in at verse 6. Now this is just a little preview:
"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, (remember at that time, the curse will be lifted. The whole ecology will be made right as it was in the beginning) and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; (or baby goat) and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. (or play amongst them) 7. And the cow and the bear shall feed: (they’ll forage in the same meadow) their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox."
Now what does that tell you? Come back to Genesis chapter 1 verse 30 and let’s see how it was in the beginning. This is what makes Bible study so interesting, because everything fits. And the reason we’re coming back is because Isaiah says that the lion is going to eat forage much like cattle do. Well here’s the reason, the curse will be lifted, and everything will revert back as it was originally before Adam fell.
"And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, (God says) I have given every green herb for meat: (food) and it was so." What does that mean? Everything ate of what grew naturally. Nothing killed something else for its sustinance as in our present day ecology. So it’s all going to revert back to this, where everything will feed on the things that grow naturally. Now coming back to Isaiah chapter 11 and continuing on in verse 7.
"…and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8. (and again the reference to little children) And the sucking (nursing) child shall play on the hole of the asp, (that poisonous snake of the middle east) and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den." All to show that we’re going to have various stages of children, but now verse 9.
"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: (this 1000-year Kingdom) for the earth (We’re not talking about heaven, it’s going to be here on the earth) shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea."
Well, I could take verse after verse, coming up through the Old Testament, that are references to this coming glorious Kingdom on earth. But let’s jump all the way up to Daniel chapter 2, where Daniel of course gives several views of this coming Kingdom. The first one is in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and we always use it as a jumping off point for teaching prophecy. We’ll just jump in at verse 35, and it’s from this passage that we understand the Gentile empires that would be the precursor of this glorious Kingdom that is coming upon the earth.
"Then (after he sees this huge image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream) was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, (everything that was ever part of these tremendous Gentiles will disappear) that no place was found for them: and the stone (the second coming Christ) that smote the image became a great mountain, (Kingdom) and filled the whole earth."
Let’s move on up to chapter 7. Daniel of course sees these same Gentile empires coming down through the corridors of time, only as animals, as beasts of prey, rather than metals in a statue of a man, but what I want you to see is in verse 13. And this is all the same Kingdom. We’re not talking about different ones, but rather about the one and only Kingdom in Scripture.
"I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him."
If I’ve got time after while, we’ll go back and look at Revelation chapter 5, where we have the same set of circumstances, where God the Son comes before God the Father, and I think you have the same personalities here in verse 13. Now verse 14.
"And there was given him (the Son. The One we’re talking about in our study of Hebrews. And there was given Him) dominion and glory, and a kingdom, (and in this Kingdom) that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: (they’ll be under His domain) his dominion (His power, His government) is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom (that He’s going to set up is one) that which shall not be destroy."
We understand that He Himself will do it in an interlude leading into eternity, but nevertheless we always maintain that this 1000-year earthly Kingdom will be just the precursor of the eternal state. Now let’s turn to Joel chapter 3. I’m just hitting a few of them. Some evening just grab your Bible and start flipping through the Old Testament, and wherever you see these Kingdom references just stop and read them. They’re almost always toward the end of these prophetic Books, and the reason, the first part of these prophecy books will be dealing with Israel’s near-term judgment of one sort or another, whether it’s the Babylonian captivity, or the Syrians or other. But almost in every case, by the time you get to the end of these prophecy books, you have the promises of Israel being restored, and enjoying this earthly Kingdom. And this is what you have here in Joel chapter 3 verses 17 and 18.
"So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, (and Zion is Jerusalem) my holy mountain: (Kingdom) then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more. 18. And it shall come to pass in that day, (when this Kingdom is set up, and Christ is ruling and reigning from Jerusalem) that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim."
Well whenever you see those terms, it’s speaking of the future earthly Kingdom. I had to explain that to one of my classes here in Oklahoma the other night, that when you see the reference in Scripture of the milk and honey, the promise of the mountains flowing with milk and honey, remember it’s not that the milk and honey will come flowing down the valleys of the Middle East, but rather everything that is physically necessary to produce milk and honey will be in abundance. Now, in other words, to get honey, what do you have to have? A lot of blossoms! Whether it’s clover or whether it fruit trees, there’s going to be an abundance of blossoms from which the bees can make their honey. Well it’s the same way with milk. You don’t get milk with cattle running out on bare sand, but rather what do they need? Lush pastures and abundant water, and so this is all implied then when we speak of a land flowing with milk and honey. It’s a land that can be agriculturally productive. Now turn to Amos chapter 9 verse 13 for another one. Like I said, I’m only hitting a few of them, but we’ll just stop and pick out a few of the more obvious ones.
"Behold, the days come, (oh it’s still future, but it’s coming. God’s Word says it) saith the lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. 14. And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, (in other words, He’s going to bring them in from their dispersion from all the nations of the world) and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; (that has already begun to a degree) and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. 15. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God." Now go to Zephaniah 3, verses 19 and 20.
"Behold, at that time (when the Kingdom is set up) I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame, 20. At that time (when the Kingdom is finally established) will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make (these are all promises to the Nation of Israel) you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD."
Over and over you can find these, but let’s look at one more, and that will be in Zechariah chapter 14, and we use these verses quite routinely, because again they are so clearly put, and there’s no room for argument. And remember what the Book of Hebrews called it? The world to come. And here, this is His second coming, just exactly like the angels told the eleven in chapter 1. "This same Jesus that you have seen going into heaven, will come again in like manner, as you have seen Him go." Well, here is the Old Testament record of it, prophetically of course.
"And his feet shall stand in that day (the day of His second coming, and the setting up of this Kingdom) upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, (so there’s no argument here, this is not a figurative Mount of Olive, but rather this is the real one) and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the south." And now go to verse 8.
"And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, (Mediterranean) and half of them toward the hinder sea: (Dead Sea) in summer and in winter shall it be." That river will never dry up, but now verse 9.
"And the LORD (Jesus of Nazareth as we know Him. God the Son as the Book of Hebrews put it) shall be king (not over heaven, but) over all the earth: in that day (when He establishes His Kingdom) shall there be one LORD, and his name one."
Now let’s go to Matthew chapter 19 verse 27 - this is Jesus speaking, and it’s in full accord with the prophets. Nothing is out of place. They have just about finished their three years of His earthly ministry, and they have left their fishing businesses and families up on Galilee.
"Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? (in other words, what’s going to be our reward for doing that? They’ve got their salvation, so don’t worry about that.) 28. And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, (speaking to the Twelve) in the regeneration (when the curse is lifted, and the planet is reverted back to it’s beautiful original state) when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, (that speaks of a King seated upon His throne. Now here comes what’s in it for the Twelve. Now granted, when this takes place, Judas is out, and Matthias is in) ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." So what does that tell them? Hey there’s coming a day when these 12 men are finally going to be in places of authority. But you see when you get to Acts chapter 1, and Jesus is about to leave them, what’s the last question Peter asks on behalf of the rest of them?
"…Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" And although He told them "it is not for you to know the times or the season, …" We know it’s coming!
Lesson One • Part III
The Coming Glorious Earthly Kingdom
Hebrews chapter 2 verse 6. Remember in our last program we spent the whole half hour dealing with the world to come up there in verse 5, which is the Kingdom on an inhabited earth, and we’re going to see that the angels would never fulfill the requirements to be that Ruler and King over that coming Kingdom, because they certainly don’t have the power that the Christ, the Son, has.
"But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? (that’s a quote from the Psalms) or the son of man, that thou visitest him? (another reference to God the Son)? 7. Thou madest him a little lower than the angels;…" Now that’s kind of a play on words, as it’s better translated, "He was made lower than the angels for a little while." Only for a little while was He made lower than the angels, and of course we’ll have to go back to Philippians chapter 2 in a moment to see what the purpose of all that was.
"Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; (for a little while) thou (speaking of the Triune God) crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:" In other words, this glorious earthly Kingdom that we’re introduced to back in verse 5.
"Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet…." Are you seeing how the writer of Hebrews is constantly putting Christ where He belongs? He’s not just the lowly Jesus of Nazareth. He is the Son, He is the Creator, He’s the God of glory. And He was only made lower than the angels for that short period of time whereby He could go the way of the cross and taste death for every man, as we’ll soon see down in verse 9. But coming back to verse 8, and again speaking to God the Father, the Triune God:
"Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet,…" Earlier we showed how all through Scripture the various writers quote Psalms 110:1, and what was it?
"The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." They would be under His feet and that’s when He will assume the power and glory of the Kingdom. Well, here you have that same thing repeated again.
"Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing (is going to escape His rule and reign) that is not put under him…." The last part of the verse tells us what? It’s still future. Many people are trumpeting that everything prophetic is in the past. Well not according to this it’s not.
"…But now we see not yet (but it’s coming) all things put under him." Now let’s go to Philippians chapter 2, and we’re still on this whole concept of when He sits up this glorious earthy Kingdom. And let’s just drop into some of my favorite verses:
"Let this mind be in you,…" In other words, Romans chapter 12 says, "be not conformed to this world, but be conformed to the mind of Christ." Well this is a Pauline statement that we as believers ought to literally think to a degree as Christ thinks. We’re to have His thoughts which are higher than the mundane thoughts of this world.
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; 6. Who, (Christ Jesus) being in the form of God, (as He never stopped being God) thought it not robbery to be equal with God; 7a. But…" The flipside. Even though He was the Sovereign Creator God of the universe, as Hebrews says, "He lowered Himself to a position lower than the angels for a little while." And He:
"…made himself of no reputation, (He did not use Deity to subject the people under Him at that time, because he did not come to subject them, but rather to save them) and took upon him the form of a servant,…" (or bond slave)
I think the last time we used this, I mentioned that the first thought that comes to my mind when I think of a bond slave back in antiquity, was poor souls that were put down in the lower holes of a ship to pull the oars. I’m sure you’ve all seen pictures of those ships that were literally driven by oars who were manned by slaves. And they would man those oars until they died a physical death, and then were thrown overboard and another was put in their place. Now that’s what it was meant to be a bond slave. It was a life of misery, it was a life of enjoying none of the good things of this world, and you see that’s where Jesus went.
Someone made the statement that after all we should all be rich, because Jesus was. Well, that’s not the Jesus in my Bible! My Bible says, "He didn’t even have a place to lay His head. He didn’t even have a den like the foxes have." So He wasn’t rich in material things. Oh, I know the Psalmist says: "Our God owns the cattle on a thousand hills," but that’s not the Jesus of Nazareth, as He had nothing of this world’s goods. He became as low as a bond slave. Reading on in verse 7. Not only did he take on Himself the form a servant:
"…and was made in the likeness of men:" (He had all the human frailty.)
Now stop and think a minute, after a long day of putting up with the press of the crowds, and everything else, he became physically tired. He became hungry. He became sorrowful. You say, "When did that happen, that He became sorrowful?" You all know. At Lazarus’ funeral. What did He do? Jesus wept. Why did He weep? In His humanity, He was just as sorrowful as you and I would be. So this is all part of the price He paid then, that He could go the way of the cross and suffer the death that you and I deserved to suffer. Now let’s read verse 8.
"And found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, (as a man) and became obedient unto death, (not an ordinary death, but what kind?) even the death of the cross." (crucifixion - a most horrible death.)
Facing death for my faith doesn’t scare me a bit. I’m ready to go. Now if they would torture me over a period of 5 or 6 years, like a lot of people have been, then that gives me second thoughts, and I wouldn’t look forward to that at all. But, you see, our Lord did. He knew the suffering that was coming. He knew exactly what was going to happen to Him. He knew how those Roman soldiers were going to abuse Him, and beat Him as He carried the cross down toward Golgotha. He knew the pain that would happen when they drove the nails. He knew what it was going to be like to hang on that cross, and He never shrank from it! And all because He was going to be willing to pay the price of redemption for all of mankind. And we’ll be looking at that more in detail in our next program, where we see in Hebrews chapter 2, "that He tasted death for every man." But now coming out of verse 8, as He:
"…became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (now verse 9 - what a change) Wherefore (because of all He did to accomplish that work of the cross, Wherefore) God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, …"
Now I know we have to be careful that we do not put others down, and I never like to give that impression that we’re smug or arrogant or anything like that, but I have used a word over and over on this program, and I even gave mention of a gentlemen up in Minnesota who really complemented me for using this word. He was a retired minister of one of our large denominations, and it was probably as sweet, and as great a complement as I ever received, when he came up one time, after one of our teaching seminars, and said, "Les I admire you, because you stick so closely to an exclusivist salvation." Well I had never heard it quite like that before, but he said, "That’s what I’ve always preached." I probably looked kind of puzzled at him, and he said, "Well it is. It’s an exclusivist salvation."
And this is what this verse says, "There is no other way." There is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved. You see a Joseph Smith won’t cut it, or any of these others who claim to be a later prophet, or what ever. There is only One name, whereby we must be saved, and see, this says it so plainly.
"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,…"
I’ll never forget hearing an evangelist many, many years ago who put it this way, and I imagine others have said it the same way. "Every human being has that choice of bowing the knee and recognizing Christ as Saviour in this life, or he’ll do it at the Great White Judgment Throne in preparation for his doom." And isn’t that true? That’s exactly what it is. We can bow the knee and recognize Christ as Saviour now and go on with joy evermore, or we can reject it and pass off this life. But one day. we’ll come before Him at the Great White Throne, and every lost person of the ages is going to bow the knee and recognize finally that He was Who He said He was, but it’s going to be too late for them, because He won’t be the Saviour at the Great White Throne, but rather He’s going to be the Judge!
"And that every tongue (whether in this life or the one to come) should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Well these are all references that give rise to His coming exaltation. Now let’s come back to the Book of Ephesians chapter 1, and this is all still showing how that He was made lower than the angels for a little while, but the day is coming when He is going to exalted. He is going to be the King over this earthly Kingdom. Let’s begin with verse 7. Remember that Paul is constantly using the prepositional phrase in Ephesians that speaks of our position "In Christ."
"In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace: 8. Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence: 9. Having made know unto the mystery (secret) of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: (now here it comes in verse 10.) 10. That in the dispensation of the fullness of times (this coming Kingdom. That’s just another way of putting it.) he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him. 11. In whom also we obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:"
Now these are all references then, alluding to His coming power and majesty that will be put above everything, and all of His enemies will be put under His feet. Now I think we can also go back to I Corinthians chapter 15, and let’s come in at verse 12, because you see, none of these things could have been consummated without His resurrection from the dead. Now it was one thing that He was crucified, but none of these things could have come to pass had He not been raised from the dead - that was a preeminent thing. He could not put everything under His feet until He had defeated His arch enemy, Satan and death, which we’ll look at in the next lesson.
I Corinthians 15:12-14
"Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13. But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." In other words, when people reject the resurrection they are destitute of faith! They have nothing to go on, because everything rests on this spiritual fact, that Christ arose from the dead. Verse 15.
I Corinthians 15:15a
"Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God;…" Paul says, we would be a liar, because we witnessed Christ in resurrection form. Remember first the apostles saw Him, Mary saw Him, and after that, he was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, and last of all he was seen of me also, all proof of His resurrection. So Paul’s writing here with first hand knowledge that, yes, Christ was alive. Now verse 16.
I Corinthians 15:16
"For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:"
How many people, even in our enlightened America, think that when you die, it’s like when a dog dies. Oh they’ve got the wishful thinking for something better, that somehow they’ll get there, but you see they’re not going to get there if their faith isn’t in this crucified, buried, and risen Christ. And if we can’t believe the resurrection, we’re as good as nothing. Now read on in verse 17.
I Corinthians 15:17
"And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; (it counts for nothing) ye are yet in your sins." In other words, there’s been no forgiveness until we appropriate the whole Gospel by faith.
I Corinthians 15:18
"Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished." In other words, if someone dies believing in Jesus, as we see and hear so much, and yet they had no abiding faith in His resurrection, then where are they? Lost. Now we can’t look at an individual and look on the heart. But I can certainly tell them from Scripture what they’d better be putting they’re faith in. And if they don’t have their faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Christ, I don’t care how much they talk about Jesus, they’re doomed. So we have to be careful that we never mislead people that they’re somehow going to make it, short of Paul’s Gospel of I Corinthians 15:1-4. Now verse 19.
I Corinthians 15:19
"If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." And that’s a lot of professing Christians today. Oh, they talk about Jesus, and they claim they love Jesus, but on the other hand, have never placed their faith in that suffering, crucified, risen Lord. Now come on down to verse 24, so let’s keeping going with verse 20.
I Corinthians 15:20
"But now (there’s no doubt about it) is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21. For since by man came death, (like I said, we’ll be looking at that in the next half hour) by man (the second man, the second Adam, Jesus of Nazareth) came also the resurrection of the dead."
So on the one hand we have the Federal head of the human race, Adam, who plunged us into the fall and into our lost estate, but we also have the second Adam who has accomplished everything to bring salvation to everyone that will believe it. Now verse 22.
I Corinthians 15:22a
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive…"
Now all is going to be made alive someday, but not all will be with Christ. Let’s look at that in John’s gospel chapter 5. And this is exactly what Paul is alluding to, that even the lost are going to be resurrected. Jesus is speaking in His earthly ministry and says:
"Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice." In other words, everyone that has lived and died is going to be resurrected. Now verse 29.
"And shall come forth, they that have done good, (people of faith) unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, (they’ve stayed in unbelief) unto the resurrection of damnation." Now those are the two resurrections, and the Book of Revelation separates them by 1000 years. Now come back to I Corinthians chapter 15, and we’ll wind this one up.
I Corinthians 15:22-23
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive, 23. But every man in his own order (or company) Christ the firstfruits; (those who rose after His resurrection in Matthew chapter 27) afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming." Which I feel will be the Rapture of the Church. Now verse 24. This is the verse I want to look at.
I Corinthians 15:24-26
"Then cometh the end, (human history as we now know it) when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, (this Kingdom in which He’s going rule and reign) even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. 25. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. (not just the empires of politics) 26. The last enemy that shall be destroyed (or put under His feet) is death." And we know death is our greatest enemy, and then verse 27.
I Corinthians 15:27
"For he hath put all things under his feet, …" Even death which will be the final enemy!
Lesson One • Part IV
The Coming Glorious Earthly Kingdom
We’ve established this afternoon, that He, Jesus the Christ, our Lord and Savior, will be the One Who will be the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords of the world to come, in this inhabited earth that will be made again like the Garden of Eden. We also know He is higher than the angels, even though for the work of the cross, He became a little lower than the angels. But now then, as the One Who will be the ruler, and the King of this coming Kingdom, we find that the last part of verse 8 gives us a clue, that even though all these things are being made ready, and we know it’s coming, it just hasn’t happened yet, and that’s what it says. So let’s begin this study with verse 9, but look at the last part of verse 8 in Hebrews chapter 2.
"…But now we see not yet all things put under him. (It’s still in a future time. Now verse 9) But (this much we know. Even though the Kingdom hasn’t come in yet,) we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels (for just a little while) for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."
Not just for those who will be saved and go to glory, but He tasted death for the billions that are going to go to their doom. And of course that’s what going to make it so awful. I think the worst part of the Lake of Fire will be that people will realize that they did not have to be there. They’re there because they chose to be there, and it’s going to be a horrible time of regret, "Why didn’t I take what was offered?" But you see, by then it’s going to be too late. But the thing that we always like to emphasize is that when Christ finished the work of cross, He opened salvation to every last human being.
Let’s go back to John’s gospel chapter 1 verse 9. When I taught this before, I told my class, "I can’t explain this." But the Word of God says it, and I believe it. But I can’t explain, I don’t know how this can possibly be. This is an awesome verse. And here it’s speaking of Jesus Christ the Light of the world.
"That was the true Light, which lighted every man that cometh into the world." Now that’s what it says, and I can’t argue with that, but I don’t understand it. I know it’s hard for us to comprehend, how some poor soul out in the outback of Australia, who we think has never heard the Gospel - yet the Scripture says, he has received enough Light that he can escape condemnation. And again I always have to use Romans chapter 1, and verse 20, which before I saw this verse in John several years ago, I wondered how Paul could write, even by inspiration, something like this. When we think there are millions who have never heard, and if they’ve never heard, how can they be responsible? Well, that’s not what the Bible teaches. That’s what humans think, and even a lot of us are prone to think that if people have never heard, then how can they be responsible.
"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world (even before Adam was created) are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, (in other words the stars and the sun, and the moon) even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they (multitudes of the human race that we think have never heard) are without excuse:"
Now those are awesome words aren’t they? And these people are going to come before the Great White Throne without a word of argument. They are suddenly going to know that they deserve the doom that is coming because they’ve rejected the Light that was given. Now then, we’re going to look at this whole idea of death that I alluded to in the last program, that we’d be looking at how Christ not only will become King of Kings, but He’s going to put everything in the secular world under His feet, but He’s also going to defeat our arch enemy, death. And the only way you can defeat death is with death! Now for that study let’s go back to Genesis chapter 2, and verse 17. Here the Lord is talking to Adam and He says:
"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." (death)
Now the moment that Adam ate, what entered the world? Death! Death became part and parcel of the human experience as well as all of nature. Everything is facing death. Now let’s look at the next one still in the Old Testament in Ezekiel chapter 18. We’re just going to see from Scripture that this is not just a one time statement, but rather it’s one of the very fundamental truths that we have to face. Let’s drop in at verse 4, and this is a verse I guess that throws a curve at a lot of people because of the very first statement. Well of course every soul that’s ever lived is God’s because the soul comes from God, and they are God’s, but it’s going to be up to His Sovereignty to determine whether they spend eternity with Him, or are separated from Him. But that doesn’t take away the fact of the first part of this verse.
"Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: (now here comes that crowning statement) the soul that sinneth, it shall die."
See, there’s no escaping death. The whole human race is headed for death. Now first and foremost we look at physical death. We’re all, unless the Lord comes in our lifetime, going to die physically, but there’s two areas of life and death that we have to deal with, and that is the spiritual, as well as the physical. Now we saw in John chapter 5 in the last program how that Jesus spoke of a resurrection of those who were spiritually alive, by virtue of their faith, and on the other hand, those who would be physically dead, and the two of course we always have to keep separate. So now I want to bring you all the way up to John’s gospel chapter 12, because this is one of the fundamental truths of Scripture, that the only way you can overcome death, is with death. So this is why Christ had to die.
In fact, I had a thought come up last night as I was mulling this over, but I want to be very careful how I say this, as I don’t want somebody writing me a real strong nasty letter, and say, "Les, you said thus and such." But, I am going to throw something out just to provoke your thinking, and if I happen to have a physiologist, or an embryologist in the audience, I’d like to hear from them. This thought crossed my mind. Since everything in Scripture speaks of death being overcome with death, or you cannot have life until you have death, and I always use the plant kingdom for an example, because you’re all acquainted with gardening, or agriculture of some sort. But if you plant a seed in the moist warm soil, what happens to that original seed? It dies! Anyone that has ever been in biology knows that. That seed dies! Now out of that death process, what happens next? New life, and reproduction! Now the thought I’m going to share is, and I’m not saying this happens, but rather I’m asking if it may happen? "And that is, when the sperm invades the female ovum at conception, does that ovum die, at least temporary?" I kind of think it does. Now don’t go out and quote me, and say, "Les says that the ovum dies when the sperm invades it." But it would almost fit with all of nature, that before something can have new life, something has to die. So think about that, and if I have a professional out there, then let me know, because I think there’s probably more to that than meets the eye.
Now here is the way the Lord Jesus Himself put it in John chapter 12, and verse 23, and of course this is the time when certain Gentiles (who had no doubt heard all about Jesus’ earthly ministry, and all the miracles, signs, and wonders that He had performed, and they’re curiosity was exercised) approach Andrew and Philip, and then they go in and tell Jesus that there are Greeks that want to see Him. Now verse 23.
"And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, (remember this is the great feast of Passover and people are already gathering around the temple area, so His crucifixion is only a matter of hours) that the Son of man should be glorified. 24. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
Now the whole concept of nature is based on that very concept. Now spiritually, let’s look at it from Paul’s point of view, so let’s go to Romans chapter 3 for a minute where you’ll find that as a result of spiritual death of man, brought about by Adam’s fall, this is the result.
"What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise; for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;" And what’s synonymous with sin? Death! Everybody, both Jew and Gentile are under the curse of sin and death. Consequently, we find in verse 10:
"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one; 11. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God."
You know I was looking at some of our old programs while we were dubbing them, and I suppose some of these statements shock people. In one of my programs I made the statement, "Man never goes looking after God, but rather it’s God Who always seeks the sinner." And in that lesson I went back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. After they had sinned and had sewed their fig leaves, and they knew God was coming down the path - did they run to meet Him? No! But rather, what did they do? They hid. But God came looking for them, not that He didn’t know where they were, but the whole idea was, to show us that God seeks the sinner. Well, when you get to John’s gospel, that’s exactly what it says. In fact come back to John’s gospel chapter 3 so you can see it with your own eyes, because this is the mental makeup of sinful men, women, boy and girls, we’re all alike, and this is the true picture. I hope you still have your hand in Romans, because we’re going to go right back there.
"And this is the condemnation, (this is mankind’s problem) that light is come into the world, (see how that fits with what we read a moment ago?) and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20. For every one that doeth evil (anything contrary to the will of God) hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."
Now in your mind’s eye, can you picture Adam and Eve? This is the perfect picture. They had sinned, they sewed fig leaves, but were they ready to meet their righteous Lord? No! So instead of running to meet Him and get right with Him, what did they do? They ran and hid, because their deeds were evil, they had been disobedient, and this is the perfect picture of it. So, since they had done evil, they hated the Light, they didn’t want to come to the Light, they ran and hid. Now come back to Romans and this is just an extension of all of this. Evil men are what they are because they’ve rejected the Light. Now reading on in Romans chapter 3, and verse 10.
"As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one: 11. There is none that understandeth,…" Why? Because we are a fallen race, we are bent to sin, because of Adam. Remember I put it on the board, over and over, throughout the years, "We’re not sinners because we have sinned, we’ve sinned because we’re sinners." Well, this is what these verses are telling us, that the human race is just bent to sin. Verse 12.
"They are all (the human race, not just Jew, not just Gentile) gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doth good, no, not one." And then the Word goes on to describe the human nature, and the culmination of it is in verse 18.
"There is no fear of God before their eyes."
Now that seems like a harsh statement, but it’s true, as they really don’t fear Him. And even if they do want to recognize that there’s an eternity out there, you know what they rationalize? "Well, I don’t think I’ve been that bad, I think God will be good to me, I think He’ll let me in." And they cannot comprehend that God cannot tolerate their sin when He had done everything that He has done to bring about their salvation. Now I think I can now come all the way down to verse 23 here in Romans chapter 3. And here is the Apostle Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit’s conclusion.
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Nobody in their human element can hit the mark. It’s impossible, we’re sons of Adam. But in verse 24, we have the great promise. Yes, we’re under the condemnation, we are a fallen race, but:
"Being justified freely (not because of our works, not because of what we can do, but) by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:"
Well that’s enough for that portion - let’s look at another in Romans chapter 5, and let’s start with verse 1.
"Therefore (because of what we’ve just been reading in chapter 3, that we’re a fallen race, we are in total depravity, but) being justified by faith, (not by works) we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:"
Now stop and think a moment. You know we’re surrounded by people that are just bound by works religion. The bondage that so many people are in with a works-oriented religion. They are just in constant fear that maybe they’re not going to be able to work enough. And on top of that there is never any joy, there is never peace with God, because it’s depending on their works. Now that’s an awful place to be. My, that’s horrible. The Bible makes it so plain that when we come to salvation, not resting on our works, but we’re resting on what Christ has tasted for every man, and we can have peace with God. There’s no wondering, "I wonder if I’ll make it, I wonder if I’ll get to heaven." No, we don’t have to wonder, because we have this wonderful Grace. Now back to the text in Romans 5:1
"Therefore being justified by faith, (not works) we have peace with God…"
You know I’ve given the example on the program of people who have come into our home, or here at the taping, or some of our classes who have come out of these works religions. The clearest one is, "It’s like someone has knocked the shackles off my wrist." Well, that’s the freedom that we have when we enter in by faith rather than trying to get in by works.
Alright I want to stay with this whole concept that "Christ died for us." So now staying in Romans chapter 5, come on down to verse 6. And remember this is all going back to that verse in Hebrews where "Christ tasted death for everyone." No one can ever say, "Well, He didn’t do enough for me." Oh, yes, He did.
"For when we were yet without strength, (we were hopeless) in due time Christ died for the ungodly." Not for good people, but He died for the ungodly, those without God. Now verse 7.
"For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die."
Yeah that could be possible. Here is a fellow who is so admirable and so looked up to, and he suddenly gets framed or whatever, and someone might come along and take his punishment, that’s a possibility. But for a no good, a reprobate, who would want to die for that kind of a person? Well, you’d probably say, "Nobody would, it’s probably good riddance." But you see that’s what you and I were, and Christ the Creator God, died for us. Now verse 8, and with this verse, I guess we’ll have to close.
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Lesson Two • Part I
Christ, The Seed of Abraham
Hebrews 2:10-17 & II Corinthians 5:14-20
We are now in the Book of Hebrews chapter 2, jumping in at verse 10. We finished verse 9 in our last lesson. I have to keep reminding everybody that Hebrews is just like the title implies. It was written primarily to the Hebrew believers, but they were Hebrews that were fighting the pull back into Judaism. Anyone who has come out of a strict religion, whatever it is, can understand what that is. Because after years and years of being indoctrinated in something and then to suddenly see something better, as Paul constantly calls it in Hebrews, there is always that magnetic pull back to that old belief system.
So this is the whole idea of Hebrews. Yes, that which was in the past: Judaism, the Law, the Temple Worship, it was good. After all, God ordained it - but everything now on this side of the Cross and especially after the revelations of Paul’s mysteries, we now have something that is so much better. The comparison throughout the book of Hebrews is that Christ is better and higher than the angels. And that one thing and another is better than that which went before.
As we have seen in the early chapters and verses, in chapters 1 and 2, the Apostle is showing the epitome of Christ and Who He really is! How that He was the Son, and, how that He was the One Who will one day rule and reign on a new inhabited earth. (That was in verse 5.) Now we have been showing in the last couple of verses in chapter 2, how that even though He was the Creator God, He was the Ruler of the universe - for a little while He took His position lower than the angels. In other words, He became man. This is what we are looking at now in these verses, how God the Creator in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth – the Man, Who has accomplished everything that needed to be accomplished. And in His death, He not only tasted death for us, as believers, but for every human being who has ever lived. Let’s move on into verse 10.
"For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."
We are going to stop with that verse and go back to the first few words "For it became him,..." Now, as I studied this I couldn’t help but be reminded that so many little cliches, even in our everyday secular language, have a Biblical origin. You are all acquainted with the little saying "It just "becomes him" to do what he does." It just "becomes him" to be the kind of a person that he is. Well, that is exactly what it means here. It "became" God to become the Savior of mankind. In other words, He couldn’t help Himself! He had such a love for those created creatures that He had started there in the Garden of Eden, that the moment that they fell into sin it just "became" Him to express His love for them by setting up a plan of redemption.
That plan of redemption included His own suffering and death as a man, but remember, He never lost his Deity. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that! He never stopped being God. Even in the womb, I am convinced that He is God. But, once He planted His feet on the dusty trail of ancient Israel or Palestine, as we many times refer to it, He was a man. He was the man, Christ Jesus the man from Nazareth. But, as a man, He could pray to God the Father and during those hours leading up to the cross, when He prayed that the Father would strengthen him, that the Father would be with him, those were truly prayers from the man Christ Jesus. So it just "became" God, it was part of His nature, that He would bring about this tremendous plan of Salvation.
As we travel through the cities of our country, we can’t judge hearts. We can’t even begin to come close, but you can’t help but wonder how many have ever considered this tremendous plan of salvation that has been offered free for nothing! I’m afraid not many. Even though we are in a nation where there are churches on every corner and Bibles in every home, and radio and television is blaring with people of one sort or another proclaiming whatever they call it, yet how many people ever stop for a moment to consider spiritual things?
I don’t think very many anymore. So, here we have to be aware then that the very nature of God, it "became" him, "for whom are all things, and by whom are all things." We like to compare Scripture with Scripture, so I am going to bring you back to Colossians chapter 1.
Remember what He is telling the Hebrews that "it became him," the God of creation, the One Who made everything, the One Who holds everything together, it is His! He didn’t have to, He could have just let Adam and Eve go off into whatever and He could have started over, or He could have just simply stayed with the angels. But, "it became him," to love these mortal creatures that He created there in the Garden of Eden. Alright, Colossians chapter 1 verses 15 and 16. We’ve used these verses over and over:
Colossians 1: 15
"Who (speaking of the Son in verse 13) is the image (or the visible likeness) of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:" In other words, He was before anything that had ever been created and here’s why. Verse 16.
"For by him (the Son, by Him) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: (nothing escapes his creatorship) all things were created by him, (not just by him but what?) and for him:" He did it for His own enjoyment! He did it for Himself. But you see as soon as He set man in the Garden, man goofed it, didn’t he! Whereas Adam and Eve could have gone on enjoying that blissful state and with the Lord Himself communing with them every day, they disobeyed and sin entered.
But we have to constantly remember that even though God was great and powerful, the Omnipotent, the Creator, the Sustainer of the universe, yet He immediately set in motion those tremendous wheels of Redemption. Which all led up to His own suffering and death to bring about mankind’s salvation.
Coming back to verse 10 of Hebrews. It just "became" God. It was something that He just couldn’t help doing, even though He is the One that brought everything into being. He is the One by Whom everything is held together and by so bringing in this plan of redemption, He is bringing – now watch the word here, He is:
"bringing many sons unto glory," What does it mean when He says He is bringing them with Him into Glory? Well, it means simply that He left Glory, went down and cohabited with these creatures that He intended to save. And, from their place on earth, He is now what? Bringing them with Him to Glory. Do you get the picture?
Recently I was reminded of a little anecdote. There was a gentleman who had an ant hill back in the corner of his yard. Periodically, he liked to just go out and watch those ants with all of their activity. One day as he was watching, he noticed that there was one poor little ant trying to get a piece of straw about an inch or so long down into the ant hole. Of course, it was too wide! That poor little ant could not get that piece of straw down the hole. So, finally, he couldn’t take it any longer, so he got down on his knees and he was going to help that little ant put that straw down into the hole. Well, what happened. The ants all scattered! So again, he stood there in frustration and his neighbor said "What are you doing?" He said, "I am watching these ants. They are interesting, but there is one in particular that I want to help. Every time I go down and try to help him, they all scatter. Yet as soon as I back away a little bit, that same little fellow picks up that same piece of straw and frantically tries to get it down into his den. It’s just frustrating!" His neighbor said, "The only way it will ever work, is if you become an ant!"
See, isn’t that exactly what God did? God knew mankind could never understand Who He is and what He’s done. So, He had to become one of us! When He became one of us, then He was on that playing field where we can understand and we can take hold of all of this. That’s exactly what is implied here. The very God Who "became" to do this, He went down and became part of the human race, so that He could bring them with Him to Glory.
Now, the next thought and it is just as good! That, as He brings many sons, which is what Paul says - in fact, I guess we need to compare Scripture with Scripture, so come back with me to Romans. Because when we use the words "the sons," we want to clarify it from Scripture. Romans chapter 8 verse 14, in order to establish why Paul says here in Hebrews that Christ is bringing sons to glory.
Romans 8: 14-15
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Now here it comes!
Romans 8: 16
"The Spirit (the Holy Spirit) itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:" The actual Greek there for the word children are born ones. And if I am not mistaken, the Scottish term barn really originated from the born ones. That family relationship. If we are the born ones then we are heirs!
"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; (we don’t want to leave the last part of the verse. Today, no one likes to read something like this but it’s always been true.) if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." So this is the whole concept then, of the new birth, that we become the born ones of God. We become children of God. Now come back to Hebrews chapter 2 verse 10, where we find the love of God that was expressed when He brought about the plan of redemption and salvation for all that He had died for. He became part of the human race. Now this is a whole crux of our salvation message, that the eternal, sovereign, Creator God took on human flesh, submitted himself to the Roman authorities and He suffered and died for us.
"...bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." Underline that word captain. The captain of our salvation! It is the same Greek word translated in chapter 12 as the author of our salvation. But here the concept is a file leader. That’s the real definition of captain.
I have to go back and remember some of the western movies where the cavalry were involved. I remember seeing this file of the American cavalry going up this mountain on a narrow ledge, single file. They wound down around the mountain, down to the plains. But, who had to be at the head? A leader! There was a leader up at the head of that long line. Well now, if that can help you a little bit, that is where Christ is! Christ is the "file leader" of all of us, that He came down to earth to purchase their redemption and now he is bringing us to Glory! Can you just make a beautiful picture of that in your mind? I hope so!
Then, being the Pauline man that I am, what does Paul say? Be followers of "me" as I follow the file leader, Christ. See? Now let’s come back and pick that up in Corinthians 11 verse 1.
Just envision this. I am not a visualization promoter, but, once in a while, as these pictures are drawn in Scripture, it just helps us to get a little glimpse of what he is talking about. I have always said as long as I have been teaching, you cannot find one single earthly illustration that will carry a spiritual illustration all the way to the end. It is impossible. In fact it’s just like the Four Gospels. Why do we have four instead of one? Well, because all four of the Four Gospels look at Christ from a different viewpoint, and one could have never done that.
It is the same way with earthly anecdotes. You cannot carry a theme from start to finish in the spiritual realm with an earthly antidote. It is absolutely impossible. But it does help to put several of them together. Look what the Apostle writes. This angers people, but it is what the Holy Spirit inspired him to write and it is just as appropriate for us today as it was the day he wrote it.
I Corinthians 11:1
"Be ye followers of me, even as I also am (a follower) of Christ." See how plain that is? Now come back to Hebrews and we get the picture, how that the Lord Himself left heaven’s glory to come amongst human men and became a man that He might be the file leader of all these that He is bringing with Him to Glory.
For us as believers, the second man up there at the front is who? The Apostle Paul! So Paul is following Christ as He is leading us up that file of believers to Glory. He’s following Christ. We follow Paul. The reason I always give is that Paul is human like we are. He had the same temptations, he had the same weaknesses. Consequently, we can identify with something like that. But, remember, when Christ finished that work of redemption, He became the captain, the file leader, of those of us that He is bringing with Him to Glory.
The last part of the verse is that our salvation was made perfect through what? Through suffering. Yes, through suffering. Now where does that begin? Genesis chapter 3. Adam and Eve have just disobeyed. They have plunged the human race into sin and death. All because of the tempter, the devil, Satan.
"And the LORD God..." God the Son, in His Old Testament personality is confronting Satan and look what He tells him. This is the first promise of a line of the redemption from Genesis all the way up through the finished work on the Cross.
"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; (Christ is the seed of the woman) it (the seed of the woman) shall bruise thy head, (Christ defeated Satan by crushing his head with his death, burial and resurrection. But did Satan get his licks in? You bet he did! And here’s the prophecy of it) and thou (the Lord says to Satan) shalt bruise his heel."
What’s implied? The suffering that Christ would go through in order to crush the head of Satan. So we have this concept all the way up through Scripture that the righteous are going to suffer for their faith. Paul epitomizes that with the suffering that he went through in order to get the Gospel of salvation to the ends of the Roman Empire. Now back to Romans chapter 8. Paul writes:
Romans 8: 18
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Now what is he talking about? Oh, we will suffer in this earthly sojourn, but it is nothing compared to the glory that is awaiting us.
Every once in a while, someone will write with a question concerning our eternal state. I usually have to answer that the Scripture doesn’t tell us very much about our eternal state. It’s going to be glorious! And, we know that God alone knows how to make things perfect. But, to be able to just lay out what we are going to be doing and how we are going to be operating, no, I can’t do that. Because, the Bible is silent.
But, we do have to constantly be reminded that we suffer for our faith. We in the Western world in the last couple of hundred years have known almost nothing of suffering for our faith. There are places in Africa tonight, and in Indonesia, etc. where they are. They are suffering inexorably for their faith. But you and I have it so good that we really don’t know what it is to suffer. Oh we may have somebody make a snide remark once in a while, bu that’s not suffering. That’s something that just rolls off like water off of a duck. Nevertheless, it has been part and parcel of the Christian experience down through the history of Christendom that people have had to suffer for their faith.
Even the Disciples, they all suffered a martyr’s death but none of them suffered as much as the Apostle Paul. He really knew what he was talking about. Let’s look at that verse once more before we go back to Hebrews. So he says:
Romans 8: 18
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
So the suffering of this present time was precipitated by the curse. Since we are living under the curse, we can certainly expect to have a certain amount of suffering. We know that a lot of our listener’s are suffering - in fact, I had one gentleman call yesterday. He and his wife had been in a terrible car wreck. He shared the suffering that they had to go through and the surgeries that he still faces. We have had others that suffered inexorably with terminal cancer, yet it is amazing how almost in every instance, when someone like that suffers, a family member was saved shortly thereafter.
Always remember, God has his own purposes. The suffering we sometimes endure, we don’t understand personally. But God has a reason and a purpose for it. We’re not to shrink from that. Repeating verse 10:
"…bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."
Lesson Two • Part II
Christ, The Seed of Abraham
Hebrews 2:10-17 & II Corinthians 5:14-20
We are presently in the book of Hebrews. Years back we started in Genesis and we have been coming up through the Bible, as our title of the program implies, and we have already finished 13 lessons in Hebrews. Now we’re going to pick right up where we left off after the last lesson, and that would be Hebrews chapter 2 verse 11.
"For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one:..."
Alright, I’m going to stop there first. Here again we have this whole concept that God does something and we are the recipients, in this case it is sanctification. God sanctified those of us who are His own. We have that same connotation in Romans chapter 3. It follows all the way through, that the God of Glory, the God of Creation, the One Who is Sovereign, everything He does is based on that Sovereign Grace. He can show mercy to whom He will show mercy. And in order to pick up the flow, let’s just pick up in verse 23. You remember that verse 23 is the capstone of the judicial decree as God finds the whole human race guilty.
"For all (every last human being) have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" But, we follow that up just like we did in Genesis. Just as soon as Adam sinned, God followed it up with what? A plan of redemption. The same way here. He comes to the conclusion that ALL have sinned. Every human being, but He follows it right up with a remedy. Being justified! Just as if we had never sinned!
"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood (that shed blood of the Cross) to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God:" In other words, through His mercy and grace. Now here is the verse I wanted to come to. The word is ‘sanctified’ in Hebrews but here we are looking at justification.
"To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: (that is the righteousness of God) that he (God! Usually in the Person of the Son. The One Who fulfilled it all on our behalf.) might be just, (totally fair) and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."
Do you see the same connotation? In Hebrews, we find that God is the One Who sanctifies, He’s the One Who acts on it and we are the recipients. Now it is the same here with justification. God is the One Who declares us just! And He is the justifier of those of us who believe and then become justified. So you have this whole idea throughout the Scripture, how that God Himself precipitates everything and we just rake it in, don’t we? Oh, we just rake it in and too many times we don’t realize how much God has done on our behalf. Come back to Hebrews chapter 2, once again.
"For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one:..."
That is hard to comprehend, isn’t it? Do you know what that is saying? That just as soon as God saves us, justifies us and sanctifies us, we come into the Body of Christ. And as a member of the Body of Christ, we are all what? One! Whether we are rich or poor, whether we are black or white, Jew or Gentile, when we become a member of the Body of Christ of which He is the head, then we are all one!
I have mentioned on the program over and over, that’s why believers are never strangers very long. You can go into a home of a believer that you have never known before but if they are a true believer, in five minutes you feel like you have known them all your life! That’s the reason! Because we have all become one. Now the last portion of the verse is probably, once again that which most people totally miss, where it says:
"...for which cause (because He has justified us. Because he has sanctified us. He has made us all one in Christ. So for that cause) he (Christ) is not ashamed to call them brethren,"
This is interesting! Jesus was born into the Nation of Israel. So, for all practical purposes, we can say that He was born a Jew. As such, Jesus could refer to the Jews of his day as his brethren. But, as I was looking at this, I couldn’t help but think, is there ever an instance in Scripture where they called Him brother? Never! Never did they call Him brother Jesus. Never did they call Him "our brother." So, we have to be careful how we use some of these things. But, He could very well speak of fellow Jews as His brethren, but they would dare not call Him their brother.
A good example is in Matthew chapter 25 which is when Christ has set up His Kingdom, still in the future, and He is seated on His throne in Jerusalem. This is at the end of the Tribulation. Actually the Tribulation is over and we have begun the glorious earthly Kingdom. He is separating the lost survivors of the Tribulation from the saved survivors of the Tribulation, in order to determine who can go into the Kingdom.
It is pretty well established that the ones who are believers have become that because of the 144,000 Jews who were the evangelists during the Tribulation. So let’s look at these verses, in light of that word ‘brethren.’ Chapter 25, verse 31 of Matthew. I didn’t intend to do this but I guess the Spirit is leading in that direction, so we will just follow. Here we are now after the Tribulation has run it’s course.
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:"
We all know that Christ is not on a throne today. He is at the Father’s right hand. He’s the Head of the Body, but He is not a King on a throne. But, the day is coming at His Second Coming where he will establish His throne in Jerusalem and all the prophecies made concerning Israel, especially, will be fulfilled. Yes the day is coming when he will be the King of Israel. But, He is NOT a King to the Church. I don’t think anyone can ever show me a verse that shows that Christ is a King to the Church. If you can, you will have to show me because I just can’t find it! Here, in these verses, He is on His throne, and He is the King! Let’s read on, verse 32.
"And before him shall be gathered all nations:..." Survivors at the end of that horrible seven years, when all of the billions of the planet have lost their lives. But there will be a few left, Isaiah says in chapter 24:6. These few will be a mix of believers and unbelievers, as always. Christ will bring them before Him in Jerusalem. All this, remember, is to show the term "brethren!" This is a long way around, I know it is!
"...and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:" That is a simile! Just like a shepherd will divide sheep from goats, Christ is going to separate the lost from all these nations (which are Gentiles), from the saved. The saved are likened unto the sheep and the lost unto the goats. That’s all it is, just a simile. Now verse 33.
"And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left." Now here it comes, verse 34!
"Then shall the (The King! Because it says, He’s going to sit on the throne of His Glory.) King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom (the one He is setting up on earth) prepared for you from the foundation of the world:" This is what the whole program of God has been working toward. The day when Christ would return and set up His glorious kingdom promised primarily to the Nation of Israel. Then He says in verse 35.
"For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat (food), I was thirsty and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger and ye took me in:" And so forth as it continues in verse 37.
"Then shall the righteous (these believers) answer him, saying Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38. When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39. Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?" Now, verse 40:
"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my (what?) brethren,..." Who were his brethren that were instrumental in the salvation of these Gentiles? The 144,000 Jews who were commissioned to go out around the planet, during that seven years. But Jesus refers to those Jewish young men as His BRETHREN! That’s why we know that they had to be Jews. He doesn’t call Gentiles His brethren. We are not the brethren of Christ in the flesh. Israel was by virtue of His being born into the family of Joseph and Mary.
I just wanted you to see how Jesus referred to these Jewish young men, the 144,000, as His brethren. But we never in Scripture see a Jew of any status calling Him their brother. So I think it’s a point to be taken that back here in Hebrews, it is just exactly like we see here in Matthew where he can refer to the Jewish people as his brethren. And that of course, is who we are addressing in the book of Hebrews. Come back to Hebrews then, chapter 2, verse 12.
"Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, (that is to the Jewish people) in the midst of the church (I prefer the word assembly, the ecclesia) will I sing praise unto thee." Verse 13.
"And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children (the born ones) which God hath given me."
I’m not going to take time to go back, but I think most of you who are Bible students, you know there is one chapter in our New Testament where you see Jesus referring to those who were given him. Remember where it was? John 17. In His high priestly prayer, what did He pray? "I thank you Father for those whom you have given me." Well, I think He is referring primarily to the Twelve, but all of this fits together, that when God makes reference to His brethren, He is primarily keeping the Jewish people in mind. Again, He is referring to the fact that these Jewish believers were given to Him as a work of God. Now verse 14.
"Forasmuch then as the children (the offspring) are partakers of flesh and blood, he also (speaking of His birth through Mary at Bethlehem) himself likewise took part of the same;..."
What’s He referring to? How that He became flesh, not through a creative act like He made Adam. He could have! But you see Christ didn’t just suddenly appear, 30 years old, as a creative act of God, ready to begin His earthly ministry. Instead, God brought Him about how? Through the virgin Mary, so that He could be identified with the human race and with Israel in particular.
So, all of this is just part of the amazing plan of redemption. We depend on it, but I am afraid that most of us never really stop to think. The best word I can find for it is ‘amazing!’
A word comes to mind. Come back to Ephesians. I can prepare for weeks for these programs and I never use what I prepare. But, anyway, this verse comes to mind and I hope it fits. In Ephesians chapter 3, coming down to verse 8. This is beyond human comprehension. The only little bit that we can get is by faith anyway, but it is just so far beyond us. Paul writes:
"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;"
Do you know what that word ‘unsearchable’ means? Unfathomable. There is no way that you and I can contemplate and understand the unfathomable riches and love of Christ. It is beyond us. What little bit we can grasp, yes, we take by faith. Now read on in verse 9 - Paul’s whole emphasis for living:
"And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, (the secrets that had been revealed to this Apostle) which from the beginning of the world (ages) hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10. To the intent (it is not an accident. Everything has its purpose) that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church (the Body of Christ) the manifold wisdom of God,"
What does that word manifold mean? If you have a manifold on your engine, what is it? All the different ducts out of which your exhaust flows. Manifold – many! Not just one. If you have an eight cylinder, you are going to have eight. If sixteen cylinder, you will have sixteen. Alright, this is manifold! It’s just so numerous. We can’t contemplate it. Now, one more verse before we go back to Hebrews. All of this is:
"According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our LORD:"
Who purposed it? God did! Who set the whole thing in motion? God did! Another verse comes to mind, I wasn’t going to use it, but I think it is appropriate. Acts chapter 2, jump in at verse 23. I have used it before, quite awhile ago now. But, oh, what a verse! Again, I don’t think we can contemplate it all, it is just beyond us! Acts chapter 2 verse 23, this is Peter preaching to the Nation of Israel. He says it in verse 22 – Ye men of Israel!
"Him, (speaking of Jesus of Nazareth) being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:" Think of that a minute. When I taught in Acts, I had somebody write and say I used the word counsel as it was spelled "council." But it is counsel. You know the difference.
The council is the group and the counsel is what comes out of that group. So I was still alright! I didn’t feel guilty! I still feel I was appropriate, because you see the council would have been the triune God, way back in eternity past. They came together and in that council of the three, the end counsel was that they would create the universe. They would put a little planet down at the tip of the Milky Way and on that little planet they would put two people and they would set the whole ball of wax in motion.
That’s what came out of that original determining council of God. Isn’t it amazing. How many times have I told the television class, as well as my other areas of teaching, that I can’t comprehend how that God set it all in motion. He left men and nations with total freedom. They sign treaties and they build armies, and Navies and Air Forces and all of that. Total freedom! And, yet here we are 6,000 years after all of that began and it is right on God’s timetable! How did He do it? I can’t explain it! But, I believe it!
He hasn’t made puppets out of anybody. But, here the world is after 6,000 years, just exactly where this book says it would be. And all determined by that original council of God. Mind boggling, isn’t it? Yes it is! It is unsearchable!! Back to Hebrews chapter 2, verse 14.
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same;..."
He became flesh. A human. Listen! I’ve stressed that so often. He was totally God. He could still the wind and the waves of Galilee. He could raise a dead Lazarus. Yet, He was totally human. He got hungry! He got tired! He wept! Why? Because the human part of Him sorrowed just like Mary and Martha did. He was totally human.
What Hebrews is showing, is that the God Who created everything is also the God Who took on human flesh and became the man from Glory. That is why Paul writes to Timothy that we have One Mediator between God and men, Who? The man, Christ Jesus! The MAN, Christ Jesus. The man in Glory. So now He also took part of flesh and blood:
"...that through death he might destroy him (Satan) that had the power of death, that is, the devil:"
In a previous taping, I made mention of the fact that the only way you can get new life is to confront it with death! Death is the only thing that can precipitate new life. All through the plant world, and, I think, also in the reproduction within the woman, that when the sperm penetrates the ovum, I’m almost positive that one or the other of those die. I don’t know whether it is the sperm or the ovum, but one of them dies. I am quite convinced and out of that comes the new life.
Well, you see it is the same way with Christ. There was only one way that He could remove death from the human experience. What was it? He had to die. He HAD to die. He had to overcome death with death. Life is in the blood. So what had to happen? He had to shed it. And so it is His shed blood then that became the very linchpin of our plan of redemption.
Now I have one more verse I use quite often. Back up a few pages to Philippians chapter 2, starting at verse 5. Oh, this says it so explicitly. Paul writes.
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6. Who, (Christ Jesus) being in the form of God, (absolutely, He never stopped being God) thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7. But (as God, He) made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, (as a result of that determining council back in Acts chapter 2) and became obedient unto death, (not just an ordinary death) even the death of the cross."
Remember, it had to be a death that could be likened to the serpent in the wilderness, that as it was lifted up, so also must the Son of Man be lifted up.
Lesson Two • Part III
Christ, The Seed of Abraham
Hebrews 2:10-17 & II Corinthians 5:14-20
I would like to remind our audience how we appreciate your letters, your prayers and your financial help. It’s just the highlight of our day when we get the mail. It is unbelievable!! We appreciate you so much!!
Let’s get right back into the Book. We have a lot of ground to cover in this lesson and we’ll pick right up where we left off in the last lesson and that would be in Hebrews chapter 2 verse 15.
"And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16. For verily he took not on him (that is, Himself) the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham."
Now, stop and think for a moment, how easy it would have been for Christ to become the man, the Son of God in the form of an angel, because after all, there are myriads of angels. And their power, at least in total, is stupendous. But God didn’t draw on the power of angels. He did nothing with regard to angels but instead, set up the man Abraham. And He gave him the covenant that, out of him would come a nation of people and through that nation of people would come this Redeemer, this God Man.
So, this is why in programs years back I spent so much time on the Abrahamic Covenant, and those who have been in my classes, you know that. The Abrahamic Covenant is so basic to our understanding of Who Jesus of Nazareth really was, and Who the Christ of the Book of Hebrews really is. When we realize that, then we can understand that He did not come through the powers of the angels but through the seed of Abraham. So let’s go back to Genesis and come forward to see how all of this unfolded to bring about this One Who would become man in the flesh. The One Who was the Creator of everything and the One Who is the God of Glory. The One Whom we are looking to return in the flesh, bodily, and will yet establish His kingdom on earth.
It all really began, so far as Abraham is concerned, in Genesis chapter 12. Those of you who have studied with me for a long time, and on the daily program we just came through it, but the Abrahamic Covenant is so basic to everything that we believe. Genesis 12 verses 1, 2 and 3. The Abrahamic Covenant.
Genesis 12: 1
"Now the LORD (remember the word Lord in the Old Testament is actually Jehovah and Jehovah and Christ are One and the same. Jehovah is his Old Testament term but it is still God the Son. It’s the One we know as the Lord Jesus Christ.) had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:"
It always helps to understand background. You want to remember that from Adam to the flood was 1,600 years in round terms and the whole human race has rebelled against their Creator, with the exception of Noah and his family for a total of eight souls. Out of those eight souls coming out of the Ark after the flood, the population once again began to explode and we came to the Tower of Babel about two hundred years after the flood.
Now the problem with people who think in Biblical time, they think two hundred years as we think of as twenty. But listen, two hundred years is a long time, I don’t care when it was! Because all you have to do is think back. How far have we come in America in two hundred years? It’s unbelievable, you know that!! Two hundred years ago we were just an empty wasteland and look at us today. So don’t just think that two hundred years from the Tower of Babel to the call of Abraham was just a flip of a coin. No, it was still two hundred years and a lot of people came on the scene in that period of time and they are all steeped in idolatry, in false religion.
God now is going to do something totally different. And, he goes down to Ur of the Chaldees and I think God went down in human form. I think he confronted Abram eyeball to eyeball because that’s what the term in Acts chapter seven implies. That He "appeared" unto our father Abram. The word appeared is optomai from which we get optometry, which has to do with eyes! So, I feel that the Lord went eyeball to eyeball with this man Abram and said, "I want you to get out of town! I want you to get away from your relatives and get away from all this idolatry, and go to a land that I will show you." And Abraham believed God!!
Now, that is the background for the call of Abram, out of idolatry. Out of the mainstream of humanity coming from Adam and now we are going to see a totally different group of people. Alright, verse 2. Here comes the Covenant, this is the promise from God to Abram.
"And I will make of thee a great nation,..."
Now you want to remember back in antiquity, a great nation didn’t have to be 275 million people. But, by the time Israel came out of Egypt with her five to seven million, they were indeed the greatest nation at that time. In numbers and in power and everything else. So the promise was that out of this man Abram would come a nation of people, totally different from all the rest.
Normally, I don’t use humor in my teaching because I feel that this is serious business. But, I did read an interesting one. I don’t remember what book it was in, but it was in regard to Israel being the favored nation. And, so the story and that’s all it was, just a fantasy was that this Jew had gone to heaven and God was showing him around. And, this Jew says "Now Lord is it true that Israel is the favored nation? The chosen people?" The Lord just boomed, "YES! Of course!" And the Jew asked, "How about choosing someone else for a while!"
Well you can sort of get the idea, because as soon as God let it be known that out of this man is going to come a nation that will be a vehicle for His purposes, who kicks in high gear with opposition? Satan! See? So that is why you have to understand that all the troubles and tribulations have beset the Jewish people is because Satan knows that without Israel, God cannot accomplish His eternal purposes. So, he is out to destroy them.
Right now today, in the year 2001, why is little Israel under such constant attack? Not just from the Palestinians and their neighbors but from the whole world community. Hey, the world never get on the Palestinians' backs for their terrorism. It’s always Israel’s fault. Well, why? Because if the world, through the Satanic powers, can get little Israel off the scene and as they would like to do, push them into the sea, then the Devil has won it all, and then all the marbles are in his bank.
But, you see, Israel HAS to be there in order for God to complete His master program. And it all began right here. "I will make of you a great nation."
"...and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee:..." Here is where the whole plan of redemption comes into the Abrahamic Covenant. The last statement:
"...and in thee (in this man Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees. Out of idolatry) shall all families of the earth be blessed." What did that refer to? The coming of the Messiah! That the Messiah would come from this earthly bloodline of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and then there was another promise made to David.
Now for sake of time, jump all the way up to the New Testament to Matthew chapter 1, verse 1. This is just background for the verse in Hebrews, that He did not come through angelic power. He didn’t come as some supernaturally empowered angel, but instead He came through the bloodline in the flesh of the family of Abraham.
"The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham."
That’s as far as it goes! Why didn’t the writer of Matthew keep on going back to Adam like the writer of Luke did? We know Luke went all the way back to Adam. But, Matthew only goes to Abraham. There is a distinct scriptural reason.
Matthew depicts Christ as the King! And, the promise of a King did not show itself until the covenant made with Abraham. So, Matthew is only going to concern himself with the genealogy with the beginning of the coming of the King. That was the Abrahamic Covenant!
Now for sake of comparison, turn to Luke chapter 3 and you can see the other genealogy in verse 23. Here we begin with the time of Jesus’ birth with Joseph and Mary and we go all the way back to Adam. Whereas, Matthew went back to Abraham and came up to Joseph and Mary. Just a reverse in the layout.
"And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, 24. Which was the son of Matthat (and so forth.)
Now come all the way through all those names of generations and then you come to verse 31 to see that we are on the other side of the family tree from Matthew’s. Because Matthew uses the son Solomon whereas verse 31 of Luke chapter 3 uses Nathan who was:
"Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan,..."
Nathan and Solomon were brothers from David and Bathsheba’s union. So this is a totally different side of the family tree. But, this one doesn’t stop with Abraham, it goes all the way up to verse 38 which is Adam! Now, why the difference? Well, you see, here the Luke genealogy takes Christ back to his fleshly origin which was his birth to Mary. Matthew is only concerning himself with the Kingship of Christ so he only goes back to the beginning of the promise of the King, which was Abraham. See how beautifully all of Scripture dovetails together?
Now from that promise of the King in Matthew’s genealogy, let’s go all the way up to Acts chapter 3 verses 24 and 25. This is Peter preaching to the Nation of Israel. Nothing has changed. It’s just an extension of Christ’s earthly ministry, only Christ is now in Glory instead of being in their midst. Peter, James and John are still performing the same kind of miracles. They are still preaching to the Nation of Israel that they should repent of having crucified their Messiah and Christ would yet come and give them their glorious earthly kingdom.
Look what Peter says then in chapter 3. This is so you will know what I am talking about when I say that he appeals only to the Nation of Israel. Look at verse 12 of Acts chapter 3. They have just healed the lame man. No different than what Christ would have done.
"And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel..." See that? There are no Gentiles in that group. But he says, "Ye men of Israel why marvel at this?" Now, look at verse 13.
"The God of Abraham, (not the God of Adam and Eve, but rather the God of Abraham) and of Isaac and of Jacob the God of our fathers,..." How many Gentiles could talk like that? Nobody! No Gentile could call Abraham "our father." So, it is all Jewish. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers:
"hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up..." Now come over to the verses I mentioned earlier. Acts chapter 3 verses 24 and 25. Peter is still pleading with the Nation, shortly after the resurrection and the ascension. In verse 24 Peter says:
"Yea, and all the prophets (the Old Testament) from Samuel and those that follow after, (you can name them: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. Then the minor prophets, i.e. Zechariah) as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days."
Well, of course! Because what were the prophets talking about? The coming of the Messiah! And yet in veiled language was His rejection. In even further veiled language, in Psalms 22 was his burial and resurrection. Then the language was that He would ascend (Psalms 110). We looked at it after we started Hebrews, Psalms 110 verse 1. Where "the Lord said to my Lord, come sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool."
What was the "until?" When He would leave Heaven and go back and set up His earthly kingdom. So this is all the Old Testament prophecy, how that Christ would come, and, how that He would suffer and die, but be raised from the dead. And yet bring the Kingdom to Israel. This is what Peter is standing on! All the Old Testament Prophets have foretold of these days. What are these days? His earthly ministry, His crucifixion, His burial, His resurrection, His ascension, and all right there bunched together. Now verse 25.
"Ye (Peter says to the Nation of Israel) are the children of the prophets, (you are the ones the prophets were writing to. You are the children) and of the covenant which God made with (whom?) our fathers, (See how plain all this is? I hope you can see that.) saying unto (which one?) Abraham,..."
If you know your Old Testament back there in Genesis, the same words that God said to Abraham, He repeated to Isaac. And as soon as Jacob takes the forefront, He repeats it to Jacob. Then the prophets begin to rest on all those Covenant promises. Peter is reminding Israel that YOU are the children of all the prophetic writings. You are the children of the covenant.
"...And in thy seed (the seed of Abraham. Who is the seed of Abraham? The JEW! The Nation of Israel.) shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed."
But, Who was the crowning seed of Abraham? Jesus of Nazareth!! The Christ!! And, in that way, you and I then benefit from all the things promised to the Nation of Israel.
It is just like the New Covenant. A lot of people try to maintain that we are under the New Covenant. I just scream in opposition. NO, the New Covenant says as plain as day, a new covenant I will make with Israel!
But, now here in the Church Age, what are we getting? We are getting those crumbs falling off the table as the Canaanite woman begged for, we are getting the spillover. The New Covenant isn’t to us, it is to Israel. But, because of what God did for Israel, we are cashing in on the overflow.
Well, I hope all that helps in Hebrews, that He didn’t take on the form of angels. He didn’t use the powerful angelic forces to bring all of this about. But, instead He took upon Himself the seed of Abraham. He came as a Jew, and lived as a Jew. He lived under the Law, as a Jew. So, all of those promises made to the Nation of Israel will yet one day be fulfilled, or you can just as well throw this book away. If Israel is not yet at the very core of everything that God is doing – throw it away!! But you don’t have to because Israel still IS at the core!!
Listen, why can’t people wake up and realize. Why is the little nation of less than three million people, with no more land area than our state of New Jersey, in the news every day?
I always have to think of the poor little island kingdom of Sri Lanka which used to be Ceylon. They have been under civil war for years. They are probably several times bigger than Israel. Do you ever see Sri Lanka in the news? No. Why not? Because they are nothing as far as the world is concerned.
But, there is Israel. Right in the middle of everything. That is as it should be! A verse comes to mind. Go to Deuteronomy 32:8. I used this in one of my classes this last week. That’s why it is fresh on my mind. My, if this isn’t enough to knock your eyes out, I don’t know what is!!! Look what it says. Plain language! You don’t have to be a Greek scholar to understand this. You don’t have to be a Hebrew scholar. You don’t even have to be a whiz at English! You can just take it for what it says!
"When the Most High (the Almighty God, the Creator in His sovereignty) divided to the nations (all of them around the planet) their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, (and put them into their various nationalistic categories) he set the bounds (or the borders) of the people (of all these nations of people all around the planet. Every nation’s border was set) according to the number of (what?) the children of Israel."
That’s what it says. Do you believe it? You had better! So, who is at the hub of the vast wheel of humanity? Israel!! That’s why Satan has been constantly attacking them. Hitler’s holocaust was not just an accident. That was a Satanic effort to usurp and destroy God’s program for the nations.
I will repeat it. That’s why they are under attack today. That’s why the whole world – you ought to just take a look at the votes of the United Nations for the last 50 years. I don’t know how many have been mentioned. But there have been hundreds of things that they have voted on regarding the little Nation of Israel. And, you know with almost no exception, it’s always been hundreds to one or two against Israel.
Even today, the world in general is coming down on the little Nation of Israel. As if to say, well, just let the rest of the world take over. Just swim out into the Mediterranean and disappear and let everybody else have their own way. But, God won’t have it! God will NOT have it! Because He has decreed that at the core of all of His dealings with the nations is this little Nation of Israel.
On your way back to Hebrews stop at Jeremiah chapter 31 verse 35. When you read the paper tomorrow, you just remember what you heard here today. If this is not true then we might as well throw the Book away and go home and forget it. But, it IS true.
"Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the start for a light by night, which devideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of host is his name:" Now this is what He says:
"If those ordinances (of the universe) depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever."
"Thus saith the LORD; if heaven above can be measured, (and it can’t be. The universe is expanding. Nobody can determine the edge of the universe) and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD."
But it will never happen. And God has promised, that even though they are guilty of iniquity, yet God has promised "my mercy shall never depart from them."
Lesson Two • Part IV
Christ, The Seed of Abraham
Hebrews 2:10-17 & II Corinthians 5:14-20
Let’s get back to where we left off in the last lesson and that would be in Hebrews chapter 2, and now we’re going to go into the next verse which is verse 17. Remember now all these verses are building on the fact that Christ, Who Israel knew as Jesus of Nazareth, was indeed God the Son. And it’s in the Son that all power was delegated to Him for creation and for bringing about this tremendous plan of salvation.
"Wherefore (since it came by the seed of Abraham, through the Nation of Israel) in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren,…"
He became not just a man but He became a Jew. You know I’m always emphasizing that in Christ’s earthly ministry, how did He live? He lived under the Law. He went to the synagogue on the sabbath day just like any other Jew, and He kept the Law. Oh, a lot of times they accused Him of not keeping it, but nevertheless, He kept the Law in all of its purity as a Jew. So, the Apostle Paul is appealing to these Hebrew people on that basis, that this One that he is lifting up in all of His power and glory was from the seed of Abraham. Verse 17 again.
Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, (like the children of Israel) that he might be a merciful and faithful (now a word is going to pop up for the first time in Hebrews and what is it?) high priest…"
We haven’t seen that before. Do you see how the Scripture builds? See, we’re going to be getting into the priesthood here in Hebrews and it’s not going to be the Aaronic priesthood, but rather it’s going to be Melchisedec. And Melchisedec was not the priest of Israel, but rather He was the priest of the Most High God, which was reference to what people? Gentiles. That’s why the verse we looked at in the last program in Deuteronomy 32:8, what did it say?
"When the most High (the term of God concerning Gentiles) divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel." So the Most High is the term of Deity that reflects on the Gentile world. Now here in Hebrews chapter 2 is the first mention of a high priest in this book.
"…that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." Now that word reconciliation, if I’m not mistaken, is almost exclusively used by the Apostle Paul. I don’t know of any other place that it’s used, but I always stand to be corrected, and I should have checked this word out before I came to class today, but I think it is a Pauline term. Now let’s go back to Romans chapter 3, and we’ll just build on this whole premise in these last few moments, how that now we have reconciliation as a part of our salvation experience.
I suppose that it never hurts to define terms does it? What does it mean to be reconciled? Well the best place we can use it in everyday living is husband and wife. A husband and wife can have something come up that just totally drives them apart. Iris and I have found over the years that it can be the least of reasons, and invariably it will do just that. We have found over and over for example that a tragedy strikes a couple, and the one that I’m thinking of right now, is their home burned to the ground, and one or the other had failed to send in the payment for their fire insurance, and so they ended up with no coverage. It ruined their marriage and ended up in divorce, because one accused the other.
We’ve known others where a child committed suicide and it drove that couple to divorce, it became a dividing point, as one blamed the other. Now there’s only one remedy for such a thing and what is it? Reconciliation. By bringing them back together again, and that is exactly what has happened to the human race. When Adam sinned, what happened? There was a great division that developed between God and the human race. Just like a husband and wife who have had a tremendous falling out by a tragedy, but the tragedy in Adam’s case was what? He ate of the fruit. Now that’s simple, and through the tragedy of his eating he lost fellowship with his Creator, and so what did they need? Reconciliation. He needed to be brought back into fellowship with God.
Now we don’t use reconciliation as a doctrinal word, as I see some of you are looking in your concordance for that word, and if you find one let me know, because I’m just sort of shooting from the hip on this word, but I don’t think reconciliation is a term until we get to Paul. It was a concept, but it wasn’t actually used, but here in Romans chapter 3, some verses that we even used earlier this afternoon. Let’s just start with verse 25.
"Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26. To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: (in other words the Righteousness of God) that he (God, Christ) might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."
Now there in that word propitiation is the first implication then of God’s role of reconciling lost mankind to Himself, and this is His whole premise, it’s His whole reason for bringing about the work of the cross. Now to use the word more explicitly than it is here in Romans, follow with me to II Corinthians chapter 5. And here again I hardly know where to drop in, but let’s just start with verse 14, because this is just too serious a subject to take lightly. This whole idea that God wants to reconcile lost humanity to Himself and bring us into full fellowship as a husband and wife who have been estranged and are brought back together. That’s what God wants to do with lost humanity. So this is a good place to look at that for a few moments.
II Corinthians 5:14a
"For the love of Christ…"
Now just stop and think. If a husband and wife had lived together for years, they’ve worked together, they’ve gone through thick and thin together, and raised their children together, and all of a sudden they’ve had this tragedy that separates them, what spark still has to be there to bring them back together? Love! Love has to still be there to rekindle, and bring them back. Now it’s the same way with God. Remember, God’s love hasn’t died down to a fading ember, it is always vibrant, but mankind’s love is a different story. So we have to kindle that spark of love that will respond to the love of Christ.
Now again, I could just go all day I guess. You remember way back when we talked about creation, what was the main purpose in God’s thinking, in creating man in the first place? Well, to have a creature that He could extend love to and have it returned. So it’s the same way in the marriage relationship. It’s an extension of love, and a return of that love. Now this is exactly what Paul is talking about. The love of Christ that is constantly being extended to lost mankind.
II Corinthians 5:14-16a
"For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one (Christ) died for all, (the whole human race) then were all dead: (and in need of reconciliation) 15. And that he died for all, that they which live (spiritually) should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (Paul’s Gospel of salvation that we must believe.) 16. Wherefore (Paul says, ‘because Christ died, and rose from the dead’) henceforth know we no man after the flesh:…" A reference to Christ’s earthly ministry. Paul couldn’t keep salvation based on Christ’s earthly ministry of miracles and signs and wonders because that’s not where salvation rested. Salvation rested in His finished work of the cross. So he says in verse 16 again:
II Corinthians 5:16a
"Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh,…"
I hope when you read something like that, that you know what you’re reading. I tell people constantly when they come up and say, "Well I never understood this until I heard you read it." I said, "You know why? Because I’m constantly making people aware of what it’s saying." Most people just read it, and don’t get what it says. So do you see what it says here in verse 16? Paul says I have known Christ after the flesh. Well what does that mean? Paul was living contemporary with Jesus of Nazareth. I think they were both born within a year of each other. I think Paul, or Saul of Tarsus, was a young man of 30 about the same time that Christ began His earthly ministry, so yes, Saul knew Christ in the flesh. Now knowing Him is not recorded in Scripture until we get to the stoning of Stephen, but listen, Old Saul of Tarsus knew all about Jesus of Nazareth, and don’t think for a minute that he didn’t, and that’s what he’s referring to here.
II Corinthians 5:16b
"…though we have known Christ after the flesh,…" Paul knew all about His signs, wonders, and miracles, but Paul thought He was an imposter and blasphemer - that’s why he became the chief persecutor.
II Corinthians 5:16b
"…yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now (this side of the cross) henceforth know we him no more."
See, that’s why Paul will never mention Bethlehem or His earthly ministry, because that’s moot. The closest he comes is in Galatians 4:6 when he refers to Christ’s birth, not as being born in a stable in Bethlehem, but all he says there is, "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law." Now that’s as much as Paul gives us, because that had nothing to do with the message that Paul had for the world and that is, that Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead. See, that’s where it’s at, and so now he says, henceforth know we him no more, and that’s why he doesn’t make reference to his earthly ministry. Now verse 17.
II Corinthians 5:17-19a
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: (it’s the new birth) old things are passed away; (the old lifestyle, the old habits, the old desires) behold, all things are become new. (and here comes our word in verse 18.) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself (How?) by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19. To wit, (that is to say) that God, (the Triune, Creator God) was in Christ,…"
Now let’s back that up with another Scripture, Colossians chapter 2 verses 8 and 9. Now remember why we’re going to Colossians, we have been reconciled by the God Who was in Christ.
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, (world based religions) and not after Christ. (now here it comes in verse) 9. For in him (Christ) dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead (how?) bodily." Do you see how plain that is? Now fit the two together. In Christ sits the whole Godhead bodily according to Colossians, but now coming back to II Corinthians chapter 5, and it’s in the reverse word form, but it’s the same meaning.
II Corinthians 5:19
"To wit, that God was in Christ, (how much of God? All of Him! The whole Triune God, the Father the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all embodied in God the Son, and as such then) reconciling (or bring that estranged mass of humanity) the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and hath committed unto us (I think here Paul not only speaks to himself, but all of the believers) the word of reconciliation." Now verse 20, and to me this is a far more sensible commission than anything in the Four Gospels. This is something that you can set your teeth into without question.
II Corinthians 5:20a
"Now then (we as believers with the message of reconciliation) we are ambassadors for Christ,…" Now again we need some definition don’t we? What’s an ambassador? And ambassador is someone living in a foreign country, but he’s a representative of his home country, you all know that. Well what are we according to the old hymn "This world is not my home, we’re just strangers passing through," that the quartets use to sing? Well we’re ambassadors, as that’s so true, so where is our home? In heaven! Our citizenship Paul tells us, is in heaven, and we’re strangers, we’re in foreign territory, so what are you then? You’re ambassadors? You’re not in your home territory, you’re in a strange country, so we’re ambassadors for Christ. Continuing on with verse 20.
II Corinthians 5:20b
"…through God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ’s stead,…"
So we pray you in Christ’s place, since He’s ascended to glory, and since He’s now imputed this responsibility, He’s given us the Scriptures, the power of the Holy Spirit, that every one of us can be an ambassador. That doesn’t mean you’re all preachers, or teachers or missionaries, but rather you’re playing the role of an ambassador to reflect Christ. So everywhere we go we should be reflecting the Lord Jesus with our language, with our appetite, with our lifestyle, because the world can tell. Hey don’t tell me they can’t tell. I went to the university and I was in the Army, and I know that the guys would come up and say, "What have you got?" And I wasn’t a goody, goody gum drop or anything like that, but the troops knew that I was different. In fact I was just thinking last night as I was lying awake in bed that every bull session in our barracks was around the head of my bunk. And it was never filthy stories or anything like that junk, as we were always talking about the things pertaining to the Scriptures.
At that time I didn’t realize or think anything of it, but when guys would ship out, they would come up to my place of duty, and guys I never even knew, and they would say goodbye, they were heading out for Korea, and they would share with me, that I had shown them that there was something that they didn’t have. Well I wasn’t the kind that was constantly pushing at people. No way, I’m not that way, but I maintain that we can reflect the Lord Jesus with just simply our everyday behavior, our language, and the things that we talk about, the things that we think about, and every believer can be that kind of an ambassador. Now completing the verse.
II Corinthians 5:20c
"… be ye reconciled to God."
Don’t go through life estranged, don’t go out into eternity estranged, but be reconciled to God, and be brought back into that relationship with Jesus the Christ, the God of glory. Well there was another one that I thought of a moment ago and I believe it was in Ephesians chapter 2. Let’s see if that’s the one I wanted, I may have to look a second. Yeah, Ephesians 2:16. Where once again we have this word reconciliation.
"For he (Christ) is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;" Now here Paul is speaking as a Jew, and that God has taken away that partition in the temple area as it was mostly made known between the Jew and Gentile. That partition is no longer there.
"Having abolished in his flesh (that is through the work of the cross) the enmity, even the law of commandments, contained in ordinances; (that’s all been abolished) for to make in himself of twain (the two, Jew and Gentile) one new man, (that’s the uniqueness of the Body of Christ) so making peace; 16. And that he might reconcile both (not just Gentile or just Israel, but both) unto God in one body (there’s not a separate Body of believers for Jews and a separate Body for Gentiles, as we all come in on the same level playing field, and we become one in the Body of Christ) by the cross, (and through the work of the cross, what has He done?) having slain the enmity thereby: 17. And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, (Gentiles) and to them that were nigh. (Israel) 18. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father." Now, I’ve got one more in Colossians chapter 1.
"And, having made peace (see, that’s the whole idea of reconciliation isn’t it? When people have been estranged - my, imagine when they get together they can fight like cats and dogs, but if we can reconcile them and let love take over, then you see we can have the same thing we see here, having made peace) through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile (bring back together) all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21. And you, (speaking to Gentiles in particular) that were sometime alienated and enemies (of God) in your mind by wicked works, (nobody knew how to be wicked better than the Gentiles of Paul’s day. I mean they were practiced at it) yet now hath he reconciled." They have been brought unto Himself, and that’s what faith and faith alone can do!
Lesson Three • Part I
The Evil Heart of Unbelief
As we begin our study today, we will be looking at Hebrews chapter 3 verse 1. Again, we are just an informal Bible study. We go verse by verse and as I have said so often, we don’t promote any group. We don’t attack anyone, we are simply going to open the Scriptures and let the Holy Spirit do the work of touching hearts and lives. How we thank you for your letters and your phone calls that express just that! How that the Lord has touched a multitude of hearts and lives and created an interest in the Word like folks have never had before.
I’m going now to Hebrews chapter 3 verse 1. The very first word, as Paul so often does in all of his letters, starts it off with a wherefore or therefore which basically is the same, and he uses it mostly back in Romans, and he used it over and over. Every time you come to a new chapter he’d say "wherefore or therefore." What’s it there for? Well to make you go back and remember what he has just covered. We’re only in chapter 3 so this wherefore is going to go back to the beginning of chapter 2 where he had another therefore. So in reality this one is taking us all the way back to chapter 1. Back there in chapter 1, we were epitomizing Jesus of Nazareth as the "Son." The Son Who was pre-eminent of everything. He was the Creator, He is the Sustainer of the universe and we had to do all that we could to show how He had finished the work of redemption. Then He sat down at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us.
When we come into chapter 2, we see the Son as "man" in his humanity but in His humanity then He has accomplished the work of the cross. And in order to accomplish the work of the cross He had to take on human flesh, He had to become lower than the angels for a little while. And of course, that was only for his earthly sojourn. So, indeed, the Scripture says that He was made a little lower than the angels but mostly the important part is that He was for a little while lower than the angels. And then we went on through the rest of chapter 2, how that He tasted death for every man. No one will ever slip into their lost eternity saying "I never had a chance." Yes they did. He has accomplished salvation for every human being that has ever lived. Alright, now I think we can go on into chapter 3.
Wherefore, (because of what we have already established) holy brethren,…"
Now here we’re not talking just simply to the Hebrews in the flesh, but we’re talking to believers who are brethren in Christ, because we’re sure Paul wrote this and so Paul is going to be constantly, by innuendo, if not by direct statement, bringing in the position of the Grace Age believer, saved as we are by faith in that finished work of the Cross. So he speaks of them as brethren in Christ not just as brethren in the flesh as Jews. Then he says:
"Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,..."
Once in a while it just thrills my heart when someone writes that, as they saw a program, they saw something for the first time that they had never understood, even though they had read the Bible over and over or they’d been in Sunday School, they never understood this concept before - and that was that Israel was God’s earthly people, we in the Church Age are God’s heavenly people. And there’s that much distinction.
God’s earthly people, Israel, were associated with all the earthly promises of materialism. And all you have to do is just stop and think for a moment. Abraham, was he rich or poor? According to the economy of their day he was wealthy. All that wealth went right on to the next one, Isaac. And by the time Isaac finishes his sojourn on earth where does all that wealth go? To Jacob. And so indeed they were blessed with material blessings and so Israel was admonished throughout her Old Testament history that if they were obedient, God blessed them. When they were disobedient, God chastised them in the area of the physical and the material.
But see, we don’t live under that kind of format in this Age of Grace. God may bless us materially, but He isn’t duty bound to. There’s nothing in Paul’s writings that said if you do good He’ll make you a millionaire. That’s not in there. All our promises, all our blessings are heavenly and, consequently, we do not get tied to the earthly things. If God sees fit to bless us, great, but if not, we’re not going to complain, because our riches are waiting for us. I don’t care if we do have to go through 70, 80, 90 years with little of this world’s goods, the eternity that is waiting for us is more than worth it. Alright, so he says that we are:
"…Partakers of the heavenly calling..."
Even these Jewish believers. Now we don’t want to lose sight of the fact that the Book of Hebrews is written to Hebrew believers. When I started the book of Hebrews, do you remember I said there is no Roman Road in the book of Hebrews? There’s no plan of salvation laid out so clearly like it is in Romans or Galatians, but it is a letter written to Hebrew believers who had been steeped in Judaism, the religion of the Jew. And anytime, I don’t care whether it’s Jew or Gentile, whether is was then or now, whenever someone tries to make that break with "religion," it is tough. It is not easy to turn your back on something that has been drummed into you since you were old enough to walk.
That was the lot of these Hebrew believers that Paul is addressing. They had come out of Judaism, they had made the break and now they’re having second thoughts. Is this Jesus of Nazareth really Who He said He was? Is He really the Messiah, the Redeemer of mankind? And so this is the thrust of this Book of Hebrews. Here again now, Paul says that even these Jewish believers, having come out of the religion of Judaism, are now partakers of the heavenly calling. And I’ll be pointing to that in a little later verse this chapter, how that we are already citizens of heaven and we have that heavenly connection.
Alright, so now he says we who are partakers of this heavenly calling, the next word is rather a blasé word in our English and that’s unfortunate, the word is:
"...consider..." In the Greek it means- with all the attention that you can muster, focus on this man from Glory, the apostle of our confession, which another word would be the prophet or the Messiah. Now don’t take that word "consider" lightly. In the Greek it just can’t emphasize it enough. One time we were taking the ship up to Alaska and the whales were jumping. Way over, about a mile over and my little binoculars weren’t good enough and a fellow there had a great big set and he said, "Here use mine." Well, when you concentrated through those binoculars, even though they were a mile away, my you could see those humongous whales just jumping. But what did you have to do? You had to focus on it or you’d miss it.
Now it wasn’t just a casual scanning the ocean, it was focusing in there and watching the activity. Now I think that’s a good way of explaining this. We are to just focus in on this Man from glory, the Carpenter of Nazareth, Who is the eternal Sovereign Creator, God of the universe. So now as partakers of this heavenly calling we are to focus in with all that’s at our disposal. So reading the verse again.
"Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostles and High Priest of our (confession is a better word than) profession, Christ Jesus;"
Now of course you all know, I trust, that the word ‘Christ’ in the English, is ‘Messiah’ in the Greek. The Messiah, Jesus. And that of course, comes out of all the promises of the Old Testament. So let’s look at it again. We are to consider, we’re to focus in with everything of Him being our apostle.
Now I’m going to wait for the High Priesthood until we get a little later into Hebrews, especially chapter 7, but for today I’m going to let the High Priesthood just sort of sit and we’re going to look at this word ‘apostle.’ Normally we don’t think of Jesus as an apostle and it even shook me up when a long time ago I started preparing for this study of Hebrews, and I always knew He was Prophet, Priest and King but I’d never really heard of Him as an apostle.
Well the word means the same thing. An apostle in the Greek is really someone who was "sent," in other words the Twelve. What did Jesus do? He sent them. When the Apostle Paul was commissioned in the Book of Acts what did the Lord tell him? I’m going to send you far hence to the Gentiles. Now we have the same concept here then concerning Christ. He was "sent." Well, Who sent him?
Let’s go all the way back to Deuteronomy because, after all, the Old Testament fits with the New and we can’t separate them. Come back to Deuteronomy chapter 18 verse 15.
"The Lord thy God (the Father) will raise up unto thee a Prophet (or we could say from the book of Hebrews, an apostle) from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; (Moses is speaking) unto him ye shall hearken: 16. According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb (that’s the other word for Mount Sinai) in the day of the assembly (when they were gathered around the mount) saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. 17. And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken." Now verse 18. God says to Moses.
"I will raise them up a Prophet (an apostle, someone that I am sending) from among their brethren, (now the word ‘brethren’ here is talking about the Nation of Israel from whence Christ came.) like unto thee and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I (the Father says) shall command him." See how clear that is? Now verse 19.
" And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken (or listen) unto my words which he shall speak in my name, (God says) I will require it of him."
Alright, now to pick up that "being sent" concept, let’s go all the way up to Matthew and again I’m using this for more than one reason and that is, whenever I teach that Jesus came only to the Nation of Israel to fulfill all the Old Testament promises and prophecies, some people get all shook up. I think I’ve shared this before that while I was teaching this one time in Jerusalem on one of our Israeli tours, a gentlemen just got as red as a beet. He was that up tight. He said, "Then what do you do with John 3:16? That doesn’t say He sent Him to Israel, it sent Him to the whole world." I said, "He came first to the Nation of Israel and when Israel rejected Him, then yes, He became the Savior of the whole world. But in His original ministry, He came only to the Nation of Israel."
Now in Matthew 15, most of you know the account of the Canaanite woman. And we almost have to take all of it; otherwise it just doesn’t make sense. So let’s start at verse 21. And this is taking place during His earthly ministry.
"Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts (or the borders, or city limits) of Tyre & Sidon. (Roman cities up there on the Mediterranean Sea coast.) 22. And, behold, a woman of Canaan (a Gentile, she was not a member of the tribes of Israel) came out of the same coasts, (in other words, the cities of Tyre & Sidon) and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23. But he (the Lord Jesus) answered her (how much?) not a word. (He never even responded that he heard her.) And his disciples (The Twelve) came and besought him saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24. But he answered and said, (in her hearing) I am not sent (now underline that word sent) but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25. Then came she and worshipped him, saying Lord, help me. (And again he gave the answer, which tells us so clearly that he was under covenant responsibility. He could not betray the promises that God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.) 26. But he answered and said, It is not meet (it’s not right) to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs."
Now goodness sakes, I trust you’ve all been in Church and Sunday School long enough. Who were the children that Jesus is referring to? Israel, the Jewish people! They were God’s covenant people, the children! And who were the dogs? The Gentiles! And so the picture was God’s table.
Whenever I teach this I always have to bring up Psalms 23. What does David say about the Lord’s table? It was set before him. Now that wasn’t a table of meat and potatoes and vegetables or any of the other Jewish kosher food. What was he referring to? The spiritual blessings that Israel was positioned to partake of. That was part of their being in the covenant promises. They feasted at the Lord’s table. Now you see the Lord brings that all the way up out of Psalms 23 into his earthly ministry and he said, "It’s not right for me to take the things from the Lord’s table that is for Israel and give it to you Gentiles." He couldn’t do that! Because he was under covenant promises.
But this is one of those exceptions in His earthly ministry, that He condescended to a Gentile and He finally gives in and He says:
"Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour."
Now the only other Gentile that this happened to, was the Roman Centurion on behalf of his son. Jesus had nothing to do with the Gentile. He couldn’t because He was under those covenant promises and He was sent by God the Father to fulfill those promises. Now another companion verse, of course, is in Matthew chapter 10 and we’ve looked at some of these verses off and on but I have to always remind myself that we have new listeners coming in every day and even though some of you have heard all this from Genesis 1:1, we have a lot of listeners who have not. And so, we’ll just keep repeating these things for their benefit. Now Matthew chapter 10, and again this is the beginning of Christ’s earthly ministry.
"And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples,…" And then it names them. Now come all the way down to verse 5.
"These twelve Jesus sent forth, (that’s why they’re called apostles) and commanded them, saying, Go not (see how plain this is. We’d say it in our English vernacular, do not go) into the way of the Gentiles, and (do not go) into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. 6. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
Now good heavens, that’s plain English. There’s no gobbledygook here. There’s no way of twisting this to make it mean something else. It says what it means and it means what it says. Jesus said, "do not go to a Gentile. Do not go to a Samaritan. These promises are given only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel because of the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." And as you read the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and all the rest, they never write to the Gentile world. They write to the Nation of Israel. And so everything was directed according to these covenant promises.
Now let’s go all the way to Acts chapter 3 and Peter is now preaching shortly after the day of Pentecost. Chapter 2 is the day of Pentecost but now I’m going to take you into chapter 3, which is just a very short time later. Let’s drop in at verses 22 and 23,and now remember, what’s Peter’s purpose of preaching this message? To convince his Jewish listeners, shortly after Christ’s earthly ministry, that the one they crucified was the Christ. He was the promised Messiah, but God raised Him from the dead and so you haven’t stopped God’s program. It’s all been made ready now. The work of redemption has been accomplished and He’s alive and He can yet fulfill all the Old Testament promises. Plain as day isn’t it? Now look at what Peter says.
"For Moses (see how he goes back to the Old Testament) truly said unto the fathers, (now who were the fathers? The tribal leaders of Israel, the Twelve Tribes) A prophet (an apostle) shall the Lord your God raise up unto you (not the whole world yet, to Israel) of your brethren, (in other words, he was born of the Jewish family of Joseph and Mary) like unto me (now Moses was speaking of himself as a Jew, raised up out of one of the twelve tribes of Jacob); him shall ye hear (Peter said, quoting it from Moses) in all things whatsoever he (that is, the Messiah, the sent prophet) shall say unto you. 23. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, (that Jesus of Nazareth) shall be destroyed (or removed from the scene) from among the people."
Now what’s he saying? Israel was under a tremendous responsibility to believe that this carpenter’s son, once he proved it with signs and wonders and miracles, was the promised Messiah. And if they couldn’t believe it they would be removed from Israel, and of course, we know that’s what happened. And when they cried for His crucifixion and they said let His blood be upon us, they didn’t know what they were saying. And for 2000 years the Jewish people have been suffering immeasurably. I was reading a book again the other night just detailing the suffering of the Jewish people for the last 2000 years. It is beyond human comprehension. Of course the holocaust was the epitome of all that.
I have one more reference in Acts chapter 7 verse 35. We’re still going to have a reference to Moses, but now Stephen is the speaker and he is addressing the religious leaders of Israel. Stephen, just like Peter before him, is trying to convince these Jews that Jesus was the Christ. Yes He’d been crucified, but God had raised Him from the dead and He was now alive and could still fulfill all those Old Testament promises. There’s not a word of God’s Grace in here yet. There’s not a word of the Gospel of Grace. There’s not a word in here about what we call Paul’s Gospel, of believing for salvation that Jesus died for your sins, was buried and rose again. This is still dealing with Israel.
"This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? The same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer (40 years later, remember) by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. 36. He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years. 37. This (speaking of Jesus of Nazareth, the one whom they had crucified) is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren (in other words, out of the Nation of Israel), like unto me (and as Moses was the deliverer, so Jesus of Nazareth was to be the deliverer of Israel into the Kingdom promises); him shall ye hear. 38. This is he, (this is Who was in the midst of that assembly or) that was in the church in the wilderness…"
In other words, Who was the pillar of cloud by day? It was Christ. Who was the pillar of fire by night? It was Christ. Who was the One that rained down manna for Israel? It was the Christ!
Lesson Three • Part II
The Evil Heart of Unbelief
It is such an encouragement when we realize how the Lord is opening His Word to so many. We thank you for your letters and your financial help, because after all, television time is not cheap.
Let’s get back into the study in Hebrews chapter 3. We barely got over halfway through verse 1 in the last lesson.
"Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;"
Now we’re going to go into the word ‘profession.’ We are to consider, as I pointed out in the last lesson, with all the intensity of your ability to concentrate, on this One. After all, we should! He’s the Creator! This is what so many people fail to realize, that the One whom we serve is the Creator of the universe!! He’s not just the carpenter’s son. He is the Creator of everything! He’s the Sustainer of everything. And so indeed, consider!!
My, how many people in the world never give a second thought to Jesus Christ? Not even a second thought. How many even think in terms of eternity? Not many. I’ve said it before, as you travel up and down the highways and the freeways and the mass of people coming in out of stadiums and ballparks and so forth, do you ever stop to ask yourself, how many of them ever think about eternity? We don’t know, but I’m guessing, it’s a precious, precious, small percentage. People today have no time for anything but the things of this world. But for those of you and I who know better, who know this Creator as Lord and Savior, as the One Who suffered and died in our place, yes we can focus on Who He is. The Great Apostle, as well as the High Priest of our confession.
Now I said in the last lesson the word "profession" can be enlarged and made more understandable with the word "confession." Because, after all, when we confess Him, what does it really amount to? We’re letting the world know that He is the One Who is the object of our faith. He is the object of our reason for living. Without Him, what are we? We’re nothing. Even though the world out there can be successful and they can make their millions, and they can make the headlines - but, when cancer strikes, they die like anybody else.
You know, I always have to think of the founder of WalMart, Mr. Sam Walton, with all of his billions, yet when he was stricken with cancer, I’m sure the family got him the best medical help that this world had to offer. But what happened? He slipped out into eternity. His billions could not cure his cancer. And so we have to constantly come back and be realists. This world is not our home; we’re only here for just a little blink of time, and eternity is forever. And this is the whole purpose of God giving us the Word, so that we can be prepared for eternity. We don’t have to shrink from death.
Even as the individual that I called in his hospital room. With tears in my heart and eyes, I could bid him goodbye. I knew he wasn’t on this world very much longer. But, I could also say, "We’ll see you again," because this is the blessed hope that we have as believers. Death isn’t the end. It’s just a little stopgap, and then one day we’re going to be with our loved ones for all eternity.
Alright now, this is our confession. That our hope for eternity is not based on what I have done or what you have done - it’s not based on our works. It’s not based on what we’ve accomplished. It’s based on our FAITH in that accomplished work of the cross. In fact, let me use a verse that says it as plainly as anything in Scripture.
Now for a moment, come back to Ephesians chapter 2. Here Paul has just listed the appetites and things of this world that plagued us while we were still in unbelief. And while we were steeped in the old Adamic lusts of the flesh, and as he says in the closing words of verse 3:
"...and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." What’s the first word of verse 4?
What does that mean? The flipside, we’re no longer in the desires of the old Adam. It’s a whole new world for us, but not because of what I’ve done, not because of what you’ve done, but what God did. I think I could stand here by the hour and enlarge on those two words, But God, not but I, not but you, But God. He did it! You know I’m always referring to "Lord give us Lydias today," because what did the Lord do with Lydia? Opened her heart, her understanding so that she would listen to what the Apostle Paul had to say. But God opened her heart. But God formed the plan of salvation, man didn’t. But God can go on and say I’ve done it all so that you can be saved by Faith plus Nothing. Now let’s read on.
"But God, who is rich in mercy, (He doesn’t deal with us according to what we deserve) for his great love wherewith he loved us,"
Now, I’m not going to take time today, but we’ve done it before, back in the chapter in John’s gospel where you have the account of Lazarus dying. Mary and Martha were rather shook up with the Lord that He hadn’t been there to heal him and spare his demise.
But, to me, the important part of that chapter is not even so much that He had the power to raise Lazarus from the dead, but you know what that chapter says over and over? How Jesus loved them! Not how much they loved him, but how He loved them. And, consequently, you ended up with the shortest verse in scripture. "Jesus wept." Why did he weep? He loved them. And He saw their heartache, He saw their sorrow, and because He loved them, He could weep with them.
So here, Paul says the same thing. That that great love wherewith He loved us. We didn’t come into this place of salvation and the hope of Glory because we loved Him. We’re just like everybody else. What does it say in John’s Gospel? They hate the light. Why? Because their deeds are evil. Are we any different? I can remember as a kid, in fact, I can go back to when I was small enough to lie on my mom and dad’s lap and I can remember in my mind that just as soon as that preacher got up in the pulpit to preach I stretched out so I could go to sleep. And I’ll tell you, my little rebellious mind didn’t change for a long time. I didn’t want to hear it. Leave me alone. And listen, that’s typical. That’s most people. We don’t want to hear it. Our deeds are evil, But God! He loved us!! Alright, verse 5. When did He love us?
"Even when we were dead in sins,..."
That’s a spiritual position, but nevertheless, I’ll just make the point - how lovely are dead things? Now most of you don’t have an appreciation for it like I do with all my livestock because every once in a while something will die and we have to deal with it. And death is not pretty. I hate it. I’ll admit it. I hate it. If I lose a cow or baby calf I just get gut-wrenched. It just drives me up the wall because I hate death. Many of you have lost a pet and it just tears you apart. Why? Because death is not pretty.
Now I can bring that same analogy when God looks at sinful men - are we pretty? No! Sin is a dilemma, but God loves us anyway. Look at all of the ramifications of sin in the world today. It’s at the root of all our social problems. Sin, it’s at the root of everything. But in spite of it, God loves us. Even when we were dead in sin, now read on.
"...he hath quickened us (or made us alive) together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (When He saved us by His Grace, He didn’t just leave us and say, oh well, I’ve done all that needs to be done. No, He continues with us.) 6. And hath raised us up together, (out of our spiritual deadness) and made us sit together in (what? The heavenlies! Not the Lincoln bedroom and I guess that must be a pretty nice place to spend the night. But listen, that is a pigpen by comparison and He has placed us in the heavenlies already. That’s our position and He has made us sit together in the) heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7: That in the ages (ions is the Greek word, which is beyond our human comprehension) to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Now here’s the verse!). 8. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:"
I think I’m known from almost coast-to-coast now as the promoter of Faith plus Nothing!. Faith plus Nothing! And this riles a few people. They say, "Where do you get that?" Ephesians 2:8. Because when you read that, that’s what it is. For by grace are ye saved through faith. Plus anything? No! So then it’s plus what? Nothing. It’s the gift of God. And again, you’ve heard me explain it a hundred times. How long is it a gift? As long as you don’t pay for it. The minute you contribute to the cost of your gift, it is no longer a gift and the same thing holds true in the plan of salvation. Just as soon as people think they have to work for it, then they have canceled the gift aspect and it now becomes something that puts God in their debt.
Well, that’s our confession. That we have placed our faith in the Christ of Glory, the Creator of everything, the One Who took our place on that Roman cross, the One Who arose victoriously over sin and death. And by believing what He has said, He has done everything that needs to be done!
I had a lady call the other morning asking whether I had experienced a particular phenomenon and I said, "No and I don’t expect to." And I know I shocked her. She said, "How then do you know?" And I said, "Because the Word says so! The Bible tells me that I’m indwelt by the Holy Spirit and I don’t need a signed certificate, I don’t need anything else. When the Bible says that you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, I believe it, I trust it and that’s where Faith comes in. You don’t feel it. You don’t have some magnificent out-of-this-world experience. The Book says it." And that’s our confession. What Christ has said and has accomplished, we believe it and so then it becomes by Faith plus Nothing.
Now lets get back to Hebrews chapter 3,and verse 2. We’re going to make a little headway today. You know what I hope? I hope the Lord comes back before I finish Hebrews. I really do!
"Who (Christ Jesus) was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house."
I’m not going to take the time to go back and look at the Scriptures. We could look at a bunch of them, but you all know enough about Moses that when God spoke to him at the burning bush; sent him back to Egypt for the purpose of delivering the children of Israel out of slavery, he was obedient to that and went through all the turmoil of the plagues and dealing with Pharaoh.
But then the culmination of it all was, he brought Israel out of Egypt and took them down to Mount Sinai. There at Mount Sinai, God gave the Law to Moses and Moses took it down the mountain and gave it to the children of Israel. He was faithful to everything that God commissioned to him. Never do we have a record that Moses himself failed. He was disobedient a time or two but he did not fail what God expected him to do concerning the Nation of Israel. And so he was totally faithful and every Jew that had any concept of all of their Old Testament heritage had a high esteem of Moses.
Of course, of Abraham as well, but I’m speaking now because the Scripture is, only of Moses. Their deliverer, the one who brought them out of bondage, the one who gave them the law, and the one who led them, as we’ll see a little later in this chapter, in that horrible 40 year period in the wilderness. But Moses was never found unfaithful. He was God’s faithful servant.
Consequently, when the Jews in Christ’s earthly ministry tried to pin Him down with some questions on doctrine or teaching, what did Jesus tell those Jews? Well, you have Moses, go back and see what Moses said. Because he was faithful and everything that Moses had instructed was according to God’s dictates. So Moses is set up as a prime example of someone who was faithful to the commands of God. There was not a point in Moses’ past where there could be any doubt that he was God’s man for the hour. He was always faithful.
But, what’s it building up to? You remember I showed you when we first started Hebrews this whole Book is a comparison of things that were good, but this is better. Absolutely, Moses was great. He was a man that God entrusted. He was a man who remained faithful to everything God commissioned him to do, but when it comes to the comparison, he pales next to the Lord Jesus Christ.
So here we come now, here’s another instance where we have the comparison in chapter 2 that He is higher than the angels even though He was lower for a little while. But Christ cannot be compared with the angelic host. His power is more than the multitudes of angels put together. So now then, verse 3:
"For this man..."
The word man has been added by the translators, but they’re still right in doing it because this is what we’re looking at. We’re looking at the God Man Christ Jesus. The One Who had walked the dusty roads of the land of Israel, the One Who had walked that way of the cross, the One Who had suffered and died for your sins and mine.
"For this man was counted worthy of (what’s the next word? More. See the comparison? As great as Moses was, this man makes Moses pale into insignificance.) more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house."
Now here we come back to an everyday experience. Whenever you see someone building a lavish home, when it’s finished, people probably drive by and admire it and that’s all well and good. But what has more esteem than the house? The guy who owns it, the guy who built it, the guy who had the wherewithal to bring it all together. This is exactly what we’re showing here. Moses was great. Moses filled a tremendous slot in human history as well as Israel’s history. But this One, this Jesus of Nazareth, this Man, this God Man, is not only the owner of everything, He made it!
This is why I’m fairly confident when I say the vast majority of professing Christians do not understand that Jesus of Nazareth was the Creator of Genesis 1:1. It just shocks them to even think about it. But He was! He was the Creator of everything! Now where does that put Moses? Moses is nothing when you compare it to that. Moses was a part of the creation. Moses was just simply, a faithful servant. This is the Creator we’re talking about!
I’ve used this analogy over the years. Look how the world will flock to famous people. Just a week or two ago, Tulsa experienced it with the golf tournament. And whom did everyone want to see? Tiger Woods. They probably came from miles around just to get a glimpse of Tiger Woods because of his fame and expertise as a golfer. Or if the Pope flies into some place, the highways will be chocked full. It will just literally put it into a traffic gridlock. Why? They want to see this famous man. Or any other famous individual, the people will flock just to get a glimpse of this famous individual. And yet, this man, He’s not just the head of a great number of people. He’s not just a famous athlete. He’s not just a famous politician. He’s the Creator of everything and why can’t people get excited about that?
We serve the Creator! The One Who called the universe into being. The One Who at the spoken Word one day, I think, will be able to just bring it all back to that zero beginning it came from and He’ll speak the Word and here will come a new universe. It’s the same One. Remember, as great as Moses was, he was nothing compared to the Creator whom you and I serve and Who was the Author or as it said back in chapter 2, the Captain of our Salvation. Verse 3 again:
"For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house."
Come back with me to Colossians chapter 1 because someone hearing me for the first time may say, "This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about." Well, if I don’t know what I’m talking about, then this Book doesn’t, because it says it as plain as English can make it. Colossians chapter 1 starting at verse 14. I’ll be looking at verses 12 –13 later on in Hebrews, so we’ll start here with verse 14.
"In whom (in the Son) we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15. Who (God the Son, the Man that we’re talking about in Hebrews) is the image of the invisible God, (He is the visible manifestation of the invisible God) the firstborn of every creature: 16. For by him (by the Son) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: (here it is) all things were created by him, and for him:"
Lesson Three • Part III
The Evil Heart of Unbelief
Hebrews chapter 3 verse 4. Remember, we showed in our last lesson, how that Jesus the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth (so we are sure you know Who we are talking about) was the Creator of everything! He is the Creator, the Sustainer of the universe. Now this verse just substantiates that:
"For every house is builded by some man; (Nothing happens without man putting his works of hands and fingers to whatever needs to be done.) but he that built all things is God." Remember, the God that we are speaking of here is the Man, Christ Jesus. Now verse 5.
"And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, (I think I made that point in the last lesson - how that Moses never failed his commission. He was faithful in all that God has entrusted to him.) as a servant, (He was not the main player. He was simply a person that God saw fit to use, so as a servant) for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;"
Let’s go back to Deuteronomy 18 and we can see how this was all foretold way back in Israel’s beginning years as Moses is writing the Torah or the first five books. The same verses that we looked at before, I think are appropriate. Verse 15.
"The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;" Moses is writing from his own position as the leader of Israel, but he is speaking of this future One.
"According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. 17. And the LORD (Moses said) said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. 18. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, (That’s why Jesus had to come from the line of David and from the home of Joseph and Mary as He was born in Bethlehem.) like unto thee and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him."
Come back to Hebrews chapter 3. So, Moses was a faithful servant in everything that God had committed unto him.
"But Christ (See the comparison, over and over. Moses on the one hand and Christ on the other and how Moses just pales by comparison to the role of God the Son) as a son over his own house; (Moses was a servant of the Almighty Creator, so he couldn’t say that this is "my" house. He was merely the servant, but Christ as a Son over His own house, He is the owner! He is the total proprietor of this spiritual house that we are going to be looking at) whose house (Paul says) are we,..." What is the lesson? What kind of a house are we talking about? We are not talking about wood and stone and concrete. We are talking about something Spiritual. We are talking about a house being built in the heavens, for eternity! So as a son over his own house, whose house we are! Let’s pick this up in I Corinthians chapter 3.
Like I have said over and over, I feel the Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Hebrews and he is admonishing the Hebrews with the same basic doctrines that he has given to us. We cannot just separate the book of Hebrews and say well, that has nothing to do with me because that was written to the Hebrews. No, the Book of Hebrews is full of information for us as Gentile Grace Age Believers.
I Corinthians 3:9
"For we are labourers together with God: (See that? We are a part and parcel of God’s building, the rest of the verse says it!) ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building."
We are a part of that which God is building for eternity! And, it is not wood, hay and stubble or gold, silver and precious stones, although those are used as examples of our building materials only to show that as we are laboring in this process of building the building that our labor is set up for rewards. So we are God’s husbandry, we are God’s building, but only in the effect that as a part of this building, we are now contributing to it with our works. Then you come down to verse 12. We taught this clearly when we were in I Corinthians.
I Corinthians 3:12
"Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;"
I always divide those three elements as the first three cannot be touched by fire. If anything fire would enhance it. But, the last three would go up in a puff of smoke! That’s what Paul is saying, that as believers, as we are building in this spiritual building, over which God is the Master and Paul is the contractor, who laid the foundation, which is Christ Jesus, then, as we labor, our works will be manifest! Are we putting in wood, hay and stubble that will disappear in a puff of smoke? Or, are we putting in gold, silver and precious stones? That boils down to several factors, most of which, I think, is motivation.
Why do you do the so-called good works that you do? To get the acclaim of men? Whenever I think of this verse, and Iris has probably heard me tell it a "zillion" times but it says it all! I was teaching in a place one time and we were in a home Bible study and I was pointing out the fact that our good works mean absolutely nothing if the motivation for doing them is wrong! You can do ever so much and if your motivation is wrong it counts but wood, hay and stubble.
This dear young lady was sitting over there. She was a young mother and I’m sure she had her hands full just raising her kids but she was going to contribute pies to their denominational convention, which was coming to her local church in the next couple of weeks. And, she said, "My, am I glad I heard this! I was going to try to bake 25 apple pies for our convention just to prove that I could bake more than anybody else in church!" Then she said, "It would count for nothing, wouldn’t it?" That’s right! Nothing!
Why? The motivation is wrong! Now, if she was going to bake these pies to bring glory to the Lord! Yeah, it would count for glory! And, this is the way we have to look at what we say, think or do. Why? Why are we doing it? Why do you give? If you give just so you can impress somebody how much you have given. I have to go back to my childhood, but I can remember when the treasurer of our church at the end of the year would read off the contributions of all the various church members. What was the motivation for his doing that? To get people to give! After all, it would sound awful if you only had a record of giving $5.00!
But, you see, if all you are going to give for is to impress your fellow church members, forget it! It’s going to be nothing but wood, hay and stubble! It will go up in a puff of smoke! If you give to whatever it is, your church or anything else, and you are doing it to bring God the glory, then yes, it will be gold, silver and precious stones! Everything is based on motivation!
Same way with any other good works that you can do. Why are you doing it? What’s your purpose? And, if your purpose is honorable in bringing glory to the Lord, it is gold, silver and precious stones. If the only reason you are doing it is to impress somebody else, it’s nothing but wood, hay and stubble! Well, I didn’t intend to put that in this lesson, so I guess you got that for free today! But, maybe it will save you some sweat or tears knowing that there is no use doing something if you are only going to do it to impress others.
That’s the building of which we are a part. It counts for nothing unless we are first and foremost based on the salvation around Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Our confession is as it should be, we saw some time ago, then as verse 6 makes it so plain:
"But Christ as a son (or THE Son, the Preeminent One) over his own house; (that He’s building for eternity) whose house are we, (Now, I know that a lot of people like to take a verse like this and say IF we hang on. Well, I don’t think Paul ever uses that kind of language to impart that thinking, that IF we hang on and IF we have done enough. Rather it is a word of warning not to take these things flippantly. These things are graphic. They are important, but we are not going to lose our eternal salvation if we do not measure up to how we are building in this Spiritual house. Nevertheless, we have this admonition that) if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end."
I wish I could have just ended this lesson there and started the next one in verse 7 but I can never preplan these programs that closely, so we are going to have to go in the verse 7 in this lesson. And, it is dealing with that gross time of unbelief in the life of Israel when they failed to go in and take the Promised Land. Scripture refers to it over and over and it is a constant reminder to us today, that there is nothing that God detests more than unbelief! Unbelief! It is awful and I don’t want you to leave this lesson without realizing that it is the worst possible offense against God.
I can bring it into the life of everyone. I have used the example more than once. If you know that you are saying something that is absolute truth. and there is not a hint of anything false about what you have said, how would you feel if somebody would come up and say to your face, "I don’t believe a word of it? You are lying!" Just think for a moment. How would you feel if anybody, I don’t care who it is, after you have said something that you know is absolute truth with no hint of error - doesn’t have to be spiritual, it could be anything. A witness to a car wreck at an intersection. Or it can be anything else that you can think of and you KNOW that you have spoken truth. How would you feel if someone would just come up and call you a liar? If you are human, it’s going to make you almost mad enough to do something drastic! Isn’t that right? Of course it is! Because nobody wants their honor impugned in that way.
Think! When the God of Glory, the God of Creation, the God Who knows nothing BUT Truth has said something in His Word and puny men come along and say, "I don’t believe it." Do you think God’s going to take that lightly? I know that His Grace is greater than all sin, don’t get me wrong. But, this whole idea of the rest of this chapter is to impress on us how God detests unbelief! Let’s go back and read Hebrews chapter 3, verse 7 on down.
"Wherefore ( as the Holy Ghost (Spirit) saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, (If we are going to hear what God says, what is He going to expect? He expects us to believe it! So here is the warning.) 8. Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation (testing) in the wilderness: 9. When your fathers (remember, Paul is addressing Hebrews, so he’s going back to Israel coming out of the land of Egypt around Sinai and getting ready for the Promised Land. So when your fathers tested) tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. 10. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation,..."
Now, let’s go back to see what the Apostle is talking about. Go to Exodus chapter 23 and I am going to assume that most of you have got a pretty good handle on Israel coming out of Egypt under Moses and Aaron. How they went straight to Mt. Sinai. There at Mt. Sinai God gave Moses the Law. The Ten Commandments. Gave him all the instructions for building that beautiful little tabernacle out there in the desert, gold like you wouldn’t believe! And then, after they had received the instructions and had built the tabernacle they are ready to head up to the Promised Land.
Here is a shocking thought! From Sinai to Kadesh-Barnea which was the border of the Promised Land was eleven days. Eleven days. How long did it take Israel to get there? Forty years and eleven days! They had a forty year detour. Why? Unbelief! Isn’t that sad? Just because of their unbelief instead of getting in and enjoying it after eleven days, they had to wait forty years.
Well, here it goes, Exodus chapter 23 verse 20. The Lord is speaking to Moses. This is back when they are encamped around Sinai and in chapter 25 He is going to give the instructions for building the tabernacle, so this is just shortly before they begin the work. God is already telling them what is waiting for them!
"Behold, I send an Angel..."
Now, that is capitalized! So Who is the Angel when it is capitalized? It’s God the Son again! It’s the Lord. The Angel that redeemed me is the way Jacob puts it and there is only one Redeemer in scripture. So, it has to be God the Son! Here is another good example. Who is speaking? God the Son! Who is He going to send? God the Son! You have to remember that all through Scripture, God the Son can speak to God the Father but what are they? They are one and the same so far as all practical purposes are concerned.
The only difference that you have is in Christ’s earthly ministry when He speaks from the flesh and now He addresses or prays to the Father, what makes the difference? Well, now he is speaking from His humanity and indeed He can address God the Father as His Father. But, when he speaks from His position as Deity, then I think it was Martin Luther who came to the tremendous conclusion that it was God speaking to whom? To God!! So, don’t let that throw you - sometimes God the Son speaks concerning Himself.
So, here is another good one. Exodus 23 where God the Son is speaking to Moses and He says I send an Angel:
"...before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared."
What’s He talking about? Canaan! The Promised Land! How long has He been preparing it? Four hundred and thirty years! How do I know? Because that’s what He told Abraham when He called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees. He said, "in 430 years I am going to bring you back to this land." He couldn’t do it any sooner. He couldn’t do it in 300 years or 200, He had to wait the whole 400 years for what purpose? The iniquity of the Canaanites had to be filled full. Then after that 400-year hiatus, the Canaanites had gotten so filthy, rotten, wicked that God could just push them out and let Israel enjoy the works of their 400 years of getting the land ready. I hope you understand that.
It’s the Canaanites who had those grapevines that could grow those clusters of grapes that took two men to hold! The Canaanites did all of that. They had everything ready. I imagine they had some beautiful vineyards. They had some beautiful homes, beautiful pastures and places for cattle. They had it all! But now God is going to take it away from them because of their wickedness. Their iniquity had now hit the full mark. Let’s read on in Exodus.
"Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him." In other words, it is speaking of how they were to respect the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Verse 22.
"But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries."
Israel is God’s earthly people! They enjoy what kind of blessings? Earthly! Here’s a good example. God’s earthly people are being told that their earthly enemies would be driven away and that they could have everything for their own good. How’s God going to do it?
"For mine Angel (He’s speaking of Himself) shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off." God says, I will destroy them! I will move them out! Verse 24 is giving them warning. When you get there, they are going to leave some of their idols behind and some of their high places so He said:
"Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images." Verse 25.
"And ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless they bread, and thy water; (What does that speak of? Material blessings! He’s not promising them eternal blessings in the heavenlies, like we are. They are being told that if they are obedient, they will immediately have material blessings. This is what you have to understand. All the material blessings that were common to Israel have no validity for us because we are not an earthly people. We are a heavenly people! I wish I could get that through people’s heads!) and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee." Now, what is that? That’s material blessing!
"There shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren, in they land; the number of thy days I will fulfil."
Lesson Three • Part IV
The Evil Heart of Unbelief
I know many of you, as you join with us, feel that you’re right back there in the audience someplace. I remember when we first started all this several years ago, as we were talking to the channel 47 personnel here in Tulsa, and I said, "I’ll come on television (it was their idea, not mine) if I can have a classroom setting like I’m used to teaching in - if we can have tables and chairs, chalkboard, and a music stand to teach from." Well they agreed to all that, and that’s where we first got the idea that we wanted a classroom setting, and you’d be surprised at how many people comment that that’s what they like about our program. It’s just like an old college classroom where they can sit with their textbook, and make notes and so forth.
Now let’s get back into Hebrews chapter 3, where we ran out of time in our last program, and we’ll begin with verse 7.
"Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice. 8. Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9. When your fathers (now remember, Paul is writing to Hebrews so he’s referring all the way back to the forefathers of Israel) tempted (or tested is a better word) me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. 10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. 11. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) (Now we have to take the next verse to pick up God’s number one controversy with the human race as well as Israel, as I pointed out in the last program, so he says) 12. Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief,…"
Now he doesn’t mention any of the other sins of the flesh, but rather unbelief! Oh that’s what God hates more than anything, is a lack of faith. So looking at that last verse again:
"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, (and when there is no faith, then it’s an easy step to do what?) in departing from the living God."
You’ve heard me say it on the program over the last several years, as you come back to Exodus chapter 23, "What is America’s number one problem?" It’s not politics, or economics, but rather it’s spiritual. We’ve lost our faith! As a nation of people we no longer have any respect for the absolutes of this Book, and we’re suffering the consequences. Restore America back to the faith of our fathers, and most of our problems will disappear. But they will not because they will not believe what God says. Well here is the lesson for us now from Israel’s experience going into the Promised Land.
Now during break time, I just drew a make shift map of Israel and a lot of people think that the Promised Land is just this little neck between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan Valley. Well, nothing could be further from the truth, and we’ll be seeing that in a little bit. But the Israelites came from down here at Mount Sinai in the Arabian desert, and came up to Kadesh, and yes, this is where they were going to go first, was up through the fertile area of what we presently call the land of Israel or secularizing it, it’s the land of Palestine. But the Promised Land was everything from the river of Egypt, around the Mediterranean, past Mount Herman, and all the way to the Euphrates River, clear out to the gulf of Persia, and back around to the Red Sea, and back over to the river of Egypt. Now that’s the Promised Land, not this that they have today.
I was just reading a book the other day, and do you know, according to the Bellfore Agreement of 1918 when Great Britain first agreed to give Israel a home land, all of this is about what they had drawn out. I mean just about all of this, but not quite, but you see it wasn’t very long until they started having second thoughts, so they pulled all that away and made Jordan, and then they gave Israel what we now presently think of as the land of Israel. But listen, the Promised Land is that whole middle east out to the Euphrates River, and I’ll show you that in Scripture in just a little bit. Now coming into Exodus chapter 23, and verse 25.
"And ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless thy bread and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee. 26. (and here we come with all the material and earthly blessings) There shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren, in thy land: the number of thy days I will fulfil. 27. I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee." In other words, what does that mean? Hey, their enemies are going to run. They’ll be running out ahead of them. Now verse 28. God says:
"And I will send hornets before thee,…"
Now listen, I don’t care if the Canaanites were twelve feet tall, could they withstand a hive of hornets? No way, I don’t care how big they were. God said, "I’ll send hornets and just drive them out!" Can you picture it? And God meant business, He said, "This is what I’ll do. I’ll drive them out and you won’t even have to lift a sword. All you’ve got to do is walk in behind them and settle down." Now let’s read on.
"And I will send hornets before thee which will drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee. 29. I will not drive them out from before thee in one year;…" In other words I’m not going to drive them out so fast that you can’t pick up taking care of their vineyards and orchards and so forth. We’ll go slow enough that you can take over and cultivate, and keep everything going.
"…lest the beast of the field multiply against thee. 30. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land." (my what a promise God made. Now here come their boundaries) 31. And I will set thy bounds from the Red Sea (which is down here on the south remember) even unto the sea of the Philistines, (which is the Mediterranean) and from the desert unto the river: (which is the great river Euphrates) for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hands; and thou shalt drive them out before thee." Now with all this goodness being spread before them, here’s the admonition in verse 32.
"Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. 33. They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee."
Now let’s go to the Book of Deuteronomy for a moment, and Deuteronomy is sort of a book review, where Moses recaps everything that has happened. I always have a hard time deciding where to jump in because this is all good. If you would like to have an interesting evening of reading just read the Book of Deuteronomy. It is one portion of Scripture that is almost like a story, and not hard to understand. So let’s just jump in at verse 2, because here is where I was referring to in our last lesson. It was just an eleven day journey from Mount Sinai to Kadesh - I mean just 11 days. Then they could have started taking the Promised Land, could have occupied it and could have had all the goodness of it. But like I pointed out before, instead of 11 days, how long was it until Joshua brought them in across the Jordan River? 40 years! So they stretched 11 days into 40 years because of unbelief.
"(There are eleven days’ journey from Horeb (Mount Sinai) by the way of Mount Seir unto Kadesh-barnea." Do you see how plain that is? You don’t have to be a seminary graduate to understand that. Eleven days from Mt. Sinai to Kadesh. Now verse 3.
"And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD has given him in commandment unto them; 4. After he had slain Sihon the king of the Amorites, which dwelt in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, which dwelt at Astaroth in Edrei: 5. On this side (east) Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare this law, (or this Book of Deuteronomy) saying," Now look what he says:
"The LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, (at Mount Sinai after they had received their instructions for the tabernacle) saying, ye have dwelt long enough in this mount: 7. Turn you, and take your journey, and go to the mount of the Amorites, and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the plain, in the hills, and in the vale, and in the south, and by the sea side, to the land of the Canaanites, and unto Lebanon, (which is up toward Mount Herman on my map) unto the great river, the river Euphrates."
See I don’t want someone to say, "Well, where do you get it that the Euphrates River is the east boundary?" See, that’s what the Scriptures say over and over. It’s the Euphrates River that would be their boundary and then down to the Red Sea and over to the Sea of the Philistines. Now let’s just compare before we go any further here in Deuteronomy, to the Scripture back in Genesis chapter 15. I don’t want you to think, "Well Moses was just being real normal, and all of a sudden his ambition got the best of him, so he concocted the idea that they could have the whole Middle East." No, this is what God deeded to them here in Genesis 15, and let’s begin with verse 18.
"In the same day (that God came down and fulfilled a title deed with Abraham) the LORD made a covenant with Abram, (Abraham) saying, Unto thy seed (his offspring, his generations down the road) have I given this land, (we’re not talking about something spiritual, bur rather good old physical earth) from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the River Euphrates:"
Do you see how plain that is? There’s no argument about that. God has given them everything from the River of Egypt, and I don’t think it’s the Nile. I think there was another river east of the Nile that sort of disappeared over time - but whatever, it was the River of Egypt all along the Mediterranean, up to the River Euphrates, and back to the Red Sea. But I wanted you to see that this is what God Himself deeded to Abraham. Now come on back with me to Deuteronomy and verse 8.
"Behold, I have set the land before you: (the Promised Land God has prepared through the sweat and tears of the Canaanites) go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them."
Do you see that? Now for sake of time I’m going to have to bring you all the way up to verse 18. Now I want you to see what Moses is showing, that when the children of Israel left Mount Sinai with everything set to go into and occupy the land, that they now had the Levitical priesthood set up and had the tabernacle built with all of the floor plan that followed up later in the temple. Everything was now ready for God’s covenant people to enter into a place of bliss, joy, and no bloodshed. As long as they were obedient, God would bless them, and my, it was as promised, the Promised Land, and everything was waiting for them. Now read on in verse 18.
"And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do." Remember they’re under Law, and Law says, "Do this and I’ll bless you, do that, and I’ll bless you." Don’t do this and don’t do that was the Law! And so Moses rehearses all that. Now verse 19.
"And when we departed from Horeb, (Mount Sinai) we went through all that great, and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadesh-barnea." Now I wish everybody could just be familiar with that term. Kadesh-barnea was the gateway to the Promised Land, and God brought them up there in that eleven day journey and set them there, and said, "Go in and take it, it’s ready for you. You won’t have to raise a sword, you won’t have to worry about losing a single young man, because I’ll drive them out with hornets."
"And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the LORD our God doth give unto us. 21. Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy father hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged."
Now stop a moment and think. What did neither God or Moses tell the children of Israel? What did He not tell them? He didn’t say a word about sending in the twelve spies! Did He? No. God or Moses hadn’t said a word about sending spies to see if they can do it. But rather He said, "Take my word for it, and go in and take the land. There won’t be one item of opposition, just go take it." But what does unbelief say? "Oh but wait a minute, aren’t you even going to let us check it out, and see if we can make it? You see that’s unbelief, but that exactly what Israel did, and that’s where God’s anger began.
Now God agreed to it, and condescended, and said, "Ok, if that will make it easier for you, I’ll let you pick one man out of each of the twelve tribes and you can send them in and spy out the land." That was the biggest mistake that Israel ever made! Why? Because the majority report came back 10 – 2 and said what? We can’t do it. Now what did I say years and years ago on this program? When it comes to the things of the Spirit, the majority are usually wrong! You can just mark that up, because the majority is usually wrong. Just look at Christendom today, as for the majority of their people they have become a works religion, and don’t tell me that makes them right. So the 12 spies go in and search out the land, and Moses says in verse 22:
"And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come." But what had God said? "It’s all yours!" But what did Israel say? "How?" Isn’t that ridiculous? But you see this is unbelief at work, and so the first step down in unbelief was, "Okay let’s spy out the land first, and then we’ll go and take it." No, you see unbelief is a downhill slide on a banana peel, and it is almost irrevocable, and this is a good example. Now let’s read on in verse 23, and here you are going to see one of Moses’ weak points. Moses should have been able to stand up to these people and said, "Now look, our God has said it’s ours for the taking, we’re not to put spies in there." But Moses condescended and agreed and said:
"And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe: 24. And they turned and went up into the mountain, and came unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out. 25. And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands,…"
Now the first thing I imagine for anybody who has been to Israel, especially until the last few years, would say, "What in the world was God thinking, when He told Israel they could have the land flowing with milk and honey?" It almost looks like something that anyone would be glad to run away from. Now, today we’re seeing the land of Israel blossoming like a rose. But, when Iris and I went for the first time in 1975, we said, "What in the world did God think when He said that He would give them this Promised Land?" It was a barren wilderness!
In fact, Mark Twain reported in the 1860’s that it was absolutely barren and uninhabitable. He said, "We drove for miles and never saw a living creature, and we went up to Jerusalem, and it was just a heartache and despair, because there was nothing there." Now that was Mark Twain and he wouldn’t lie. But back when God showed it to Israel, it was a variable garden flowing indeed with milk and honey! Now read on.
"And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God doth give us. 26. Notwithstanding ye would not go up, (remember Moses is rehearsing all this) but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God:" They rebelled! "28a. And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. 28. Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven;…"
Now that was a lie, but what would they rather believe, the truth or a lie? Well, the lie, and it’s the same way today. That’s what Paul means in Romans when he says, "All these things are written for our learning." See, you won’t find the plan of salvation back here, but you will find a gold mine of learning. And what’s the example? The world hasn’t changed one little bit. They’ll flock to the lie by the millions, but you hold up the truth and they’ll scorn it every time. They’ll scorn it, and many of you have experienced it. You try to bring truth into your Sunday School class, and they’ll just about kick it out the back door. Now, not all, but a lot of them will, and that’s exactly the way it’s always been.
So here’s Israel with the truth of God in front of them, but they would rather believe the lie of ten men. I mean it’s enough to make you weep, but that’s the human race. Now, let’s just keep going with verse 29.
"Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them. 30. The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;"
Now for goodness sake, what happened in Egypt? Well, the plagues. And God put a line around Goshen, an invisible line that the flies didn’t penetrate, and with the exception of the first few plagues, none of them touched Israel. When the death angel flew over, with the blood on the door post, not a Jew lost his life. Not a one! So Moses is saying, "The same God that brought you out of Egypt by opening the Red Sea - and if He could open the Red Sea, He could certainly drive out Canaanites. But they just couldn’t believe it, and isn’t it so sad? I mean it’s enough to just break your heart if you really get into it.
Then they stand there in abject unbelief and say, "No God, you don’t mean what you tell us. When you talk to us, you lie." That’s basically what they’re saying, see? Now verse 31.
"And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place." What’s he talking about there? He provided water out of the rock, He provided the daily manna, their shoes and clothes didn’t wear out, and everything was provided by God. And with that we’ll have to stop with verse 32.
"Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God,"
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