Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 2 * BOOK 13
WHO GOES INTO THE KINGDOM
Let’s turn to I Corinthians Chapter 15. We have now been teaching for nearly twenty five years now and have started our fourth year on television. I’ve always given the illustration of Peter when the Lord was trying to lead him up to the house of Cornelius in Acts Chapter 10. I always use the analogy that Peter left his heel prints in the sand all the way from Joppa to Caesarea. In other words, he really didn’t want to go, but the Lord forced the issue. Well, that’s the way I was about going on television. I certainly didn’t think that I was television caliber, and I still sometimes wonder, but the Lord kept pushing and pushing and even though I left heel prints, yet here we are.
I remember several years ago a gentleman was leaving our class in McAlester, Oklahoma, and he said, “Les why in the world aren’t you reaching more people then just the 40 or 50 people that come to your classes.” I told him this is all that I ever expected, and I have always been content to teach small groups. I have even told people who try to help enlarge a class not to worry about numbers. I’m not hung up on numbers, I would rather have 15 people that are hungry and want to learn, than have a thousand people who want to be merely entertained. And that is still how I feel. We don’t know for sure just how large our television audience is, but whether it be large or small we just trust we can teach the Book in such a way that you can enjoy it, like you never have before.
Last lesson we were talking about the two resurrections. We have the resurrection of the just which will happen before the reign and rule of Christ, and the resurrection of the unjust which will come after the thousand year reign and rule of Christ. But right now we are talking about the resurrection of all the believers, from the very onset of Adam back in Genesis up until the very end of the Tribulation. So before we go back to the firstfruits in Leviticus, let’s look again at the Resurrection Chapter in I Corinthians and read these verses we looked at last lesson:
I Corinthians 15:20-22
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits (plural) of them that slept (or died).” For since by man (Adam) came death, by man (Christ) came also the resurrection of the dead.” For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (the Power of God will resurrect the believer, and also later will resurrect the lost).”
I Corinthians 15:23
“But every man (here Paul is dealing with the believer) in his own order (and that word `order,’ is a military term speaking of a company, or battalion, or organization): Christ the firstfruits; afterward (not simultaneously, but at a later time) they that are Christ’s at his coming.”
That is the group that Paul is most concerned with. And that is the Church Age. The Grace Age Believers, The Body of Christ. You and I as believers.
I Corinthians 15:24
“Then cometh the end,…” Now we know that will be after the Tribulation.
Go back to Leviticus Chapter 23 where we left off in our last lesson. The Nation of Israel is receiving instruction of the laws, and the feast days. The Jews still celebrate these feast days even today. Maybe under a little different setting but they still have these feast days. The first one was the Feast of Passover, then Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the third one is the Feast of the Firstfruits. The Feast of Firstfruits came about the time of barley harvest. Barley was the small grain that would ripen first and be the earliest in the spring.
“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest:”
There again the word is plural. I know we are living in a nation that is more urban than rural, but I think we still have enough rural background in most of us that we understand a little bit about small grains such as wheat, barley, oats, and so forth. When that beautiful green field is approaching the ripening stage you get a tinge of gold and yellow. And you know the crop is approaching maturity. Then all of a sudden in that sea of green you will see a gold stem with the heads being just as bright gold as they can be. And you will see several of them that are ripe scattered in that green field. The rest of the crop is still a few days away from harvest. The Jew was to go into that grain field, pluck those ripe stems until he had a multitude and could make a sheaf. Then he would take that sheaf, and present it to the priest as a wave offering.
Everything that is sown in the Old Testament comes to its fruition in the New Testament. So what we have here is not just a picture of a grain harvest, but of a spiritual harvest. Remember when Jesus was in His earthly ministry, He used this analogy to His disciples. He told them, “Look out unto the fields, they are white unto harvest.” He wasn’t talking about wheat or barley. He was talking about mankind. Mankind was ready for a harvesting of a spiritual sort. So now you can begin to tie the two together. Here we have a gathering of these ripening stems of individual barley, not the whole field. Yet there was enough they could make a sheaf of it. Now keep that thought in mind and come back with us to the Book of Matthew Chapter 27.
I remember when I first came to Oklahoma and was teaching. I hadn’t been here very long, and a dear old saint came and asked me this question. He said, “Les, what are these people who came out of the grave when Christ was on the Cross.” I told him I had never heard of such a thing. He said, “The Bible says they did.” And I said, “While He was on the Cross?” And the gentleman said, “Yes.” I wouldn’t doubt that he will watch this program, and remember he asked that question. But you see that is so typical of the average Bible reader. We read, and yet we don’t really read. Here is where he got that idea:
“Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.” So here Christ is indeed on the Cross.
“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,”
That is as far as he had read. And if that is where you stop, what’s your impression? It happened while He was on the Cross. But you see he hadn’t read far enough. Now let’s look at the next verse.
“And came out of the graves after his resurrection,…”
Now the casual reader probably won’t catch that. They didn’t come out while He was on the Cross, but after He had been resurrected Himself. Because you see, Christ had to be the very first. He is the first to have ever been resurrected. Then in order to make that sheaf analogy come to the full, what had to happen? There had to be other examples of resurrection, and so, evidently, some of these Jewish believers were resurrected from some of the cemeteries around Jerusalem. They came into the city and appeared to probably some of their friends and relatives. The Scripture is silent and so we have to assume that Christ in His resurrected body ascended into heaven, then these saints did also. These saints were not like Lazarus, because they didn’t die again. They have been given immortality. That makes them “The sheaf of the firstfruits.” That’s the beginning of the first resurrection.
Now let’s look at Leviticus in Chapter 19. Keep this harvest analogy in your mind. The Lord says, “The fields are white unto harvest, but the laborer are few.” Now imagine a forty acre field, and they have taken out the firstfruits of the grain as we read about in the Book of Leviticus Chapter 23. Christ has been resurrected from the dead. Those that came out of the grave after His Resurrection, they now make up the firstfruits of the spiritual.
“And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly (or completely) reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.” Why? Because there is a physical need as we will see in verse 10:
:And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.”
But although there was a physical need, the spiritual analogy is, that after the firstfruits have been taken out, then the main field would be harvested with the exception of the corners, and a few gleanings, stems that were left lying on the ground. So this main harvest represents about 98% of the total harvest. Now with your concept of history, all the way up through the Old Testament, without putting an exact number on it, how many believers do you think there were? Precious few, because you want to remember the Gentile world had no knowledge of salvation. And even in the Nation of Israel, there were very few who were true believers. You remember how many of them would follow Baal, and would worship other pagan gods. So even in Israel there were relatively few true believers. Now when you come on this side of the Cross, with the advent of Christianity and the Church Age, what have you had? There has been your main harvest. During the last 2000 years God has garnered the greatest percentage of His total harvest.
Look at the Book of Daniel for a moment. The main harvest would be the Church. And when I speak of the Church I’m talking about the Body of Christ that the Apostle Paul refers to. It doesn’t matter what your denominational handle is, as long as you are in the Body of Christ, you will be included in this main harvest. Remember we still have the corners left, and we still have the gleanings. So there is a third aspect of resurrection that is still future. Daniel 12:11:
“And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away (that’s the mid-point of the Tribulation, which is 1260 days into the Tribulation, and 1260 days to the end of the Tribulation), and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and (not sixty but) ninety days (1290 days).” Now we have an extra 30 days.
“Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days (1335 days).”
Now we have another 45 days added to the 30 days. For a total of 75 extra days between the return of Christ and the end of the Tribulation. Now look at the next verse:
“But go thou thy way (the Lord is speaking) till the end be (this extra 75 days as well as the Tribulation): for thou shall rest, (in the grave) and stand in thy lot (remember the word `lot’ is almost identical to the word `order’ in the New Testament, and it’s a military term for organization, or company) at the end of the days.”
So what do you have? 1. We have Christ and the firstfruits back at the time of His Resurrection. 2. Then you have the 1900 + years of the Church Age (where believers will be resurrected one day soon in what we call the Rapture). 3. Then you will have a multitude of people who will be saved during the Tribulation period. But they won’t be in number like the Church Age. They are likened to the corners and the gleanings. So I like to feel that Daniel and the Old Testament saints, and the Tribulation saints will equal the corners and gleanings.
By the time you have the sampling (firstfruits) and the main harvest, and your gleaners have come in and cleaned up the corners, and the spare stems that are left, what do you have?The First Resurrection. The field has has been swept clean. Now have I made that plain? I hope so. All the believers of all the ages, from Adam to the end of the Tribulation. Now I would like for you to come back with me to The Book of Revelation again:
“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection:… but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
Now the question came up in our last coffee break. That in verse 4, it sounds like just Tribulation people will reign and rule with Christ, and I was glad that someone caught that. Because that is probably true, but again you have to take Scripture with Scripture, and you can’t make a doctrine, or identify anything with just one verse. Come back to Revelation Chapter 5, and here we have a verse that I would say includes all of us believers in verse 10.
“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and (what) we (an all inclusive word) shall reign on the earth (with Christ).” We can also look at Chapter 19 verse 7:
“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb (remember the Lamb is to married to the Body of Christ) is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.”
“And to her was granted that she (the Body of Christ, the Church) should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”
Go over to verse 14 in this same Chapter. Here we are now included in this army that is coming with Christ at His Second Coming.
“And the armies (Heavenly congregation) which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”
Now can you tie all of that together? Not only are the Tribulation saints going to be included in that reigning and ruling with Christ for a thousand years but we are also included. Since we are talking about the Church Age believer in the Kingdom as this Kingdom will come on earth, come back to the Book of Colossians. Now Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles does not dwell a lot on the Kingdom, not nearly as much as the Old Testament does, and the Gospels as they pertain to Israel. But nevertheless we are involved in the Kingdom. Don’t think for a moment that we won’t be. In Colossians Chapter 1 (and again I’m going to run out of time in the middle of a subject). But if the Lord tarries there will be another lesson, and if He doesn’t, we won’t need it. Here in this passage Paul has been praying for the Colossi Gentile believers.
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet (or prepared us) to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath (past tense) translated us (you and I as believers) into (what?) the kingdom of his dear Son:”
We are already members of the Kingdom. But always remember, where is the Kingdom tonight? In heaven, in the Person of Christ. When He was on the earth John the Baptist approached Jesus and what did He say? “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Why? Because the King was at hand. So when the King went back to glory, then the Kingdom is again in heaven (and we don’t refer to Him as the King in the Church Age, but as Savior and Lord.) But always remember the Kingdom won’t stay in heaven, but will come back to the earth, and Paul says, “We will be with Him. Part and Parcel of that Kingdom.” So we are indeed a part of this coming Kingdom, which will then be on the earth.