Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 15
CHRIST’S EARTHLY MINISTRY
When I teach the Four Gospels, I don’t go through them verse by verse. It’s not all repetition but, as we go through the Book of Matthew, we will cover most of the other three Gospels. We are trying to cover the overall theme of God dealing with the human race from Genesis to Revelations in our “Through the Bible” study. I trust you’ll get your Bible and study with us. Let’s begin in Chapter 6 at what we call the “Lord’s Prayer.” I don’t particularly like that title, because it’s not the “Lord’s” Prayer; it’s really the “disciples” prayer. The Lord merely gives it to them as an example to use. The real Lord’s Prayer is in John Chapter 17. That’s where the Lord pours out His heart to the Father on behalf again of His chosen ones and the Eleven in particular. But here Jesus is instructing the disciples how to pray:
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”
The Jew here is still under Temple worship and Law. This is a pattern; this doesn’t mean you have to open every prayer with these exact words, but it does give us an indication that, as we approach the throne room, even in this Age of Grace, we still give God His due. We still recognize Him as the Almighty. He is our heavenly Father, and so we can certainly benefit from this. Now verse 10:
“Thy kingdom come (where?). Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
I imagine the average believer or church goer voices these words not having the foggiest notion of what they are really talking about. But every time the Lord’s Prayer is uttered, “Thy kingdom come…in earth, as it is in heaven,” what are they really requesting? It’s the Kingdom that we have been talking about that has been promised ever since Abraham. This Kingdom over which Christ is offering Himself as King (and it’s going to be here on the earth) is in Heaven tonight. but this Kingdom’s coming back to earth at Christ’s Second Coming. Most people have the idea that when this old earth passes away and time as we know is no more, we will go up to Heaven. That flies in the face of Scripture. Heaven’s going to come down on earth. Let’s show this is by going back into The Book. Turn to Isaiah Chapter 11. The Old Testament is full of verses like these. Here we have such graphic descriptions of this Kingdom on earth that the Twelve were instructed to pray for, and over which Christ will one day reign and rule.
“AND there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse (the family tree of Christ. Jesse is the father of David. Out of David comes this Branch. Christ is referred to as a Branch in several other places in the Old Testament), and a branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him (this coming Messiah, the King), the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge (or rule) after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:”
We need to explain this verse. We don’t expect the President in the White House to have his finger on every segment of our lives. It would be impossible. What we do expect him to do is pick out good men who can cover various areas of our system, and report intelligently to the President. He has to have help like that. But when Christ comes to rule He won’t need advisors. That’s what this verse says. He won’t have to judge what He sees or hears. He will be so absolute in His power and authority, and yet benevolent.
“But with righteousness shall he (rule) judge (absolute fairness, no one is going to get a raw deal) the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth:…”
People like to talk about the poor and meek, as in the Beatitudes we find in the Sermon on the Mount. The Beatitudes become the very constitution of this Kingdom that is going to come and about which we are reading here. The Beatitudes don’t fit the Church Age but rather were presented for the Kingdom economy. They will fit perfectly in that economy. Continuing on with verse 4:
“…and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth (the closing days of the Tribulation), and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” No unbelievers will go into His Kingdom. “And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.”
Now we come to the Animal Kingdom within the Kingdom. People want to know if there will be pets there. Not just pets as you and I think of them, but rather every animal will be a pet of sorts. The curse will be gone, so that means fear of each other will be gone. Animals won’t be meat eaters as they were before sin entered.
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together (who is in the midst of them?); and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed (together); their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp (a very poisonous snake) and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain (Kingdom): for the earth (not Heaven) shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”
These verses here in Isaiah are what the Lord’s prayer is instructing to pray for! Isn’t that what the world is looking for, a world of utopia, peace, prosperity and peaceful living between all the various groups and races? That will never happen until the Prince of Peace comes. One of our faithful class members asked me, “Why are we instructed to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (found in Psalm 122:6)?” That city has never had any peace. When you pray for the peace of Jerusalem you are praying for the Prince of Peace to come. He will bring peace, and bring this horrible age of the curse to an end. There’s the Kingdom as the prophet Isaiah writes.
Let’s look at Ezekiel Chapter 37 regarding the Kingdom. In this chapter we find the “dry bones.” We have made reference to them in earlier lessons, but again, this is a prophecy that is unique to the Nation of Israel. The dry bones are the Israelites or the Jews out in the Gentile nations, which is really their grave. They don’t have a life when they are out of the Land of Promise. In the first ten verses, Ezekiel prophesied that the dry bones would finally come to life (and they really did in 1948 when Israel became a nation once again). And then the interpretation of it begins in verse 11:
“Then he (The LORD) said unto me, `Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel (that is what the vision is about. The Jew): behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.'” They have been out of the land thousands of years, and almost without hope.
“Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; `Behold, O my people (Israel), I will open your graves (release them from these Gentile Nations), and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.'” Hasn’t that been happening now for almost 50 years? “And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live (that hasn’t happened yet, but it’s getting ready), and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.'”
Then He tells the prophet to take two sticks and put them end to end. One stick stands for the northern Kingdom; the other for the southern. They were a divided nation, but when the prophet does this, the nation will become one stick, no longer divided.
“And say unto them, `Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen (Gentiles), whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land (that’s God speaking, and we are seeing that happen tonight). And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God,”
When will they be God’s people again? When this Kingdom comes down out of Heaven, over which Christ is going to be King. Israel will be the head of the nations, although the other nations will be there, but in a lesser role than the Covenant people. Also remember, only believers will be there. Let’s look at one more verse in the Book of Zechariah Chapter 14. This is at Christ’s Second Coming:
“And his (Christ’s) feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives,…”
Can it be any clearer than that? You don’t have to try and spiritualize that as some do. It means exactly what it says. I think of a dear gentleman who teaches almost identically to the way I teach. I was invited to a church where he was speaking, and he told about when he was young and active in a particular denomination. This denomination did not agree that there would be a Second Coming and the Kingdom. He remembered going into his pastor’s study one day and showing the pastor Zechariah 14:4. He asked the pastor, `What does this mean?” The pastor answered, “Oh, that doesn’t mean what it says.” This gentleman told me he was too young to raise any argument. About four or five years later he had another pastor. This verse kept coming up and bothering him so he took it into that pastor also. He said to him, “Now, pastor the way it looks to me, Jesus is actually going to return and stand on the mount of Olives.” The preacher looked him in the eye and said, “Oh, forget that. That’s apocalypse.” That was a big word for a theologian, and it impressed him and he left because he didn’t know what the pastor was talking about. Today, he knows better. Zechariah 14:4 means what it says. Christ is going to return and stand on the mount of Olives! Now verse 9 and this is so plain. It hasn’t happened yet. But it’s going to:
“And the LORD shall be king over all the (what?) earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.”
Before we return to the Lord’s Prayer in Chapter 6 of Matthew (and this is under the Law as Jesus is teaching), never lose sight of the fact that the doctrine of the Lord’s prayer is legal. I am amazed how many people right here in the Bible belt have no concept of the difference between Law and Grace. But there is as much difference between those two as there is between pitch midnight and noon-day sun. Let’s look briefly at what Paul says in Roman 6:
“For sin (or the old Adamic nature) shall not have dominion over you: (it’s not going to rule over you like a sovereign king) for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What should that tell you? There are two totally different concepts.
“What then? shall we sin (in other words, exercise our liberty), because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”
See the difference? We are under Grace, not Law. The Book of Galatians is written to prove that very point – that under Grace, the Law has no power over us. Now that doesn’t give us license to do as we please. God will chasten the believer who does that. But we are under a different principle the Law. Back to the Lord’s Prayer and I’ll show you the difference between Law (or legalism) and Grace.
I read an article where a man who was held hostage was released. This person was a very religious man. He claimed it was his belief in God that had brought him through this terrible ordeal. A reporter asked this man if he was bitter toward those people who had tortured him. The man said, “No, because I believe I have to forgive them or I will never be forgiven by God.” Now isn’t that sad. It sounds good and noble. And that is what the Law demanded.
“Give us this day our daily bread (this is an appropriate request for any age), And forgive us our debts (or our trespasses or sins as some will put it. When?), as we forgive our debtors,”
As we forgive those who sin against us. Most people don’t really understand what Jesus is saying. Under Law you could not be forgiven until you had forgiven the other person.That was what the Law demanded. This is exactly what this ex-hostage was talking about. He said, “I must forgive them if I want forgiveness.” THAT IS LAW! But we are not under Law, we are under Grace. What does Grace say? Turn to Ephesians Chapter 4 for the answer. The Apostle of Grace is writing here. He said in Romans Chapter 6 we are not under Law, but under Grace. Now look at what Grace says:
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath (past tense) forgiven you.”
In other words, whether I forgave my neighbor or not, what has God done for me? He forgave me! If God was gracious enough to forgive me when I was as a sinner condemned, then who am I to say that I can’t forgive the other person. Do you see the difference between the two? Instead of begrudgingly saying, “I forgive so I can be forgiven,” I recognize that I amforgiven already! Now, one more verse in Colossians Chapter 2. In future studies you will see that we are not under Law as Christ ministered to Israel, but rather under Grace, which makes a world of difference. Paul always writes to believers, not to the unsaved, so to us he says:
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, (Gentiles), hath (past tense) he quickened (made us alive) together with him, having (past tense) forgiven you all trespasses;”
If God could do that for me, can I do any less for my neighbor? Now that is the teaching between Law and Grace.