Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 15
Now to continue our studies in the Four Gospels. People have shared with us that they just happened to run across our informal television class setting and stopped. We know the reason they stopped is because of the Holy Spirit. This is the way a lot of our audience has started watching and has become part of this ministry. They have finally gotten the opportunity to really read and study their Bibles for the very first time. And for the first time many of them can see what The Book really says and doesn’t say. Too many times we sit and let someone else tell us what it says, without checking it out, or having these people reference what they are saying. We need to see if what they are saying is directed to you and I, the Body of Christ (the Church), in this Age of Grace.
Turn to Matthew Chapter 23. We have more or less been taking an overview, and pointing out that in Christ’s earthly ministry there is nothing of the Body of Christ the Church in the Four Gospels. There is no Church language in here. This is all Christ dealing under the Law, with the Jew under the Law. I like to point out that Christ constantly is making us aware that they are under the Law. There is not a word said that the Nation of Israel and the Jew don’t have to keep the Law any longer. That they no longer must do Temple worship, or keep the Ten Commandments, or be separate from the Gentiles. In fact, the Law is never taken away from them, even to the end of Acts when they go into the dispersion in 70 A.D. And when the Nation of Israel comes back on the scene in the Book of Revelation, she will still be under the Law as we saw in our study on prophecy. A good example is when Jesus healed the lepers. What did He tell them to do? “Go present yourselves to the priest.” Because that’s what the Law demanded. And then the priest could give them permission to come back into society.
When the young rich ruler approached Jesus, and said, “What must I do to inherit eternal life.” What was Jesus’ answer? “Keep the commandments.” See, it was all under Law. Even in the early chapters of Acts, where were all the Twelve apostles still meeting for prayer, etc.? – at the Temple. No one has told them they are not under the Law. Why didn’t Peter want to go to Cornelius’ house in Acts Chapter 10? It was forbidden under the Law for a Jew to go to the home of a Gentile (in this case the Holy Spirit gave permission, so that fifteen years later Peter could defend Paul in Acts Chapter 15). You don’t find them going to any other Gentile, and it states that in Acts 11:19. They went to Jew only. The Law was never taken from them. But in our Age of Grace, Paul tells us, you and I, that we are under Grace and not Law.
A gentleman called this morning and told me that he had never really gotten much out of his Bible, because he never saw that what was written and spoken to the Jew was primarily for the Jew, and what has been written to us Gentiles is primarily for us. And I couldn’t have said it better. What a difference that makes. Here again in Matthew 23, the language is so explicit there can be no argument. And in verse 37, Jesus is speaking in the area of the Temple, where Gentiles couldn’t go. In the previous two chapters He’s addressing the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the Herodians, and He’s pointing out their gross misgivings and their wrongdoings (although they thought they were so religious). Passover is approaching and a great crowd has gathered, so Jews are coming in from all over the then-known world. The Temple is beginning to feel the effects of it. In that atmosphere verse 37 says:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem (in reality Jesus is speaking to the Jews here), thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together , even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”
America has been in a culture where we no longer see these hens sneak off and put together a clutch of eggs and hatch them, and someday come out with their little brood. I can still remember that as a kid on the farm. Once in awhile an old hen would get away with that, and mom wouldn’t find her eggs, and then one day here she came with about 15 little chicks. And just by the old hens clucking she could keep pretty good control over all those chicks.
An incident like this happened when I was about 6 years old. A big storm came up suddenly and dad and I ran to house. As this storm began to blow and the rain came down, this old mother hen got on the leeward side of a big tree and gathered all her chicks, except one, under her wings. As we watched out the window that one little chick got rolled over in the wind and rain and drowned. But the rest were safe under that old hen. Every time I see this verse, I can’t help but picture that incident. That when the storm blew, those little chicks were safe and secure. And Jesus uses that analog; that this is what He wanted to do with Israel.
All through their 2000 years of history up until this time He had more or less been clucking over them. He had been watching and protecting them, supplying all their needs in miraculous ways. But like the one little chick I was referring to, Israel wouldn’t listen. And they came under all of their judgments and adversity simply because they wouldn’t heed His voice and be obedient. Here again, God had sent the Son in fulfillment of all these Old Testament promises. They could have the King and the Kingdom, and Salvation, redemption, and forgiveness if they would just recognize who Jesus was and believe. But instead, what was their response? Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? I have pointed out often, instead of coming into Jerusalem on a big prancing white Arabian steed, which is the way most emperors in that day road, He came on a lowly colt of a donkey. And it confounded them. Nevertheless, the offer was there that He was their King and was ready to give them the Kingdom if they would just believe. But He said in verse 37 “ye would not!”
There is one aspect in all of this that I know is hard to comprehend. That is that God in His sovereignty is in control of everything, and yet He never takes away the free will of men and nations. Now those two concepts are hard to bring together. But they are so true. The best way I can explain it in my own mind is that, before He ever created anything, the Godhead could look down through the ages of time and know exactly what every person and nation would do. We call that foreknowledge. Now with foreknowledge, He could also plan for any alternative. Because He knew what would happen. And yet He never took away that free will of mankind. But remember, His offers were valid. And the same way with the Nation of Israel. Israel had absolute freedom to accept Him and have the King and Kingdom and all those Old Testament promises, but they also had the free will to reject Him. This is what they are doing. It doesn’t throw God a curve, because He knows what they are going to do.
Let’s look at an amazing verse in Acts 2. I didn’t get the impact of it until a couple of years ago. I’m sure that’s the way a lot of Scripture is to many of us. We read it but we really don’t get the impact of it. In this verse we have Peter on the day of Pentecost. He is addressing this great crowd of Jews in the Temple complex in Jerusalem.
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words: 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, “Him (This Jesus), being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:”
Now what does the determinate counsel of God mean? The only way I can look at it is that the Trinity, the Triune God, Three Persons yet One, consulted within this Godhead before anything was ever created. They agreed within the Trinity, knowing everything that would take place: that fallen man would need a Redeemer, and salvation would be that Second Person of the Trinity Who would step down from the invisible Godhead, take on flesh, and go the way of the finished work of the Cross for man’s redemption. Now all of that was foreknown and consummated in the thought-process of the Trinity. When I teach this, I don’t imply that the Three sat down around a table and talked about which One would do what, as men would do. But within the Trinity of the Godhead, whether it was a split second or whatever, all three Persons of the Godhead had agreed that this is the way it would be done. And that’s exactly what this verse means, “…by the determinate counsel.” Now let’s return to Matthew Chapter 23.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Then the next verse says:
“Behold, your house (the Temple) is left unto you desolate.”
Notice He says “your house.” When the Nation first started out, God would call them “My people.” But after they became stiff necked, disobedient, and rebellious, He calls them “thy people” to Moses. And He does the same thing here at the Temple. As Jesus is now approaching the end of His ministry, and it’s obvious that Israel is not accepting Him, He refers to the Temple as “your house.” For a quick reference let’s look at John Chapter 2 on how Christ’s attitude toward the Nation of Israel is showing their response to Him.
“And said unto them that sold doves. `Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house (the Temple of God) an house of merchandise.'”
See the difference? Here it was still the Temple of God. In Matthew 23:38 the nation had sunk so low that He called it “your temple.”
“For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say (watch the language for this is a future event), `Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.'” Were they saying that now? They said, “away with Him.” But He is saying that the day is coming when they will say, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” And that will be at His Second Coming.
Now there are three distinct “until’s” and this is the first one. He would be disappearing from view shortly but they would see Him at some future day. The second one is in Luke where again He uses that same term “until.” He is foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Roman armies in 70 A.D. He knows everything before it ever happens. Jesus is speaking:
“And they (the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the Jews) shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations (that’s the main clue because there they will not be led away captive during the Tribulation and Armageddon. They were for the last time in 70 A.D.): and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until (that word “until” means there will be a time factor, and at a certain time in the future, the next event will come on the scene) the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
Then there is coming a time when Jerusalem will be delivered from that overlordship of the Gentiles, and we are getting close tonight. Now the third one I like to refer to is in Romans Chapter 11. This is the chapter where Paul deals with Israel’s future – how that one day she will be grafted in again.
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery (the word “mystery” is unique to Paul’s writings, and refers to the secret that has been kept in the mind of God since the foundation of the world. These secrets of the Church were revealed only to Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. And so here is another one of these mysteries. While God has been calling out the Gentile Body of Christ, the Church, for the past 1900 + years, Israel has been in a spiritual blindness), lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part (not forever, but a segment of time) is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”
What is the fullness of the Gentiles? The Body of Christ, the Church. So when the Body is finally filled, and the last person has been saved, and the Church is removed in the Rapture just before the Tribulation is to begin, then God will again pick up with the Nation of Israel and their spiritual blindness will be removed. Those are the three until’s that Jesus referred to, and these prophecies are still valid, Two of them will be fulfilled when Christ returns at His Second Coming and the one we saw in Romans will end when the Church is removed. Let’s look at Chapter 24. We will be covering this Chapter for a lesson or two. We covered these verses when we taught the Book of Revelation. Remember though, that repetition is the mother of learning. This chapter is prophecy, it’s all future, and deals with the seven years of Tribulation that will come on the earth. Jesus is speaking of the future. Prophecy is always connected to the Nation of Israel, from Abraham all the way through the Old Testament, and it is telling what will happen. Here again in Chapter 24 is exactly what Jesus is going to talk about, things that will happen to the Nation of Israel at some future point.
“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.” This was probably across from the Mount of Olives, which is not very far from the Temple complex.
“And Jesus said unto them, `See ye not all these things (of the Temple complex)? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.'”
When King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple he used fire, because it was built primarily of beautiful cedar wood. But the Romans, when this prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A. D., almost completely dismantled the whole thing stone by stone. There are legends on why these soldiers did this, and one of them is that they had heard there were tons of gold hidden between the building blocks. So in order to go after that gold they took it down block by block. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it made a good story and got the job done. Anyway, Jesus said that this building they were looking at would be laid low stone by stone, and it surely was. We will pick up with this chapter in the next lesson.