Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 2 * BOOK 25
GOD HAS NOT CHANGED HIS MIND
Let’s start where we left off in Romans Chapter 11 verse 25. What we want you to do is to become a student of the Word. But most people judge it without ever looking at it. I’ve often asked people, “Have you ever made comment about a book of fiction that you never read? Do you ever tell somebody that that book is not worth reading?” The answer is usually, “Well, No.” I say, “Then why do you do it to this Book, because it’s still a book.” And all that we ask is before people begin to criticize it and scoff at it that they take some time and study it. Let’s turn to Romans Chapter 11 and we will look at the next part of verse 25.
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel,…”
Now that’s the core of this particular part of the mystery. This is something that nowhere else in Scripture has ever been, revealed that the nation of Israel would be sovereignly,judiciously blinded by God for a long period of time, which of course has been 1900 years. Now we know the Old Testament certainly warned Israel that if they were disobedient that God would chastise them. He would bring in their enemies and so on and so forth. But I can think of nowhere in the Scripture where God actually told Israel that a day would come when they would be spiritually blinded. We get a little brief preview back in Acts Chapter 13 beginning at verse 6. Now just for a little background, Paul now is beginning his missionary journey among the Gentiles. The church at Antioch is going to send him and Barnabas out. Now when they came to the island of Paphos:
“And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a [what?] Jew, [now remember the island of Paphos is primarily Gentile and no doubt under Roman dominion] whose name was Barjesus. Which was with the deputy [governor] of the country, [who was a Roman] Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. [he wasn’t any dummy and for some reason or another, he called for Paul and Barnabas because he had some spiritual interest and questions.] But Elymas the sorcerer [this Jew] (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, [in other words he did everything he could to keep that Roman deputy from hearing the word of God from the lips of the Apostle Paul] seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. [As a result of this Jew’s imposing opposition,] Then Saul, (who is also called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost [in other words he didn’t do it just as a human reaction in anger or anything like that] set his eyes on him. [this Jew, this sorcerer] And said `O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease [or stop] to pervert the right ways of the Lord?’ [in other words, Are you not going to stop hindering the gospel from going to a Gentile? And evidently the answer was no because you go right into the next verse] And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee,[Paul didn’t do anything but turn it over into God’s hands] and thou shalt be blind, [physically blind,] not seeing the sun [not for the rest of his life but for what?] for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.”
Now you know what I think that is? That is a preview of what the Nation of Israel would do from that point on. Because you see everywhere that Paul went he would normally first go to the Jews in their synagogues, and when they rejected his message these Jews would then stir up trouble when Paul would turn to the Gentiles. So the Jews became his chief opposition, and they opposed Christianity left and right, and then as we saw back in Romans Chapter 11, and verse 7, they were blinded. This is exactly what God did to the nation as a whole, just like Paul did to Elymas the sorcerer:
“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election (the believers) hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.”
Who blinded them? God did, and He set a spiritual blindness on the nation that is holding until this very day. But it’s not going to last forever, because one day that blindness is going to fall from the nation’s eyes, and God will once again pick up where He left off with them. Now let’s come back and continue our study about this mystery given to Paul in Romans 11:25. Nothing in Scripture foretold that there would be a long 1900 + period of time that Israel would be spiritually blinded as we have seen them be. But now let’s see when the Scripture says that will be. Looking at the last part of verse 25 again we find:
“…that blindness in part (not forever) is happened to Israel, until…”
Now those of you who have heard me teach for a long time know that “until” is a time word. I shocked one of my classes a couple of weeks ago. They all know that I’ve always taught that there is no way we can know the day, month or year that The Lord is coming for the Church. It’s an eminent return, but we never set dates. Then I just shocked that class when I said, you’re all wondering when the Church is going to be raptured. Well I’m going to tell you exactly when it will be raptured, and some thought that I had gone out into left field. When is the Church going to be raptured? When the last person has been saved and completes the “Body.” Now I don’t know what day, month, and year that will be, but that is the“until.” Israel is going to remain blinded “until.” The rest of the verse reads:
“…that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”
Now what’s the fulness of the Gentiles? The Body of Christ. Those are the only Gentiles that God is filling and filling and filling, and He’s bringing them in. Now we need to turn to the Book of Acts again Chapter 15 for a reference. And of course here in this chapter is the big controversy between Peter and the eleven down at Jerusalem. The Apostle Paul is dealing with the Gentiles up at Antioch, and telling them that they were having Salvation apart from Judaism, without circumcision, without commanding them to keep the Law. So they’ve brought Paul and Barnabas all the way up to Jerusalem, and are really trying to settle the matter. “Are you not going to stop teaching these Gentiles that they can be saved without keeping the Law?” If you doubt me, come on up to verse 5 of Chapter 15 in Acts.
“But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed (they were part and parcel of that Jewish congregation at Jerusalem) saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, (that is the Gentile believers up there at Antioch) and to command them to keep the Law of Moses.”
Paul said there’s no way that’s going to be part of my message. And so there was a confrontation, a big argument. As we studied the Book of Acts several months ago, Peter finally came to Paul’s defense, remembering a long time ago. How long ago? About 14 years back, that he had gone to the house of Cornelius. And he had witnessed that God would save a Gentile without ascribing to Judaism, without repentance and water baptism. They were saved even before Peter got that far. Now Peter wakes up here in Acts 15 which is a long time after that.
“And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, `Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, (that is from among the Jewish believers) that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.'”
Now after Peter goes through all his explanation, you come down to verse 12:
“Then all the multitude (that is of these Jewish believers there at Jerusalem) kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. And after they had held their peace, (they finally settled down and listened to some common sense approach to all of this) James (who was moderating the meeting) answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon (or Peter) hath declared how God at the first (that would be at the house of Cornelius) did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them (the Gentiles) a people for his name.”
Now what is that? The Church, which is his Body. So for the last 1900+ years now the Church is being formed mainly by Gentiles who are being called out from among what they are, pagans or whatever, and becoming members of the body of Christ. Now as we’ve already seen then, as soon as that began, the Jews got envious and began to oppose it everywhere that Paul went. And God put a blindness upon the Nation. Remember, I’m always teaching and always reminding people, God deals with the Jew on two levels: National and personal. Now when he blinds them nationally, that does not take away the personal opportunity for Salvation. So don’t ever think that God’s being unfair. A Jew still has every opportunity for Salvation that we do, but it’s on a personal basis and not on a national. So God is now calling out Gentiles as a people for His name, which is what we refer to now from Paul’s epistles, as the Church which is His Body, the Body of Christ.
Now I’d like to use this analogy. I had just read an article, written by a physiologist, or he might have been an embryologist. He dealt with the fetus in the womb. And of course I’m not going to tell you anything you don’t know, but I think it’s such a beautiful analogy. At the beginning of pregnancy, that mother’s body immediately begins to put all kinds of different cells into exactly the right place. And by the time that 9-month period is over, that little fetus has got all of his little fingers, fingernails, the eyes and everything now complete. And isn’t it amazing, as this author pointed out, that the body rarely makes a mistake by making one finger much longer than it should be or making toes longer. But everything stops its cell-making process at exactly the right time. And when it’s all completed and that little baby is complete and the cell-making process stops, then what? Delivery!
Now the Church is the same way. God has been adding individual believers from all around the world; Chinese, Japanese, Russians, Burmans, French, British, Americans, Canadians, whatever. Believers are coming into the Body one at a time. But isn’t it amazing, just like the fetus in the mother’s womb, one day the Body of Christ is finally going to have the last person in place. We don’t know where it will be, but one day the last person is going to be put into the Body of Christ – It’s complete. Now what’s God going to do? He’s going to deliver it from it’s confines here on earth and we’re going to Raptured out, as we saw in our last program, and that then becomes the “until” of Romans 11:25. Because you see, as soon as God has completed His work with the Gentile Body of Christ, where is He going to turn to? The Jew! Now of course, the Jew is going to have to go through those seven years of Tribulation before he enjoys all the blessings of Christ’s return.
But nevertheless, we know from II Thessalonians Chapter 2, that as soon as the Church is gone, the Anti-christ is going to make his appearance and the world is going to go into that seven years, which is predominately the time that God starts dealing with Israel. And so that’s when their blindness is going to fall away. As soon as the Church is gone and the Tribulation begins. Now at the same time, since we have the times or fulness of the Gentiles here in Romans 11, go back with me to Luke 21 and we have the other side of the coin, so far as Gentiles are concerned. And this of course is the unbelieving element. Now the fulness of the Gentiles here in Romans are the Church-Age believers, but Luke 21 speaks of another group of Gentiles who will be the unbelievers. The unsaved world of Gentiledom. Let’s look at verse 23 and Jesus is speaking.
“But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people.”
Now he is speaking in Palestine, he’s speaking to Jews, and so this is where all of this is going to take place, isn’t it? But he’s not talking about the end-time, He’s talking about 70 A.D. here. He’s talking about Titus’ great invasion and destruction of the temple. We pick that up now in verse 24.
“And they (the Jews of Jerusalem) shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: (now there’s the clue that this is 70 A.D. and not the last of the Tribulation, because at the end of the Tribulation the Jews are not going to be led captive into all the nations. They’re going to just survive until their Messiah appears. But here they were and we know they were. They were emptied out of the land and they were dispersed into every nation on the face of the earth.) and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, (what’s the next word?) until (there’s your time word. How long is Jerusalem going to be under the boot of the Gentile armies?) the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled.”
Now what are we talking about? Beginning way back here in 606 B.C., way back at Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of Jerusalem, is the first time that Jerusalem falls under the complete control of a Gentile empire, Babylon. All the way up through human history. All the way to the time of the Cross and at that time it was the Romans. And even as you come on into modern history, Israel has been under the control of various Gentile nations; the Moors, the Turks, and lastly before Israel finally made her independence, was Great Britain, under mandate. Britain was in charge of the Nation of Israel. Now of course, they’ve had a semblance of sovereignty, but for the most part, Israel is under the heavy hand of the U.N. or all the other nations and so forth.
And so they have been under the control of Gentiles ever since 606 B.C. and they will be until Christ returns at His Second Coming. Right now, running sort of parallel to that (not totally, but at least since the onset of the Church Age, which of course would be sometime between 30 and 40 A.D., when the Church, the Body of Christ, had its beginning). For the last 1900+ years the Church has been accumulating, they’ve been brought into the Body, and it will be filled and Christ will take it out at what we call the Rapture. The Rapture will take place 7 years before the Second Coming. Here’s what I want all of you to see, and even those out in television, that the Rapture will take place just before the Tribulation. All the way back here, we’ve had the out-calling of the Gentiles into the Body of Christ, which is the Church. It will end with the Rapture. These two processes, the times of the Gentiles, during which Jerusalem is under Gentile control, is going to end at the Second Coming. The fulness of the Gentiles will end at the Rapture. Have you got that?
All the way since 606 B.C., what has the Gentile world been doing with regard to the God of this Book, progressively? Well, more and more rebellion. More and more accumulating wickedness. I’ve been showing my classes here in Oklahoma that many of the writers of the so called New Age religions, began their authoring of books in the late 1800’s. After the return of the century, more came out. But the average church person never even heard about it. Very few people read their books and so forth. But they’ve been out there. And now, of course, it’s beginning to snowball. Now with the advent of all this New Age religion, remember it’s pagan, and they may talk a good line, but their basic behavior is anti-Christian, anti-God, it’s wickedness in one way or another. Now, you remember when God told Abraham in the Abrahamic Covenant there in Genesis, that He would make of him a great nation? You remember one of the first prophecies in your Bible is that God told Abraham that his offspring would end up in a land that was not theirs and that they would be there in slavery for 400 years? And then he gave the reason why the children of Abraham would have to stay out of the land of Canaan. And what was it? The iniquity of those Canaanites was not yet full. In other words, God gave the Canaanite people 400 years to straighten up their act. But instead, what did they do? They went deeper and deeper into wickedness. And so, when Joshua finally came across the Jordan River, what did God tell Joshua and the children of Israel to do with the Canaanites? Destroy them! Don’t spare a one! Why? Because they had gone down so far.
The Gentile world is fast approaching the same place. Now I read just as much as anybody, I guess, of the media and so forth. But there’s nothing that the press likes to ridicule more than the outpouring of God’s wrath. They just think that’s totally ridiculous, that there is no such thing as God intervening in human history in pouring out His wrath. Well, I’ve got news for them. God is patient tonight, He’s gracious, He’s kind. He’s letting man just take his own way. But listen, there’s a day coming because this “until” is still in Scripture. And when this “until” happens, when the times of the Gentiles will have run their course, in will come that last 7 years of Tribulation with the horrors of it. You and I can’t begin to imagine what the last 3 and 1/2 of those 7 years are going to be. It is beyond human description, but it’s coming. But you see these two parallel Gentile groups, you have the outcalling of the Church here in Romans 11:25, which is the fulness of the Gentiles. That obedient group of Gentiles who have believed The Gospel. (Ref: I Corinthians 15:1-4) Running concurrent with it ever since 606 B.C. you have the times of ungodly Gentiledom. And all you have to do is look at human history. What have they brought on the world? Misery, war, famine, disease, despair. That’s been their lot and it’s going to culminate in those final 7 years. The last 3 1/2 will end the Gentile domination of the city of Jerusalem, when Christ returns.
I was just writing a little article for our newsletter about praying for the peace of Jerusalem, as Psalms instructs us.
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.” When you pray for that you pray for The Lord’s return.