Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 27
ISRAEL IN THE WILDERNESS
It’s been a long time since I’ve put our timeline on the board, and sort of reviewed it, and for those of you who have been with us all the way from the Book of Genesis this will be old hat and a review for you. But I think for the benefit of our new listeners we’ll just run by the timeline again, and show you where we’ve come from since we’ve started in Genesis. On the timeline I like to start with the creation of Adam, and remember all these dates are approximate because I don’t set these things in concrete, but as near as chronology can ascertain, we find Adam coming on the scene in approximately 4004 B.C. then Noah’s Flood was the next big event in Genesis Chapter 6 & 7, and that was about 1600 years after Adam, or about 2400 B.C.
And then there was another 200 years after the flood, or about 2200 B.C. when that whole new generation of folks, from Noah’s son’s offspring, come together at the Tower of Babel. And from the Tower of Babel until the call of Abram (Abraham) in 2000 B.C. in the city of Ur in Babylon, God promised him with the Abrahamic Covenant that out of him would come a nation of people. And through that little nation of people God is going to consummate His whole plan of redemption. Then about 500 years later we find Israel a nation, they have come out of Egypt under Moses, and they have received the Law, and that would be about 1500 B.C.
Then we have this whole period from Abraham until Christ comes in His earthly ministry where God is dealing mainly with the nation of Israel. There are exceptions of course, where He deals with Gentiles, but very few. And then once the Law comes in and they get the tabernacle, and the Temple then the whole make-up of our Old Testament is Israel under the Law, with the priesthood, and the Temple worship and all that. That was interspersed with the Babylonian captivity in 606 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem. Then about 70 years later God made commandments through Cyrus the king of Persia to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple, and that was under the leadership of Ezra. So Ezra rebuilds the Temple, and a little remnant of Jews come back from Babylon, and begin to set the stage for the nation of Israel at the coming of Christ. Then a few years after Ezra had rebuilt the Temple, another Syrian king, by the name of Artaxerxes, gave commandment to Nehemiah to go back to Jerusalem, and rebuild the city wall, because you know a city wouldn’t last long without the protection of a wall. So Nehemiah and some more of the Jews that came back with him then began to rebuild the wall.
Then we know from Daniel Chapter 9:24 that there would be 490 years of God’s time table prophetically upon and fulfilled in the nation of Israel. This prophecy began from the date of the command for Nehemiah to go back and rebuild the wall. Then we also know from history and the dating of it, that from the time of that decree until Christ was crucified (Daniel 9:26) the prophecy had only included 483 years rather than the 490 that was prophesied. Which means that when God left off dealing with the nation of Israel early in the Book of Acts, the 7 years of that prophecy had not yet been accomplished, and so then Bible scholars began to realize that these 7 years were somewhere out in the future. We don’t know when but we know that we’ve already come almost 2000 years and we feel we’re getting close to that 7-year-period of time that we call the Tribulation, which belongs to that 490 years prophesied in Daniel.
Now we know that Israel rejected the Christ. Peter and the eleven continued to preach to the men of Israel in the Book of Acts. Some believed that Jesus was the Messiah, but for the most part the nation of Israel would not believe that Jesus was the Christ. And finally God saw that Israel was not going to believe and receive her King, so He raised up another little Jew, the Apostle Paul, and the first thing He made known was that He was going to send that man to the Gentiles. And of course from there that opened up the Age of Grace, the Church Age, and Paul immediately goes to Jews first, and then to the Gentiles. I feel that from the time that Paul started ministering to the Gentiles with The Gospel of Grace, as found in I Corinthians 15:1-4, we have this undetermined period of time, we don’t know how long it will last, we only know that the Church Age has now come 1900 + years. And we know that the Church will have to be taken out of the way as we see in I Thessalonians 4:13-18 so that the 7-year-period of Tribulation can kick in, and God can pick up again where He left off with the nation of Israel, because that all belongs back in the prophetic program. Now then after the Tribulation, Christ will return, set up His Kingdom, and we who are Raptured will come back with Him, I think, to rule and reign with Him.
But back here in the Church Age is where we are now studying the writings of Paul chronologically. Paul does most of his ministry among the Gentiles, and establishing the Churches from about 40 A.D. until he ends up a prisoner in Rome in about 65 A. D. And in that period of time he not only establishes all these Churches throughout Asia Minor, and Greece, and Antioch in Syria, but from about 58 A.D. Paul starts writing his letters. Because the Churches have been established, and now they need doctrine, they need correction, they need instruction, and so the Holy Spirit is behind it all, and He begins to prompt the Apostle Paul to write these various letters. And in this letter of I Corinthians we find Paul dealing with the problems in this local Church. They had evidently written to him, and asked questions of how to deal with these different problems. And to show you what I mean just come back a few pages to Chapter 7, and here he makes it so obvious that he is writing this letter in response to their inquiry.
I Corinthians 7:1a
“Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me;…”
So all these things that he’s been covering now were in response to the congregation’s questions. And all their questions were resting on problems, and remember this Corinthian Church was the most carnal, and the least spiritual of all the Churches that Paul had anything to do with. Just compare the Corinthian letters to, say for example, Ephesians, Philippians, or Colossians, and it makes all the difference in the world. So we have to understand the setting. In fact, in all my years of teaching I’ve used various portions of I Corinthians, but I had never taught it verse by verse, and naturally now as I’m teaching it on television, I’m learning as much as you are. There is so much in here that I had just passed over, and thought that it wasn’t important, but it’s like T-Bone steak, spiritually! So I trust that you will continue to feed from this little letter even as we have.
Now getting back to our timeline, I want you to understand that we’re in the Church Age, The Body of Christ, waiting until the Body is complete. We’ve explained that in earlier programs, that when the last person is saved, and the Body is complete, then The Lord will come and deliver us from this old sin-cursed world, and we’ll be moving on into the eternal state. Now in I Corinthians Chapter 9, Paul is again having to defend his apostleship to these carnal believers at Corinth who are in a city of abject idolatry, horrible immorality, and with that kind of a background they have come out as believers. But naturally there is still that draw to go back into that old lifestyle, so consequently as Paul writes he has to constantly defend his apostleship and he tells these believers at Corinth that they are proof of his apostleship. They having been saved out of abject paganism as a result of his preaching are proof enough that he was an apostle. Now let’s start with verse 19, and here Paul makes some kind of hard to comprehend statements.
I Corinthians 9:19
“For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.”
Now you see Paul had only driving desire and motivation, and what was that? To see lost people saved. He didn’t care about material things, or comfort; all he wanted was lost people saved. Now reading verse 20. And this wasn’t always easy for Paul.
I Corinthians 9:20
“And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, (remember back in the Book of Acts when he has been decrying Law, and legalism, and Temple worship, yet what does the man do? He takes a Jewish vow and goes back to the Temple in Jerusalem to fulfill it. Well this is hard to understand and put together when the very thing that he’d been preaching against, he’s now practicing. In this verse is the answer to why he would do such a thing. He did all this in the hope) that I might gain the Jews; (spiritually) to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;”
And I think there he’s probably referring to the more religious element of Judaism. Now even today in the nation of Israel, I’m almost afraid that the Jews will end up in civil war themselves because of the tremendous confrontations between the Jewish secular community (who have no time for the things of God, and nothing in the area of faith), and then on the other hand you have your Orthodox Jews who are so wrapped up in Judaism that they even lose touch with reality. I think it’s the same way here. Paul had to approach the Jews that were not steeped in their religion and also approach those who were under the Law, and were practicing it. Remember how I made comment a few weeks ago that when we speak of the Law of Judaism at the time of Christ and of Paul, it wasn’t the pure Law of Moses’s day. This thing had been so watered down with man-made ideas that the Law of Paul in Christ’s days was a whole set of over 600 rules and regulations. That was the Law that the Jews really attained to – the laws that the Rabbis had put together studying the various aspects of the Old Testament. So Paul says but to those who are under the Law, I became under the Law. Now, he says, in verse 21.
I Corinthians 9:21
“To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without Law to God, but under the Law to Christ.)…..”
In other words, Paul never forsook the morality of the Law of God. He never went down and said, “Well I’m free from the Law and I can do as I please, so far as moral things are concerned.” No way! Now verse 22:
I Corinthians 9:22
“To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, (for what purpose?) that I might by all means save some.”
He knew he wouldn’t gain the whole world. But if he could just win some. Now those of you who have contacted missionaries, just as we have had contact with missionaries over the years and there’s one thing that every missionary learns real fast when they get into a foreign field. They have to live like the people amongst whom they are working. They cannot just all of a sudden come in and live with western culture and habits and food. They would never reach anybody. But they have to go into that foreign culture and begin to eat their foreign food.
I’ll never forget when we had a missionary friend who brought back a tremendous movie that he had made himself. This was way back in the time of the old 8 mm movie, I think. But he was on a mission field in Indonesia among pretty much uncivilized people. The favorite food for those kids there that was equal to any American candy bar, was a big black beetle. And boy, those kids would chomp into that beetle and then they’d give the missionary one. You can imagine what that would do to a poor American. But he said if you wanted to gain them, you had to eat that beetle just as well as those kids did. And there were some things even more gross, but I won’t pass them on because somebody in television may be having lunch while we’re doing this. Nevertheless, this is the idea of mission work. You have to step in to the very same mold that those people are that you’re trying to reach. And it began with Paul. So Paul says whenever he came to people who were spiritually weak, he understood their weakness. He didn’t come in like some spiritual giant coming down on them and ridiculing them and criticizing them. He understood where they were. And regardless of what their status in life, Paul would identify and try to be on an equal footing with them. Now verse 23.
I Corinthians 9:23
“And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.” All Paul had on his heart, was to see lost people saved. And then down to verse 24. He’s almost shifting gears as he comes in to almost a whole different train of thought.
I Corinthians 9:24
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.”
Now you remember Paul must have been a fan of the Olympics, because he refers to them so often in his writings for analogies, and that’s what he’s referring to here. When they had the Olympic ring, in Corinth it was the Isnian Games. They were the second greatest games in the Roman world after the Olympics. So, now he’s coming back to this whole concept of the Olympic Races. When these men raced, what are they running for? Just for the fun of it? No! To win! To be number 1! And so he says you do the same. You run your spiritual race that you may obtain. Not Salvation. He’s been referring to the carnal Corinthians all the way since Chapter 1 as believers, as brethren. So he’s not talking about running to gain their Salvation, but to gain rewards. Now read on.
I Corinthians 9:25a
“And every man that striveth for the mastery…”
Now he’s talking about the Olympic contestants, and when they trained in order to win the race, did they go clear over board and just eat, eat, eat, because it took energy to run? No. On the other hand did they starve their bodies so they wouldn’t have to carry so much weight to the finish line? No. So what was the whole idea? Temperance! I wrote someone just the other day about being temperate in all things. The word temperate means in any area of life you maintain a balance. You don’t go clear off either end, but base everything on The Word of God, and then you maintain a balance. Looking at verse 25 again, we find Paul saying that these runners train temperately in all of their intake of food and drink to enhance their body strength.
I Corinthians 9:25
“And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to to obtain a corruptible crown; (a reward) but we an incorruptible.”
Paul says that we are running the spiritual race not for a crown of leaves and vines as these runners did, but we run for an incorruptible crown. One that will last for all eternity.
I Corinthians 9:26
“I therefore so run, not as uncertainly;…”
I’m not going to run not really knowing what I’m after. Because Paul knew what the prize was as he teaches us in the Book of Philippines.
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” And what was the purpose? That he might win the prize. Now finishing verse 26:
I Corinthians 9:26
“I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:’
Paul says that he’s not going to just beat the air, he’s not going to shadow box, but rather he is going to train himself spiritually to run this race of life that he might win the prize. Let’s finish the chapter with verse 27. I might add that this last verse has been so misconstrued because of the term in the King James.
I Corinthians 9:27
“But I keep under my body, (Paul is going to keep everything under control) and bring it into subjection: (so that I can run the spiritual race) lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
Now that doesn’t mean that he would lose his Salvation, but it goes back to a term in the potter’s house. If a potter would work a beautiful work on the wheel (we’ll say it was a beautiful vase; and it was supposed to contain a liquid), but after finishing it and painting it beautifully the potter discovered a fine crack in it where it wouldn’t hold water. Then, rather than just pitching the vase in the trash, the potter would sit this beautiful vase on the shelf for sale only as an ornament type vase. Now the term “a castaway” was too good to throw away, but it was no longer of any workable use. Now this is what Paul is talking about. You can’t lose your Salvation if you ever had it, but oh that we might work and maintain our testimony so that we won’t be put on the shelf as no longer usable, even though we may have all the outward appearance of being believers, but that we might also be functional. That we can do that which The Lord saved us to do.