Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 47
The Coming Glorious Earthly Kingdom
We pray as we teach that the Word will be opened up where you can understand it. The Letters Iris and I enjoy the most are those that tell us that, for the first time in your life, you’re understanding the Bible, you’re reading it, studying it, and enjoying it, and that’s all we can ask. We don’t claim to be the only one that is right, but we certainly attempt to stay with the Scriptures and compare Scripture with Scripture.
Now back to our teaching in the Book of Hebrews. The last time we taped, all four of our programs came from Hebrews 2:3 and hopefully today we’re going to make a little more headway. We’re going to start with verse 4. Again I’m going back up to the very first word of chapter 3, because you see this question carries right on through to the end of verse 4. The question is all the way through verses 3 and 4.
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which (modifying the word salvation) at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, (a reference back to His earthly ministry) and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;” In other words, not only just the Twelve, but there were other witnesses to His resurrection and teachings. Now continuing on with the question, “How shall we escape.”
“God also bearing them witness, (those who had heard the Lord during His earthly ministry) both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?”
And there’s your question mark at the end of that verse. So these whole two verses are tied to the word “How.” How shall we neglect, and all of this confirms that we have no reason to neglect so great a salvation, and that’s the way we have to look at it. How can we neglect something that has been so meticulously, so miraculously, revealed to the human race? See, I think this is where the Lord has blessed even our teaching ministry, that we are making these things so understandable that we’re not just throwing stuff out there expecting people to believe it, but the Scripture meticulously, intrinsically puts it all together. Now verse 4, and the last half of the question.
“God also bearing them witness, (those who heard the Lord during His earthly ministry in particular) both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?”
Now, there are only two places that I’m aware of where all three of these words are used in one verse. This is one of them and the other one is back in Acts chapter 2, and we’ll look at that one a little later.
Now these three words in the Greek, and this is probably a good time to use our chalk board, the first word is “semeion” in the Greek, and is usually translated and should be translated “signs,” and signs were given to the Nation of Israel to teach them something in particular. That was the whole idea of these miraculous signs.
Then the next one in the Greek is “teras,” which was translated “wonders.” These were the wonders we’ve heard of so often in Christ’s earthly ministry, and these were given to have an effect on the Nation of Israel, the Jewish people.
Then the third one was “dunamis” from which we get our English word, Dynamo, out of which we get a generator, and “dynamos” was for the sake of power, and it, too, was to bring about the work, or as is translated so often, “the miracles.” Maybe I should put it the other way around, but whatever, the miracles and works were to show the manifest power of God.
Now these three words were used throughout the New Testament, and especially the Four Gospels. But in two verses they’re always used together, here in Hebrews and then in Acts chapter 2. Now in Acts chapter 2, I think they’re reversed in their order, but it’s the same thing. So as we come through our study in this half hour, we’re going to be looking at how, during Christ’s earthly ministry, He gave signs, which were to teach a particular lesson to the Nation of Israel.
But let’s get one thing straight. Whether it’s signs or wonders or miracles, they are all miracles. But not all miracles are signs. Not all miracles were necessarily wonders in order to have an effect on the Jewish people, but they all played a particular role and, consequently, this is why we have three different words.Otherwise they could have just used one word, and said, miracles.
But as we’re going to see a little later in the half hour, when we come to the signs, especially in John’s gospel, they taught a particular truth to the Jewish people that the Lord expected them to understand. So let’s come back for a minute to Matthew chapter 9 verse 35, and pick up just a little bit of this miraculous working of Christ during His earthly ministry. And, as I’ve stressed over the years that I’ve been teaching, what was the basic purpose of Jesus performing miracle after miracle after miracle. To prove Who He was! That was the whole idea. The Messiah had been promised ever since Genesis, and the prophets foretold of His coming. But in order for them to understand He was the promised Messiah from the Old Testament covenants and promises, He performed miracle after miracle. But the various categories of miracles had different effects upon the Nation of Israel and, consequently, they’re divided. The signs were given to teach, the wonders were to have an effect, and his other miraculous works were to show that He was exercising the power of God.
Now it takes a little while to sift all of that through, but hopefully before we get to the end of the half hour, you’ll see what I’m trying to say. In Matthew chapter 9, and verse 35, this is more or less at the beginning of His earthly ministry we find:
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and (not just one now and then, but) every disease among the people.”
Now that was part and parcel of His earthly ministry. Now come on over a little further in Matthew to chapter 15, and drop down to verse 29. And this was just commonplace in those three years of His earthly ministry. Here it is:
“And Jesus departed from thence, (from the borders of Tyre and Sidon, back in verse 21) and came nigh unto the Sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. 30. And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were (now look at this) lame, blind, dumb, (unable to speak) maimed, (crippled) and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them:” He healed everyone, not just some of them. Now verse 31. What was the effect? Well here it is:
“Insomuch that the multitude wondered,…” He’s got them thinking. You know I was thinking last night as I was putting some of my thoughts together, what I attempt to do when I sometimes may say things that you don’t hear constantly, or traditionally, is to shock people into thinking. People don’t have to go necessarily by what I say, but just think about it and search the Scriptures. Mull these things over, and not just take it blase and say, “Well, I’ve heard the Word this week, and that’s all I need.” Our churches are full of people who merely go to fill an hour of worship.
In fact I read an alarming statistic in one of the religious news magazine that I get, and it was a poll that was taken by a Christian poll taker that said about 80% of the congregations really had no solid commitment. And, if I remember right, I think the pastors that were interviewed more or less came to the same conclusion, that it was hard to keep people to maintain their membership over a period of years. They come in and they go, they come in and they go, and I think it’s all part and parcel of the time in which we live, but you see when the Lord Jesus performed these miracles, it was to make people sit up and take notice of Who He was. He wasn’t just another prophet, He was One Who had power and could perform these miracles without any of them ever failing.
Now with that, we’ll go to John’s gospel chapter 4, and in John’s gospel I always like to point out the fact that there are miracles, and they are all “semeion (signs).” The word in the original Greek, in all of John’s gospel, all 8 of them are this word here, “semeion.” And even though the King James and some of the others translate it as miracles and so forth, it really should have always been, these 8 signs. So let’s begin in John 4:46. Until now, I hadn’t even decided where we were going to start in this passage. I think I was just going to use one verse, but we’ll also use a few more. Now this is the second sign already in John’s gospel, the first one of course is when He turned the water into wine in chapter 2.
“So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.” Now if you know your geography of Israel, you know Capernaum sits right on the north edge of the Sea of Galilee. It’s a beautiful, gorgeous city, and even the remains are beautiful, let alone what it must have been like in Christ’s day. So Christ goes up to Capernaum, and now verse 47:
“When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. (now verse 48. There’s more here than meets the eye. Look what Jesus said) 48. Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.”
Now that’s what Jesus told them. You see, I think we’ve got some reasoning to do here. You want to remember that at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry there is as yet no New Testament written. The only thing that they had was the Old Testament, so they didn’t have the advantage that we’ve got. See, we’ve got the advantage of having a whole New Testament now in front of us but they didn’t. Now that may be part of it, as I’m trying to cover for them a little bit, because I don’t want to come down too hard on those Jewish people of Christ’s day, but nevertheless this is what He said.
“Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. 49. The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. 50. Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth…” And we know the fever left, and the son lived, but the part I wanted you to see is in verse 54.
“This is again the second miracle…”
Now my own idea is that when the Scripture makes a reference to a particular chronological order, that is telling us, that if this is the second, then what should we look for? The third, the fourth, the fifth, and that’s the admonition.
“This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.”
Well if you do follow that through, you’ll see that there are seven of these miracles in John that were all signs. These signs were teaching Israel something. In other words, when He turned the water into wine, it was a miraculous sign that He was the only remedy for their lack of joy. They had a lot of religion, but they were in Spiritual darkness, and He had come to give them truth, life, and joy. And so that’s what turning the water into wine showed them.
Well, when He healed the nobleman’s son, it’s another spiritual lesson for Israel, because spiritually they were sick, and He alone could bring them Spiritual health.And all the way through John’s gospel we have those seven signs and miracles. Then when we get to the last chapter I think it is, come on over to chapter 21 we now come to the 8th miracle or sign. This is so interesting, and here is where I tell people, “How can they scoff at this Book, when it is so intricately put together? Now here is just another good example. Seven of these signs and miracles that had a direct application to the physical and the natural life of Israel were all registered before He was crucified and resurrected.
This one in chapter 21 then becomes the 8th one and it was after his resurrection. Now when you have an understanding of numbers in Scripture, 7 is the number of completions, and 8 is the number for new beginnings. So this final sign miracle in John’s gospel was a reference to the Nation of Israel’s remnant who will all be saved when Christ returns. So we’ll begin at verse 10.
“Jesus saith unto them, Bring of fish which ye have now caught, 11. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, and hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many yet was not the net broken.”
Now in every other case in His earthly ministry, when they had a net full of fish, what happened? The net broke. But this time it doesn’t. Well what’s the miracle part? It was an indication that the remnant of Israel that God keeps during the last 3 years of the Tribulation, that when Christ returns at His second coming, not a single one will be lost, they will all be kept for God’s purposes.
Now to come in once again to our miracles, signs and wonders, come with me to Acts chapter 2, and this is just to show how the Book of Hebrews says, that we cannot neglect so great a salvation, that begin with the Lord’s ministry, was witnessed by the Twelve, and others, and the Apostle Paul, who of course we still feel is the writer of Hebrews, and then it was all confirmed by the miracles and signs and wonders that Jesus performed. But not only Jesus, it carries on now after He’s ascended to glory by the apostles, and we’re going to see, to a smaller extent to the Apostle Paul himself.
Now for Acts chapter 2 verse 22. This is the other verse where all three of these are mentioned in one place. Here Peter is preaching that sermon at Pentecost, and look what he says:
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth….”
Remember this is what we’re stressing in the Book of Hebrews, Jesus of Nazareth, was Who? The Son! And we’re going to be seeing throughout the Book of Hebrews how the Son was higher than the host of angels, how that the Son had a greater priesthood than Aaron, so here again this is where I want you to see the correlation, that now Peter is proclaiming that:
“…Jesus of Nazareth a man approved of God among you (how?) by miracles and wonders and signs,…” Just like we have them here on the board, but in the reverse order. I Peter said He did the dunamis, the miracles, showing the power of God. He did wonders that were to have an effect upon the people, and He also performed the signs which also had a particular subject to teach the Nation of Israel. So reading the verse again.
“…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:”
So all the way through now then, we’re going to see that even the Twelve are going to continue on this using the signs and miracles to convince the Jewish people now, not that Jesus of Nazareth walking up and down the dusty of roads of the land of Israel is the Messiah, but now the subject is, “The crucified One.” The One that was crucified, and was buried, had been risen from the dead. And since He was risen from the dead, He could still fulfill all those Old Testament covenant promises. So look what happens. Peter is just sort of picking up the mantle more or less like Elisha did from Elijah. And Peter continues on with the same ministry.
“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. 2. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3. Who (this lame man) seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. 4. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. 5. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.”
I always have to think, and I don’t say this with any idea of being funny, but I think most of us, if you’ve been in a big city and seen a beggar sitting there on the sidewalk, usually has a tin cup. And what does he expect? For you to drop in a few coins, and if he can do that all day long, he can gather enough to stay alive. So I think this is what this fellow did. He looked up at Peter and held out his container for a coin or two, and that’s all he expected, but you see, he’s going to have more than that this time. Peter, James, and John or now in a modus operandi like Christ was, and they’re going to perform miracles. Now verse 6.
“Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ancle bones received strength. 8. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.” Well you come all the way down to verse 11, and here’s the effect.
“And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.”
What is this healing doing to them? It’s making them think! What are these men doing and how are they doing it? So it made them attentive to what the Twelve were proclaiming. Now I know that a lot of people think that’s the only way you can reach people today, but I don’t think so. I don’t think the Holy Spirit needs that today for various reasons, but primarily because we now have the completed Word of God. And we don’t have a manifestation of the miraculous power of God, because the Bible itself is all the manifestation I need of Who God is and His power.
But, nevertheless, remember what Paul is stressing to the Hebrews This was all done to get this whole system of what we now call Christianity off the ground. And it takes the miracles, signs and wonders. Now we’ve got one more reference in the Book of Acts and this half hour will be gone. So come to Acts chapter 19.
“And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: (Paul is already out there now in his missionary journeys) 12. So that from his body were brought unto the sickhandkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.”
So all of this again was for the precise purpose of proving to even Paul’s listeners that he was not just another human being, He was the apostle to the Gentiles.