Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 48
Today, If You Will Hear My Voice
Alright, back to where we left off in Hebrews chapter 3. We finished down through verse 12, but there is more that I want to share with you in that verse this afternoon. Now we have to remember that in these two chapters, especially three and four, we are almost going to be repeating it and repeating it to the place that you will almost despair of it but it is a rehearsal of Israel’s rejection at Kadesh-Barnea to go in and take the Promised Land because of their unbelief. So the whole thrust of these two chapters in Hebrews is the horror of unbelief.
And I always like to point out that it was only just a few weeks previous to the Kadesh-Barnea experience that Israel stooped to the level of demanding that Aaron make a golden calf. You remember that? And in the worship of that golden calf they went down into the very abyss of moral degradation and followed in the steps of the mythological pagan worship of the Egyptians. And, of course, God dealt with it. And yet it is amazing that when they get up to the gateway of Canaan at Kadesh-Barnea and they turned away in unbelief, God doesn’t remind them of the horrible sin of the golden calf. He doesn’t remind them of any other horrible sins that they may have been guilty of, but all He is distressed with is – they could not believe what He had told them.
You see, that is the whole problem with the human race. Even today. It’s not the various sins that they are committing. It’s not the drugs, the alcohol, the immorality. It’s unbelief!Because you see, faith is the opposite of unbelief and faith does everything that squashes these things that we consider as wickedness and sin. So it boils down to the same premise. The human race’s great dilemma is simply – unbelief!
Now the book of Hebrews. Again as I have been rehearsing over and over it is written, yes, to the Hebrews, but it’s not a Book like Romans as I mentioned, because you do not find the plan of salvation laid out in the Book of Hebrews like you would in Romans or even Ephesians and Galatians. But nevertheless, just because it’s addressed to Hebrews does not mean that we ignore it or neglect it. Hebrews is also loaded with things that are still apropos for us in this Age of Grace.
Now, in my own personal opinion (I can’t find that even the great theologians agree) this Book of Hebrews is not written to the dispersed Jews in general. For example, turn back with me to the little Book of James, which is right after Hebrews, so it will be real easy to find. James chapter 1 verse 1 and this points up what I am driving at. Paul does not address this letter to the Hebrews in like manner as James does his letter, because look what James says.
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered abroad, greeting.”
Now do you see the difference? James is writing to the Jews in the dispersion wherever they were. Now if you will come back to Hebrews chapter 3 as we get ready to move on. This letter to the Hebrews is more than likely addressed to one rather substantial Hebrew congregation, and not just to the Jews out in the dispersion, but to a particular group. Now, of course, there is controversy. What group was it? Was it the Jerusalem church? I don’t think so. Was it the Alexandrian church, because Alexandria, Egypt always had a large Jewish community, a large Synagogue? And for that reason, you remember, the Septuagint, the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into the Greek was done by the 70 Jewish scholars, not in Jerusalem but down in Alexandria. So, there is that possibility that it could have been addressed to a Jewish congregation in Alexandria. But, I don’t think so.
My own pet idea and I can’t find anyone else to agree with me to confirm it, but my own pet idea is that it may have been a place like Pella. Now Pella was one of the Decapolis cities of Rome located just east of Galilee in what today is Jordan. And the reason I am kind of picking on Pella in my own mind, several years ago I read an article in one of the archaeology magazines where archaeologists had found potsherds. Now you remember that is bits of clay out of which the pots and the kettles and so forth had deteriorated but those little pieces of clay are what the archaeologists can more or less reconstruct. You see they found potsherds in the ancient city of Pella that in the same piece of clay, not in separate pieces, but in the same piece of clay they would have the mark of the fish which, of course, designated the early church. But also, in the same piece of clay, a menorah which spoke of the Hebrew. And so, we know that there had to have been Jews living at least in Pella and I am sure many other areas who were adherents of “the fish,” the followers of Jesus of Nazareth and Peter’s preaching and so forth, but were still clinging to their Judaism and consequently the mark of the menorah.
So, I have to feel that this Book of Hebrews was written maybe to a Synagogue of Jews like that. I’m not saying that it was Pella but I think it had to be a congregation on that order where you had Jews still clinging to Judaism and yet they have seen enough of Jesus of Nazareth and now here in Paul’s approach to the crucified, resurrected Lord that Paul is now admonishing these Jewish people to just simply come away from their Judaism, from all of their roots of their religion in the past and step into this Gospel of Grace. So maybe that will help a little bit to understand the approach of Hebrews.
It has no real Church language, per se, for example. When I say there is no Church language, you understand, never do you see and hear a Gospel of Christ having died for the sins of the world. Rather, we see Christ in His high priestly role. You don’t see faith in the death, burial and resurrection promoted as a means of justification. It’s just not in here. You don’t see any reference to pastors and deacons and bishops and so forth, like you do in Paul’s other epistles. And so this is why I say that you cannot find true Church language in Hebrews but everything that is in Hebrews is for our learning.
My it’s just a wealth!Every time you go into another verse, here’s just a whole truck load of wisdom and knowledge for us today. And so this is the way we are approaching this Book of Hebrews even though it is written to Hebrew people and yet, my, what we can learn from it! So now let’s begin our study today with verse 12.
“Take heed, brethren…” Take heed. Now that is a warning! Take heed, brethren. Now again I think Paul uses that word brethren in the vernacular of the Jewish people as his brethren in the flesh, but also there were some true believers. Now I am saying some, because not all of them were. And we will be looking at that a little further as we go back to Kadesh-Barnea as well. Alright, so he can speak to the group and include some of them as brethren either from the Jewish point or from the fact that they were Believers. So he says:
“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart (of immorality? No. An evil heart of drunkenness? No. An evil heart of anything else you can think of? No! But what?)of unbelief, in departing from the living God.”
Unbelief! Oh it’s an awful word. Now remember the only sin that will send people to a devil’s hell is unbelief! They refuse to believe what God has said to believe for salvation!So here again this is the whole point! Take heed lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief. And remember we are never going to lose sight of the fact that that is what kept Israel out of the Promised Land when Moses took them up to Kadesh. It wasn’t anything else. Unbelief!
Now let me rehearse again. I know we covered this quite in detail in our last taping so for people who get these daily, that was just yesterday morning. So I have to kind of remember that. But on the other hand, remember that when the children of Israel had received the Law and the Tabernacle and the whole religion, as we call it, of Judaism, they were now ready to go into the Promised Land. And what had God told them? “You won’t have to lift a sword.” Today we would say, “You won’t have to fire a shot. I am going to drive the Canaanites out ahead of you. I will use hornets. Whatever it takes. I am just going to drive them out!” God said, “I am going to drive them out slow enough that you can occupy it without the vineyards growing up in weeds, or wild animals taking over. We will just push them out. And, you can come in and settle.”
What an offer! Was God serious? Absolutely! He meant every word of it. Then you remember the first step of unbelief was, “Well can we send in some spies?” God didn’t tell them to send in spies. That was Israel’s idea. That was their first step of unbelief. They couldn’t take God at His Word that the Promised Land was there for the taking.
But they asked, “Well, let us send in spies.” So, God in His love and His grace condescended and He said, “Alright, I will let you do that. Pick out one man from each tribe and they can go in.” So the spies go in and they see the fruit of it and they come back with the fruit of it. The proof that it was a land flowing with milk and honey. Now I always have to explain that. That didn’t mean that the honey was coming down through the gullies. It didn’t mean that milk was running from the other side, but all the attributes of a country or a land that would promote the production of milk and honey was there. Then all you’ve got to do is just use a little sense. What does it take to produce milk?
Well, you have to have grass and pastures and cattle. And that, of course, gives rise to all the by-products of a dairy cow. It brought in their cheeses. Now if you don’t think the Jews don’t like cheese, you haven’t been to a Jerusalem breakfast. Oh, all the cheeses are laying out. Well, you see that was all implied with that statement, the land of milk. And, that would require grass and forage and so forth.
Now then honey, of course, as most of you are aware that you don’t get honey unless you have bees and bees can’t make honey unless they’ve got what? Flowering things. Fruit trees and flowers and so forth and so when you hear the term “land of milk and honey” look at the big picture. It was a land that provided all the necessities of dairy cattle. It had all the things necessary for the production of bees and their honey which spread out into a land of beauty. Production.
Alright, and they brought back the fruits of it. But, what did ten of the twelve say? The majority report of ten of the spies was, “Can’t do it!” The minority report says, “Yes we can!”by Joshua and Caleb. But, what did the nation listen too? The majority. That’s why from day one on this program, I have made the statement over and over. When it comes to the things of God and the Spirit, the majority is usually wrong. You can’t follow the majority. And I always have to come back to the verse that the Lord Himself spoke. “Narrow is the way and few there be that find it!”
Beloved, that word few is getting smaller every day. I was just reading that our whole younger generation, the vast majority of our kids, not all, but the vast majority have no concept of what is right and wrong. They are taught nothing from this Book anymore. And you know a lot of our language is based on things Scriptural. In other words, you have often read even in a secular account, “a Damascus experience.” Well, what does that mean to our younger generation? Nothing! They don’t know about a Damascus experience. See? And that is just one example. And so, we are now in a time when the way is getting narrower and fewer and fewer that are coming in to it. And it is sad! But we are going to see why, here, as we move on through Hebrews.
Alright, so Israel now has to be constantly on our mind as they are sitting there at the gates of Canaan at Kadesh-Barnea. God has told them to go in and in their unbelief, they rejected it. Alright, so He says:
“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the (One God.) living God.”
Now, the casual readers don’t even think of that twice. But, stop a moment. How many of the religions of this world from all the way back to the present, worship a Living God? Not many. In fact, NONE other than Christianity. Look at your pagans, Hindus and Buddhists – you name it. Do they worship a Living God? No! They worship a dead idol. And that is what the Scripture calls it. They are just dead idols. Dumb idols, is what it is called in one place. They can’t even speak. So they are not a Living God, they are a dead god. They are a god of the mind and of the imagination. And they are a god that Satan uses and empowers from his side of the court, but they are dead gods.
But you see on the flip side of that we are different. Here we stand as Believers and our Faith is in the Living God! Now, I went through my concordance the other night and I found 28 times from Genesis trough Revelation, where you find this term the Living God. Now you remember, when David confronted old Goliath, that was one of the first times it was used and Goliath had the audacity to try and withstand the Living God! Well, he found out to his own doom, that it just won’t work.
And so all the way up through Scripture you have these various accounts of the Living God. And it is from two points of view. Either the Living God as the God of wrath and judgement, as He was to old Goliath. Or, He’s the Living God who brings joy and peace and bliss to the believer. Alright, now of these 28 times then that the Living God is referred to in your whole Bible, four of them are in Hebrews alone! Isn’t that amazing! Four times out of the 28 are in Hebrews. Now this is the one and the next one I think is in chapter 9 verse 14. We will just look at them quickly so that you will get the impact of just two words! “The Living God!” You see, that is why it is so paramount that we understand that Christ arose from the dead! We don’t worship a dead Christ. The tomb is empty! And our Faith is in a Living God!
“And how much more shall the blood of Christ, (that is beyond what the animal blood was in the Old Testament economy,) who through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, and purge your conscience from dead works (to serve Who?) the living God?”
That’s where we are! We are serving the Living God! Alright the next one is in chapter 10 and verse 31 if I remember right. Now here’s the other side of the coin. My, this Living God can be bliss and joy to the believer but He’s going to be the opposite to the unbeliever.
“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands (of what?) of the living God.”
The Living God! From eternity past to eternity future, He’s always the same Living God! Now the next one is in chapter 12 verse 22. Here we come to the good part again. This is our part of the Living God! For the lost person He’s going to be the God of wrath and judgement. It’s going to be an awful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God, but for us:
“But ye are come unto mount Sion, (Zion) and unto the city of the living God, (not the earthly Jerusalem, but which one?) the heavenly Jerusalem, and into an innumerable company of angels.”
And so here is where we are today! My, with our knowledge of Scripture and with the unfolding of the power of the Holy Spirit, we are evidenced every day that we are serving a Living God.
Now in the few moments I have left in this program, we want to share how we know the Bible is true. We shared it in quite a few of our seminars over the last couple of weeks as we traveled and we shared it with some of our classes before we went, and we feel those were just sort of little nudges for me to maybe share this with more people, where someone would either write or call that they had been sharing the Scriptures with someone – the one in particular was a gentleman who wrote and said “I have been sharing the Scriptures with my 18 year-old granddaughter and I was getting along just fabulously, answering all of her questions, until she finally said, “Well now, Grandpa, how do you know that that Bible is true?” And he said, “Then I was stumped.” He said “I couldn’t think of a thing to tell her.”
And you know, I had the same thing happen with a lady in one of my classes here in Oklahoma. She had come up against the same thing. Somebody had just hit her broadside, “Well why do you believe that that Book, the Bible is true?” And she said, “I was stumped.” Well, you see I’ve taught it over and over and over and I hope that people will finally start latching on to it. You answer those kind of questions with two words. THE JEW. The Jew! He is living proof that this Book is true.
You see, all the way back as far as Deuteronomy chapter 30, which Moses wrote 1,500 years before Christ, which is 3,500 years ago from now. Moses wrote that the Nation of Israel would be scattered into every nation under heaven, none excepted. And I have mentioned so often in my teaching, James Michener and his book The Source, chases a Jewish family from antiquity up to the present. In his research he found that indeed, there were Jews in every sovereign state on the planet.
Moses said that that would happen. But Moses wrote in the next verse that one day, he didn’t say when, but that one day the Nation of Israel would be back in their homeland. And we are seeing it! Against all the odds. Now the average person doesn’t stop to think. Can you imagine a nation of people as small as Israel. Never more than ten million. Today they are around fifteen or sixteen million Jews around the world, and that is probably as much as there have ever been. And yet here this small little nation of people were driven out into every nation under heaven. Persecuted like you and I have no idea, and yet never lost their identity.
Now you would have thought that under ordinary circumstances they would have assimilated into the Gentile Nations and they would have disappeared. But they didn’t! They kept their national identity. And here they are 3,500 years later just exactly like this Book said they would be – they are back in the land.
And they are not just in the land. They are in the news every day of the week! I have been asking the crowds of people everywhere we have gone, “Can you believe this? Can you believe a little nation of five million people, living in a geographical area no bigger than part of New Jersey and yet they are in the news everyday! And they still have their national identity. They are still keeping the various feast days and holidays. And you think that is normal?” Boy, that is miraculous as anything can be! And, yet it’s exactly what this Book said would happen. As so there is your proof, that, along with all the other things. See, now we know there were hundreds of definitive prophecies fulfilled at Christ’s first coming. But see, that’s still easy for the scoffer to push aside and say “Well that’s just the way you look at it.”
But they cannot deny that the Nation of Israel that began back here in Genesis is now in the land again today. And they are, like I have said before and I will say it again, they are in the news everyday. Why? There are other areas of the world that are in just as big a turmoil. In fact I have been using Sri Lanka every place I have been as an example. The old island of Ceylon. And after we got back home I was reading the Daily Oklahoman the other day and they’re still having all kinds of war and turmoil in Sri Lanka. Does the world get shook up about that? No, they don’t even pay any attention.
In Africa, all the places of turmoil and torture in Africa. Does the world get all upset and send the Secretaries of State all over to them? No. But, oh, that little Nation of Israel draws everybody’s attention, see? And just take heart the next time that you see Israel in the news you just tell yourself, proof positive, that my Bible is indeed the supernatural, Holy Spirit, Divinely inspired Word of God! Which proves that we serve a Living God! A God who has been in control of human history now for 6,000 years. You know I have said it on the program more than once. How miraculous that God started everything back there in the Garden and left man with a free will. He left nations with a free will. They are not puppets on a string and yet here we are 6,000 years later and we are right on His schedule! We are not off one day! We are not off a week! I think I can say, we are not off one hour.God’s Word is true!!