Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 2 * BOOK 49
Turning Your Back Scornfully – Part 2
I guess, I’ve said it often enough over the years, we’re just an informal Bible study. I’m not a pastor, I’m not a preacher, I don’t claim to be a theologian, but all we try to do is just pick these verses apart and get everything out of it that we possibly can and help folks understand that the Word of God is not that difficult. And of course, the secret is to be able to separate God dealing with Israel and His dealing with the Gentile Body of Christ. Until you do that, it is confusing. It’s hard to comprehend and you sometimes wonder what in the world the Bible is all about. But, once you separate it and realize that what God is speaking to Israel is, for the most part, under the Law, we can learn from it. But that’s not where we are. We’re under Grace. Also remember Grace is not license but it is that tremendous fulfilling of God’s tremendous plan of redemption – we enter in by Faith and Faith alone. But we don’t stop there. We move on into a life of works and service for the Lord.
Okay, let’s keep right on going where we were in Hebrew chapter 6 in the last lesson, and we’re going to constantly remind you that this is dealing first and foremost with Jews who were still hanging on to Judaism, though they had embraced Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. But as the early Jewish believers there in Jerusalem were prone to do, they still hadn’t understood Paul’s whole doctrine of not being under Law but under Grace.
So I feel the Apostle Paul now is not divulging who he is because, you want to remember, the Jews hated him. They thought he was a turncoat. They thought he was somebody who became a renegade of Judaism because he was now proposing that “we’re not under the Law; we’re under Grace.” But the whole idea as he approaches these Jewish believers only in, I guess we could say, the Gospel of the Kingdom, that which was preached in Christ’s earthly ministry, and as Peter continues in the early chapters of Acts. And all they understood was that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ. But Paul is trying to get them to move on and recognize that now Christ not only was the Messiah but He had died for the sins of the world. He became the great high priest, not just for Israel, but for the whole human race. And we’ll be going into that especially when we get into chapter 7 when, once again, we pick up the priesthood of Melchisedec who was not a priest of Israel but he was a priest of the non-Jewish world.
Alright, but before we get there we’re going to continue to deal with these Jewish people who had embraced that much of the program, that Jesus was the Messiah. And the Holy Spirit had enlightened them to some of these things, but they refused to let go of their legalism. Of course, that shows up so clearly then when you get into Paul’s epistles, especially the letter to the Galatians. Because these very kind of Jews, not these particularly because like I’ve said, I don’t think this was addressed to the Jerusalem church. I think it was to another congregation. But, when we get to Paul’s epistles we always note that the Judaisers from the Jerusalem church were constantly beseeching Paul’s new converts to go back under the Law.
And that was something that just drove the Apostle up the wall and that’s the reason for the strong language in Galatians that “how in the world can you who’ve begun now in Faith and Grace go back under the Law?” Well, this is just the other way around. He’s trying to get these Jews to let go of the things concerning Judaism and come on into this whole economy of grace.
Before I go any further, I’m going to put a couple of words on the board. Because I don’t want people to get these two concepts mixed. There is a big difference between “apostasy”and “backsliding.” Now I take that word out of the Old Testament, so before I put it on the board, I’m going to have you turn back with me to Jeremiah. Because I don’t want people to confuse the issues. I don’t want people to think that just because you haven’t lived an exemplary Christian life the last few days, that you’ve lost your salvation.
It’s very possible to be a backslider as a believer, and never lose your salvation. But on the other hand, for people who were never really saved, it’s not hard for them to turn their back on revealed truth and become an apostate. Jeremiah chapter 3, and verse 11. Now granted this is Israel under the Law.
“And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.” Now remember this is when the nation was divided and the Northern Kingdom had already gone far down the tube into idolatry and so forth, and Judah is still enjoying the Temple worship and all the ramifications of the feasts days. But it’s just a comparison that even Israel, with all of their idolatry and their sin, in God’s eyes were still better than those religious Jews down in Judah. So he says:
“Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.”
See that term? Remember when I’m always using Exodus – what is it – 31? Where God says, “I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy, and I will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” He’s Sovereign. But on the other hand, He cannot show mercy to someone who has scornfully apostatized. But the backslider, yes. And so He says, “I am merciful, I will not keep my anger forever.”
“Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree,…” Alright that was the Old Testament’s format, that Israel could certainly backslide and they could turn cold but as long as they were still in that mode of faith and belief He would bring them back and He could forgive and be merciful.
Now again, let’s come into the New Testament account. And I suppose the most flagrant instance of backsliding would be in I Corinthians chapter 5, and we’ll start in verse 1. There’s not one word of Scripture to indicate that this man was ever lost, because he was a believer. He fell into a horrible sin, but yet we know from the record that he was restored and he was never lost. He was a backslider. He was not an apostate. See the difference?
I Corinthians 5:1
“It is reported commonly (in other words, everybody knew it) that there is fornication (immorality) among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.” In other words, his stepmother. And of course, the Corinthian church was admonished to deal with him and they did deal with him rather severely but, the man was restored, and he was forgiven. He was a backslider. And now we have the other comforting account in I John chapter 2. We all know that we cannot go through life sinless. The most spiritual are still prone to sin every day. If we don’t fail anywhere else, we fail in the thought processes. And we always have this comfort that even though we fail, even though we stumble and we’re a true believer; God will never cast us out but instead He gives us that opportunity for a restoration.
I John 2:1-2
“My little children, (what a term of endearment) these things write I unto you, that you sin not. And (what’s the next statement) if any man sin, we have an advocate. (we have someone there at the Father’s right hand interceding for us constantly) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2. And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Alright, so here we have this whole concept then that there is such a thing as “backsliding.” So I’m going to put this on the board because what we see we’re more prone to remember than what we simply hear. And that is that “backsliding” – falling into sin temporarily – backsliding can lead to a forgiveness or I’ll use the word restoration. We’re made right back and are in full fellowship once again.
Whereas – “apostasy” – oh, what an awful word. Apostasy only has one thing ahead of it and that is judgment. There is no other way that God will deal with apostasy but by judgment. Now remember we saw the first instance of that when Israel refused to go in at Kadesh-barnea. And it’s one of the themes of Scripture that is a constant warning, to not be as Israel was, when because of unbelief they failed to go in and take the Promised Land. Well, it was scornful turning their back on what God had offered.
Consequently, what happened to that generation of people? They went out into the desert and their carcasses died by the thousands. And it was a judgment because of their apostasy; they were not like backsliding Israel. Alright so keep those two terms in mind as we continue on now for the next few moments on this whole concept – is it possible for someone to be truly saved and then have this awful anathema pronounced, that they’re lost? No! Paul makes it so plain. For the person who is genuinely saved and has been placed into the Body of Christ there is nothing that can take us out.
So when you see instances, as I mentioned in the last program, of people and you say, “And he’s still a Christian?” Invariably I think you can answer – “They never were.” Oh, they had had an emotional experience. They had gone through some of the rigmarole of whatever the denomination may require but they never embraced their faith, and so they are just lost! They never were saved.
Alright but let’s go a little further now in Hebrews chapter 6 and so now we’ll go into verse 5. Coming out of verse 4 where they were partakers or they “came along side” the work of the Holy Spirit but they never were indwelled by Him, now verse 5. So these Jewish people:
“And had tasted the good word of God….” Let’s just stop there again. How long would you survive if you never did anything but taste something? Why by the end of the first day you’d be so hungry you’d be ready to collapse. Because the word taste does not mean that you take it in, you’re what? You’re testing it; you’re trying it. You come up with a new dish in a restaurant or something and I don’t think you’re going to lay out $10-$15 bucks for something you don’t know anything about. So, what do you do? Well, you’ll taste it. Just take a little bit. See if you like it and then, yes, gorge yourself if you want to, I guess, but that is what it takes to satisfy the needs of the body. Tasting will never do it.
When I was a wee little kid, my mom used to make pumpkin pie out of the old pumpkin, from scratch. They didn’t know what canned pumpkin was. And I can still see her stirring up that pumpkin pie batter and ever so often what would she do? She’d taste it. Put in a little more salt, a little more sugar, a little more cinnamon and stir it up and taste it.
Well, how much energy would she have ever developed from taking that much food? None. That’s all she was doing, just tasting it. Well, see, that’s what these people were doing, they were dabbling in it. They were looking at it and then they probably just said, “Without the Law?’ Without Sabbath keeping?” There is no way I can do that.
You see, I’m up against the same thing today. Oh my goodness, you get especially some of these cult people and you’ve got them on the fence and you’ve got them thinking and invariably they’ll call “But Les, this has been drummed into me since I was little. You think I can turn my back on that?” Well you’d better because unless you do, you’re going to be outside. If you don’t then you’re tied to a dead horse. That’s the best way to put it. But oh, it’s so hard to come out of that background. Well, these people were the same way. They’d been steeped in Judaism. And they just could not let go of it. And so, here was the warning “you’d better.” Now I’m sure that the vast majority of that congregation to whom Paul is writing were truly saved, but there was an element that were not, see? Alright, so now let’s move on in verse 5.
And have tasted the good word of God, (but wouldn’t swallow it. They would just peck at it. Then Paul goes one more step) and the powers of the world to come,”
He said, “You’ve understood the powers of the age to come.” They were that enlightened. What’s the age to come? Well, for Israel it was the Kingdom, and what we know as the 1000 year reign of Christ at the beginning of eternity. The whole Old Testament is full of promises of this earthly kingdom that’s coming for the Nation of Israel. They even had a pretty good handle on that. And even today, secular Jews for the last centuries, for the last you might say, maybe 2,500 years, what has been the favorite cliche among the Jewish people out there in the Gentile world? “Next year Jerusalem!” You know that. Why? Because Jerusalem is going to be the capital of their coming kingdom. And they had a pretty good handle on that. But that didn’t save them, of course, and so never forget that Israel had a good understanding of this age to come.
Let me bring you back to Isaiah because I always have to prove what I say with Scripture because otherwise it counts for nothing. So let’s turn to Isaiah chapter 35, and I just want to give you a little inkling of how these Jews up through their national history had this inkling of this glorious Kingdom that was coming to the Nation of Israel. And these people to whom Paul is writing the letter to the Hebrews were no different. They had an understanding of this age to come. But it wasn’t enough to bring them to a full knowledge of salvation. It was just merely something that was part and parcel of their religion. See?
“Then (when this Kingdom comes in. This age to come) the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb will sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. (you’ve all heard those terms) 7. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water:…” That whole Middle East will cease being a desert and it will revert back to the Garden of Eden, see?
“…in the habitations of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. 8. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; it shall be called the way of holiness….”
Well, let’s back up for a minute to the left and come back to chapter 11, and this again is an unfolding of the age to come. The Kingdom. Starting at verse 1.
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, (who was the father of David.) and a Branch (that we’re talking about) shall grow out of his roots:” That will be the Messiah. The Christ. The coming King. See? Now verse 2.
“And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. 3. And shall make him of quick understanding…”
“But with righteousness shall he judge (or govern) the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth:…” Now I always remind myself here of the Beatitudes. This is when the Beatitudes will become valid. In the Kingdom. They’re the constitution of the Kingdom and the King will bring it about. Now verse 5.
“And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.” In other words, His power and His authority. Alright now the physical attributes of this age to come, those of you that love animals, my this will make your heart jump.
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”
See children in the midst of what we would think are fearsome animals? No. They’re all going to be once again domesticated and tame. And then you come on down to verse 7,
“The cow and the bear shall feed: (together. Oh, this is going to be glorious. No death. No sin, no sickness. And this is what Israel was looking for. See?) their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.. 8. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.(and then we know this is the Kingdom from verse 9,) They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: (which is another word for Kingdom) for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the water covers the sea.”
Well you see, Israel was looking forward to all of these promises of this glorious coming Kingdom. Let’s look at just another one or two and come on up through Daniel, that’s the next one that’s easiest to find. Go past Daniel, then Hosea and then we’ll hit Joel and then Amos. I want to pick a few verses out of the book of Amos. Amos chapter 9 verse 13. And Israel knew all this. They knew this but it wasn’t sufficient to bring them into a true salvation. It was not enough to lock them in. And the same way today.
My, people may know Scripture, they may be able to pray in public but they have never experienced a true salvation and so they’re in danger. But, we’ll cover that later.
“Behold the days come, saith the LORD,…”
That was future, and it’s still future. It’s been put on hold now for 2,000 years but it’s still coming. Don’t let anybody tell you that these things are now moot. It’s still coming. God’s eternal! He’s got a lot of time! And so yes, He interrupted this Old Testament program in order to bring in the Church Age but when the Church is gone He’ll pick right up where he left off with Israel. And so these things are going to come.
“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper,…” Now you know what that means? Continuous planting and harvest. Now the first thing old farmers are going to think is ‘Oh my, I don’t even have time to go south in the winter!’ Well, you see, this will be such a light work, there’ll be no weeds, no insects. No drought. It’s just going to be tremendous production. The light labor and it’s just going to be beyond comprehension. See?
“…and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.” In other words these are all just adjectives to show the tremendous production of foodstuffs and the beauty of nature that’s coming in this coming age. Verse 14, God said:
“And I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel,….”
Now listen, what an appropriate place to stop a moment. Why are they back in the land? It’s miraculous! The Nation of Israel should have disappeared 1,500 years ago. They should have just totally amalgamated and assimilated and intermarried and disappeared. But they didn’t! And they were hated. They were driven from place to place. They were persecuted. Over and over, complete nations – England I think in 12 hundred and something made a decree that every Jew had to leave England. They had to be off the island by such and such a date.
In 1492, Spain did the same thing. Every Jew had only two alternatives. Leave or be put to death. And over and over this is what happened to the Jew. Then when you get to the New Testament you remember, that when Paul met Priscilla and Aquila back there in Acts 18, I think it is. What does it say about Priscilla and Aquila? They had recently left Rome because all the Jews had been required to leave Italy. When you pick that up you find Paul had just returned from Athens, and had came to Corinth:
“And found a certain Jew named Aquila born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.”
Well, that was their history. Driven from place to place and yet they never lost their national identity. And here they are, back in the land! The land that was deeded to their Father Abraham. And isn’t it amazing that the world can’t figure that out? I just can’t understand it. That takes an intelligence level that’s far beyond anything I can comprehend because just the very concept that here we have a group of people, scattered into every nation on earth. Never lost their identity, still have a lot of their old ancient customs and now they’re miraculously back in that same terra firma that God deeded to their Father Abraham. They are again speaking their ancient language. A miracle! But there they are even as we speak today.