Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 2 * BOOK 51
The Lord Shall Judge His People – Part 2
Hebrews 10:23 – 11:8
I think we’ll just jump right in where we left off in the last lesson, and that would be in chapter 10 and verse 29. Remember that this book is addressed primarily to Jewish believers (I think probably within one synagogue congregation), whereas, Peter is going to write to the Twelve Tribes scattered throughout.
This letter I feel is addressed to one local church; I don’t think it’s the Jerusalem church, but it was evidently a congregation of some decent size. And the whole problem was that some of them, probably not many, but some, after experiencing this tremendous salvation based on the finished work of the Cross were being drawn back into Judaism and the sacrificial system of Temple worship.
Now remember, the Temple is still going even as all of our New Testament is written, except maybe the book of Revelation. And even that, I prefer to think, was written in the 60’s AD as well. But you all know, that all of Paul’s letters and all the four gospels, and the little epistles following Hebrews were all written before 70 AD, when the Temple is destroyed.
Remember I made the point – isn’t it amazing how God forbid any empire to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple and the Nation of Israel until Paul’s letters were completed. And within a couple of years after the completion of Paul’s epistles, the Temple has now become moot (of no count), so why worry about it.
Well you see as soon as Paul’s letters were finished, then Temple worship had become moot and what does God permit? Titus to destroy the Temple and the city. And I think it all fits in and just screams at us that these people should have been able to see that all the Old Testament promises had been fulfilled in Christ’s death, burial, resurrection and ascension back to glory. It was all prophesied. And yet they never saw that. So always remember that, even though the Book of Hebrews is written to Jewish people who were fighting this traumatic experience of being pulled back into their old religious system, yet Hebrews is just full of knowledge for you and I as believers.
But also remember there’s no plan of salvation in the Book of Hebrews. You can’t take someone to Hebrews and lead them to the Lord, because those salvation Scriptures are not in there, at least not like the Roman Road or Ephesians, I Corinthians or something like that. But, it is so full of basic information that enhances our own faith. All right, let’s begin with verse 29.
“Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, (or a common thing, I think is a better word) and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”
Now remember in our last program, we were looking at those previous verses of someone who willfully turned back and went into the religion of Judaism with its animal sacrifices. And then, the verse that we closed with in the last program, how that the Law, the Mosaic Law was severe, because there was no mercy. If someone was caught even picking up sticks on the Sabbath day, what was the punishment? Death! Now that’s severe. My we would never stand for something like that today, would we? But that’s the way the Law was, it was so severe! And when the Law was severe and they rejected it then there was no doubt that God’s wrath would be placed upon them to their eternal doom.
All right, if a religious system like Judaism prompted the wrath of God, then you see, How much sorer punishment, how much more God’s wrath can be poured out on those who have walked under foot the Son of God, the blood of Christ? Now you’ve heard me emphasize this over the years; what’s the reason God consigned lost humanity to such an awful eternal doom? Because He’s done everything he could for them to prevent it. He’s done everything they needed to escape that eternal doom without lifting a finger. By just simply believing what He had done. And when they walked that under foot and they scorned it, then God is perfectly just in consigning them to that kind of a punishment.
So don’t ever listen to those kind of arguments such as, “Well, how can a just God send somebody to a Lake of Fire?” Well, He’s got every reason in the world to because He’s already done everything to keep them from it. All right, so: “How much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot.” Now don’t lose the picture. They have literally walked under foot in scorn the Blood of the Covenant, that is His sacrificial Blood of the Cross and wherewith he was sanctified and they have considered it a common thing. I think that a better word than unholy thing is a common thing. They’ve considered it something common. No more different than the sand and the gravel that they walked on. And, they’re going to suffer for it. Now verse 30.
“For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me,…” Now, of course we do, as believers, know the God of glory. We know this Saviour of mankind on a personal basis and so we can agree with Paul when he says, “For we know him that hath said, ‘Vengeance belongeth unto me.” He’s God. He’s Sovereign. He can do whatever He wants. He doesn’t have to save anybody but He chose to save some, as Paul puts it in Romans.
“For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense saith the Lord, And again, The Lord shall judge his people.”
Before we talk about the Lord judging His people, the saved for rewards (and that will probably be in the next lesson), lets talk about how He is going to pour out His wrath on those who have rejected His offer of salvation. Now, let me show you a comparison. A lot of people don’t realize that the Lake of Fire is evidently going to have levels of punishment. Come back with me to Matthew chapters 10 and chapter 11. Let’s look at chapter 10 first because you have to understand that when I maintain that good people, church members, choir singers and deacons and yes, a lot of pastors are going to miss Heaven, because they have never believed in His death, burial, and resurrection for salvation, as Paul instructs us to do. They’ve tried to get to Heaven some other way. Oh they’ve been good, so now are they going to suffer the same level of the Lake of Fire as a murderer? No. No, there’s going to be levels of punishment. Now, they’re still going to miss glory but they are not going to suffer to the extent that some wicked individual will. Now, here’s my reasoning. Matthew chapter 10 verse 15. These are the words of the Lord Himself during His earthly ministry.
“Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable (or the punishment is going to be less severe) for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.”Those wicked sodomites are going to have an easier time of it in the eternal doom, than these Jews who listened to Christ’s earthly ministry. So, it’ll be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, that’s the Great White Throne of Revelation 20, than for that city.
Behold, (he says) I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves:…” Well, who were the wolves? The Jews of Jesus’ day who would not respond to His ministry. All right, chapter 11 verse 20. Same kind of a concept. Again the Lord is speaking in His earthly ministry.
“Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, (His miracles) because they repented not:” In other words, the miracles never even phased their unbelief. They continued to scorn and reject Jesus of Nazareth.
“Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee Bethsaida! (now those were beautiful cities up in the Galilee.) for if (see, conditional) the mighty works, which were done in you, (that is His miracles. Feeding the five thousand and raising the dead at times, and healing the sick) had been done in Tyre and Sidon, (which were wicked Gentile cities on the Mediterranean seacoast.) they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22. But I say unto you. It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you.”Tough isn’t it? That’s tough language.
“And thou, Capernaum, which are exalted unto heaven,…” I don’t think anybody goes to Israel who does not visit Capernaum and think even in its ruins, it’s beautiful! And all you have to do is just close your eyes and imagine what a beautiful city that must have been on the north shore of the Galilee at the time of Christ. And they knew it. They were a puffed up city because of all that they had going for them.
“And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, (because they were such a beautiful city) shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.” In other words, had Christ preformed the kind of miracles in Sodom and Gomorrah and preached the message that He preached in Israel, Sodom and Gomorrah would have repented and cleaned up their act. But Capernaum wouldn’t. You see the difference?
All right, now it’s the same way back here. When people are confronted with this glorious Gospel of Grace, and they can enter into salvation by faith and faith alone. And then they spurn it and walk it underfoot – can anybody blame God for casting His wrath upon them? Of course not. And the Scripture makes it so plain. Verse 31, as a warning to people then as well as today:
“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Now four times in the Book of Hebrews you’ve had the term ‘the living God.’ Twice as it appears for us as believers, ‘He is our living God,’ but twice as it applies to the unbelievers, who also are going to have to deal with ‘the living God’ Who is alive forevermore. All right, when the lost come up before Him and He pronounces their final doom, there isn’t a word of argument because He is the living God! He’s not some idol made with stone and wood. He is the living Creator of the whole universe and He’s Sovereign. He can do whatever He wants.
In fact, let’s just go back and look what Paul is alluding to. Revelation chapter 20. Not many people will even refer to it anymore. But, I’m still not afraid to and you know, the day may come when they’ll force me off television for using verses like these. Well that’s okay. We’ve had twelve years already and we’ve accomplished what I feel the Lord has wanted us to do so far. But, we’re not going to shirk from showing people what the Bible says. Revelation 20 starting at verse 11. And this is exactly what we’re referring to that the lost, whether they are good people, or whether they are the down and out gutter of the world, makes no difference; they’re all going to come before the Great White Throne.
“And I saw a great white throne; and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away;…”
Now you want to remember this is in that time interval between the end of the Kingdom, the thousand-year reign, and the onset of eternity. And I think Peter makes it so plain that when the Kingdom is completed this whole universe is just going to disappear in a puff of smoke and there will out of it come, for eternity, a new Heaven and a new earth. Now not everybody’s going to agree with me, but I think the language is such that it can’t be otherwise. And I think the reason is that Satan has defiled everything God ever made. Out to the edges of space, Satan has defiled everything, and so, consequently, I feel, it will all be melted down as Peter says.
All right, so in this time frame now between the end of the Kingdom and the onset of eternity, we’re going to have the Great White Throne judgment for the lost of the ages. What God has done with all the believers while this is going on in the meantime, you leave that up to God; He’s not going to lose any of us! And we’re going to be someplace in utter safety. But one thing for sure, we’re not going to be at this Great White Throne. This is only for the lost from Cain until the end. Now then, verse 12.
“And John saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; (now God of course, here will be Jesus Christ) and the books (plural) were opened: and another book (singular) was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”
The lost are now ready to hear their doom. The first thing they will be shown are the blanks in that book of life where their name could have been. But it’s not there and so they can’t argue – I did this and I did that. No, your name is not in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Then he turns to the books (plural), which is the record of their daily activities on earth. And so, they were judged, to see what their level of punishment will be.
Now I think I’ve mentioned this before, for years I used to wonder, even God in His Omnipotence, is He going to keep track of every individual’s daily life? Yeah. And now with our technology and they can put the whole King James Bible on a chip the size of a pin head, well if man can do that, then God can keep a record of a few billion people. No problem.
So He’ll check the record and he’ll probably show it to them, here’s your life. Who are you to say that you can come into my Heaven? Your name is not in the Lamb’s Book of Life, your life has shown nothing that smacks of a believer and then they’ll have to admit their doom is justified. All right then, verse 13.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. (not everybody’s going to suffer the same. There’s going to be degrees, see?) 14. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” Death is separation. The first separation was soul and spirit from the body. The second death is the separation of the lost from God. Horrible, awful thought! But it’s Scriptural and people need to be warned.
All right, back to Hebrews 10, so indeed as we read in verse 31, and it’s not stretching the envelope one bit. “It is a fearful thing (as an unbeliever, it’s a fearful thing) to fall into the hands of the living God.” But for us nothing better could happen! We are in His care. We are in the hollow of His hand. We are hidden in God in Christ. We have nothing to fear. But the lost, oh my goodness, I don’t see how they can go to bed at night. Verse 32.
“But (after realizing what an awful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God as a lost person) call to remembrance the former days in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;”
Remember what I said in the last program – when cult people try to come out of that cult, what happens? All the pressure that family can put on them, all the pressure that their organization can put on them, all the pressure and the threats are so great, it just draws them back. And it’s almost, without the power of God, impossible for them not to be pulled back in. Well, Judaism had the same kind of a pull. That big beautiful Temple complex and with all the activities surrounding it, the feast days, and boy, it was something to behold. And then to turn their back on all that and step into a life of separation, it wasn’t easy. The next verse tells you how much harder it was even than we would think, because:
“Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, while ye became companions of them that were so used,”
Now what’s he talking about. That as soon as they made their break with Judaism, what did all their Jewish friends begin to do? Castigate and disown them. They still do to a degree. My, if you’ve ever read the account of Jewish converts, not always, but many times, the family will disown them. In some instances they’ll actually hold a funeral for them, treat them as if they’re dead. And then of course, back in the first century you still had the persecuting power of the Romans.
Let’s go back to Acts chapter 17, as Paul is making his first sojourn out amongst the Gentiles and he would always begin in the Synagogue of the Jews and consequently there were quite a few Jews in those early days of Paul’s ministry. And here Paul has just begun from Northern Greece; he’s been up at Philippi and you know what happened there. He ended up in the dungeon. But he keeps on proclaiming the Gospel of Grace and he always starts in the Synagogue of the Jews.
Let’s start in chapter 17 verse 1, because this is exactly what this verse in Hebrews is referring to; how that when these Jews believed, the rest of the Jewish community came down on them hard.
“Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2. And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and (for) three Sabbath days (or for three weeks) reasoned with them out of the scriptures.” How much Scripture has been written by the time Paul is on his missionary journeys? Only the Old Testament. Nothing of the New. So whenever you speak of the Scriptures until Paul’s epistles start coming out, it’s Old Testament. They had no New Testament. And so, he reasoned with them out of the Old Testament Scriptures.
“Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus (of Nazareth) whom I preach unto you is Christ. (the Messiah.) 4. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. 5. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason and sought to bring them out to the people. 6. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; 7. Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. 8. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. 9. And when they had taken security of Jason and of the others, they let them go.”
Well, this is just a brief picture that wherever Paul began his ministry, he would always start in the synagogue of the Jews because at least he had people who knew of a one God. They knew of the Old Testament Scriptures and it was the logical place to start. And some of them would believe. But the most of them would reject it and then he would turn to the Gentiles. But for these believing Jews, who had turned their back on Judaism, do you see what they were under? They were under the pressure of their fellow Jews and consequently suffered inexorably for their new-found faith.
All right, back to Hebrews chapter 10 and verse 33 as we read that, as these Jews who had solidly embraced Paul’s Gospel and had turned away from the sacrifices of Judaism, they“were made gazingstock by reproach and afflictions and while you became companions of them that were so used. For you had compassion on me (Paul says, where?) in my bonds.”When he was in prison. Now listen, to become a believer throughout most of Christendom was a tough row to hoe.