Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 52
For those of you out in television, we do cherish your letters, we appreciate them, they are such an encouragement and we just continue to pray that the Lord will give us Lydias; hearts that He’s opened and that are responsive to the Gospel, and as always we covet your prayers.
Now we’re going to get right back into where we left off in our last program. We’re in Hebrews chapter 11 and we’re about ready to go into verse 8 – and in fact we touched on it a little bit in the last program. Now as I’ve been going through Hebrews almost at the beginning of every four programs, I remind our listening audience that this letter is written primarily, not exclusively, to Jewish people who were having a hard time making the break with Judaism (with the Temple worship and the sacrifices), and stepping away from it into this Age of Grace by faith in Paul’s Gospel, plus nothing, for salvation.
Now, I’m always emphasizing, that is not easy. We see it in cult people or we see people that are just so totally indoctrinated in a legalistic religion, it is so hard to just break away and say, “You mean, I don’t have to do anything but BELIEVE?” That’s exactly right! And of course a lot of people just can’t accept that. But, if Christ finished the work of the cross, and because it was finished He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High, then we have to take His word for it.
Now that doesn’t mean that we just simply say, “Well, I believe” and then continue right on with our same old lifestyle. No, we have to realize that when we become a believer of that finished work, or what we call Paul’s Gospel, that mandates a change in our lifestyle. We’re going to live lives, hopefully, pleasing in His sight. And we’re going to seek His will in every aspect of life. And that’s all a follow-up to our believing. And so I never want to leave folks with the idea, “Well, as long as I believe, I’m all right.” Well, don’t take advantage of that because there are responsibilities that follow our believing.
But nevertheless, Hebrews, now as a main theme, is directed to Jews who were having a hard time making a break out of legalism and into this glorious Age of Grace. Consequently, as I’ve said over and over, you don’t find the plan of salvation as we present it, in the book of Hebrews. In other words, if you’re leading someone to the Lord, you don’t go to the book of Hebrews to show them how to be saved, it’s just not in here. But, like the Old Testament, all of these things are for our learning. And for the believer now to come into the book of Hebrews, we get all of this reinforcement of our faith and that’s the whole thrust.
All right now then, let’s continue our study in Chapter 11 – “the faith chapter.” And again, it’s just to show us that these Old Testament people walked and lived and were saved by faith even as we are. But, here’s where we have to be careful. They didn’t place their faith in a finished work of the cross; it hadn’t happened yet. So what did they believe? What God said to them! It was God’s Word to them. And we’ve already covered the pre-flood people. And Noah is a good example.
God didn’t tell Noah, “Now believe that I’m going to die on a Roman cross and be raised from the dead.” No way. But what did God tell Noah? “There’s going to be a flood. I’m going to destroy the human race. Build an Ark for the saving of yourself and your house.” Now believing what God said, what did Noah do? He built the Ark. And so all the way up through the Old Testament it has always been by faith, but not in that finished work of the cross as we experience today (and what God tells us to believe through the Apostle Paul’s writings), but rather in the Old Testament they believed what God told them in that day.
All right, so now then as we come into verse 8, and like I said, I know we touched on it in the last part of our last program, but his great epitome of faith, the man, Abraham, who was steeped in idolatry down there in the lower end of the Euphrates River. Remember Joshua tells us his whole family was idol worshippers. The whole city was given over to idolatry, and yet God goes down, and I think person-to-person, like He did with Abraham more than once, confronted him. And God said, “Abram I want you to leave all this, I want you to get away from this pagan environment. I want you to get out of your pagan family and go to a place that I’ll show you.” He didn’t tell him that it would be Canaan. He just said, “Go to a place that I will show you.” And what’d Abraham do? He left. Why? Because he believed what God said, plus nothing. He wasn’t circumcised. There was no Law to keep. He just simply obeyed what God said and God counted it to him for what? Righteousness. See? He didn’t repent. He didn’t grovel. He just simply believed God and God reckoned him a righteous man. Now verse 9.
“By faith…” By faith; by just simply believing what God had said, now I can comprehend that it was probably easier for the man to believe something when he had seen God, Who I’m sure came down in human form, as He did in Genesis 18. I think you’re all acquainted with that chapter. When the Lord and two angels came walking up the path and Abram ran to meet them, what did he do? Killed the fatted calf and they had a meal like you wouldn’t believe. And they ate. That was the Lord Himself in what we call a theophany – God in human form. And that happened periodically in the time of the Patriarchs.
Now, many times we have to look at these things logically and ask ourselves, “Why?” And I guess I’d never really answered it myself until the last 24 hours. Because they didn’t have a written Word. Now just think about that. All the way from Adam until we get to Moses, there was no written Word from God. So how did He communicate with them? He appeared to them from time to time and He instructed them, and so maybe it was a little easier to believe what God said since they saw Him say it. But it’s the same God that speaks through this Book. And so now we’re under that same set of responsibilities – that we are to believe what God has said.
In fact, go back to Hebrews chapter 1 and that just sort of confirms what I said. Hebrews chapter 1, right up there at verses 1 and 2 – and this is just exactly what we’re saying. And the very first word is what? “God.” Remember God never changes. He’s been the same from eternity past and He will be into eternity future. He never changes. But He certainly changes, what I refer to over and over as, His modus operandi – His means of operating. In other words, He deals with us totally differently than He dealt with Adam and Eve, Abraham and Moses, and all the others. In this Age of Grace, under the writings of the Apostle Paul, He deals with us quite differently than all the others, yet still by faith.
All right, so here’s the whole idea. There was no written Word. There was no organized system of worship. Now that makes a big difference. All right, so now you come into the text:
“God, who at sundry (or various) times and in diverse (different) manners spake in time past unto the fathers (how?) by the prophets.” He didn’t come down and speak to the people, face-to-face like he did with Abraham, Adam and Eve or even Jacob. But He spoke through the prophets. Now verse 2, and here God changes things:
“Hath in these last days (that is since His first advent) spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom (the Son) also he made the worlds;”
Now when God speaks to us through the Son, that’s why the Apostle Paul then tells us that all of his revelations came directly from where? The ascended Lord. So when we read Paul’s epistles now we realize that God is speaking to us through God the Son Who in turn is inspiring this Apostle to write what we are to understand and believe for salvation, and it’s that much difference. All right, so these Patriarchs were still believers of what God said and when they responded to it, God in turn responds by calling them righteous. They were in right relationship with Him. Now back to chapter 11.
“By faith (by taking God at His Word) he (Abraham) sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country,…” And indeed it was. It was foreign territory to a Syrian down there in the Euphrates. The Canaanites were dwelling in the land. Now I’m not going to mention it in this program, but I will before the afternoon is over; we’re going to be looking at the difference between the Canaanites and the Arabs. There is a big difference. The Canaanites were not Arabs. And so the Canaanites were in the land of promise and it was amongst the Canaanites that Abram, or later Abraham and Sarah and then later on Isaac and so forth – it was among the Canaanites that they sojourned.
Now I think I pointed out in one of the previous programs, does that give you an inkling? What did Abraham have to do as he moved across the country with his flocks and herds? Well, he would have to ask permission. “Can I run my flocks through your orchard?” And he would probably guarantee that they wouldn’t harm anything that was productive. “But, can we just have the grass?” Because he was a foreigner. He was a sojourner in a foreign land. Even though it was the land that God had promised. So you’ve got to keep all these things in your mind as you read about these.
“…dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:”
All right, so he “sojourned in a strange land” only because he knew he could trust the God who told him to leave Ur. Now, just to show you what patience that took to maintain that kind of faith, I can’t pinpoint it in Scripture so I’ll again just have to simply say, it’s my own personal feeling, that Abram was probably 50 years old when God first spoke to him in Ur of the Chaldees. Now, I think all of you know – how old was he when the promised son was born, Isaac? One hundred! So how many years did that poor man live day in and day out by faith, waiting for the birth of that son? Fifty years.
Now today we’re living in a time of instant gratification. I want it NOW! But Abraham waited fifty years before he finally got that son of promise, Isaac. So this is why he is such an example of faith and patience and integrity, that he was willing to just know that someday God is going to come through. He’s faithful. So, “he sojourned in the land, dwelling in tabernacles.” Now what’s the other word for tabernacle? Tents. Well, what was the purpose? Well, he couldn’t build a home of stone and concrete because he was just simply sojourning up and down the land, waiting for something to gel, of course. But until it did, he was living in tents that were temporary abodes that could be taken up and moved.
“And he was dwelling in tents with Isaac, and all the way on up into time of Jacob.” Nothing is concrete yet so far as the promises are concerned. But they were all “heirs with him of the same promise.” Now we’ve got to go back, don’t we? It’s been a long time since we’ve taught Genesis. And let’s go back briefly to the Abrahamic Covenant itself. I’m not going to go into it in detail, but back in Genesis chapter 12, the Abrahamic Covenant. And I’ve made the statement over and over and over through the years. If you can’t understand the Abrahamic Covenant, then this Book is a dilemma. You can’t figure it out until you understand how all of this promise of a Messiah came about.
All right, Genesis chapter 12. Now ,I always make reference that the very first promise of a coming Messiah was right after Adam and Eve fell in Genesis 3:15 – where we have the promise of the coming of the “seed of the woman.” But, for those first 2,000 years it just sort of laid there dormant. There was just nothing transpiring to get that seed growing. It was there, because Abraham comes out of one of the three sons of Noah remember. And God was in control of all that. But beginning with Abraham 2,000 years after Adam, 2,000 years before Christ, things are now going to start moving. Now here is the Abrahamic Covenant.
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, (in chapter 11) Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will (sometime in the future) shew thee:” See He doesn’t tell him here, for example, I’m going to send you up to the Mediterranean. He doesn’t tell him I’m going to send you up to the land of the Canaanites. No. He just says, “Leave Ur and go to a land that I will show you.” Well now, this is all means of testing the man’s faith. Now here come the promises, verse 2.
“And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee:…” Do you see all those “I will’s.” Those are promises from God Himself to the man Abraham. And again as I’ve said so often on this program, all you have to do is become a student of history and you’ll see that this has never fallen short. Every empire, every king, every despot that turned on the Nation of Israel met their own doom. And it’s never changed. You can bring it all the way up; I always like to use Great Britain as probably the best example in modern history. When Great Britain stabbed Israel in the back after World War II, Great Britain went down and they’ve been a no-account nation ever since. And, morally, spiritually, Great Britain is in the gutter, and it was primarily precipitated because of their treatment of the Jew. All right, but then the best promise of all is the last part.
“…and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Not just the nation coming from his loins but every person on earth would one day feel the ramifications of this promise made to Abraham, which of course, was what? The coming of the Christ and His going to the cross. His death, burial and resurrection and all that was brought about because of the promises made to this man. And so, consequently, we can say that through Abraham, then, all the families of the earth were blessed.
Now we’re going to see where God repeats this same covenant, if I may call it that, to the next one on the scene, which is Isaac. And Isaac, too, is going to be given the covenant promises over in chapter 26.
“And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine THAT WAS IN THE DAYS OF Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar, 2. And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: 3. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, (now here it comes) and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;” He’s telling Isaac the same covenant that I made with your father Abraham, I’m bringing it on to you. All right, now let’s go up to the next generation and chapter 28. Here comes Jacob. Years are going by but God doesn’t change. God never forgets.
“And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. 2. Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father, and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother’s brother. (now here it comes) 3. And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people: 4. And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.”
The world today knows nothing of this. The world today won’t even recognize anymore the authenticity of this Book. And if you try to tell them, well this is what the Scripture says, they’ll probably scornfully rebuke you and say, “Well, that Book doesn’t count.” Well, I beg to differ. As I’ve said on this program over and over, this is the only Book on earth that can prove itself as the revealed Word of God. And everything we’re seeing in the Middle East today is fulfilling everything that was started back here in Genesis. How can they miss it? I’ll never know.
But here it is, that all the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with regard to that nation of people inheriting the land of Canaan. And God later would promise that they would be scattered into every nation under Heaven because of their disobedience. But that someday in the future, He would what? Bring them back again. And then when people scoff and shake their heads and say “Ah, well that’s Old Testament,” remind them that Paul writes the same thing in Romans 11, that just because God broke them off as the main trunk of the tree, and scattered them into the nations and grafted in the Gentiles by virtue of the Body of Christ. He says, “Now take heed. Don’t you get puffed up because the same God that could break off those original branches and graft in foreign branches can break you off and bring Israel in and what’s the word? “Again.” That’s what it says in Romans 11. “And I will graft them (Israel) in again.”
And of course, that’s what we’re seeing the beginnings of. Now they’re not totally there, where they’re going to be. They are still there, for the most part, in unbelief – but listen, tell the world. They’re there as a result of the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And that’s the whole idea of Hebrews 11. These people were there by virtue of their faith in the promises that God made starting with Abraham, repeated to Isaac, and repeated to Jacob – and then of course, it follows all the way up through Israel’s history as we’re going to see in the succeeding verses. All right, reading on now then in verse 9 before we go on to verse 10.
“By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country; dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same (what?) promise;”
God promised it and they all believed it even though it took so many hindrances – my goodness, just stop and think of the confrontation between Jacob and Esau. Who would ever dream that, out of that, God would fulfill the promises, but He did. And so Jacob has to flee for his life, never seeing his mother again. He goes on up into the area of Syria to her kinfolk and begins to put together the family, then, that brought about the twelve sons, which in turn brought out the twelve tribes of Israel, but it isn’t until they end up down in Egypt in slavery that God says, “they will become for the first time a nation of people!”