Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 2 * BOOK 52
The Father’s Chastening – Part 2
Hebrews 11:24 – 12:17
I had a lady write the other day, and she said, “I caught your program a couple of years ago, and I’ve been in church all my life. Until after I watched your first program, I had never read my own Bible, but now I’m in it every day.” Well, what more can we ask for, because if we can just get people to study their own Bible then good for them – all I’m here for is just to enlighten and to maybe clarify. But, we want people to study on their own, because as I’ve said over and over on the program, old Tyndale said, he wanted a copy of the Scriptures in the hands of every plowboy in England. How much education did English plowboys have? Just enough to read. And that’s all it takes.
Okay, let’s get right into where we left off in Hebrews chapter 11 and we’re still dealing with Moses. And by faith now, he has come through 80 years of his lifetime. And he’s now leading the children of Israel out of Egypt and the first thing they’re going to have to confront is the Red Sea and you know when we teach Exodus we make it a point that here come the children of Israel – mountains impassible on both sides, the Egyptian army behind them and the Red Sea in front of them. And what did God tell them? Did He say, “Well hurry up and build rafts. Do something, so that you can float the Red Sea?” No, that’s not what God said. He said what? Stand still! Don’t do anything.
The lesson for salvation is the same way today. When the sinner realizes he’s lost and he’s hopeless, he doesn’t go out and try to work and work and work to get saved. He does nothing but stand still and believe in that finished work of the cross. And I know I put it on the program maybe several months ago now, time goes so fast. But, I don’t think I slept much all that night for just reviewing it in my own mind – the unbelievable gift of the work of the cross. That it was so perfect. It was so complete that like creation back there in Genesis 1 – you remember, I tied the two together. That’s when God looked at the finished work of creation – He saw in the last verse of chapter 1 that it was what?
And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.,…” It was perfect. And so what did He do in chapter 2?
“And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day,…” He rested. There wasn’t anything more He could do. It was done. Well, the same thing with the work of the cross. After He’d finished it and ascended back to glory, what did He do? He sat down. Why? Because it was perfect. And ever since then what has mankind been trying to do? Smear it, by adding this and adding that to it with one thing or another. But, just like Israel standing on the shores of the Red Sea, God doesn’t say, “Well, hurry up and do something!” He says, “Stand still!” So here’s the verse now in verse 29:
“By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.” By simply taking God at His Word, He opened up the Red Sea, piled up the water on both sides – and listen, do you think those Jews didn’t know that that water was stacked up? And at a moments notice the whole thing could come rushing back in. They were just as human as we are. But how did they know that water wouldn’t come back? God’s Word.
God said, “Go through on dry ground.” And so it was by faith that they crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, not worrying about that water crashing in. But you know, as soon as the last Jew went up on the other side, then what happened? Here it came and the Egyptians were caught in it. But you see, for the people of faith, they walked in and they walked across on dry ground, because that’s what God said to do.
All right, so “By faith they passed through the Red Sea as dry land.” It wasn’t muddy. It wasn’t wet. It was like dry land. And then the Egyptians were drowned because the water came back. But, you see, that’s what it means to take God at His Word. It’s not always easy. It’s not always easy to just simply say, “Well God said it and I can depend on it.” But this is what God expects. This is what He’s looking for. He is simply looking for our believing and trusting in what He has said. The problem is, most don’t read far enough in their Bibles to get those instructions from the Apostle Paul. All right, let’s move on into verse 30.
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.” Now that’s probably one of the things in Scripture that is scoffed at as much as anything. The world will not believe that all Israel had to do was walk around it seven times. But, they believed God. Now again, they were just as human as we are. Don’t you suppose a lot of those Israelites, as they were marching around that well-fortressed city, must have had some scoffing ideas within their own mind? I can hear some of them saying, “Well, what in the world is this going to do? How in the world is this going to defeat Jericho?” But they did it. And it happened. Because God said it would.
And you see, we’re up against the same thing today. I suppose if I get more letters of disagreement on any one thing, it’s the Rapture – and I’m addressing it in my next newsletter. Why can’t people accept the concept of the Rapture? Because it takes a lot of faith, and I know that. I can see that the unbelieving world thinks we’re crazy as loons to think that all of a sudden, someday, God’s going to give a shout, a trumpet’s going to sound and we’re going to be gone from this earth. They can’t believe that! Well, I can understand that to a point. It does stretch the imagination. But listen the Lord Himself said, back there in Matthew, that “with God nothing is impossible.”
Do you think it’s impossible for Him to suddenly take every believer off the planet? No. It’s not impossible, and He’s going to do it because the Word says He will. But that’s where faith comes in. We take it by faith. I can’t explain it, and you can’t explain it but, oh, we can believe it because it’s what the Word says.
All right, so they marched around Jericho, foolishness in the eyes of men, but God said that’s what it took. Now again, to this very day, archaeologists like to argue, “Did the walls fall down?” Some maintain that they went straight down. But regardless of which way they went – they went! And Jericho was a sitting duck for the Israelites. But it takes faith to believe it. All right, verse 31:
“By faith (by just simply believing what she heard) the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” A woman of ill repute, and yet with what little bit she had heard, what’d she do with it? She believed it. In fact, Rahab is one of my favorite subjects for how little faith it takes for God to grab the person. How much did Rahab know? Very little. The only thing she knew was that she’d heard that this little nation of people coming out of Egypt had come through the Red Sea on dry ground. She had heard how they had defeated some of the more powerful enemies in the then-known world. And on the basis of what she had heard, she what? She believed it. Now she didn’t understand all of Scripture. She didn’t understand the Sovereignty of God. She didn’t understand the grace of God. She didn’t understand all of the ramifications that we sometimes think people have to know. No, she knew precious little, but what little she knew, she believed it with all her heart, because she trusted the God that was behind it. And God did everything else.
Rahab was a perfect example of how God will save a person who doesn’t have an awful lot going for them. And so Rahab, “perished not with those who believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” Well, why did she receive those Jewish spies? Because – let’s go back and look in Joshua chapter 2, and see this is so simple. You know, mankind has made salvation so difficult. My, we think we’ve got to put people through this and through that and then somehow or other, they’ll get there. No, that’s not God’s way. Joshua chapter 2 verse 9. Rahab hasn’t had any Bible School, she’s never been to Sunday School, she’s never been to church. All she has heard are things that had come through the grapevine in Jericho.
“And she said unto the men, (the spies) I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land (that is the land of which Jericho was the major city) faint because of you. (now here it comes in verse 10.) For we have (what?) heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side of Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. 11. And as soon as we had heard these things,…” She didn’t even see the results of it. She wasn’t sitting on some high point watching the Red Sea open up and Israel coming through – that would have been a little different wouldn’t it? But she had merely heard that these things had happened. And what’d she do with it? She believed it, see? All right, and so it says:
“And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt,….” And so, because of what she had heard knowing that behind it all was the God of Israel, God in turn responds to her faith. All right, on your way back to Hebrews, let’s just stop at another portion of Scripture that speaks of hearing. And that is in Romans chapter 10. Even at the pen of the Apostle Paul this is the key word. And it’s all the same concept.
“So then faith (faith, being able to take God at His Word) cometh by (what?) hearing,…” Not seeing! But rather by hearing it. “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” Now verse 18.
“But I say, (Paul says) Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. 19. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. 20. But Esaias (Isaiah, see here we go back to the Old Testament again) is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. 21. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” And what was their problem? They couldn’t believe. But for those who could believe God does everything that needs to be done. All right, let’s come back again to Hebrews, chapter 11. Now he’s going to make just a quick review of some of the Old Testament characters. Most of which we have heard in our Sunday school classes and Vacation Bible School stories. Now verse 32, and Paul says:
“And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon,…” Now you all know the story of Gideon -when the multitudes of Israelites that came out to be a part of his army, God said, send them home. And you know how He went through the elimination process. And how many did He keep? Three hundred to confront the thousands of the enemy. Seems ridiculous? But God is famous for doing the ridiculous. And it was by their faith that those three hundred men defeated the enemy.
“…and of Barak, and of Samson,…” Now you see Samson is the epitome of both sides of the coin. He was the man of faith who could do the miraculous but his unbelief took him down to the depths of despair. But nevertheless, he is still a good Old Testament example.
“…and of Jephthae, of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:” I don’t have to spend any time on David. You all know his escapades and his conquests, as well as his failures. “And Samuel, the prophets.” Now verse 33, all of them…all of them:
“Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.” Now of course, we’re jumping up to Daniel in that one aren’t we? But always remember, what was the percentage of even Israel that were men of faith? Precious few. And it’s always been that way. Only the small percentage were people that could believe what God said. But He’s always had the few, and still does, and He will until the end. All right, verse 34:
“Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” Well, the Old Testament’s full of those accounts, how that just a small number of Israelites would defeat vast numbers of the enemy. Simply because they did what God told them to do, which may have sounded foolish, but they believed what God said. All right, verse 35 and again, the whole concept, remember, is that by faith…
“Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured,…” Now these are not very pretty verses. You see, we have been living the last several hundred years in Western Civilization without really suffering the torture of martyrdom, haven’t we? We don’t know what it’s like, but other areas of the world still do. In fact, I think you’ve probably read the same thing I have. There have probably been more Christians killed in the last century than almost the previous 18 or 19 before that and we’re not aware of it because we’ve got it so good. But that’s not to say that it can’t happen. And so we’re reminded that all the way up through human history, people of faith were victorious on the one hand, but they suffered martyrdom on the other. All right, verse 36:
“And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, (for their faith) yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented:” Not pretty is it? But that’s too often been the lot of the believers. All you have to do is go back and read a book like Fox’s Book of Martyrs. Man it’s frightening what Christians have gone through for their faith. And then what you have to ask ourselves is, “Could we do it? If all of a sudden we were confronted with torture or recanting, could we stand?” And this is the lesson – that God is able to keep the believer by faith, through whatever his circumstances, be they good or bad. Verse 38.
“(Of whom the world was not worthy:)…” So why did they do it? Because, as we saw earlier in the chapter, because of the recompense of the reward in eternity.
“…they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” Now again, if you know anything of history, even of Christendom, my, how many of the true believers were chased from mountain range to mountain range, uprooted and indeed they had to eke out a living in caves and dens. Now verse 39:
“And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:” All God was looking for was their faith. And they still did “not receive the promise.” It’s almost enough to make you cry, isn’t it? In spite of all that they went through, now this is again dealing primarily with the Old Testament believers. All of this suffering and yet they didn’t receive the promise. At least not in this life, because what was the promise that they were all looking for? Well, the Kingdom! The Heaven on earth. The Old Testament is full – how that God would rule and reign on the earth and Israel would be the top nation of the nations. That’s what they were looking for. And yet, they never saw it. Was it because they were foolish? No. Because God in His own timing is still going to bring it about. But they went through life, lived it by faith, and yet never saw those promises fulfilled on earth. Now they’re going to see it in the eternal, of course. Verse 40:
“God having provided some (what’s the next word?) better thing for us,…” This world is nothing compared to what God has in store for us. Nothing. Whether it was the Old Testament living back in antiquity, or if it’s us living today, the comparison is the same. The things of this world are nothing compared with the eternal that’s waiting for us. And so God has provided something better.
“…that they without us should not be made perfect.” In other words, brought to this place of spiritual completeness. And so history is replete with believers who suffered and died for their faith, never having received that which they thought they were looking for. But, oh it’s still out there. It’s still coming. And we never have to lose sight of that.
All right, now we’ll go on into Hebrews chapter 12 and here we want to take a moment of time to clarify something that even good men have completely muddled the thinking of thousands if not millions of people with. Verse 1 of chapter 12, it’s going to ring a bell as soon as you see it.
“Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,…” In other words, all of these heroes of the faith, are referred to as a “cloud of witnesses.” Now I get letter after letter asking, “Does that mean that our loved ones are sitting up there watching us?” No way. I know good men say that’s true, but I tend to disagree. And it’s because of the two different Greek words that we have to compare in looking at this verse.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,…” Now the Greek word for witnesses here is “martyras.” And it’s the same Greek word that is referred to in John chapter 1 verse 7. Now I probably won’t have time to finish this completely but we’ll at least get a good start on it. John chapter 1 verse 7, the same Greek word is used. Oh, I’m going to run out of time. Oh well, that’ll just make people tune in tomorrow. (Chuckles)
“The same came for a witness, (John the Baptist, he was a martyras) to bear witness of the Light,…” Now that didn’t mean that John the Baptist was sitting up there in the stands someplace watching Jesus, but what was he? He was proof that Jesus was the Christ. That’s what it meant to be a witness of who he was. All right, we’ll pick up the rest in the next program.