Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 54
James 3:7 – 5:20
All right, we’re going to continue right where we left off in the letter by James to the Hebrew believers – to the Twelve tribes scattered abroad. So we know that those had to be Jews of the dispersion. Now, we’ve got to remember, where did these Jews come from, and who are these people that these little epistles are addressed to.
James and Peter and John and Jude and, to a degree even, John’s Book of Revelation were written to the Jews that had been scattered. Like I said in the last part of the last program, we are now 2,000 years later since those books were written, and we have now come full circle back as it was when these epistles were written. As it was back then, so shall it be in the future with these Jewish believers getting ready to go into the Tribulation and looking for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, their Messiah. But for now, come back with me to Acts chapter 11 because this is probably the best way to understand why James, as well as the other three, addresses only the Jews? Why aren’t they including Gentiles?
Well, Acts 11:19 I think says it. Now you want to remember that Israel has been out there as a people scattered throughout the then known world ever since the Babylonian invasion in 606 BC. But then when Saul came on the scene and just persecuted unmercifully the Jewish church in Jerusalem, they had to scatter for their life.
“And Saul was consenting unto his (Stephen’s) death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.” Now the Twelve didn’t leave because they were sure that the Messiah would be coming and they didn’t want to be out of town when it happened. Remember they had been promised they would reign and rule over the Twelve tribes of Israel during the Kingdom Age. So they didn’t scatter, but the rest of those Jewish believers scattered. Acts 11:19 makes it so clear that Gentiles were not involved in any of this. This is so simple. You don’t have to be a seminary graduate to understand this.
“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen.(which took place in Jerusalem) traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch. (in other words, that whole eastern end of the Mediterranean) preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.”
We’re talking about 10 years after the cross. That’s what the Book says – that these Jewish believers who were now scattered away from the home church in Jerusalem (which was headed up, of course, by Peter and the Twelve) are now being scattered throughout that end of the Roman Empire and they still have no consort with anybody but Jews.
Now come back to James and let’s stop with James chapter 1 verse 1, and this just says it all. Plain English.
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to (and I don’t think we do any harm by putting ‘writing’ rather than ‘to’) the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.” Now isn’t that plain? Now these Jews, of course, gathered in little congregations of Synagogues and they knew nothing of Paul’s work of Grace. They’re still in Judaism. All they’ve understood is that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was the Messiah and to a degree that He had risen from the dead and that He was still able to fulfill the covenant promises of the Kingdom. And so this is what they’re looking for.
So now back to James chapter 4 where we left off in our last lesson. Verse 12, and always watch the language like I’ve said before – how it’s so much like the language of the Four Gospel’s concerning Jesus and the Law and all the rest.
“There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy:…” In other words, God is going to fulfill two purposes. Now come back with me a few pages to Hebrews chapter 7 verse 25. This is just one example. And that’s all we’re going to use how that God is able to work both sides. Hebrews 7 verse 25, here’s the saving side:
“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost (who? Those) that come unto God by him. (that is by Jesus Christ) seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”(that is those that have come to Christ)
All right, now let’s look at the other side of the coin. Not very pretty. Very seldom do you hear it anymore, and that’s Revelation 20. Here we have the Great White Throne Judgment for the lost. And these are the two concepts that James is putting in front of his people. They’re dealing with a God who is able to save but He’s also able to condemn them to their doom. Now how many times have you heard it? “How can a God of love send anybody to such an awful place?” Well, we know what the answer is. He did everything that needed to be done when He suffered the horrible death of the Cross. And that was for all mankind with no strings attached. All they have to do is believe it! And when they spurn that, then He has every right to say, “depart from me I never knew you” because He’s done all He can do. All right, so now then, in Revelation 20, you do have the ability and the wherewithal of God to destroy those who are lost. This is the end of everything. This is the final act of God on the human race that is lost.
“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12. And I saw the dead, (now remember there are no believers involved in here. This is all the unbelieving from Cain to the end) small and great, stand before God; (the Righteous Judge) and the books (plural)were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life:…” When their name was not in the book of life, He then opens up the books, which included their works. That’s what Paul calls fruit unto death. They lived a life of sin and rebellion, which was a life of fruit unto death and here it comes.
“…and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 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.” In other words, all the lost of the ages from wherever they are will come forth – and remember Jesus said in John chapter 5 that everybody that ever lived will be resurrected. Those who have been of faith – to a resurrection of life and the rest to a resurrection of condemnation. Well, this in Revelation 20 is the condemnation.
All right, and so they were judged every man individually. The billions of them. Now you know, this throws a curve at us doesn’t it? I mean, after all, we’re human. How in the world will God have time to bring every individual lost person before the bar of justice? Now we can’t comprehend it. But you’ve got to remember we’re not in ‘time’ here, we’re in ‘eternity.’ And when you get out of time and into eternity it’s a whole different ballgame. I read years and years ago (maybe science has changed it now, but I remember) one hypothesis that if a human being could go through a black-hole and down through a white-hole he could usurp a million years of time in ten minutes. Well, that’s beyond us, but it’s the same way here. God will judge the billions of the human race in what we would call a matter of minutes, and yet everyone is going to have a time before Him. Don’t ever doubt it because we’re not in time as we know it – but here, we’re in eternity. All right, now verse 14, and see what James means when he says that God is able to save and to destroy?
“And death and hell (that is the compilation of all the lost of the ages) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” Now people don’t want to hear about the Lake of Fire anymore. I can’t help it. It’s in the Book. Remember physical death was their first death and now spiritual death is their second death. Then verse 15 puts the cap on it.
“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” And don’t think for a minute that that’s an instant annihilation because, while you’re here in chapter 20, come back to verse 10. And it shows that it’s an ongoing thing, because the Lord Himself said, “it’ll be there for ever and ever for all eternity.” It’s not going to end. It’s going to be forever, just like our life is going to go on forever.
“And the devil that deceived them (that is at the end of the Kingdom economy now, when we’re ready to go into eternity) was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast(or the anti-Christ) and the false prophet are,…” These are the two evil men of the seven-year Tribulation period, and they were cast into the Lake of Fire at the beginning of the 1,000-year Kingdom Age. How long have they already been there? A thousand years. And they’re still there. They haven’t been annihilated. They haven’t been burned up. They’re still there.
“…and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Now this just epitomizes again the Grace of God – how that Christ and the work of the cross made it possible for every one of these people to miss that kind of an eternity. And that’s why a God of love can do it; they’ve spurned His love and they have rejected His offer of salvation. And so, yes, James says it again, verse 12 of chapter 4 of the Book of James.
“There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?”
There is one eternal God. And He alone is able to save and to destroy, so James says, “Who are you that you should judge another?” Now, like I told you in the last program, that doesn’t mean you don’t make discernment between the lifestyle of the lost person and a believer. We have that right. We have that ability according to Scripture. But we cannot judge who’s going to be in eternal doom, or who’s going to be in Heaven. You can’t look on the heart. None of us can – only God can do that. Okay, now, in verse 13, he shifts gears again and he goes into something totally different.
“Go to now ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:”
Now what does that tell you? First and foremost – before we get any further, come back with me to Matthew chapter 24 verse 37. Now remember the Lord Himself is not betraying the secret that time is going to be interrupted and that these people to whom He’s speaking will not see the Tribulation and the Second Coming. He doesn’t betray that. He could have. As God, He knew the day and the hour and all that. But, the scenario was just the same as I’ve been repeating now for the last several programs. The scenario was exactly the same for these Jewish people approaching the Tribulation and the Second Coming and the Kingdom as it will be for Jews in this present time, which we think is getting close – when they, too, will be facing the same thing. But the scenario is going to be the same. As it was then, so is it now.
“But as the days of Noe (Noah) were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (in other words, when the Tribulation has run its course) 38. For as in the days that were before the flood (just like these days that these Jews that James is writing to are facing the Tribulation,) they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,” See? Life was going on. And then he comes down a little further to verse 40.
“Then shall two be in the field;…” They were laboring, working and harvesting. All right, that’s sufficient, I think. Now come back to James again. This is the same scenario that, as the Tribulation is approaching and these Jewish believers are going to be coming under pressure, yet you have that element of either unbelievers or carnal believers (whatever the case James is dealing with), and all they’ve got on their minds is what? Material gain. Hey, they’re in business and they’re not too concerned about the spiritual. Well, it’s going to be the same way now as we’re approaching the end-time; the whole world is all wrapped up in materialism. They don’t think of the Spirit. All they’re thinking is how they can make money in the stock market or how they can do this and that and every other thing. Well, it’s the same way here – and so James says to be careful, you that say, “Today or tomorrow we’ll go and do such and such a thing and we’ll buy and sell and get gain.” See? That was the typical activity.
“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Like your breath on a 20 below zero day. You don’t know what that is down here in Oklahoma, but I do. Oh, my goodness, that breath will just disappear. Well, that’s life. Peter uses the example of a blade of grass that comes up in the morning, you clip it off in the afternoon. That’s the way life is, it’s temporary.
You know I read a book years and years ago that made it even more graphic. “Snow Flakes on the River.” And I love that. Can you just see big, huge snowflakes coming down on a large river? How long does it last? Puff! It’s gone. That’s life. Just like a snowflake on the river. Just like a blade of grass that’s sprung up and clipped off. Oh, even though some may live to 90-95-100 years old. I’ve had a few people in my classes that were 100 – 102. But you know what they tell me? It went just as fast as you and I think it has up to as old as we are. That extra 30-40 years goes just as fast as the rest of it. Bingo! It’s all gone! And compared to eternity, it’s nothing.
All right, so James is reminding his flock, don’t get so concerned about the material world because it’s just here today and gone tomorrow.
“For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” Now I think that’s appropriate. That’s what we can do today. Well, “If the Lord is willing” that’s what we’re going to do. So, that’s very appropriate. Remember I told you when we first started there were going to be tidbits here that you can apply today, just like you can go into the Four Gospel accounts and you can make application. But you’re not going to find the plan of salvation in the Book of James. It’s not in here.
“But now ye rejoice in your boastings:…” Now I’m going to give the Jewish people credit – I’m not doing this critically. I think they are to be admired. They have a knack for being successful, don’t they? Absolutely! I think it’s part of their covenant relationship. They have a knack for being successful whether it’s in literature or art or music or medicine or in business – you name it, and Jewish people are successful. Well, evidently it was the same way here. Some of these Jews, in spite of the pressures from the Roman Empire and so forth, were materially successful. But it’s also a well-known fact that there is not a group of people on earth that are so philanthropically minded. I hope I got that word out right. They’re great philanthropists. They give, give, give. And so this is part and parcel I think of their makeup. And so verse 16 just hits it right on the head:
“But now ye rejoice in your boastings: (over their what? Their success. They are naturally successful people. But he says) all such rejoicing is evil.” Don’t rejoice in the things of the flesh; in the material. Now verse 17, and maybe this is why they are so prone to being philanthropic.
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is (what?) sin.”
And they were aware of that. And so they overcame some of their materialism with giving and hoping (I guess by that) to merit favor with God, or whatever.
All right, now, lest you think I’ve been pushing the envelop on this, look at the first verse of chapter 5. Now remember we’re back in about, probably, the 50’s AD. About fifteen or twenty years from now in, 70 AD, their Temple is going to be destroyed and Jerusalem and Israel are going to be scattered. But it hasn’t happened yet. And here they are. He says:
“Go to now, ye (what kind of men?) rich men, (See? These Jews, a lot of them, had wealth.) weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.” When? When the Tribulation would hit. When the Tribulation would hit and all of their wealth and materialism would be wiped out.
Now you know it’s coming. Not only just for Israel and the Jews but for the whole human race – the wrath of God is coming! Just like James could see it coming in their day, and that all their wealth and materialism would amount to nothing because it’s all going to be wiped away. Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve done this, but let’s go back to Jeremiah just for an example. And I do this to sober people because even we, as believers, are so prone to get wrapped up in all of the trappings of this world and our economy and everything that pertains to it, and we forget God’s wrath is coming. I’m not saying it’s going to be next year or the following, but we’re getting closer and closer. You know I’ve always referred to the cartoon of the old boy sitting in his cave door and over the door was ‘The End Is Near.’ But then he added ‘er.’ Which meant that everyday the end is nearer.
And that’s where we are. The end is getting nearer every day. All right, Jeremiah chapter 25 verse 30. Now this isn’t pleasant reading. This is horrifying but it’s coming; and James could see it coming in their day. They thought it was just over the horizon. And then God, as I’m going to show you in the next program, interrupted that time-span and gave us the Age of Grace for the past 2,000 years.
“Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The LORD (That’s Christ in the Old Testament) shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; (that is this old world.) he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.” Not just Israel. Every human being is going to come under this. Verse 31.
“A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the LORD hath a controversy with the nations, (not just Israel. All of them.) he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, (death) saith the LORD. 32. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation,…” Does that ring a bell? Yeah, we’re hearing about evil today like not since a long time ago.
“…and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts (or borders) of the earth.”
Now, we’re hearing more and more, the next most used acronym will be what? ‘WMD.’ You’re going to see it in every article that you read. WMD. What is it? Weapons of Mass Destruction. And the whole world is interested in them. Not just Iraq. Everybody wants weapons of mass destruction. All the nations of the world are clamoring for more military hardware. Well, what weapon of mass destruction causes tremendous wind? A nuclear explosion. Tremendous wind. And so I can just see all the nuclear forces of the world will come to bear in these final days of the Tribulation. So, “A great whirlwind shall be raised up from the borders of the earth.” Now, as a result of all of these ‘nukes’ being unloaded, first one after the other, look at verse 33.
“And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; (there will be so many that nobody can bury them fast enough. There’ll be no funeral parlors capitalizing on all of this. But) they shall be dung upon the ground.”
That’s what’s coming. That’s why all the world is interested now in weapons of mass destruction. It’s going to come. The earth is going to be utterly annihilated through the wrath of God, but He’ll use a lot of these weapons of mass destruction.