Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 4 * BOOK 54
James 3:7 – 5:20 – Part 2
Hopefully we’ll finish the Book of James with this lesson, and that’ll be just perfect as we can start our next series in I Peter. All right, so back to James chapter 5 and remember, again, I’ve just got to keep repeating for the sake of those who missed a program or new ones coming in, that we’re dealing with Jewish believers of really, the “Gospel of the Kingdom” era. For salvation they had believed that Jesus was the Christ, and that’s all. There’s no reference to His death, burial and resurrection for salvation. Whereas Paul’s Gospel of salvation for us in this Age of Grace, tells us to believe in our heart that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again!”
In fact, Luther was just telling me that his Bible said there are only two mentions of Jesus Christ in the Book of James? Only two. And so don’t accuse me of going off the deep end when I say that this is all part and parcel of the Jewish believers who had had their roots in those followers of Christ in His earthly ministry and that’s all they knew – that He was the Christ.
All right, like I said in the last program, they were out there in the Roman Empire and some of these had been out there since 606 BC, of course, and so they had gathered wealth and there was this element of the rich in these churches. So now let’s just start at verse one of chapter 5, he says.
“Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.” we talked about that in the last lesson – that he’s talking about the Tribulation. We’ll see that in just a little bit.
“Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.” Now you may wonder what’s meant by that? Well, I read in a book a while back that, in the ancient East, that was one way they collected wealth was beautiful fancy clothes and they’d put them in trunks. That was just like we’d put money in the bank. And it was a collecting of wealth. But, unless they were careful, just like now, moths could get in and destroy them.
“Your gold and silver (see, the accumulated wealth) is cankered; (in other words, it was materialism and it had nothing to do with their spiritual lives) and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. (in other words, their judgment is coming. Now see, he’s not talking just to believers; he’s talking to Jews who are really on both sides of the coin) Ye have heaped treasure together for (what?) the last days.” Here we go again. The last days. Now verse 4.
“Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by (what?) fraud,…” Enron back then already. It’s nothing new. Oh, on a bigger scale now; greater technology. But the mentality hasn’t changed one bit.
“…crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped (in other words, are the victims of your fraud. All you retirees that suddenly have had everything wiped away – hey, it’s nothing new.) are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.” Now that’s another term for Christ that comes out of the Old Testament.
“Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton;…” In other words, they just, as we would say, lived high on the hog. Nothing but the best.
“…ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. 6. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.” Now, that goes both ways. God has not stopped, or, you could take the other way, the just people that they’d been misusing have not fought back. But this element of wealthy, Synagogue attending Jews (no doubt that James could write to and yet their lifestyle) was anything but righteous people.
“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto (now he’s talking to the believing element. Those that are the downtrodden. Those who haven’t got all this wealth) the (what?) coming of the Lord.” See? It’s just over the horizon. Now remember when I taught the book of Acts? Why were they so willing to cash in all of their savings and sell their houses and their lands? Because the 1,000-year Kingdom Age was just over the horizon. Who needs houses and lands when you’re going to have Heaven on earth? And so they glibly sold everything – remember even good old Barnabas back there had land on the island of Cyprus and what did he do? Sold it. Brought the proceeds to Peter and James and John and the rest and put it in the common kitty. Because, after all, all these things are right out in front of them. They had no idea that it would be interrupted by 2,000 years.
“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, (in other words, the farmer who plants his seed and waits for the harvest) and hath long patience for it , until he receive the early and latter rain.” In other words, the early rain to sprout the grain and then the latter rain to bring it to fruition. Verse 8 – and this is what I told you I’d be coming to.
“Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord (what?) draweth nigh.” It’s at hand, see? All right now I’m going to show you a few others and then we’ll come back and see where we have the wherewithal to stop God’s time clock. Turn with me to I Peter chapter 1 and I want you to see, as we showed several weeks ago, how all of these writers; Peter, James and John and Jude are all expecting the Tribulation and the Second Coming to be coming in short order.
I Peter 1:7
“That the trial of your faith, (he, too, is writing to Jewish believers) being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, (what’s he talking about? The coming Tribulation) might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” Now that’s not the Rapture of the Church, but rather that’s the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the Tribulation. They’re looking for the Tribulation and the Second Coming. Then look at verse 9.
I Peter 1:9
“Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”
All right, now turn to chapter 4 verse 7. Now we looked at all of these several programs back, but this is just review again to show how that all of these little letters were preparing the Jewish believer for the coming horrors of the Tribulation that we closed our last program with. And somebody reminded me that I shouldn’t have left everybody hanging on a string – believers won’t be there! So we’re not going to be confronted with all that death and destruction. The Body of Christ, the true Church is going to be gone before the Tribulation even starts.
I Peter 4:7
“But, (Peter writes) the end of all things is (what?) at hand: (it’s not 2,000 years ahead so far as Peter is concerned) be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”
All right, now let’s just move on to II Peter chapter 3 and, of course, Peter writes as if all this is just going to be coming right down the pike. Now we have to teach this, realizing that we’re in a 2,000-year later scenario but, like I said a couple of programs ago, even though everything has changed, it’s still pretty much the same.
II Peter 3:1-3
“This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2. That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 3. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the (what?) last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts.” And so Peter, too, is telling them, “This is nothing new.” They’ve always said that nothing has changed. Well, here we are 2,000 years later and we can still say that it’s nothing different.
All right, I John chapter 2 verse 18. Again, I’m sure that all of these Jewish writings were accomplished before Paul even finished his letters. I think all of these Jewish epistles were out there among those Jewish congregations. I know tradition says John wrote about 90-some AD, but I just can’t reconcile it in light of what we’re now studying – and also because of what Paul said in Colossians 1:25, which we covered earlier in James. You don’t have to take my word for it, but this is the way I have to approach it – that this was all written probably before 60 AD. And now look what John says.
I John 2:18
“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that anti-christ shall come, even now there are many anti-christs; whereby we know that it is the last time.” We could read that today, but he was writing in 50-some AD. They were waiting for the Tribulation to begin at any time and usher in the Second Coming.
All right, now, as I said, I’m going to give us the wherewithal to interrupt that timeline – so come back with me quickly to Luke chapter 4. And this is the only indication in Scripture and, of course, they didn’t catch what Jesus meant, nor did they understand it. But Jesus Himself gives us the wherewithal to open up our timeline and stop it before the Tribulation comes in and, by doing so, here we’ve come 2,000 years, and now we feel it’s again right out in front of us. Luke chapter 4 – you’ll all recognize it. Verse 16, and here Jesus is in His earthly ministry.
“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, (remember He lived under the Law) and stood up for to read. 17. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. (Isaiah) And when he had opened the book, he found the place (in other words, he knew what he wanted) where it was written, 18. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, (in other words to those that were waiting down in Hades for His crucifixion, and resurrection ) and recovering of sight to the blind, (part and parcel of His miracles) to set at liberty them that are bruised. 19. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the Synagogue were fastened on him.” And He knew that. And so He comes back and answers their consternation. And I’ll show you in a minute why they were so concerned.
“And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” Now he’s quoting from Isaiah 61. Come back to Isaiah 61 and we’ll see how the Lord knew that the Tribulation was not coming at that time. He knew it was not the last time, but He never betrayed that. And, of course, being God, He knew exactly what the timetable would be. Now, when Jesus said, “no one but the Father knoweth the day or the hour.” Well, He was speaking from His human side.
You always have to look at the things Jesus said and did in His two personalities. On the one hand, He was total man. He got hungry. He got tired. He got angry. He was totally human.On the other side, He was totally God. He could raise the dead. He could still the wind, because He was God. Now, whenever He prayed to the Father, “your will be done not mine,”he’s praying from His humanity, just like you and I would. But on the other hand, He could forgive the sins of the woman taken in adultery because He was God, and only God can forgive sin.
Now it’s the same way with that question about when would the Lord come. From His humanity, He could honestly say, “I can’t tell you. Only the Father knoweth.” But you come over to the other side, what did He tell Philip in John 14? “Philip have I been so long time with you and yet hast thou not known when you have seen me you have seen (who?) the Father.” Isaiah 9 says as plain as day that, “unto us a child is born, a son is given, and his name shall be called what? The wonderful counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting(what?) Father.” So, from His deity, He could have told the exact day and minute of every event. But, from His humanity, He could honestly say that’s only in the hands of the Father.
All right, so here we are now in His earthly ministry. He has read from Isaiah 61, and He’s come through the whole first verse word for word, but now you go up to verse 2 when He says:
“To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,…” He stops in the middle of the verse! And that’s why the Jews raised their eyebrows and just literally stared Him down, saying to themselves, “What’s He doing?” And so then He stood up the second time and said, “this day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.” All right, now look what He’s saying. Everything that had been accomplished in His earthly ministry is in verse 1. Now, as you come into verse 2, He had finished up until His crucifixion, now, preaching the acceptable year of the Lord. What did He mean by that? Israel had every opportunity to accept Him as their Messiah. But they were going to reject Him. Now look at the verse carefully. Where does He stop? Just before it says, “the day of vengeance” or the Tribulation. See? He knew that the Tribulation wasn’t coming in at that time, and so He could stop reading and say, “This has been fulfilled.” And the rest we’re going to leave for a future day. All right, and read on:
“…and the day of vengeance of our God; (which is the coming years of wrath and vexation, then the rest of the verse is) to comfort all that mourn;” What’s that? The Kingdom. And that’s still future. Now to re-cap. Everything that was written in verse 1 was accomplished and He had brought them up to the place where they were ready to reject Him. And so that had all been fulfilled, but the Tribulation hasn’t come in. The Kingdom hasn’t come in. He doesn’t say that it won’t, but it’s going to be postponed for at least 2,000 years, and is still being postponed.
All right, now let’s get back to James and hopefully you got the idea that, even though the Lord Himself knew it (He didn’t reveal it but), He did let us know that there was coming, a gap in the timeline and that the Tribulation and the Kingdom were going to be postponed to a future day, but these Jews didn’t understood that.
Even the Apostle Paul, as I showed in an earlier program, always spoke of the Rapture of the Church in his lifetime. And you want to remember he was probably about the same age as Christ. So, by the time that Paul is writing that famous Scripture, “we shall not all die, but we’ll all be changed, and will ever be with the Lord,” he was probably in his 40’s maybe 50. And you know people didn’t live to be a hundred in those days. Sixty was an old man in those days. So, even Paul was expecting all of this to be culminated certainly before 70 AD. And that’s why, of course, a lot of people today say that when Jesus spoke of all those things concerning the end-times He was speaking of 70 AD. No. That was all just another preview of what’s coming later. All right, let’s get back to James chapter 5.
“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.” In other words, like a farmer is waiting for his crop to ripen, they were to be waiting for the ushering in of the Tribulation.
“Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. 9. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. 10. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” So what’s he getting them ready for? The Tribulation. And he’s telling those Jewish believers, this isn’t the first time they have suffered. Go back in your Old Testament and see how they suffered. The Book of Hebrews gives you a pretty good description of them. Some were sawn asunder. Some were burned. Some suffered from the sword. That’s nothing new in Israel’s life. And so James is reminding them, “This may be in your future.”
I think it’s appropriate to say the same thing for us. We have no guarantee that we’re going to live this life of liberty forever. There may come a day, and it could come fast, that all of a sudden, we’re going to find ourselves under abject persecution. We hope not. And if the Lord comes, then those that are remaining are certainly going to go through these kinds of trials and suffering. All right, so he’s preparing them for these coming years of Tribulation.
“Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job,…” Here he’s going back to an Old Testament book that every Jew was acquainted with. And they knew the losses and the trials and the suffering of Job – so James is using that as an example. He said:
“…Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” God hasn’t changed. Just as surely as He dealt in Job’s life with mercy and restored everything, He also is going to be with us, James says.
“But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” Now there again, that had more appropriateness for Israel under their system of Law than it would for us. But it’s still a good lesson. Be careful what you take an oath on. I think a lot of people carelessly, even with their giving, may just say, “Lord I’m going to give you so many thousand dollars a year.” And I say, you be careful, because God’s going to hold you to it and you may end up going to the bank to borrow. So, even be careful about what you agree with God to do.
“Is any among you afflicted?…” Well, there’s never been a point in human history where there aren’t sick people.
“…let him pray, (absolutely) Is any merry? let him sing psalms.” Now let’s go back and compare Paul in Ephesians 5 verse 18.
“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19. Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;” That’s the life of a believer. And that’s exactly what James is even referring to himself – that, for believers, we are to be singing songs and psalms, which were hymns of rejoicing in ancient Israel. Now back to James.
“Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:” When Paul was winding up his ministry, he could no longer perform miracles, but he writes that his friend was sick on the island of Miletus – and Paul couldn’t do anything much more than pray for him. But to Timothy, he said, for your stomach’s sake take a little what? Wine.
Here James advises the use of oil, but what did the Good Samaritan administer to the guy that was wounded on the roadside? Well, he dressed his wounds with wine and oil, which were the typical medicinal things in the ancient time. So it’s kind of interesting that we get both of them, one from Paul “Take a little wine for your stomach’s sake.” And James says – “Anoint with a little oil for healing.” But, for us, I think, Philippians 4 just says it all:
“Be careful for nothing; (or don’t worry) but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
And that means exactly what it says. So prayer still avails much.