Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 2 * BOOK 54
Peter Continues the Kingdom Message – Part 2
I Peter 1:1 – 2:14
I have to remind you that these little epistles are addressed primarily, not exclusively, but primarily, to Jewish believers who were facing the horrors of the Tribulation, which at that time they thought were just over the horizon.
So all the language in these little epistles is preparation for testing, pressure and suffering that will be coming upon these Jewish believers in that 7-year period of Tribulation. They were not written to Grace Age believers such as you and I, as our instructions come primarily from the pen of the Apostle Paul. However we can certainly glean something from some of these writings.
I Peter 1:6
“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, (now for just a little while) if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations;” Now, not the temptation to sin but the testings of persecution. Again, I think we have to understand that these Jewish believers who had embraced Jesus as the Messiah for their salvation were so relatively small in number. The vast majority of Israel had not accepted Jesus as the Messiah, so even within the Jewish community these believers were a small, small percentage.
Well, then, compared to the whole world around them, they almost felt like they were nobodies. So they were already coming under a lot of persecution and pressure, even though they weren’t in the Tribulation. So, this is what Peter is addressing. Don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged because you’re under these kinds of testings. Verse 7:
I Peter 1:7
“That the trial (or the testing) of your faith, (They were trusting that the King, the Messiah would shortly be coming and setting up His Kingdom. And so,) being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the (what?) appearing of (Whom?) Jesus Christ:” Now let’s compare some Scriptures again. Go back first to Jeremiah chapter 30 and begin with verse 4, because the Jews are resting as much on the Old Testament as was possible. Now this is prophecy written way back about 600 BC. But these believing Jews in Peter’s day are looking at the fulfilling of it.
“And these are the words that the LORD spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah (in other words the whole nation) 5. For thus saith the LORD; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. 6. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, And all faces are turned into paleness? 7. Alas! for that day is great, (the Tribulation period) so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; (the Nation of Israel) but he shall be saved out of it.”
Let’s go to Zechariah chapter 13 on your way back to the New Testament, and let’s begin with verse 8. Now this is all prophecy, but yet these Jewish believers now in 50-60 AD thought it was about to be fulfilled in their lifetime.
“And it shall come to pass, (what does that mean? It’s going to happen! Don’t you think for a minute it isn’t going to happen just because it’s been delayed for 2,000 years. It’s still out in front of us) that in all the land, (that is the land of Israel) saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. 9. And I will bring the third part through the fire, (that is the trials and the wrath of the Tribulation) and will refine them as silver is refined, will try (test) them as gold is tried: (tested) they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: (now this is at the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the 7 years) I will say, It is my people: (now it’s been a long time since God has called Israel “My people.” But again He will!) and they shall say, The LORD is my God.”
Now that’s of course what Paul, I think, refers to over in the Book of Romans chapter 11 and verse 26 – that a remnant shall be saved, and then he calls the remnant “All Israel”because they will be the total of the nation going into the Kingdom.
Now in that same light, come back to Acts chapter 3 verses 18 through 21, and here Peter is appealing to the Nation of Israel to still recognize that the One that was crucified was their Messiah.
“But those things, (now this is Peter addressing the multitude of Jews there in Jerusalem) which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. (that is the death on the Cross) 19. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; (how?) 20. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: (but Peter knows prophecy, so the next verse) 21. Whom the heaven must receive….”
Remember, for the last year or two we’ve been stressing Psalms 110:1, especially when we went through the book of Hebrews.
“The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” What was the “until?” When He would return. That’s what Peter’s referring to. That if Israel would repent of having crucified their Messiah, and they could experience the remission of sins, God would send Jesus Christ to fulfill the prophecies and the Kingdom would come in – but verse 21 would have to happen first.
“Whom the heaven must receive (sitting at the Father’s right hand) until…” I’m always emphasizing time words in Scripture. Until is a time word. So He would sit at the Father’s right hand until it would be time to return, and that couldn’t happen until:
“…the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
Back to Peter – so what was the restitution of all things? This earth has to be cleansed of all the defilement before God can bring in that glorious Kingdom and that’s what the Tribulation is going to accomplish. The Tribulation is going to accomplish the destruction of everything that man has put on the planet the last 6,000 years. He has too! I stressed it here several weeks ago. Can God set up a Heaven on earth with bars on every corner? Racetracks all over? Bingo places and gambling casinos? That’s all got to go. That won’t work in the Kingdom! And all the other places of dens of iniquity – they’ve got to go! Everything is going to go. It’s going to be cleansed and made ready, then, as it was in the Garden of Eden. And so all of prophecy is looking toward that day.
But these Jewish believers thought it was just over the horizon. And that was another reason why they so glibly sold their houses and their land back there in Acts chapter 2. They cashed in their savings and put everything into a common kitty, because they thought the Kingdom was just over the horizon.
Now, with the persecution that’s settling on them, they really think it’s close; and Peter is encouraging that line of thinking. “Get ready because the Tribulation is right out in front of us, but once we go through the Tribulation, the King and the Kingdom will be our lot.” See? All right, so verse 7 again.
I Peter 1:7-8a
“That the trial (the testings) of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ; 8. Whom having not seen,…” Now, as I was looking at this, something struck me. What does that tell you? Evidently none of these dispersed Jews now living somewhere in that area of 50 to 65 AD, had witnessed Christ’s earthly ministry. These Jews had either been out of the land or for one reason or another had never been part and parcel of His earthly ministry or His miracles and signs, because Peter says, “you haven’t seen Him.”
I Peter 1:8
“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, (see there’s the faith aspect, always by faith!) ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:’
I had a phone call this morning from a gentleman who had come out of a cult – you talk about somebody full of joy unspeakable! I said, “You’ve made my day!” And you could just feel it over the telephone; how thrilled he was that he had seen the light and had come out of the darkness of this cult and was now in the Grace of God! Well, these Jews were in the same situation. They had come away from Judaism with all of its works religion now with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
I Peter 1:9
“Receiving the end of your faith, even (what?) the salvation of your souls.” It’s always by faith, even as I stressed in that last program.
I Peter 1:10a
“Of which salvation the prophets…” Now, the prophets, where were they? Way back before Christ. Going all the way back to Isaiah and Jeremiah and all the rest of it – Moses was a prophet to a degree. So, going all the way back, especially to the beginning of Israel’s experience with the prophets:
I Peter 1:10b
“…have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:” Now when you analyze that verse and pick it apart, what does it tell you? The Old Testament prophets had an idea of something that they could not take hold of. They couldn’t comprehend it. Let me give you an example. Come back with me to Daniel, chapter 12 verse 8, and this is just one example. This just says it all, and is exactly what Peter is referring to, that the prophets knew that there was something that they couldn’t put their hands on. And I still can’t.
Every once in a while somebody will write or call and ask, “Les, how were the Old Testament people saved?” Well, it was by faith. There had to be animal sacrifice, I know that, but yet, when you get down to the full minutia of Old Testament salvation, it’s hard to put your thumb on it. And I had a dear old widow of a tremendous Jewish Bible teacher who was in one of my classes years back and I asked her one time, “How did your husband describe the Old Testament salvation?” She said, “He said just exactly what you said tonight, you can’t put your thumb on it.”
And that’s the only way I can explain it because there are certain things that just keep popping up as questions that we can’t answer; but here it’s so obvious, then, that these Old Testament prophets understood there was something, and they looked into it. They searched diligently, but they couldn’t put their thumb on it. All right, here it is; Daniel 12:8:
“And I heard, (in other words, as the Holy Spirit gave him utterance to write) but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?” In other words, Daniel, after writing all these prophecies and not understanding all the ramifications, said, “Lord what does all this mean?” And what was God’s answer? “Daniel, close the book, it’s not for you to know.”
“And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.”
I’ve pointed this out, that from around 400 AD until about the middle 1800’s there was almost no grasp in the community of Christendom about end-time prophecy. It was never talked about – never discussed. No one had an understanding of the Rapture and Tribulation and the Second Coming. It was never talked about. And I don’t think God expected them to because it wasn’t the time. But, beginning in about the middle 1800’s, in so many areas of the human experience in secular technology, in prophetic understanding, in the Nation of Israel, and in the physical Nation of Israel, the return of rain, the ending of the earthquakes and the defeat of malaria; all these things started getting us ready for where we are today, the end-time.
But prior to that time, from about 400 AD until about 1860 AD or so – nothing. Everything just sort of went on an even keel. The Nation of Israel stayed empty. Earthquakes kept anybody from building. Malaria kept the population out. Israel remained dispersed because God kept the land, for the most part, empty. The Jews never thought about going home until, all of a sudden, since about the middle 1800’s everything starts happening! Technology. All of a sudden one invention after another comes along and now, since the turn of the century, it’s just been a downhill slide in the increase in technology. Well, why didn’t it happen all those intervening years? Because there was no need for it. But as soon as God was preparing for the end-time, here it all comes, as it says in Daniel 12:4.
It’s just amazing, and it should be enough to turn the darkest infidel into a believer – that all these things according to God’s divine purposes have begun to fall into place. All right, so Daniel’s the same way. He said, “Close the book, Daniel. There’s no need for everybody understanding end-time events, they’re not ready for it.” And so they didn’t. All right, and so the prophets all through the Old Testament could not comprehend this whole idea of a suffering Savior and yet a ruling King.
Speaking of the prophets not knowing completely about a suffering Saviour and yet a ruling king. All through the Old Testament you have parallel lines of thought just like two railroad tracks and I know I’ve said it years and years ago, especially in my classes. And the one line is the teaching of a suffering Messiah, and on the other line was this constant prophecy of a glorious Kingdom which, of course, would imply a King. All the way through the Old Testament; first they would be talking about a suffering Messiah and on the other hand here were these promises of a glorious King and His Kingdom. But, just like Peter says, they couldn’t put it together and God didn’t really expect them to.
Now, come back with me to Genesis. The birth of Benjamin is found over in Genesis 35, and this goes clear back, not too long after the call of Abraham, so that would have to be 1700-1800 BC., because Abraham’s call was about 2000 BC. Here Jacob and his family are back in the land of Palestine, Israel.
“And they journeyed from Bethel; (which is up north of Jerusalem) and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: (which, I think, is in the area of present day Bethlehem, a few miles south of Jerusalem) and Rachel (the beloved of Jacob) travailed, and she had hard labour. 17. And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. 18. And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: (which in the Hebrew meant, the son of my suffering) but his father (Jacob overruled and) called him Benjamin.” (which meant the son of my strength.)
Now you see you have two totally different ideas in those two names. Benoni was the son of suffering, but Benjamin meant the son of my strength. So you see, the rabbis way back in antiquity were looking at that and analyzing it and searching diligently what this could mean; and so some of them, not all of them, but some of them came to the conclusion that there had to be a Messiah who would suffer. But there would also have to be a Messiah who would be a ruling King and bring in the Kingdom. Now, then, what did they miss? That it would be one and the same.
But that He would come with an interval of time in between the suffering and the ruling and reigning. And that’s what they missed. And I think this is exactly what Peter is talking about; how the old prophets knew that there had to be a suffering Messiah and I suppose they looked at some of the passages in Isaiah, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as wool.” And they must have had some inkling that in Isaiah 53, when it says “that He is chastised for our sins” and all these things, they knew that there had to be a suffering Messiah and yet they could look at verses like Zechariah 14 that said, “and He shall be King over all the earth.”
So they were torn betwixt and between. And they could not put the whole thing together. And all you have to do is just go back some night with a concordance, and go into your Old Testament and look up these concepts of how there would be this suffering on the one hand and the ruling and the reigning of a glorious, powerful King on the other. And even today, if a Jew has any concept of spiritual things, what does he tell you they’re looking for? The Messiah!
Now they’re not looking for a suffering Messiah, they’re looking for a ruling Messiah, One Who like one real Orthodox young Jew told me years ago, he said, “We’re looking for a Messiah Who will not only be able to bring peace to the Middle East but He will bring peace to the whole world. He’ll be a tremendous individual.” Well, indeed He will be; but you see, he wasn’t looking for a Messiah as we understand the Messiah. He was just simply looking for a super-individual who would fulfill that role of being the King and bring in this Kingdom promised to Israel.