Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 1 * BOOK 6
FIRST FRUITS: GLEANINGS:
OLD TESTAMENT SAINTS: RESURRECTION
Daniel 12 & 9
We’ll briefly review our timeline as we’ve looked at it over the last 14 or 15 months. How Adam and Eve came on the scene about 4,000 B.C. You remember regarding that generation of humanity; God dealt with them as one race of people. They all had an equal opportunity at God’s Salvation. Relatively simple; always based on their faith, of course, but back in the pre-flood dispensations, it was as if they were convicted of sin on their conscience. They were to bring their blood sacrifice by faith and God would accept it. And the best example of that is Abel. The great faith chapter in The Bible tells us that by faith Abel brought a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. But, as all through human history, that generation of people totally rebelled against it until finally there were only eight left, and we had the bringing in of the Noah flood.
That takes us up to about 1600 from Adam to about 2400 B.C. and then, in between, the flood at about 2400 B.C. and I usually say, just in general terms, that half-way between the flood and the call of Abraham, we have the Tower of Babel. And here we have Abram, who later on was called Abraham. Now, always remember that the 8 souls that came out of Noah’s Ark, as they began to re-populate the earth; instead of scattering, as God had instructed them to scatter, they all stayed together and were united under Nimrod at the Tower of Babel. The main thing I like to have people remember about the Tower of Babel is: all idolatry, and all of the paganism that has saturated the world ever since, has it’s roots in Babel. All the occult religions, and even many of the cults that are coming on the scene today who are, in one way or another, associated with the occult, have their roots at the Tower of Babel. Then, God forced their scattering by the confusing of the languages.
Then, after another 175 or 200 years, the whole new generation of people…well, everybody is now steeped in idolatry. What does God do? He says He’s going to do something different.And so, out of the midst of idolatry (and Ur of the Chaldees, and we know that from the Book of Joshua where God says plainly in his Word, that even Terah the father of Abraham served other gods. They were all in idolatry), God calls out one man Abram-Abraham, and he becomes then the great man of faith. It was at this point that God leaves off dealing with what we now refer to as the Gentiles, or non-Jew. God begins dealing with the Jew only, but with exceptions. I never want anyone to miss that. Now, one of the primary exceptions in the Old Testament account was what great city? Nineveh.
You remember God told that good Jew, Jonah, to go and minister to that Gentile city of Nineveh. Did Jonah want to go? Of course not! Why? He was a good Jew, and he understood that God was dealing with Jews only. He wasn’t about to go and see his arch-enemy, a Gentile city like Nineveh be blessed of God and enjoy God’s Salvation. You know the story of Jonah. He finally got there, and the Ninevites repented; but it wasn’t long before they went right back into their same old way. Anyway, from 2000 B.C. then, all the way up into the New Testament, it is primarily God dealing with the Nation of Israel – Jew only. It’s based on the Covenant and promises God made with Abraham. So then, we have the appearance here of John the Baptist and of Christ; to fulfill the Abrahamic promises made way back here. But, what did that generation of Israelites do? They rejected Him; they crucified Him.
Come back to Acts. Peter is still appealing to the Nation of Israel to repent of the fact that they had killed their Messiah, their King; and Peter is still pleading with the Nation of Israel to accept their king, so that they can have the kingdom. But they reject it. Someone asked me recently, when did Israel really come to the place of final rejection. Well, it isn’t exactly final. But they reached the crescendo of their rejection when they stoned Stephen in Acts Chapter 7. And from that point on, Israel slides down into her dispersion; her Temple is taken away in 70 A.D., and God now turns to the Gentiles. So, this is what we’ve been looking at for the last several lessons. This calling out a people for His name. The Bride, or what Paul normally refers to so often, as the Body of Christ. The Church, which is His body, or the Body, which is the Church.
In our last lesson, we got to where the Church is Raptured out. Those of us who are alive and remain, (I Corinthians 15), will be changed and all those who have died during this Church Age, are resurrected bodily, visibly, physically, with a new body; and they meet The Lord in the air, with the souls of those departed saints. They’ve been in Heaven in His presence. They’ve been in a place of bliss and blessing, but without benefit of a body until the Great Resurrection Day, when they are caught up to receive their descending soul and spirit; reunited with their new body, and then, as Paul teaches, those who are alive and remain will be caught up; changed on the way; and so shall we all ever be with The Lord.
Now, I thought before I’d go back to Genesis and pick up where we left off several lessons ago, that we should delineate some of these basic doctrines of end times teachings. We’ve had several people ask that we spend a little time on our end-time view. Now, I think before we actually go on into the Tribulation and the Second Coming, it might behoove us to take a good look at this terminology, resurrection. There is probably no other word in Scripture that has been so maligned and so twisted completely out of it’s truth.
I remember reading a pastor who was certainly bound up in what I call the fundamental definition of resurrection (visible, bodily). And on Easter Sunday, he was visiting in a large midwestern city; and he was going to visit a church where he knew the pastor did not believe in a literal resurrection. And he wondered how that guy could preach a sermon on Easter Sunday morning and not believe in the Resurrection. I read as he reviewed that man’s sermon that, yes, he talked about Resurrection, but he had no concept of a visible, bodily Resurrection. His definition of resurrection was just something into an invisible spirit realm and that he totally rejected the genuine Resurrection as most of us understand it to be. So, I think in order to clarify for some that might not be real sure about the bodily Resurrection of Christ, as well as our own resurrection some day, we’re going to look at what The Bible calls the first resurrection. Let’s turn to John’s Gospel, Chapter 5 and let’s look at verse 28. Most of you that have heard me teach, know that I am a stickler on what The Book really says and not what somebody thinks it says. Here, Jesus is speaking during His earthly ministry:
“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth (now isn’t that plain English? Everyone who has lived and died, at some point in the future, when God calls they’re all going to come forth. Let’s read on) ;they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
Now, how many resurrections have you got? Two! You’ve got the resurrection of the just, (the believers) but you’re also going to have the resurrection of the lost. Many people don’t realize that. They think that when a person dies and goes to Hell, that’s the end of it. But oh no it isn’t! They’re one day going to be resurrected out of Hell and brought before the Great White Throne. From there, they go to the Lake of Fire. Earlier I told you about a question that came in one of my classes about, “What is the difference between Hell and the Lake of Fire?” Well, there’s all the difference in the world. I have been shrinking from teaching it in this lesson because it takes quite a long time to teach it correctly. So, for now we’re just going to look at the first resurrection, the resurrection of the just.
Here again in verse 29 is a good example of what Peter meant when he wrote in his epistle, “that no Scripture is of private interpretation.” I’m sure you’ve all seen that verse and you’ve probably wondered what he meant there. All Peter meant was, that you cannot take one verse of Scripture and build doctrine on it. That’s what the cults will do. They will take a verse here and another verse there and then they build their doctrine. You can’t do that!
So, this verse, if you took it alone, and, even though The Lord Jesus is speaking of Himself, if you lifted this verse out of context and used it to build a doctrine, what could you teach? Well, you could teach that people will go to Heaven by doing good. Isn’t that what it says? Look at it. “They who have done good, will go to the resurrection of life and they who have done evil unto the resurrection of condemnation.” Now see, if you took that verse all alone, you could say that you could go to Heaven by doing good, and people are going to go to Hell because they are doing bad. But, if you study all of Scripture, there is only one way we can please God, and one way we can do good in God’s eyes, and that is by faith.“…Without faith, Hebrews says, it is impossible to please God.” So, what is Jesus really alluding to here when He says, those who have done good are those who have become people of faith? Whether it was back in the Old Testament or in the Age of Grace, there’s only one way we can please God, and that is by believing His Word. So, we’ve got two resurrections. The resurrection of believers (the just), and a resurrection of the lost.
Next, we’ll look at the resurrection of the believers. So go back to I Corinthians Chapter 15. This chapter deals with nothing but resurrection. The fact that men die; that we can revert back to the dust; that we can be cremated; that we can be burned at the stake: that still will not stop God from actually bringing the smallest particle of that original body back together. They are still someplace and He knows where they are. And He will take at least some of those original cells and reconstruct a new, resurrected body.
Now, I’ve often, over the years, had people ask me what I believe about cremation. And my only answer is that I don’t see that the Scripture forbids it or encourages it. Personally, it’s an anathema to me because I feel that when someone cremates a body, they’re in so many words telling God, “Now try and bring that back to life.” That may not always be their mindset, but that’s the way it looks to me and so I am certainly not in favor of cremation. We also know that especially during the reformation, a lot of God’s choicest servants were burned at the stake for their faith. Now, they were cremated and God is going to have no trouble resurrecting them. But all I want you to see is that I don’t care where a person may go to their grave; whether it’s in the deepest ocean, or cave, or whether they’re cremated or blown apart in an explosion; never doubt for a minute that God is going to be able to resurrect that body. That’s what resurrection is all about. He does not start with something new; He brings back that which was before and makes it new. Now, Paul teaches that throughout I Corinthians Chapter 15. Now, let’s go to I Corinthians Chapter 15 and verse 20:
I Corinthians 15:20
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.”
We’re going to look at this first resurrection. Remember, this first resurrection is primarily attached to this Rapture of the Church. That’s a coined word. It’s not in the English. I read where the word `rapture’ is in the German translation, but we don’t have it in the English – but we know what we’re talking about. It’s that up-calling of the living believers as well as the resurrection of the Church Age believers. I’m taking the time to point this out.
Not everybody, from Adam all the way up to present day, will be resurrected at the same identical moment, as we’ll see Paul teach here in I Corinthians 15. When he speaks of them that slept, he’s speaking of those who have died physically. See the words, ‘first fruits’ … the only way we can put a definition on it is to go back to our Old Testament to Leviticus Chapter 23, and in this chapter we have the seven feasts of Jehovah, as they were given to the Nation of Israel there at Sinai. When they were given the Tabernacle; the Priesthood; God also gave them instructions for their seven feast days. It was to begin, of course, with Passover, which was the feast day that Israel was celebrating at the time of the Crucifixion. And since Passover was about to begin at 6 o’clock on Friday evening, they had to hurry and get the body down off the Cross because it could not be out there once Passover started.
And so, that was the feast of Passover, and then, of course, Paul goes on to show us in Corinthians that Christ then became our Passover Lamb. And so, these seven feasts of Jehovah all have an indication of a New Testament trust. But, we want to look over to Leviticus 23:9 where we’ll see what ‘first fruits’ is all about. Now , you have to remember that back here in Israel’s ancient history, they were primarily an agricultural people. That’s why so much of our Bible, including Christ in His earthly ministry, is constantly using what we would call, just ordinary farming language, because they understood what he was talking about.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, ‘When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf (bundle) of the first fruits of your harvest unto the priest.'”
In other words, when they went into the Promised Land and they have planted their crops, the first thing they would do as that crop would begin to ripen, and here again you have to have a little basic understanding of grain farming. Wheat farmers understand this. You know that, as that wheat field begins to ripen (I prefer to think it was barley, because barley was the early spring crop), all through that field of green; all of a sudden will come some golden stems that will ripen early. Now, if you ever happen to be driving through the wheat country in the spring, and it’s turning from green to the golden yellow of harvest, watch for it. As a field is just preparing to turn, and become ripe, scattered around you will see some golden heads of grain. Now, the Jew was to go into that field and pluck these early ripened stems and make a sheaf of them, and take that sampling of a crop and wave it there before the Temple, as a wave offering unto The Lord. And it was called first fruits, because it was the sampling of the crop that is soon to follow.
Now, Paul says here in I Corinthians 15 that Christ has become the ‘first fruits’ (plural). Now, you couldn’t make a bundle or sheaf of grain with just one stem, so what did they have to do? They had to pluck many of them as they were ripened throughout the field and with it make a sheaf. And so, Christ could not be the only one, although He was definitely the first. Come back with me quickly to Matthew Chapter 27. A lot of these things I’ve come across because people have asked questions. And that’s why I never discourage people from asking questions, because that’s the way I’ve learned over the years. I’ll never forget, 18 or 20 years ago, somebody asked me about these verses in Matthew. What were these people who came out of the grave while Christ was on the Cross. I said, “Now wait a minute. No one came out of the grave while Christ was on the Cross.” So, we went and found a Bible and looked it up and, as so often is the case, people don’t read right. Now, let’s look at it.
“Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.” Do you see where we are? Christ is on the Cross and He has just yielded up the Ghost (He has died).
“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;…” Now, you remember the veil that is spoken of here was that huge veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the sanctuary. And, as an act of God, that veil was rent from the top to the bottom.
“And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared to many.”
“And the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints (believers, believing Jews) which slept arose. Came out of the graves after his resurrection. Not while He’s on the Cross. But after His Resurrection. Now, you see it had to be that way, because Christ had to be the first to be resurrected from the dead. This has never happened before. Oh, there were people that were raised from the dead by the prophets, Elijah and Elisha; but they died again. Even when Jesus called Lazarus forth from the grave, that was not resurrection. That was just simply restoring life to him and Lazarus had to die again. But, beginning with Christ’s Resurrection, now we have the term in it’s fullest meaning. But you couldn’t have a bundle of ‘first fruits’ with one stem of grain, there had to be many.
So these, I feel in Matthew 27:52,53, were the sampling of those believers who had died, and were resurrected, and walked into the city with Christ as the first fruits. Altogether, they become the first fruits of them that slept. Now, the first resurrection is really broken down into three areas. We’ve only covered the first one and that’s what Paul refers to here in I Corinthians as the first fruits of resurrection. Christ, and this sampling that came out of the grave and went into the city of Jerusalem. Now, the Scripture is silent on them, but if they were resurrected, then naturally Christ had to taken them up on into glory. They were not left here in this old world of sin and pain. Now, if you’ll turn back with me to I Corinthians 15 again. This is all part of the resurrection of the just.
I Corinthians 15:20,21
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become (past tense) the first fruits of them that slept.…“ (who have died physically). Why does there have to be a resurrection? Verse 21:“For since by man came death (back in the Garden of Eden) so also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”