Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 2 * BOOK 55
The End of All Things is at Hand – Part 2
I Peter 4:1 – 5:14
Today we begin in I Peter chapter 4, and we left off in the last half-hour in verse 6. And remember the whole scenario here is, Jewish believers who are under intense pressure – and of course, they feel like they’re looking at the seven years of Tribulation (that they thought was right out in front of them). They think it’s just over the horizon, but hopefully, they can go through the Tribulation and witness the Second Coming of Christ and they will be then part and parcel of the Kingdom. Now that is the overall picture as James, Peter, John, and Jude are writing these last little Jewish epistles. Remember these early Jewish believers weren’t promised the Rapture like we have been in the Body of Christ (as only Paul teaches the Body of Christ and the Rapture). The rest of the writers in the Old and New Testament speak only of His second coming after the seven years of Tribulation, and just before the earthly Kingdom Age.
On the top of our Bible timeline, all we can get from the Old Testament is Christ’s earthly ministry, His rejection at the cross, and His ascension (as we see in Acts chapter 1 He ascended back to glory). After that, there is an indeterminate period of time during which Peter and the Eleven have been preaching to the Jews (Acts chapters 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6). And it really doesn’t end until they reject Stephen in chapter 7. And I always call that the crescendo of Israel’s rejection of Jesus of Nazareth. Then, in chapter 9, we have the conversion of Saul of Tarsus and that is the beginning of the end for Israel and the beginning of the beginning for the Gentile Body of Christ, which we see on this bottom part of the timeline.
All right, but this top line is where Peter is still dwelling. Peter is still aware of nothing more than the Old Testament prophecies and Christ’s earthly ministry prophecy. And so here’s what they’re looking at. They’re in this time period after Christ has ascended (after Pentecost), and they’re looking for the horrors of the Tribulation, ending with the Second Coming, and they’ll go into the Kingdom. That’s all they understand. But from our perspective now, God stopped this timeline right here. And instead of bringing in the seven years of Tribulation, He sent the Apostle Paul out into the Gentile world, calling out the Body of Christ. And we have now been in this 1,900 plus years period of time and we now are waiting for the Rapture to take the Body of Christ off the scene. And then the timeline will pick right up where it left off as it is up here.
And that’s why, as I said in the beginning of the last program, everything that disappeared together back in the first century is now reappearing together as we are now in 2003 and we are looking for the Lord’s appearing for us at any time. In light of this, Peter and these early Jewish believers are on this top line. Peter sees nothing but the horrors of the Tribulation facing them but believes, if they can survive it, they’re going to see the return of the King in glory, and they’ll be going into the Kingdom. In fact, we’re going to look at Matthew 24 to clarify some of this, but first let’s read verse 6 here in I Peter chapter 4. That’s where we left off. Now they’ve gone through persecution, and if they’ve died, so much the better – they’re now in the Lord’s presence. And so this is who he’s referring to in verse 6, those who have been martyred and put to death for their faith
I Peter 4:6
“For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, (they’ve been persecuted and they’ve been martyred.) that they might be judged according to men in the flesh,(In other words, men hated their testimony. But as a result of their martyr’s death of course) but live according to God in the sprit.” Now verse 7, what’s the first word? “But.” What does that mean? The flipside!
I Peter 4:7
“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” Well now, can you see why Peter says the end of all things is at hand. They’re right here on this top timeline. Christ has been crucified. He’s ascended. Peter’s been preaching to the Nation of Israel. The persecution has scattered them out of Jerusalem and he’s still writing to the Jews scattered. But all of this is leading up to the next event on the Old Testament program, which would be the seven years of the Tribulation and the return of Christ and the Kingdom. That’s what they’re looking for.
All right, now, we’re going to let this go for the time being because this does not come about until Paul comes out and begins to preach the Gospel of Grace and the outcalling of the Gentile Body of Christ. But, as we teach this we’re up here on this top timeline. All through these little Jewish epistles, they’re preparing these Jewish believers for the seven years that are coming. All right, back to Matthew 24. And this is back in Christ’s earthly ministry. And that’s why it ties so beautifully with what Peter says here. Matthew 24 verse 1.
Sometimes I just get in such a hurry to get through these Books to get to the next one, but we’ll take our time. We’re in no big hurry. If the Lord comes before we finish Peter, why so much the better! As we begin this passage, Christ is toward the end of His earthly ministry and the Twelve, in view of the Kingdom, don’t as yet realize that He’s going to be crucified in short order, and put to death. They just think that everything’s going to keep on going until the King sets up the Kingdom.
“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. 2. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Now remember He’s God. He knows the end from the beginning. He knew that the Romans would be coming in and destroying it all.
“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples (the Twelve) came unto him privately, (In other words, no press of the crowds here. Just Jesus and the Twelve) saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Now they were aware of the coming of the King and the Kingdom – but a destruction of the Temple? That all these things would be destroyed? So, “When will these things be? What shall be the sign of thy coming and the end of the ages?” Which would be the thousand-year reign and rule of Jesus Christ.
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.” Don’t be taken up with deception. Now, even as you read this, that was so appropriate for the top timeline – my it just fits perfectly, getting them ready for the seven years. The Lord knew it wasn’t going to happen but He still never betrayed the secret of it all and so He’s speaking as if this is coming along this top line.
Now we can bring ourselves in here and it’s almost identical. We’re in the same scenario today that Peter was back then. And so it all fits, whether it was Peter back in his day in the late 50’s in the first century. Or whether it’s us living today in 2003, there’s not that much difference. All right, now look what he said, “Take heed that no man deceive you.”
What is the world getting shot full of? Deception! My, when I hear of all the religious stuff that’s up there on that Internet, it’s everything from soup to nuts. And what is it? Ninety-nine percent is as false as a $3.00 bill. But most people can’t tell the difference. And that’s one reason I enjoy teaching is to get people so ingrained in the Book that when they see that garbage, they can recognize it for what it is. Pure garbage! So Jesus warned us. He warned the people of His day. Remember now, we’re looking at two different time scenarios and yet they’re almost the same.
“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Oh, they use the name of Jesus Christ glibly. They are ministers of the Gospel. Ha! But they don’t use the same Book that we do. All right, and so we’re warned. “Many shall come in my name saying I am the Christ and they shall deceive many.” Now verse 6. If this isn’t today’s news, I don’t’ know what is.
“And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” Now you want to remember, as Peter and those believing Jews were facing that scenario, the Roman Empire was known for it’s peace-keeping for a good period of time, but the world has never been stable. There’s always been somebody wanting what somebody else has got. You know, some of these pacifists think that we should just lay down our arms and bring home our armies and just sit here and enjoy life. Phooey! How long would we last? Three months, two months? Maybe not that. Because it’s been a fact of human history, if you’ve got something that’s worth keeping, you have to fight for it. You have to shed blood to keep it. It’s been a fact of history. And it’s no different today.
So even back then there were constant rumors of war, one empire wanting to destroy another. But Jesus said, “The end isn’t yet.” Now verse 7.
“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: (my we’re seeing that today with the threat of terrorism around the world and the unstable governments everywhere) and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” Now of course, they weren’t as aware of that as we are because they didn’t have the technology. But somebody sent me something the other day on the earthquake activity around the world. If you just want to see what’s going on, just get up there on the Internet. You can see earthquakes every day. Well, they didn’t use to know that (because of the technology) like we do now. Now verse 8.
“All these (things that are pretty much commonplace in human history but now they’re going to be in such magnitude) are the beginning of sorrows.” (or travail)
Now the word ‘travail’ speaks of the woman about to be delivered. Now, we can use that same thing as a background. Come back with me to Jeremiah 30 – now this is prophecy. And you want to remember that in Jeremiah’s day he was speaking of the Babylonian captivity that was about to come. And the Nation of Israel would be removed from the land, but God’s going to bring them back, and did.
The same thing happened in 70 AD – they were removed from the land but now in our lifetime, God has brought them back, so even though these prophecies are written in 600-and-some BC, it’s a two-fold prophecy. The near and the far. All right, Jeremiah chapter 30, starting at verse 1,
“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2. Thus speaketh the LORD God of Israel, (so we’re dealing with the Jewish people here) saying. Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book. (in other words, God’s telling Jeremiah to write God’s words) 3. For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers and they shall possess it.” Now that happened twice. The first time they came back after the Babylonian captivity under Ezra and Nehemiah and rebuilt the Temple and got ready for Christ’s first coming. Then in 70 AD, they were dispersed the second time, went out into every nation under heaven, and now they’re back in the land the second time. Okay, so “they will come back to the land that I gave to their fathers and they shall possess it.”
“And these are the words that the LORD spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah. 5. For thus saith the LORD; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. (here it comes ) 6. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? (like a woman at childbirth.) 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,…” This is the Tribulation as we know it and Israel has faced this more than once. But this, in particular, is what Peter was preparing his people for and what we are now talking about in the same kind of language.
“…so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble;…” That’s why I’ve said adamantly that the Church will not fit in that seven years of Tribulation. You cannot force the Church into that time of Jacob’s trouble – we’re Gentiles. They’re Jews. It’s prophecy. You’ve got to be able to separate the Scriptures, because we’re back here in the revelation of the mysteries with the Apostle Paul. And so you cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, put the Church into the Tribulation, whether it’s up there on the timeline or whether it’s over here on the timeline, that doesn’t matter. It will not fit, because the Tribulation is the time of Jacob’s trouble. It’s God dealing primarily with the Nation of Israel, and it’s going to be in judgment. Why should He bring judgment on the believing Church? Just doesn’t make sense. But He is going to bring judgment on unbelieving Israel.
Okay, now let’s go back to where we were in Matthew 24, because I’m not to the verse yet that I wanted. Verse 8 again.
“All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (travail) Today we’re not in the Tribulation as some think. Good heavens, there are a lot of people that think so, but we’re not. We are not in the Tribulation, but we’re seeing the world get ready for it. The stage is being set. That’s the best way I can put it. Everything that we’re seeing happen around the globe is simply preparing the world for these days. See? And we’re close. Now verse 9. Remember Jesus is speaking to Jews.
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you:…” Now do you see how that rhymes with what Peter has been writing about? They were in the same thing. They were already being killed for their faith and it was going to get worse. And so Jesus is speaking the very same thing, even though now we’re 1,900 and some years later.
“…and ye shall be hated of (not all nations but one, but how many?) all nations for my name’s sake.” Now today, Israel is hated by everybody but one – America. We’re the only nation on earth that’s a true friend of Israel, and we’d better stay that way until the Lord comes. But, even during the Tribulation, America for one reason or another, will no longer be that friend of Israel. Either we’re gone, or we, like the rest of the world, will turn against them. I prefer to think that we’ll be gone. So, “they’ll deliver you up and you will be hated of all the nations for my name’s sake.” Not because they’re Jews but because they are God’s people and the world hates anything concerning the people of God.
All right, now then, with that backdrop, let’s go back to I Peter and maybe this will make a little more sense yet because I know, like I said in the last program, I’ve learned a bunch myself as I’ve been preparing this for broadcasting. And I imagine anybody out there that knows how to study will see a lot of things that I’ve missed. All right, I Peter chapter 4 verse 7 again.
I Peter 4:7a
“But the end of all things is at hand:…”
Not 2,000 years from now “at hand.” Now we’ve got to stop and think. Is this inspired of the Holy Spirit? Of course it is! But see, even Jesus in His earthly ministry never betrayed the secret of the interruption of the timeline with the out-calling of the Body of Christ. He spoke and taught with the exception of two, that I can find, that it was all going to stay right along that line of prophecy. He did not betray that one bit. Neither did the Holy Spirit allow these writers to betray it. So by Spirit inspiration, they write as if it’s all going to continue like the top timeline. So Peter can write:
I Peter 1:7
“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” But now remember we should also be in that same attitude today because we are getting so close. Oh, we’re not going to have to go through any part of the Tribulation, but we’ll know when it’s at the door.
I Peter 1:8
“And above all things have fervent charity (love) among yourselves: for charity (love) shall cover the multitude of sins.” Now that’s self-explanatory. You don’t need a theologian’s degree for that. You know, I told Iris a while back, I can remember a song that was on the radio quite a bit several years ago, and I loved it. She didn’t remember ever hearing it. I guess that’s when she was working every day. Many of you will have heard it. ‘Love Changes Everything.’ Remember that one? Sure you do. And how true. Love does change everything!
And it’s exactly what this says. When love is operating, it makes a whole different scenario. Whether it’s in the home; whether it’s in the business world – anywhere – love changes everything. And that’s what Peter is admonishing these believers to do. Don’t be nitpicking at each other. Don’t be making life miserable. You’ve got enough problems from the outside world. But at least show your love for one another. When I looked at this last night I couldn’t help but think of Florida. Iris and I enjoyed that two-three weeks of seminar teachings because of the hospitality. I figured up last night – you know how many different homes we were in? We were in nine different homes and the hospitality was just beyond your imagination. All right, that’s as Christians should be, see? Verse 9.
I Peter 4:9-10a
“Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 10. As every man hath received the gift, (that is of salvation) even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards….”What’s a steward? A caretaker or a manager. You remember when Abraham was way back there in Genesis and God was promising him a son; what did old Abraham say? “Well now Lord, you know I haven’t got a son. All I’ve got is this steward, Eliezer of Damascus.” Well what was Eliezer? He was the manager of all of Abraham’s material wealth, see? All right, Paul uses the same word. In fact, let’s go back and look at it. We’ve got time enough. So turn with me to I Corinthians chapter 4, and it’s a word that applies to believers of any day.
I Corinthians 4:1-2
“Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found (what?) faithful.” Now what is the law-breaking sin of an unfaithful steward? Embezzlement. Right? If you’ve got an unfaithful manager, he will, nine times out of ten, end up embezzling you into bankruptcy. Isn’t that right? Sure. And so here was the whole scenario that Paul lays out to you and I as believers. Don’t be an embezzler, but be a faithful steward of these mysteries which, of course, are the revelations of Paul.
Now Peter is referring to something different than Paul’s revelation, but it’s the same language that these Jews were to be faithful managers, or keepers, or stewards of these things of God, and they were to show it with their love toward one another. Now verse 11.
I Peter 4:11a
“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles (or as the Word) of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth:…”
You know I’ve told teachers and pastors (and I’m constantly reminding myself), we have to be so careful that when we get ready to teach a class or prepare a sermon that we don’t put so much work and study and notes into it that we rely on the flesh. That’s the problem. I’ve seen people go up into the pulpit with a stack of notes that high. Well, that’s the flesh. Now granted we have to study. But if we’re going to rely on a bunch of notes to bring out the Word of God, then there’s something wrong because we have to be moved as the Spirit directs and not just simply as the flesh has prepared.
Now I’m not against preparation. That’s necessary. But if we’re going to get into a situation of teaching or preaching the Word, we have to come to the place where the Spirit takes over. The Spirit has to bring us the words; the Holy Spirit has to bring the thoughts. That’s my prayer just before I come in here every taping. I go to the back restroom and there I ask the Lord, now just pour out the Pneuma-Hagion, that it’ll be the Spirit that speaks through me.