Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 59
THE SEVEN JEWISH CHURCHES IN REVELATION
We’re glad you’re all here, and we just appreciate the fact that you all bring your Bible, because believe it or not, this is what people notice. Wherever I teach, everybody has their own Bible. And that means you’re using the textbook.
Okay, for those of you out in television now, we’re going to start in Revelation chapter 1 today. For those of you who are acquainted with my format, you know I skipped over the first 3 or 4 chapters for a purpose. As we were coming up through the Old Testament, and when we got to Daniel, then, of course, Daniel and Revelation just fit together like a hand in a glove.
I was so uncomfortable with the traditional view of the first three or four chapters that I just passed over it. I just didn’t feel that I was ready to agree to the traditional view of these chapters, and so rather than teach amiss, I just skipped over it. But, in these intervening years, I have now become comfortable with something that is not traditional and, of course, a lot of my teaching isn’t necessarily traditional.
But, I always have to come back to the Apostle Paul and what does Paul say about tradition? Just about in every case, we find it’s not much good.
So, traditionally, we know that these letters to the seven Jewish Churches are pushed into the Grace Age and seemingly trying to make them Body of Christ congregations, which they are not. Then they projected out skillfully how that each one of these letters was supposed to cover a particular period of church history leading from the time of Pentecost all the way up to the Tribulation.
But, when you study these letters and read them carefully as I had done even before I decided to skip over them, there is not one word of what we would call Church language in these letters. It’s just not in there.
John says not one word of anything that’s beyond what he had already expressed in the gospel of John, or in his little epistles. And, so, if I had my timeline on the board, and I was going to do it before we went on the air, but if I had had my timeline on the board and if you care to draw it yourself, just make one line straight across the top and that’s coming out of the Old Testament. Nothing has changed. The four gospels are just an extension of the Old Testament.
These were promises made to the fathers, and of course Israel rejected it. He comes back in the Book of Acts and still pleads with Israel to repent of the fact that they had crucified their promised Messiah, but Israel refuses to believe it. But they don’t know that God is going to stop the time clock. And, so far as all these writers, the four gospel writers, Luke, the Book of Acts, and then again when you jump into James, Peter, John, Jude, and John writing Revelation, they are all still on that top line of Old Testament prophecies, in which there is not one smidgeon of understanding of the Church Age in their writings.
So, for our vantage point, of course, we usually draw the second line, and then we show that God opened up His timeline, stopped the time clock on Israel and went into the Church Age where we have been now for 1900 and something years, and to which we go to the Apostle Paul and the Church letters, Romans through Philemon, for salvation and all Body of Christ doctrines. For example, Paul’s writings are the only place you can find in Scripture that tells us that for salvation we must believe in our heart that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again. (I Corinthians 15:1-4)
And, so, I’ve come to the conclusion, now, that all these Jewish writers were looking forward to the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies, which included His first coming, and then His rejection and then Pentecost and then was to come the wrath and vexation – the seven years of Tribulation. Then was to come the Second Coming, the establishment of the Kingdom, and Israel would be the top dog of the nations.
Well, that was all back in the Old Testament prophesies. But, unbeknown to Old Testament prophecies, God stopped the time clock after the first advent even though Peter and James and John are still looking forward to everything unfolding, because they don’t know that He had done that. God, in His wisdom, has made the overtures to bring about the Apostle Paul and the Age of Grace, which means the time clock had to stop.
Now, I suppose the best place to show that is in Luke chapter 4. Here we go again – you know, I’ll never forget years ago, Monty used to sit on the front row when we were in the old studio, and I’d do this and I’d say, “Well we’re going to start in Revelation,” and quietly he’d say, “You want to bet?” So, he knew me. So, before we start Revelation we’ll jump back a minute to Luke 4, because I always like to establish that we’re not using human thinking to do what we’re doing. Because the Lord Jesus in His earthly ministry gave us an indication that indeed that prophetic timeline was going to be stopped.
It was going to be interrupted and rather than go on into the Tribulation and the Second Coming and so forth, God was going to allow Paul to become the Apostle for the Church Age which has now been going on for over 1900 years, and Jesus makes it very clear, known as the Creator of everything, exactly what’s going to happen. He knew the prophetic timeline was going to stop. I use this as my backup to doing what we do, by opening up the timeline.
“And he (Jesus) came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath Day, and stood up for to read.” Now, everywhere I go, I emphasize that when Jesus was here on earth in those three years of earthly ministry, everything He said and did was under the Law. The temple is operating full speed and He never told any Jew to stop temple worship. He never told any of His followers to stop keeping the Law. But, quite the opposite, He told them to keep the Commandments – to keep the Law. He healed the lepers and what did He tell them? Go show the priests according to the Law.
Now, you see, most of Christendom ignores that, and that’s why I say it’s almost an exercise in futility to spend all their time in the four gospels, preaching and teaching what Jesus said under the Law. And, once you realize it, it’s almost ridiculous, because we’re not under the Law. We’re under Grace. But, nevertheless, here is Jesus in full accord with the Law, He’s in the synagogue on the Sabbath Day, Saturday Sabbath, right?
“And there was delivered unto Him the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written;” Now, what does that tell you? He knew exactly what portion He wanted to read to that synagogue congregation. So, He found it in the scroll. Now, it’s not a book like this, they were scrolls. So, He unrolls the scroll until He gets to Isaiah 61 starting with verse 1, and this is what it says:
“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 broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, (in other words a reference to His miracles,) to set at liberty them that are bruised.” This is a reference of course to setting free the Old Testament believers who had been held captive in Hades until the atoning blood would be shed. All right, so all these things He’s referring to are all part and parcel of His first advent.
“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. 21. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” In other words, everything He’d taken from that verse up to that point was now fulfilled with His first coming. Now, go back to Isaiah 61 and we’ll read at least part of what He referred to here in Luke chapter 4. You’ve got to see this with your own eyes to appreciate it. And we’ll take the time, I wasn’t going to, but we’ll take the time. We’ll just re-read it.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives (see it’s almost word for word) and the opening of the prisons to those that are bound; 2. To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,…” Now, that’s where He stopped. But, now, in Isaiah where is that in the context? The middle of the verse – He stopped in the middle of the verse and said this has been fulfilled. And those synagogue people knew what He had done. And they were aghast. But why did He stop where He stopped? He knew the rest wasn’t going to take place –His time clock was going to stop. Well, read on:
“…the day of vengeance of our God;…” Which is what? Tribulation. He couldn’t read on and then say this has been fulfilled. It hasn’t been fulfilled even yet today. It will be, but He stopped short. Then, after the Tribulation in this same prophecy, what would come next?
“…to comfort all that mourn;” And when will that happen? In the Kingdom. And so Jesus knew that His timeline of prophecy of the Old Testament promises to the Father would be interrupted at the end of His first advent, and we would not see the continuation of it till sometime in the future. But, you see, even His followers didn’t know how far into the future that would be, whether it would be five years or ten years or forty years, and so, consequently, those men all wrote with the understanding that everything would be fulfilled in their lifetime.
All those prophesies of Psalms chapter 2.
Now, by sake of comparison, we’ve done this a long time ago in our study in Acts, but that’s so long ago we’ll go back and look at how Peter handled the same kind of prophecy. Now, come with me back to Acts chapter 2 and we’ll see the difference between the Creator God’s knowledge of the future and the Apostle Peter. Peter had no concept of anything but the Old Testament prophetic program. Here in Acts chapter 2, Peter is doing the same thing as Jesus did. He’s quoting from an Old Testament prophecy. This is Peter speaking to this great crowd of Jews gathered for the feast of Pentecost.
“But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; (now he quotes Joel and we’ll go back and look at it in a moment) 17. And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18. And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: (well that had already happened and was happening, but then Peter goes right on and quotes from Joel) 19. And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, vapour of smoke: 20. The sun turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 21. And it shall come to pass, (which is now our reference to the Kingdom Age) that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Did any of that happen? Well, of course not. But, did Peter know it wouldn’t? No. Peter was under the impression that all of this was still coming. Now, go back and see how completely Peter follows Joel’s prophecy. Now, if you have trouble finding that, that’s right after Daniel and then Hosea and then Joel and it’s in chapter 2, starting at verse 28. And, now, you’ll see it’s word for word. Peter was quoting word for word.
“It shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions: 29. And also upon the servants and handmaids in those days I will pour out my spirit. (and then the prophecy goes right on) 30. I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, pillars of smoke. 31. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.(which of course is the final 3 ½ years of the 7 years of Tribulation)
32. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be delivered, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.” All right, another one I like to use in that same vein, is just back up to Psalms chapter 2, which you’ve always heard me referred to as “The Outline of The Old Testament Program.” It’s so clearly laid right out – Christ’s first advent, His rejection, the wrath and vexation, or what we call the Tribulation, and then the Kingdom; that glorious Kingdom on earth, which has been promised ever since you might say, Abraham, and especially from David on. And here again, we’ve just got to take every word.
“Why do the heathen (the non-Jewish world) rage, (that is in their anti-God understanding. They just can’t see God having anything to do with the rule of the planet) and the people(even Israel) imagine a vain thing?
2. The kings of the earth (that is of the Gentile world) set themselves, and the rulers (that is of Israel. The religious rulers) take counsel (what’s the next word?) together, (it wasn’t just the Jew, it wasn’t just the Romans, they worked in counsel as the prophet said they would) against the LORD, (that is against the Messiah, against Jesus of Nazareth, and in so many words said,) and against his anointed, saying,
3. Let us break their (the plurality of the God head.) bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. (We’re not going to let God rule in the affairs of men. Then look at the response of God in heaven. He’s going to laugh at their foolishness, their ignorance) 4. He that sitteth in heavens shall laugh, the LORD (God the Son) shall have them in derision. 5. Then (now this is after His rejection and crucifixion and ascension of course) then shall he speak unto them (that is the nation of Israel as well as the rest of the world, as we’re going to see as we get further into the Book of Revelation) in his wrath, (not in His love and mercy – wrath) and vex them in his sore displeasure. (But, what follows? The Kingdom)
6. Yet have I set my king (which is the King of Kings) upon my holy hill of Zion.” Well, why does the Psalmist specify Zion? Because we know from all other promises, Christ is going to rule on David’s throne and where was David’s throne? Mt. Zion. So, it all fits. So, the Psalmist is prophesying not only His rejection, not only the horrors and wrath of the Tribulation, but it’s followed by the Kingdom when Christ will rule from Mt. Zion.
Well, all of that is sufficient now, then, to show, as we go into Revelation, come back with me, that we’re going to emphasize that this whole Book of Revelation is Jewish – there’s nothing Gentile in here except as the Gentiles come under the wrath and vexation as the overflow from dealing with Israel. Now, that’s always my answer when people say, “Isn’t America in prophecy?”
No, you can’t find America in prophecy, because America never had any consort with the nation of Israel in antiquity. The only Gentiles you’ll find listed in Scripture are the nations that had a direct contact with the nation of Israel back in Israel’s history. So, consequently, yes, you have all the Middle Eastern people: you have the Greeks and the Romans, but when it comes to the new world, they had nothing to do with the old ancient nation of Israel. So, consequently, America cannot be included in prophecy.
All right, so now then if you’ll come back with me to the Book of Revelation, we’ll spend the last few minutes introduction here. This is also like James and Peter and John and Jude, Revelation is just another Jewish book getting the nation of Israel prepared for the horrors of those tribulation years that were in front of them. The horrors of which will make the holocaust look like a Sunday School picnic. Israel is getting ready to face those kinds of trials and testings. And so John, who writes the Book of Revelation, is the same John who wrote the Gospel of John; he’s the one who wrote the little epistles that we’ve studied, and now it says in verse 1:
“The Revelation…” Or the word I like better is a revealing. Now, we know that all of this has been back in your Old Testament, but it’s been veiled. It’s just like a sculpture in the park that on the day of dedication they pull the canvas off, and that sculpture is finally revealed, and we call it an “unveiling.”
Well, that’s what the book of Revelation is. Everything that’s in here has been alluded to back in the Old Testament especially Daniel – Daniel and Revelation, like I’ve already said, fit together like a hand and glove, but it isn’t till we get here that we have a complete unveiling of this Second Coming of Christ.
“The Revelation (or the revealing) of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly (or quickly, or swiftly, if you want to go back and look up the Greek a little bit,) come to pass;…” All right, now let’s see how Paul also agrees with that. Come back with me to Thessalonians, and Paul is not an Old Testament prophet by any stretch, but on the other hand, he will say things that are in full accord with it. So, join me now in I Thessalonians, chapter 5 verse 1. Now, in the preceding verses in chapter 4, and we might as well look at it first, we have Paul’s revealing the Rapture of the Church. – The out-calling of the Body of Christ which you and I are apart of. This is how the Church Age will end, and none of this is in prophecy – none of it! This has only been revealed to the Apostle of the Gentiles.
I Thessalonians 4:13-14a
“I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, (who have died) that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,…” Now, what’s that? Hey, that’s Paul’s Gospel of salvation, which he refers to over and over as My Gospel, that Gospel which I preached to the Gentiles. The Gospel of salvation I Corinthians 15:1-4, that we all must believe for salvation.
I Thessalonians 4:14b
“…if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep (or have died) in Jesus, God will bring with him.” In other words, when He descends from heaven, He will bring the soul and spirit of the departed believer with Him to be reunited with that resurrected body.
I Thessalonians 4:15-18
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (or go ahead) of them which are asleep. 16. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump (singular) of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (to be reunited with that soul and spirit that Christ has brought back from glory) 17. Then we which are alive and remain (hey, that’s us as believers) shall be caught up (Raptured in the Latin Vulgate – we shall be Raptured) together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we (believers) ever be with the Lord. 18. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
Now, I think it’s interesting that Paul includes the first person. I think Paul actually thought he, too, would experience this until he realized that he would die the martyr’s death. So, he uses the first person pronoun. Now, drop into verse 1 of chapter 5. Now we’re talking about those that are left behind. They’ve missed the Rapture, because they have not believed Paul’s Gospel for their salvation.
I Thessalonians 5:1-3
“But of the times and seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write unto you. 2. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord (that’s the Tribulation) cometh as thief in the night. 3. For when they (the left behind part of humanity, whether it’s Jew or Gentile, black or white, makes no difference) shall say peace and safety; then (what?) sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” All right, go briefly back to Revelation chapter 1 verse 1, now what does he say?
“The Revelation (or the revealing, or the unveiling) of Jesus Christ which God gave to him, to show unto his servants (now he’s writing to believing Jew, not Gentiles; to believing Jews who had been scattered out of Jerusalem) things which must shortly (or swiftly, or instantly start happening) and he sent and signified it by his angel to his servant John:” So, when we see this word servant here, we’re referring to Jewish believers. John himself is a Jewish believer, he’s writing in turn to these other Jewish believers as we’ve seen in the last little epistles of James, and Peter and John. So, bear that in mind as we move on into Revelations in the verses to come.