Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 2 * BOOK 59
THE SEVEN JEWISH CHURCHES IN REVELATION – 2
For those of you joining us on television, this is just an informal Bible Study. We have no denominational handle, and over and over I tell people I’m not under any kind of peer pressure. I’m not under any kind of pressure from sponsors, because no one sponsors us. We depend totally on the gifts of God’s people, and I think I can safely say that 90 percent of our contributions are under $100 dollars, so we don’t have any huge millionaires supporting us. And we like it that way. That way we’re not beholden to anyone and the Lord is our only overseer. So, join us as we search the Scriptures. Again, we do like to always thank you folks for your letters and for your financial help, but most of all we thank you for your prayers, because praying does make a difference, and so we appreciate that more than you’ll ever know.
Okay, we finished up our last program with just sort of an introduction to the Book of Revelation. Remember, now, that this is a book of prophecy, tied to the Old Testament prophecies; Daniel and Revelation just fit hand and glove and it’s all Jewish. It is written primarily to the Jewish people in preparation for the horrors of those final seven years, which again comes out of Daniel chapter 9. But that doesn’t mean we don’t study it, that doesn’t mean it is not profitable for us, of course it is. I think the major profitability of it tonight is that everything you see happening in the world tonight is getting ready for this final seven years.
Don’t blame the politicians, don’t blame any one group, it all has to come to pass, whether the Democrats do it or the Republicans do it or someone else does it or the European Community gets in it, it has to happen, so always remember that. I think our only responsibility as believers in this whole scenario is to do all we can to hold back the wickedness.I had a question in one of our seminars in Florida – what can we as Christians do to turn this thing around? You will not turn it around. We’re too close to the end for that, I’m sure, but we can do what we can to hold it back.
And so this whole Book of Revelation is for the Jewish believer who was facing the horrors of it, as were those little epistles. See, that’s what we emphasized when we taught Peter, James, and John, that they might be ready for the fires of testing that were just out in front of them. So, again, we’d like to go back to the timeline a moment. I put it on the board during the break and now the Old Testament prophecy starts way up here and all the promises and prophecies made to the fathers concerning even Christ’s first coming, His resurrection, His death, burial and, resurrection, His ascension back to glory, and then would come in the seven years of wrath and vexation that is spoken of in the Old Testament. Christ would return and bring in the Kingdom promised to Israel ever since Abraham and David. But as we showed in the last program, only the Lord Himself knew that this program would be interrupted with this Age of Grace we’re now in, but feel it’s quickly coming to a close.
In the last program we went back and showed how that in the Old Testament prophecies, His first advent and His ascension were as far as the time clock went, and this was all pushed out which becomes then our second timeline. The same Old Testament promises – the crucifixion, the ascension, but instead of the wrath and the seven years, we’ve now had 1900 and something years of the Church Age. It has to end with the Rapture of the Church, we have to be out of the way. Because, I don’t care how much Scripture they want to use, you cannot mix the Church with Israel. It is totally impossible.
As the Tribulation begins, Israel will go back under the Law, the Church is under Grace, the promises made to Israel are not given to the Church and so I can see no way for the Church going even into the first half because, after all, nowhere does the Old or New Testament say that only three and one half years are Tribulation. And, when we look at Revelation chapter 6 and you go through the Seal Judgments, by the time you get down to chapter 6, I’ll just show you what I’m talking about. When you get down past the fourth seal, which are all introductory events in the first three and one half years, look what happens. John writes:
“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and death and beasts of the earth.” So, by the middle of the Tribulation what percent of the world’s population is already gone? One-fourth – twenty-five percent. Well, if that isn’t Tribulation I’d like to know what is. And so the whole seven years are going to be part and parcel of the wrath and vexation of God, but the last three and one half, where the other three-fourths will go, will, of course, be far worse. But I can never buy this concept that the Tribulation is only three and one-half years long.Otherwise, how could they lose one-fourth of the people in the first half. So, I just don’t buy into that.
So, anyway, getting back to my timeline where we have the Church, nineteen hundred and something years, is just about over. I think right now as we speak, we’re right at the very closing day of it and the Rapture of the Church, and then maybe a little interval of time in between. We don’t know. And, then, the anti-Christ will make his appearance, usher in the seven year peace treaty, and it will give Israel the freedom and the opportunity to rebuild and re-establish temple worship. The anti-Christ will turn against them at the middle of the seven years, and bring in the horrors of the last three and one-half years. That will end, then, with the Second Coming of Christ, not with the Rapture, but the Second Coming and then He will yet bring in the 1000 year Kingdom here on the earth. Well, that’s all somewhere down the road.
Now, come back with me if you will to Revelation. We’re still going to continue as more or less a series of introductions to these Seven Jewish churches, but before we get to them, we want to cover the opening verses. Alright, verse 2, speaking of John in verse 1:
“Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all the things he saw.” Well, goodness, let’s go back to John’s Gospel a moment and see what he’s talking about, because it’s the same John that’s writing under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, under the headship of the same Creator God. Now, look what John writes in his gospel, chapter 1, might as well start with verse 1.
“In the beginning (whenever it was, who cares, I don’t care if it was a million years or six thousand or whatever, it matters not) was the Word, (the capitalized Word) and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And you know I always emphasize that words are used to what? Communicate! So, this is a reference to God the Son, the Communicator of the Godhead.
“The same was in the beginning with God. 3. All things were made by Him; (by the Word) and without Him was not anything made that was made. 4. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” Alright, now, you come down to verse 14 where there is no doubt whatsoever who he is talking about. He’s talking about Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, God the Son.
“And the Word was made flesh, (see how plain that is? That the Word who was in the beginning was the maker of everything,) and dwelt among us, (and look how John explains it. While Christ was among John and the other eleven,) (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Alright, now, we’re going to cover that word “begotten” a little bit later in chapter 1 of Revelation so come back with me. Now, in verse 3, John by the inspiration of the Spirit writes:
“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy,…” Now, I’ve got to stop again. To whom is “all prophecy” directed? The Jew. He is the object of all prophecy. There is no distinct prophecy concerning the Body of Christ. Now, we fit in the midst of prophetic utterances, but there are no prophecies concerning the Body of Christ.
Now, let me go back to Genesis 15 and give what I call, the first true prophecy in Scripture. I’m not ignoring Genesis 3:15, but that was not a statement given to the nation of Israel. That’s a generalized statement that Jesus is speaking to Satan, as to what would happen between Him and the wicked one. But, here, in Genesis 15, we have what I call the first true prophecy, and it is concerning Israel and what would take place in the future. That’s what prophecy is all about.
Now, whenever I speak of other religions of the world, this is the point I make, and I make it without apology. There is not another religious book on earth, not a one, whether it’s the Oriental religions, or whether it’s any other religion you could name, not one of them can tell future events, hundreds or thousands of years out in the future and see them fulfilled one hundred percent. Now, you see, even some of our famous soothsayers can supposedly make prophecies, but they’re only fifty percent correct. This Book is one hundred percent. Now, look at the first true prophecy. Genesis 15 and we’re going to drop in at verse 13:
“And he (God) said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed (or his offspring) shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;” Did it happen? Absolutely! To the exact day. Not three hundred and ninety-nine, but exactly four hundred. Or, if you want to take the full prophecy, it was four hundred and thirty.
“And also that nation, (Egypt) whom they shall serve, will I judge: (Did it happen? Well the plagues were God’s judgment. And, now, here God is foretelling this hundreds of years before it happened. But it happened.) and afterwards shall they (Abraham’s offspring, the children of Israel) come out with great substance.” Did they? Of course they did! They spoiled the Egyptians. The Egyptians handed over all their wealth just to get them to go. So, indeed, it was fulfilled.
“And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. (Well, Abraham died then about eighty years later, at the age of 175) 16. In the fourth generation they (the offspring of Abraham) shall come hither again; (Canaan) for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” And, so, that’s prophecy. This is God telling an event concerning Israel that’s going to take place out in the future, whether it is four hundred years or two thousand years or thirty-five hundred years. It’s still a distinct prophecy.
Now, when I say thirty-five hundred years, that reminds me of a verse, I wasn’t going to use, but now that we’re here we’ll do it; Deuteronomy, chapter 30. This is prophecy and we’ve seen it fulfilled in our own day. But, it wasn’t a prophecy concerning the Church, it was a prophecy concerning the Jew. Deuteronomy 30 verses 1 and 2, and this is why the present day situation in the Middle East with Israel back in the land and back in Jerusalem, is a fulfillment of this. And, that’s why we know the Word of God is true. Prophecy fulfilled to the last jot and tittle.
“And it shall come to pass, (what is that? It’s a promise. And what’s the promise? A prophecy. And here’s the prophecy) when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and thou shalt call them to mind (at some future time) among all the nations, where the LORD thy God hath driven thee.” Did they get there? Sure they did! Jews ended up in every nation under heaven. I’m always referring to James Michner. I’ve done it more than once in our last week or two of travel. James Michner, who wrote the book “The Source” which was a fictional book concerning a Jewish family all the way up through history to the present time. But, in doing research for the book, James Michner determined that he found Jews in every nation under heaven, and that was in about 1980. Every nation under heaven had Jews. Well, it was prophesied! But what else was prophesied? The next verse:
“And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I commanded thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;” Well, they’re not there with all their heart and mind and soul, but they’re there. They’ve been brought back from every nation under heaven and they’re back in the land as a result of prophecy. Now back to Revelation, verse 3.
“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, (the one that is about to come from the pen of the Jew, John, and it’s a Jewish prophecy) and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is (what?) at hand.” So far as John was concerned, and I think Peter, James, and Jude, and all those Jewish believers, this seven year period of David’s prophecy was now right out in front of them. They had no idea, as I’ve said a hundred times in the last 6 months, of a Church Age. They had no idea of an Apostle Paul being commissioned to go to the Gentiles; to begin this Age of Grace we’re now in.
So, they’re on the top timeline. They’re looking for the Old Testament prophecies to be fulfilled one right after the other. For the time is at hand. They had every reason to believe that these prophecies were just going to continue to be fulfilled. Now, in light of that, the most obvious Jews for John to write to would be these believing Jews who had been scattered out of the Jerusalem church because of Saul of Tarsus’ persecution. Saul had brought in such intense persecution that they were scattered throughout that end of the world. Let me take you back to Acts chapter 8 because the only way I can establish this is with the Word itself. In the last verse of chapter 7 they have just put Stephen to death by stoning and Saul of Tarsus was holding the clothes of those who were throwing the rocks and now chapter 8 verse 1:
“And Saul (Saul of Tarsus. The one who becomes the Apostle Paul), was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was Jerusalem;…” Now, there again, that always takes a 15-minute study on the word “ecclesia”. But I’ve done it often enough, I’m not going to do it again today. But the word “ecclesia” is simply a word that means a “called out assembly”. And there were various called out assemblies in the Biblical language. Israel, coming out of Egypt under Moses, was called the church in the wilderness in our King James, or in our New Testament. That wasn’t a New Testament Church. But it was a called out assembly.
God called them to Himself and they were out of Egypt, but the New Testament called it a church in the wilderness. That’s not a church. Well, the same way with the church at Jerusalem. The Jerusalem church was comprised of Jews who had separated themselves from the mainstream of Judaism and were detested by their fellow Jews, and that’s why old Saul, the orthodox, is trying to stamp them out of Israel. Ethnic cleansing, they call it today, don’t they? And, so, he’s persecuting those Jewish believers unmercifully for having embraced Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. But it’s called a church, misleading indeed. It was an ecclesia – a called out assembly. Alright, so there was a great persecution against that called out assembly of believing Jews that believed that Jesus was the Christ out of the mainstream of orthodox Judaism, and because of that persecution they were what?
“…scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, (except who?) the apostles.” Now, this, beloved, is eight years after Pentecost! The apostles aren’t out there in the Gentile world preaching the Gospel. They’re still in Jerusalem. And I want to hammer this home. They haven’t gone out into the world to preach the Gospel. They are staying in Jerusalem because they knew that if Christ should come, it would be to the Mount of Olives, it would be Jerusalem. So they’re not going to go. And there they sit.
Alright, now then, to show you they didn’t go to anyone other than Jews, come over to 11:19, still in Acts; another great verse that just blows away most of what Christendom thinks and believes. This is just plain English. So plain a kid can understand it, the theologians can’t. Isn’t it funny? Acts 11:19 and, again, this is probably about 8 years after Pentecost.
“Now they which were scattered abroad upon that persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as (now watch these places) Phenice, and Cyprus (out there in the Mediterranean, and up to) Antioch (in Syria, and as these Jews were scattered, they were) preaching the word (the only word they have yet is the Old Testament. There is no New Testament yet, and so they are preaching the Old Testament) to none but (what?) Jews only.” Your Bible said it, mine says it, but Christendom rebels at that. They think it all started back there in Matthew. No, it didn’t. They’re still sticking to the Jewish program. The Twelve are staying in Jerusalem and the Jews being scattered because of the persecution are still not approaching anybody but Jew only.
Alright, once again back to Revelation, and we’re going to run out of time again, So let’s finish verse 3.
“So blessed is he that readeth,…” Because, after all, this is written to Jews. So, for those Jewish believers scattered throughout that end of the world they will be blessed if they can follow their road map. Now, you know they like to talk about the road map in the Middle East today. Hey, they’d better take this one. They’d better use this one, the Word of God is more accurate than anything the politicians can put together.
Alright, so blessed would be these Jews if they could read and understand what God is laying out in front of them, so that they might deal with the horrors of the pressures; the testing of fire that is facing them.
“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, (this book of Revelation) and keep those things which are written therein: (that is in this prophecy) for the time is at hand.“ And, they had no reason to believe otherwise. Now, before we go any further, I’ll go back and hit our timeline once again. They (Peter, James, John, and Jude) are on the top timeline, and they are actually in this time frame right in here. Here they are. Christ has already ascended back to glory. He’s gone through the death, burial, and resurrection, the Tribulation is right out in front of them.
So, everything that is in place there, is now in place here, nearly 2000 years later. So both times are relevant, whether it’s just before the Tribulation up here, before the Church Age came, or here where we’re not quite at the end of the Church Age, and once again we’ll find Jews being readied for the horrors of the seven years to come. But, of course, remember before that happens the Church will have been Raptured out.
And, again, all you have to do is just look at the political scenario. We’re dealing with ancient Babylon in Iraq. Iran is ancient Meads/Persia. Syria is ancient Greece. The Roman Empire being revived is the European community, and it’s coming up daily. In fact, I was reading the other day, even the Jews are beginning to recognize that they’re going to have to really deal with Western Europe more than they do with America, because that’s where their markets are, that’s where the wealth is coming from, and so everything is right back 1900 and some years later as it was when these Jewish epistles were first written.
And, so, it applies to the past as well future, although not that far in the future. So, always remember these things; that as we read these little Jewish epistles, they were preparing Jews for that day and time for the coming Tribulation, but it was also preparing Jews today. The Jews today should be reading this, and realizing what is ahead of the nation, because God will not return Christ to set up the Kingdom until this is all fulfilled.
And, you know, the glory of it is – Things in here that were never understood until our time of technology are now exploding out in front of us. You know, we all used to say, when they see the two witnesses laying in the streets of Jerusalem, it’d be satellite television. But, you know, my daughter Laura had a better idea the other day, it’s these cell phones. These picture sending cell phones are going to be everywhere by the time those two witnesses are laying in the streets of Jerusalem at the end of the first 3½ years of the Tribulation.