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709: Making Choices – Lesson 1 Part 1 Book 60

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 60

MAKING CHOICES

ISAIAH 1:1-2:2

As you know, we like to remind everyone that we’re just an informal Bible study. I emphasize informal, and we don’t want to pretend to be something we’re not. And all we hope to do is show people how to study the Word on their own, we show you how it is rightly divided, and we compare Scripture with Scripture, line upon line, precept upon precept.We’re finding, from the response across the nation, that it’s beginning to work; that people are getting excited about studying the Bible on their own. We trust you don’t depend on the quarterly or on books in the bookstores. Just get into the Book. The most exciting thing you can do is to get involved in some really deep Bible study.

Okay, we’re going to start a whole new series of programs. We finished Revelation in our last taping, and for those of you who are not aware, we taught the book of Revelation several years ago. That’s in what we call our books 11, 12, 13, and 14. At that time I was rather uncomfortable with the first three chapters of Revelation according to the traditional view, so I jumped in back there at book 11 with chapter 4. Now, in the last few months we’ve picked up the first three chapters in Revelation and finished it in book 59. And that pretty much takes care of the whole book of Revelation and there’s no need to redo it because even though those programs were made seven or eight years ago, from what we can gather from our audience, they are just as appropriate today as they were then.

As I mentioned in the last taping, we intend to do a study in the book of Isaiah because it’s a tremendous book of prophecy. And we won’t be staying in the Old Testament, so don’t worry, we’ll be jumping up into the New just as much as we do the Old. We’ll be starting in Isaiah chapter 1. But, as always, we need to do some background, because I’ve learned in my own study that the historical setting is almost as important as anything else you can put in it. Where are we in history? What was the setting concerning the children of Israel? Why does all of this talk about coming disasters and coming blessings? Because that’s just exactly the way God has been dealing with Israel, His favored Nation.

Now, the first thing I want to emphasize as we go through the book of Isaiah is you’re always looking at three different areas of time. Remember, Isaiah is writing about 700 BC. The other prophets will be writing from there on until Malachi winds up the Old Testament in 400 BC. Now, let’s back up our timeline again, at least mentally. You want to remember that Abraham came out of Ur of the Chaldees in 2000 BC; half-way between Adam and the cross.

All right, from Abraham until Israel has the Law and Moses was about 500 years. So you can say that from 2000 to 1500 BC was that period of time when Israel became a nation. They came out of Egypt, gathered around Mount Sinai, received the Law, and then years later finally came into the Promised Land under the leadership of gifted men whom we call “the Judges.”

So, Israel was under the rule of Judges such as Samuel, Deborah, and Sampson. Well then, as you know the account, Israel wanted a king like everybody else. So, now, about half-way between Abraham and Christ’s first advent, Israel has their first king; King Saul. You all know the story of him. Then after 40 years with King Saul, Israel got the promised king, David. David ruled followed by his son Solomon. That takes us up to nearly 900 BC. Then, from 900 BC. until we get to Isaiah there’s that 200 year interval.

Now, in terms of Old Testament thinking, that’s not long, sort of a blink of an eye. But it is 200 years, and 200 years back then was just as long back then, if not longer, than it is today. So, here was a 200-year period of time – from the demise of Solomon’s kingdom until we get to the warnings now coming from prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah and so forth. Israel, after all the glory of Solomon’s kingdom, and by virtue of being divided now into the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom consists of ten tribes in the North and two tribes in the South. This is all happening after Solomon’s reign, so we have a 200 year period in there where the nation is divided into the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom.

They are separate entities. They have their own line of kings, but they’re still all part of the nation of Israel and the Covenant promises. So, God sends prophets into Judah and He sends prophets up into Israel and by-and-large everything they write fits. Although, the prophets writing up in the Northern Kingdom are addressing their demise and they are soon overtaken by the Assyrians, whereas Isaiah and Jeremiah are directing their prophecies to Judah and Benjamin who will finally be overrun by the Babylonians about 100 years later.

All right, here’s the setting now of Isaiah. He is prophesying about 200 years after David and Solomon, but he is 700 years before Christ’s first advent. Israel has now come to the place where she is going downhill so fast, morally and spiritually. Oh, the Temple is still going; they’re still sacrificing. The Temple is still the center of all the religious activity, but the nation, as a whole, is now succumbing to idolatry and pagan worship and they’re forgetting all about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

So, the warnings that come from these prophets are of an immediate nature; its impending invasion by an enemy who will literally annihilate many of them. It’s also looking forward to another great demise of Israel, which would be after they’ve crucified the Christ and the Romans came in and destroyed the Temple and Israel was disbursed. Then, we can even go further, clear to the end of everything – that point of time that’s just ahead of us now, we feel, when God will once again deal with His covenant people in what we call the Tribulation.

So, in all of these prophecies you look at and the text will usually show – is it the immediate invasion that he’s talking about? Is it the intermediate, when Jerusalem was overrun by the Romans and the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. Or, is it the long term, clear at the end of the Tribulation, which of course, from Isaiah’s time would be 2700 years into the future. But see, that’s what makes this Book so beautiful. This is why I maintain, without apology, it is the ONLY Word of God on earth. None of your other books of religion – the Book of Mormon, the Koran, the Book of Buddha, Shinto, none of them can prophecy things years and centuries in advance like this one does. That’s always my first comment if people have any doubt about this being the Word of God; there is no other book on earth that can do what this Book does concerning prophecy.

All right, we’re going to start in Isaiah chapter 1 and don’t forget the time element. It is 700 years before Christ. Isaiah is prophesying in the Southern Kingdom, he’s got all the advantages of the Temple worship and everything else. He’s also going to be addressing a lot of his judgments to the Northern Kingdom, as well, who will be going under the captivity a hundred years before Judah will.

Isaiah 1:1a

“The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah,…” See how you can see right from the text, he is a prophet of the Southern Kingdom. See, now here’s how chronologists can date so much of Scripture from just little tidbits of information like this, “In the days of King Uzziah.” Again, history can pretty much nail down the time at which King Uzziah ruled and reigned in Jerusalem. All right, so these are visions that he saw concerning:

Isaiah 1:1b

“…Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, (all) kings of Judah.” Now, here begins Isaiah’s controversy with the nation of Israel.

Isaiah 1:2a

“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD…” Now remember, that term LORD in the Old Testament, with all four letters in capitalization, is Jehovah; the primary name of God concerning Israel in the Old Testament economy.

Isaiah 1:2b

“… for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, (that’s why we refer to them so often as the children of Israel. They were the result of His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but what happened?) and they have rebelled against me.” Now, verse 3 is a classic verse. You all know it. You’ve heard it at one time or another.

Isaiah 1:3a

“The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass (or the donkey) his master’s crib:…” In other words, the donkey knew where his food was coming from. That’s why I love cattle ranching. I can drive out in the pasture and just give one yell, and here they come! Why? Well, they know where that little tidbit of tasty cubes is coming from. You know we feed cattle cubes. They know! But that’s more than a lot of people can do. A lot of people haven’t got enough wherewithal to come in out of the rain. But the animal kingdom does. So, it’s an example of Scripture, “The donkey knows his master’s crib,” he knows where his next meal is coming from, but…

Isaiah 1:3b

“…my people (Israel) doeth not consider.” (or know) Now, remember, the “My people” here is Israel. We’re not talking about the Church. That’s another point I have to make. There is not one iota of reference anywhere in the Old Testament concerning the New Testament Church. Not one hint. The closest you can come is when Amos prophecies that God will call out a people for His name, which of course was a reference to the, I think, “the calling out of the Body of Christ.”

But, other than that, there is not one iota of any reference to the Church, and we’ll look at that in just a minute. It was a secret held in the mind of God. All right, now I’m going to make a comparison Scripture. Jump up to Jeremiah chapter 8, and remember what we just read. Jeremiah is also a prophet writing and concerning himself with Judah, but he’s a few years later than Isaiah. Even though Isaiah dies before the Babylonian captivity, Jeremiah is still alive. Jeremiah was actually found by the Babylonians in a dungeon deep down under Jerusalem. That’s where the Jews had thrown him because they didn’t like his message. So, Jeremiah is writing some 75-80 years later than Isaiah, but he says almost the same thing.

Jeremiah 8:7

“Yea the stork (the bird) in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people (Israel) know not the judgment of the LORD.” Isn’t it sad? You know, I have said as long as I’ve been teaching, Israel could have known who Jesus was. Israel should have known who Jesus was, but now let’s see what the Scripture says.

Turn all the way up to the New Testament now, to I Corinthians chapter 2. Has anything changed? Nothing! See, this is why I love to compare Scripture with Scripture. Isaiah says, “the ox knows his master’s crib.” Jeremiah says, “the birds of the heavens know when to migrate,”, but Israel didn’t know. We’re not blaming the Jew only. My, we’re no different today.

You can go up and down the streets of any town and city in America today and ask the younger generation a Biblical question. Can they answer it? More than likely not. They don’t know what you’re talking about. In fact, I was just reading an article the other day on some of the clichés that we speak of, for example, “A Damascus Road experience.” Do you know that most of our kids haven’t got a clue what they’re talking about? That’s just one example. All right, so it isn’t just Israel. We’re just as far down the tube, having begun, I think, on as high a plane spiritually when our nation was formed, as Israel was from their beginning. I think it’s almost a perfect parallel between Israel in the Old Testament and America since her inception. Now, compare this with what we just read in Isaiah and Jeremiah

I Corinthians 2:7

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, (or a secret. That’s the other word for mystery) even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world to our glory.” Now again, Paul could have just as well said, “my glory” because it was to him that all this was revealed. Now, look at verse 8.

I Corinthians 2:8

“Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.” So why did they crucify Him? They were totally ignorant of who He was.

All right, let’s move on over to Ephesians chapter 3, and now we have another account from the pen of the Apostle Paul of why there is absolutely no mention of the Church, this Age of Grace, in the Old Testament, and we might as well cover it right up front. I may come back to it again before we get out of Isaiah, but here it is. Ephesians chapter 3, we’ll read several verses starting at verse 1, probably down through verse 9. And this is the exact reason that the Church is not in Old Testament writings.

Ephesians 3:1a

“For this cause…” Where Paul has just come out of chapter 2, where he had said in verse 8 and 9 “for by grace are you saved through faith not of works lest any man should boast,”Therefore he establishes that we’re now under Grace.

Ephesians 3:1

“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.” Not Israel. He’s the Apostle of the Gentiles, (Romans 11:13) like Isaiah was a prophet of Israel. Like Peter and the Eleven were Apostles of Israel, this man is the Apostle of the Gentiles.

Ephesians 3:2a

“If ye have heard…” And we’re going to be using that word “If” when we get back to Isaiah after a while. Everything is conditioned on choice. You ever think of that? Everything you do, whatever your lot in life. Whatever kind of a marriage you’ve ended up in, whatever kind of a family you have raised, what’s it all based on? Choices! Nations make them. Families make them. Individuals make them.

Ephesians 3:2

“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:” Maybe, by choice, you haven’t heard. You don’t want to hear. That’s a lot of people. They don’t want to hear it. In fact, someone just shared with me last night where they mentioned something to a customer that came into their store about eternity and you know what his answer was? (It didn’t surprise me one bit.) “I’ve never thought about it.”

Isn’t that typical? They don’t ever think about eternity. In fact, I think I mentioned in one of my classes the other night, one of the pastors who we just ministered with up in Minnesota was telling me that when he was a young man going to the University of Minnesota, and many of you are acquainted with the ‘Twin Cities,’ there’s a hodgepodge of traffic coming in to what they call the “seven corners.” I don’t know if it’s still there or not, used to be. Yeah, Bill says it’s still there! And he said that right there on the seven corners of Minneapolis was a huge billboard and all that was on it was the question, “Where will you spend eternity?” He said that thing just bugged him and bugged him and he said, “I know that that’s what drove me into the ministry, knowing that most people have never considered the question, ‘where will you spend eternity?’ “

All right, so again it behooves us to understand that it’s a matter of choice. That was another conversation we had, I think when we were out in South Dakota. We were talking about God sending lost people to the eternal lake of fire. You know, a lot of people will say, “Well, how can a God of love and mercy send the vast majority of the human race to such a place?” He doesn’t send them there, they choose to go there. Never forget that. They choose to go there, and when they come before the Great White Throne Judgment someday, they’re never going to argue and say, “Well, you didn’t give me a chance.” They’re going to know that they have chosen to go where they’re going.

All right, back to Ephesians chapter 3, that this dispensation of the Grace of God, which is given to Paul to us, now verse 3.

Ephesians 3:3

“How that by revelation (a revealing from His place in Glory) he made known unto me (the Apostle Paul) the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4. Whereby, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” These secrets revealed to Paul that the world in general knew nothing of. Now, verse 5. Here it comes, just as plain as language can make it.

Ephesians 3:5

“Which in other ages (or generations) was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” Now remember, Paul is speaking of those prophets and apostles who associated with his ministry, not the Twelve or any of the prophets of Israel. He’s talking about those associated with his ministry.

Ephesians 3:6-9

“That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 7. Whereof I was made a minister, (Paul’s apostleship is singular) according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8. Unto me, who am less than the lest of all saints is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9. And to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, (this secret. Now, here it is again) which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God, (the same God) who created all things by Jesus Christ:”

All right, now turn over a few pages forward to Colossians, and we see the same thing repeated, inspired of the Holy Spirit remember; Colossians chapter 1 beginning at verse 24. Now, this was all revealed to this Apostle and consequently the Old Testament writers couldn’t even mention it, they knew nothing of it. And we’ll be looking at what they were thinking when we get back there. All right, Colossians chapter 1 beginning at verse 24.

Colossians 1:24a

“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh…” In other words, how the man suffered for 25 years to get the Gospel out into the Roman Empire. And remember what that Gospel of Salvation is? “How that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again.” (I Corinthians 15:1-4) Now, continuing on in verse 24.

Colossians 1:24b-26a

“…the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake which is the church: (or the Church, which is His Body) 25.Whereof (for the sake of the Body) I am made a minister according to the dispensation of God (or as he called it the dispensation of grace in Ephesians) which is given to me for you, to fulfill (or to complete or to bring the New Testament to an end) the word of God; 26. Even the mystery (the secret) which hath been hid from ages and generations,…” You see how plain all this is? All these things coming from the pen of the Apostle Paul were kept totally secret.

That’s why Peter wrote in his little epistle, “that in Paul’s epistles are some things hard to be understood.” It was a whole new ballgame that Peter couldn’t quite catch, and this is the reason. It was kept secret. But now it was revealed to this Apostle. Iris and I decided last night that I’m going to have to do a program someday on the number of times that Paul uses that expression, “But now.” I think it will easily make a thirty minute program. How many times Paul refers to the past with all of its misery and its sin and its rebellion, “but now” is on this side of salvation as a believer. All right,

Colossians 1:26b

“…but now (this which was kept secret) is made manifest to the saints;”

And you know how I’ve always explained the word manifest – put into the spotlight, where nothing is shaded and you can’t quite read it. It is all brought in just as plain as language can make it, but you know what? People don’t want to read it. They don’t want to hear it. It’s contrary to their normal comfort zone and I’ll never forget, years ago, a couple came into one of my classes and they had their eyes opened. The Lord saved them and they went back to their denominational people, and that was the first time I ever heard it, she said, “Les, they don’t want to be rocked out of their comfort zone.” The comfort zone and isn’t that exactly it?