Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 2 * BOOK 62
COMPARING AMERICA TODAY WITH ISRAEL OF OLD – PART 2
ISAIAH 57:3 – 60:22
Okay, it’s good to see everybody back from their coffee break. I imagine this is what makes our program unique. The people watching see the coffee cups and they wonder what in the world is going on. The other thing is this blackboard. They flip through the channels and see the blackboard and they think wait a minute, what was that? See, I get all this in the mail. Then they back up and watch a little longer. You know we’re pretty confident that if we can just get people to watch five minutes they’ll usually stay with it. Some say they just happened to catch our program, but we also know that things just don’t happen. Whatever the situation we’re glad you’ve become part of the ministry.
All right, for those of you here in the studio audience, we’re now ready to get into chapter 59 of the Book of Isaiah. I’m going to skip chapter 58 and let you read that at your leisure and go into chapter 59. While you’re looking that up, I’ll remind our TV audience that we are now in book 62. If you multiply that times twelve that tells us we’ve produced over 700 of these programs. Doesn’t seem possible does it, Kenneth and Luther? You guys have been with us since the beginning. It’s unbelievable. Louise, I don’t imagine you’ve missed more than one or two either have you?
Okay, for those of you out in television, let’s jump in at chapter 59 of Isaiah verse 1, and the very first word is:
“Behold, (in other words, pay attention) the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither is his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:” Now, I’m sure many of you have been aware of that verse most of your life. You probably didn’t know where it was, but you’ve heard it. Well, what does it mean? Listen, God is always ready to extend salvation to the person who is ready to believe.
But, this is Israel’s problem: they wanted nothing to do with God. They wanted to do their own thing. In fact, a verse just comes to mind. I hope I’m still in the right place. I didn’t even think of it when I was preparing for this. But come back with me to – I think it’s the last verse of the book of Judges. I hope that’s where it is. That would be what – chapter 21 of Judges? This is 700 years before Isaiah. So, you see, people don’t change. Isn’t it amazing? I think I made this comment in our last taping. Why did God call out Israel and tell them that they were to be different? Well, to prove the point that even though they’re different, they’re all the same.
The evolutionists have a little cliché they like to use that “the more things go by the more they stay the same.” Well, there’s a certain amount of truth in that. People do not change. The human race is driven by the old satanic Adamic nature, and it’s been that way now for almost 6000 years. But look at Israel now 700 years before Isaiah, who was 700 years before Christ, so actually this is 1400 years before Christ and just a little while after the Law was given to Moses. Last verse of Judges 21 and this just says it all:
“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” What do they call that today in modern technology? Situation ethics. If you’re comfortable with it, do it. Well, that’s what Israel was doing way back here. Listen, God has never given man that kind of freedom. He has never given us the freedom to just do whatever our old Adamic nature tells us to do. Yet Israel was so guilty of that very thing, all through their national existence.
All right, come back with me, if you will, to Isaiah 59. In spite of their rebellion, in spite of their unbelief, was God ready to save the man who would believe? Sure He was! Were His ears stopped up that He could not hear? Never! Even today, as the world is steeped in high-tech iniquity, that’s about what it amounts to. It’s the same old immorality that was back in antiquity; only now it’s associated with high technology, but it’s the same old stuff. Is God unable to hear the cry of a person for salvation? No. God’s ears aren’t stopped today anymore than in the days of Isaiah.
All right, now look at the first word of the next verse. “But…” See, that’s the flip side. Even though God is willing to save any Jew or Israelite that would have wanted to be obedient to what God had said. He was ready. But the flip side, this is where they really were.
“But your iniquities (their sin, their wickedness) have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” Well now, even today, do you hear much about sin anymore? No. You hardly ever hear anything about sin. Oh, we may decry some of the acts of some people, but to just simply call it sin, most preachers are afraid to use the word. It’s always been the dilemma that keeps mankind from a relationship with God! It wasn’t God’s fault. God was listening. God was ready for their cry. But they were so steeped in their sin that God didn’t even enter their thinking.
“For your hands are defiled with blood, (murders didn’t even bother them) and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.”Now, I know that we may be getting kind of tired of this throughout the whole book of Isaiah, but the reason I’m staying with it is because we’re in the same dilemma in America today.
I still like to make that parallel even though Scripture doesn’t, because America was unknown in Scripture. But I do feel there is a parallel that you and I can use because not only was Israel God’s chosen people, they were under His promises. Godly men, on Biblical principals, established our beloved land.
In fact, I told somebody the other day that you will hear the media and these liberals decrying the Word of God someplace, such as in the courthouse. When Iris and I were in Washington DC a few years ago, I think we hit about every monument in town. And the thing that amazed me the most was that even the monument of Thomas Jefferson, who was probably the least spiritual of all of our founding fathers, even in the Jefferson Memorial – there was Scripture verse after Scripture verse after Scripture verse.
This all came to mind while I was reading an article the other night about the Washington Monument, the big tall spire. Well, we weren’t able to go when we were there because it was under renovation and closed. But it’s now open. This article revealed that at the very pinnacle of the spire that stands on top of this national monument is something that makes direct reference to God. That’s what America was founded on.
Every memorial in Washington D. C. is saturated with Scripture verses. You go into the Lincoln Memorial and it’s all over the place. Then they try to tell us that we’re to have nothing to do with Scripture in public places. They’re going to have to sandblast most of Washington! But here is where we have come. We’ve come under the influence of these people that want to take God and the Word of God out of every segment of life because of this stupid statement – “separation of Church and State.” Our founding fathers never intended to separate God from government. All they said was that the religious entities were not to control government, and that government was not to establish a national religion. We certainly all agree to that. I don’t want any particular denomination to have clout over government. But I certainly see nothing wrong with government realizing their responsibility under God. He’s Sovereign. That’s the way He intended it to be. All right, so Israel you see is just a good illustration of where we are as a nation today. It’s the same thing. My, you can just constantly make comparisons.
“None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, (See, that which appeals to the flesh.) and speak lies; (My, it gets to the place where they can tell a lie and get called on it tomorrow, and it doesn’t bother them at all.) they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.” Now, here’s another allegory, if I can call it that.
“They hatch cockatrice’ eggs, (Now, I don’t know what a cockatrice egg would taste like, but I don’t imagine it was very good.) and weave the spider’s web: (See the analogy here?) he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper.” These are all just illustrations in a language that no one can say, “Well, I don’t know what he’s talking about.” It’s obvious. It spells nothing but trouble.
“Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works:…” Now, what’s that a reference to? Adam and Eve, after they had first eaten, what’d they do? They went and sewed fig leaves. They thought they could cover their nakedness. Did they? No! It didn’t hold water with God. Their nakedness wasn’t covered until He provided the skins of animals back in Genesis chapter 3. This is all a reference that just as ridiculous as sewing fig leaves by Adam and Eve, so also the Israelites are trying to cover themselves with false works.
“…their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands. Now remember, whenever you see the word violence in Scripture what are we talking about? Murder!
” Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.” Boy, I mean it’s just one thing after another. Now, let’s see how Paul puts it. Let’s jump up to Romans. I don’t want to stay in the Old Testament. Otherwise someone will say, “Well, Les, I get tired of you being in the Old Testament too much.” No, we’re going to jump back and forth. Now, let’s come up to Romans chapter 1 a minute, and see if there’s much difference between 700 BC and several years after the cross. Well, you know as well as I do. Not a bit. It’s the same old human race. All right, let’s drop in at verse 28. This could almost be Isaiah writing to Israel. In fact, I think he even quotes a couple verses out of Isaiah.
“And even as they (ungodly people) did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient (or normal. Now here it comes.) 29. Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, (This is Paul writing; this isn’t Isaiah.) murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30. Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31. Without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:” My goodness, can’t get much worse than that can it? But what is it? That’s the picture of the human race – until they experience God’s saving grace.
All right, come back again to Isaiah. This is all just to show us that the human race is incorrigibly wicked because they are under the old Adamic nature. All right, back to Isaiah 59 verse 8:
“The way of peace they know not;” Like we looked at in the last program, being justified by faith we have peace with God, we have no fear of being brought into His presence because our sins have been forgiven. But Israel didn’t have that. They had no peace.
“…and there is no judgment in their goings:” Now the word judgment, as I understand it in the Old Testament, is that kind of rule that brings tranquillity. In other words, that’s the whole purpose of government in the first place, to guarantee the peace and safety of the civilian population. Paul tells us the same thing for today.
I Timothy 2:1-2
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2. For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quite and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.“ All right, but back here as Isaiah writes there is no government of that type.
“The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.” But like we saw earlier in the chapter, they’re going to be in constant turmoil.
“Therefore is judgment (or that kind of a fair government) far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk (where?) in darkness.” Now verse 10. This is the spiritual description again of Israel and America.
“We grope for the wall like the blind, (Now that can’t be improved on, can it? That’s as plain as you can picture it, how a blind person just gropes to figure out where he is. All right, and that’s what Israel was.) and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the (middle of the) night; we are in desolate places as dead men.” (what a horrible picture of the nation) 11. We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves:…” You know, whenever I read the Old Testament I almost smile. I’m always amazed, because the language is the same as you’d use today.
What does a bear do when it is trapped? Iris and I have firsthand understanding of that. We stayed with a couple outside of Yellowstone Park a few years ago. They’d had a big grizzly and her two cubs come into their front yard and eat out of their apple tree. So, they called for the park people, and they came and set a trap. The old mama bear went in first and was trapped, but they couldn’t get the cubs. So, for almost 48 hours that old mama bear just roared and roared. They said you couldn’t sleep at night for the roaring of that old mama bear.
Well, I read something like this and I can’t help but think of something like that. That was Israel. Like a trapped Mama. Now, why did she roar? Her babies were up there in the apple tree and she knew it. Here’s the connotation. Israel in their unbelief and in their wickedness was just like a roaring bear. Then the other one is like “doves.” What kind of doves? Mourning doves with their mournful song. Between the two you have the extreme on both ends – that was Israel. But that’s also America. I can’t help but bring the two together.
“…we look for judgment, but there is none; (There is no sensible government or judgment.) for salvation, but it is far off from us.” Is that God’s fault? No! We already saw that His ears aren’t stopped and His arm isn’t shortened. So, whose fault is it? It is unbelieving Israel. And today is no different. Why are people groping in their spiritual blindness? Because that is where they want to be. That’s where they choose to be. They don’t have to be there. God is ready and willing. He’s constantly on the alert.
Do you remember, way back in one of my earlier programs, how I gave the illustration of a swimming pool full of kids on a hot summer afternoon? If you’ve got a lifeguard that knows what he or she is doing, in the midst of all that screaming and laughing and everything, if there’s one little, weak cry of a kid in trouble, they hear it, and they’re after them. Well, that’s God. In the midst of all the turmoil of this world, His ear is still tender for the cry of a lost person seeking salvation, and He’s there instantly.
“For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; 13. In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.” Instead of dwelling on things that were honest and true and along the lines of godliness, they were totally the opposite.
Now another New Testament scripture comes to mind. Let’s go all the way up to Titus chapter 2. This, again, is Paul writing to you and me. Even as believers we have to be on constant guard against these thoughts that will take us in the wrong direction. After all, where does everything begin? In the thought. Everything has to start with a thought. That’s why we have to be constantly aware.
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” Now, remember what we just heard in Isaiah? His arm is not shortened. His ears are not closed. Well, it’s the same way here. God’s grace has appeared to every human being, one way or another. Now, verse 12, what does the grace of God teach you and I as believers?
“Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, (the lusts of the flesh) we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, (Now that’s a small ‘g’. We’re to live godly lives. That simply means an absence of sinful living. We are to live all of these things.) in this present world;” You don’t have to wait to get over to eternity for this. This is the here and now. How many church people can sit in church on Sunday morning and yet the rest of the week know nothing of this. Israel was the same. Oh, they kept their temple worship. It had already been counterfeited and it had been adulterated, but they were still religious. But there was no faith connected with it. They thought more of their wickedness than they did of pleasing God. All right, back to Isaiah 59.
“And judgment (Again, I’m still going to use that definition. Judgment referred to a governmental authority that would bring peace and happiness to its people.) is turned away backward, (They don’t even want that which is good for them.) and justice standeth afar off:” You know, every once in a while we’ll have one of our listeners that has gone through a court situation for whatever reason write and invariably was justice served? No. Too often it isn’t. You know why? Because too many of our judges are corrupt. If you’ve got a corrupt judge, justice will not be served.
So, here’s what’s happening in Israel. The same thing, you couldn’t find justice. There wasn’t anything fair. If you weren’t part and parcel of the murdering crowd and the lying crowd you just couldn’t survive. We in America are getting there so fast ourselves.
“…for truth is fallen in the street,…” Isn’t that beautiful? My, that just says it like it is. Truth is something that’s walked underfoot. It’s fallen in the street,
“…and equity (fairness) cannot enter. 15. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself (what?) a prey:…” You stand for that which is right in Israel at this time and you were probably murdered for it. They couldn’t stand you. Well, in some areas of our country it’s already that way. The godly people of our land are hated for the most part. You stand up for truth and you won’t last long. A sorry state of affairs, isn’t it?
“…and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. (or fair system of rule) 16. And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: (not even the like of an Isaiah) therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. 17. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.” All right, again, let’s go back and see how Paul puts it in the last chapter of Ephesians. It is the same language and same illustration. Here is Paul, during this Age of Grace, comparing the situation with Israel in the time of Isaiah. With this we can just about come to the end of our program. Ephesians chapter 6 and let’s drop in at verse 10, this is still appropriate for us today, just as it was for Israel in 700 BC.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles (or all the devices) of the devil. 12. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Not in the pew but in the places of spiritual and denominational authority. All right, now here he almost quotes from Isaiah.
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (And now look at verse 17, word for word from Isaiah.) 17. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” Why does he emphasize the helmet? Because under the helmet is what? The brain. The mind. The very source of all our activity. So the Word of God is our weapon. But this weapon does nothing unless you have everything upstairs that you need. How do we get that? Through the leading, the directing, of the Holy Spirit, and we depend on Him for all of our needs.