Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 64
BUT GOD – PART 4
Good to have everyone still with us for the fourth program this afternoon. We’re ready to move on to another in this series of “But God” and in this case it’s “But the just.” That’s in Habakkuk chapter 2 verse 1.
“I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. 2. And the LORD (Now these guys are prophets, and they have communication with the Lord.) answered me, and said, Write the vision, (That he sees. Put it down, translate it into words.) and make it plain upon tables, (and other writing tablets as we would call it) that he may run that readeth it.” In other words, as the person is running to take this vision to someplace else, he can read as he goes.
“For the vision is yet for an appointed time,…” What does that tell you? Who’s in control? God is! He’s in control of everything. Even this vision, when it comes to its fulfillment, is going to be providential.
“For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. 4. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: (Here comes our word.) but the just shall live by his (What?) faith.” Now, I’m sure you’ve all heard that statement, and you probably never knew where it came from, but here it is back in a little Old Testament minor prophet, “the just shall live by faith.”
Now, I know a lot of people think that when I keep emphasizing Paul, that this whole idea of faith plus nothing is unique only to Paul’s teaching. No, not necessarily. Faith has always been the key. God’s grace has always been prevalent. You can go all the way back to Adam and Eve when they were hiding the bushes in the Garden, what prompted God to go and find them? His Grace! He could have just said, well, be gone with them. But He didn’t. So, His Grace prompted him to deal with Adam and Eve and bring them back from a place of broken fellowship. When God promised Eve that she would be the mother of all living, Adam’s faith caused him to consequently name her what? Eve. The very act of naming the woman Eve was a manifestation of Adam’s faith. When God saw Adam’s faith, He performed the animal sacrifice, it restored them to fellowship, and they were on their way to everlasting life.
So, all the way up through the Old Testament, you can’t leave faith out of the picture. It’s tantamount. It’s an absolute. We talked about it the other night. The absolutes that I use from the Book of Hebrews, “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.” You go a little further in chapter 11 verse 6, “without faith it is impossible to please God.” It’s an absolute! Yet, how many of even Christendom think they can just go into heaven according to tradition. No. It has to be based on our faith.
All right, keep your hand in Habakkuk. I’m not through here, let’s turn to Romans chapter 4. Romans chapter 4 and you remember how Paul loves to use Abraham as an example. Here we have another one in Romans chapter 4 starting in verse 1.
“What shall we say then that Abraham our father, (Now remember, Paul is a Jew and he speaks here as a Jew looking back at his national background.) as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? (Here it comes.) 2. For if Abraham were justified by works,…” That’s most of Christendom. It’s all of the rest of the religions of the world. They’re all based on what they do. They aren’t basing anything on their faith alone, but this Book, alone, teaches justification by faith.
“For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; (Or, I always say, to brag or boast.) but not before God. 3. For what saith the scripture? (What does the Word of God say? Well, it says…) Abraham believed God,…” What’s the other word for believing? Faith. So, it was Abraham’s faith that brought him out of the Ur of the Chaldees, steeped in idolatry and pagan worship, and he came out of that by believing what God said.
“…and it (his faith) was counted (or imputed, or accounted) unto him for (What?) righteousness.” He didn’t do a thing. Circumcision hadn’t had anything to do with it. The Law hadn’t been brought in yet. He does nothing but believe what God says. And that’s what God’s looking for today. It hasn’t changed. The only thing that changes is what we are to believe. Now, of course, we believe for salvation that Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He arose again the third day and imparts eternal life to us. When? When we believe it, as we see in I Corinthians 15:1-4.
All right, now jump ahead with me a minute all the way up to I Thessalonians, because when I spoke of Abraham’s coming out of paganism I couldn’t help but think of this verse. The Thessalonians, now that’s a little city up north of Athens, Greece. After reading about Alexander the Great, I can appreciate it all the more. Do you know that every day that went by that rascal sacrificed to his gods and goddesses? And if he was about ready to go into a big battle, he would sacrifice animals by the dozens. To whom? Pagan gods and goddesses.
All right, these Greeks in Thessalonica were no different, but look what happened. I Thessalonians chapter 1 verse 9 where Paul is writing a commendation of their faith, and how the rest of Greece was admiring these Thessalonians. That’s what he’s talking about, “For they themselves (the fellow Greeks) show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you.”In other words, when he came into the city of Thessalonica, steeped in idolatry, with nothing but the Grace of God, no great, big pomp and circumstance, no great, big campaign, no great, big advertising. The little fellow came into the city preaching the Gospel of the Grace of God. And look what happened.
I Thessalonians 1:9
“For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;” But what caused them to turn from idols to the true God? Their faith! They believed Paul’s salvation message.
So it has always been and will be up until the end and especially for us now in this Age of Grace. We’ve got to constantly tell good people, “Listen, you’re not going to gain heaven’s gate by works or religion or church. You’re going to gain it by believing Paul’s Gospel.” And that’s all Paul knows. Believe. Believe. Believe – which is the other word for faith. All right, now let’s come back to Habakkuk chapter 2 verse 4. I want you to have these things hammered into your thinking.
“…but the just shall live by his faith” The person that’s been made right with God. Whether it’s Old Testament, whether it’s Christ’s earthly ministry, or whether it’s this Age of Grace, it has to be based on our faith. Now granted, these people back here didn’t believe in a death, burial, and resurrection. It hadn’t happened yet. It was still something kept in the mind of God. So, what were they to believe? What God told them!
You know, I’ve had a hard time getting some people to understand that. Faith is when you take God at His Word. We’ve already looked at Noah. What was Noah’s manifestation of faith? He built the Ark. That’s all! That’s over simplifying, it took him 120 years! But nevertheless, by faith Noah built the Ark. What does that mean? That’s what God told him to do. God didn’t tell him anything about a Roman cross. God didn’t tell him anything about Ten Commandments. God just said, “Build an Ark.” What’d Noah do? He believed it, and he built the Ark.
All right, now same way with this prophet, he has no knowledge of death, burial, and resurrection. But what does he know? He knows that the God of Abraham is the God of righteousness. He’s the God who is imparting this vision to him, and he takes it by faith. Okay, let’s go on to one more yet, and I imagine this will just about shoot the time.
Let’s jump up to Matthew chapter 13 verse 57 a moment and we’re in Christ’s earthly ministry. Well, let’s go up to verse 53. The “but” is down in verse 57, where it says, “…and they were offended in him, but Jesus…” Now, of course, He’s God so it doesn’t make that much difference.
“And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.” In other words, He left the area where He’d been ministering. Now He comes into His own country of Nazareth. Those of you, who were with us a few weeks ago, you remember Nazareth, don’t you? Up in the hill country in northern Israel.
“And when he was come into his own country, (Nazareth) he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, (Now, this is unbelievable. These people knew who He was. But they did not recognize who He really was.) Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? 55. Is not this the carpenter’s son?” Now, you got the picture? These citizens of Nazareth knew who He was. He grew up in their midst. Yet, they couldn’t comprehend who He really was. So, they’re confused.
“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? (They’ve got everything straight.) and his brethren, (His half brothers) James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? (Those were all sons of Joseph and Mary that followed the birth of Christ.) 56. And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?” Why is He so different from the rest of the family? Shouldn’t they have known?
Shouldn’t they have known from the very beginning that God was going to come by way of virgin? It’s in their Old Testament. You know the verse back in Isaiah, “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a man child.” And they couldn’t put two and two together? Sad isn’t? But you know what? It’s no different today. You can show people what this Book says. It’s plain English. It’s so simple a third grader can understand it. And yet, with all their theological background and all of their preparation and their study, they can’t see it. Human nature really doesn’t change, does it?
“And they were offended in him. (Why be offended because He is showing such supernatural tendencies? But they couldn’t handle it.) But Jesus…” I suppose He could have gotten His ire up. He could have gotten angry. He could have chastised them. He could have judged them. He could have done any number of things with them, because after all, He could calm the wind on Galilee. He could call Lazarus from out of the tomb. So, use your imagination. What could He have done with His fellow Nazarenes? But He didn’t.
“But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, (Now, that’s a double negative. So, you put it in a straight positive.) A prophet has no honor (Where?) in his own country, and in his own house.” True today? It’s still true today. “A prophet has no honor in his own country or in his own environs and in his own house.” Now verse 58.
“And he did not many mighty works there (Why?) because of their unbelief.” It’d be like casting pearls before the swine. It wouldn’t have done any good. He could have performed miracle after miracle, and those people of Nazareth would have never believed it. Why? Because He grew up in the carpenter’s shop. He was a son of one of the families in town, Joseph and Mary. They never had the wherewithal, through the eyes of faith, to see who He really was.
Now you know, I can’t repeat things often enough, it seems, because the questions still keep coming. Now, since you’re in Matthew, anyway, I’m going to take you to chapter 16 verse 13. Because this was all Jesus was looking for from the Jews of His day. We call it the Gospel of the Kingdom – the Good News that the King was in their midst. He was in a position to bring in the Kingdom, if they would only believe it and take it by faith. This is what He was looking for in Nazareth and never found.
Matthew 16 verse 13 – those of you here in my class in Oklahoma, we use it over and over and over. But some out in television have probably never seen it before.
“When Jesus came into the coasts (borders) of Caesarea Philippi, (Which is way up in northern Israel at the headwaters of the Jordan River, the foot of Mount Herman.) he asked the disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” Now, stop and think a minute. Isn’t that exactly what He could have asked His own family? You know that I’m the son of Joseph and Mary, but who am I? Who am I really? Could they have answered? No. They didn’t have a clue. But see here, the Twelve give us the perfect reason why the family in Nazareth was no different than the whole Nation.
“And they said, (That is, the Twelve.) some say you’re John the Baptist:…” Now look at this! Just consider, after three years, what the rank and file of the Nation of Israel was thinking concerning Jesus of Nazareth, after all of His miracles.
“…some say you’re Elijah, and others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. (Ridiculous, isn’t it? Now, He comes back to the eleven.) He saith unto them, But whom do you say that I am?” Do you fellows know? All right, and Simon Peter, usually the spokesman for the Twelve speaks.
“And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, (the Messiah) the Son of the living God.” Was Peter right on? Yes. That’s all the Lord was looking for. Who am I? You’re the Christ! The Son of the Living God. Now, look at verse 17.
“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: (That’s another name for Peter.) for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” So, what did it take? It took a manifestation of a person of the Godhead to even help Peter understand who He really was. Now, in this case, the Holy Spirit is not the functioning person of the Godhead. It came from God the Father. Now, had this taken place later, then we could have had the Holy Spirit show Peter as He does us. But in this case it’s God the Father that had revealed to Simon Peter who Jesus really was. We can take you on through Scripture, and I think we will. We’ll just go on through and see how, over and over, some of these Jews understood who He was.
Let’s jump ahead to John’s Gospel, to chapter 11. John’s Gospel chapter 11, Lazarus, at his death and all that accompanied it. Lazarus had died, and Jesus is making His way back to Mary and Martha’s home.
“Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. 21. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. (Well, that’s certainly plausible enough.) 22. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. 23. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24. And Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believeth thou this? 27. She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: (Now, watch this and compare it to what Peter just said back in Matthew 16.) I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” Was Jesus satisfied with her answer? Absolutely!
This is all He was asking. But the Nation as a whole was so blind to who He was, that they could not even come close to recognizing this kind of a confession of faith. That, of course, gave rise to the multitudes crying, “Crucify Him. Kill Him. We’ll not have this man to rule over us.” So what was their basic problem? They couldn’t believe who He was.
And all the way through Scripture – let’s turn to Acts chapter 8. We better do this one quickly. Acts chapter 8 – here we have Philip dealing with the Ethiopian eunuch on his way back from Jerusalem to Ethiopia. You all know the account. The Holy Spirit is now operating. This is in the Book of Acts, and the Spirit tells Philip to go up to this chariot and help this poor Ethiopian eunuch, who, of course, I have thought was a Jew in the employ of the Ethiopian government, which is not at all out of Old Testament criteria. But whatever. The eunuch is reading in the book of Isaiah.
“Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. Philip does. Jump down to verse 32.
“The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: (Isaiah 53) And then verse 34.
“And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 35. Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. (In other words, he explains graphically who this prophet is writing about.) 36. And as they went on their way, they come unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, here’s water, what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37. And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. (And look at the eunuch’s answer.) And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”