Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 73
THEOPHANIES: GOD THE SON APPEARING IN HUMAN FORM – 3
Genesis 17:1 and Various Other Scriptures
We want to welcome our TV audience and thank you for everything that you do on our behalf: the prayers, your gifts, and everything. We’ve been on a lot of seminars lately. What a joy to meet people person-to-person. I guess the favorite word we hear is “I watch you every day.” That word “every” just sort of puts the frosting on the cake. There’s a gentleman right there, and we like that, that they get interested in the Word and not Les Feldick, but it’s the Word of God that is interesting.
All right, Genesis chapter 18, we’ll start back at the beginning, again. We’re still talking about the Theophanies, where God the Son steps out of the invisible Godhead and becomes a visible appearance to these men and women in the Old Testament. Remember, that once we get to His birth at Bethlehem, we call it the incarnate. And I didn’t realize until the other day that incarnate is not a biblical word. You know, we’ve got a lot of words we think are biblical and they’re not. Trinity is one. Sovereign is one. And this is another one. You don’t find the word incarnate in the Scripture, but all of the things that it pertains to are. So anyway, once we get to the incarnate Christ after His birth at Bethlehem, we’ll have no more Theophanies. Don’t need to, because He now appears in a literal, physical body. All right, so Genesis 18, we have another theophany in verse 1 where it begins “The LORD.” Now, here it’s all four letters capitalized, so it’s Jehovah, God the Son, the great I AM.
“And the LORD appeared (visibly) unto him (that is Abraham) in the plains of Mamre: (Which is down there south of present day Jerusalem toward the area of Beersheba.) and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;” Now this is Middle East. This is desert. And of course Middle Eastern customs have been the same for centuries upon centuries. And part of the desert culture was hospitality. When strangers came by, it was only natural to offer food and drink. And this is what you have here. You have a typical Middle Eastern act of hospitality. Abram had no idea, or Abraham now, he had no idea who these three men were.
“And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men (doesn’t say angels) stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself to the ground, 3. And said, My Lord,…” Now, as I mentioned in the last half-hour, this was merely a term of respect, recognizing a stranger and giving him welcome.
And said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee from thy servant: 4. Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched,…” Now, I don’t have to tell you that water is the chief commodity in the Middle East. And we find that out especially during some of the times we’ve been over there. The Sea of Galilee is way, way down, and we were clear down at Petra.
Here was water all the way down to the far end of Petra and the washrooms and everything were still flushing. And I asked one of the guides, “Where in the world do you get the water. Here we are in the middle of the desert?” Where do you suppose? The Sea of Galilee. That was all part of an agreement between Israel and Jordan—that Israel would provide so many millions of gallons, or so many acre-feet, of water from the Sea of Galilee. And even though it was drying up, they would not relinquish those contracts. You’ve got to remember that Israel has to put up with an awful lot that the world knows nothing of. But they kept their word and provided the water. But, my point is made. When you get into the deserts of the Middle East, water is preeminent. All right, so he says:
“Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5. And I will fetch you a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: (He wasn’t expecting anything more.) for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.” So he does. Now, I don’t know how in the world he got a calf dressed and fixed this quickly, but maybe they were there longer than we thought. But anyway–
“And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and made cakes upon the hearth. 7. And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. 8. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, (Now this really blows you away.) and they did (What?) eat.” Now, we know who these three men are. Abraham didn’t. But knowing that they are angels, doesn’t it kind of throw a curve at you that they ate? But they did.
Well, if I had time, we’d go all the way up to Christ’s resurrection body. You remember on one of those mornings the guys had been fishing all night. Yes, heads are nodding. You know what I’m going to talk about. And He asked them, “Have you caught any fish?” They answered, “No.” We Okie’s would say “skunked,” didn’t get a bite. And you know what He did. He said, “Throw the net on the other side of the boat,” and they came in. But in the meantime, what did He already have cooking on the fire? Bread and fish. And then it goes on to say that—what did He do? He ate—in that resurrected body.
Now, those are all just little tidbits of information, you see, that enlighten us on some things. When we get into the eternal abode, yes, we’re going to be able to eat. There won’t be any need for sanitation and so forth, because it’s going to be a body that will totally consume whatever it eats, evidently. But here we have it again, that even these angels, one of whom, of course, is the Lord Himself in a theophany, and they ate. That’s what the Book says.
“And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.” Now again, I always have to stop because these come from experiences. One of the early trips we made to Israel was back in about 1975, and we could still go just about everywhere. There was no intifada in those days. And one of the places we stopped was an Arab Sheik in his tent clear out there on the desert. Way out beyond even Beersheba. He had this big tent in the front. I’m sure it was a tourist trap, but whatever. It made good tourism. We were about 30 people. We get out and go in this old, big open tent, and the Sheik is fixing coffee, if you could call it that. But anyway, the amazing thing was, while we were sitting there in the tent, there were about 30 of us, and about 24 little Arab kids were all over her (Iris). Just all over her. Picking at her hair and looking at her ring. Where in the world could 24 kids come from? And the old man made just one bark after a little while, and they all disappeared.
Well you see, after we finished our coffee and were heading back to the bus, all these kids come back again, and she was their main target. Then we asked the guide, where do all these kids from? He said, “Look out behind.” Well, there were four tents. What were the four tents? Four wives. Between the four wives the old boy had 24 kids. But, you see, that’s Middle Eastern life. It’s still the same. You go over to Israel today, and you drive between Jerusalem and Jericho, and you’ll still see the Bedouin tents out there. Black as coal. That’s their lifestyle. It hasn’t changed a bit in all the millennia of time.
All right, so here’s Sarah, no doubt in her own tent, behind the main tent. So he says, “She’s in the tent.” Now then verse 10:
“And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life, and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. (Now remember, how old is Sarah? Ninety) And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. 11. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.”
“Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? (Now the word lord there is used with a small l.) 13. And the LORD (Jehovah again. God the Son. The Theophany.) said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh,…”
Now, are you picturing this taking place now, like four ordinary human beings, five now with Sarah? Are you picturing it that way? Here we have all the appearances of three wayfaring strangers, men, Abraham and Sarah. Nothing of an angelic aura or anything about them.
“And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? 14. Is anything too hard for the LORD?…” Now, I have to stop again. What do you suppose Abraham is now suddenly realizing? I’ve talked to this individual before! He must have looked different, or he would have recognized him. I’ve talked to him before! When? When He appeared at the time of the Abrahamic Covenant, and when He appeared unto Hagar, and all these other times. All of a sudden, I’m sure; it dawned upon Abraham who he was really talking to. All right, now it even gets plainer as we go on.
“Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” Now stop and think. Who but God can make a statement like that? Well, nobody can. But God can. He knew what He was talking about, and it happened. All right, verse 15:
“Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; (Can’t you hear her? These people are just as human as anybody else. Now all of a sudden she’s got to start backtracking. She’s talking to the Lord of Glory, no, I didn’t laugh.) for she was afraid. And he (the Lord) said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.”
“And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. 17. And the Lord said, (one of the three) Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18. Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?” See, there’s a repetition of the Abraham Covenant, again.
“For I know him, (the Lord says) that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. 20. And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;” And you all know what that was.
“I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. 22. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: (That is the other two of the three.) but Abraham stood yet before the LORD. 23. And Abraham drew near, (To God the Son in a theophany, a human form, face to face.) and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?”
All right, you all know the account of how God and Abraham are going to discuss the future of these wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. And I think it’s a good way to look at America today. We’re getting closer and closer to this whole Sodom and Gomorrah situation. I know I pray, and I want you to pray, “Well, Lord, if you’d have spared Sodom for 50, won’t you spare America for a few million?” I’m not saying He will, but I think it’s a legitimate prayer, that God will spare America for the sake of us believers.
But then on the other hand, I have to remember, and I remember stressing it when we were teaching the Book of Isaiah. Even though there was a remnant of righteous in Israel when God’s wrath fell, like with the invasion of the Babylonians, were the believers spared? No. They suffered right along with the rest of the nation. So, we have to take these things for what they’re worth. But on the other hand, I love these verses just for that basis that I can go to the Lord and I say, “Now, Lord, as long as there is a remnant of believers, can you spare America until we hear our trumpet call?” Which we trust is coming close.
In fact, I guess I can share this. When the Virginia Tech thing happened, of course my phone rings off the wall with, “Well, what is all this?” Well, yes, this is end-time. This is a sign of the times. That’s the way I’ve been starting most of my seminars lately. When the Lord confronted the Pharisees, or they confronted Him, what did He tell them? He said, “You hypocrites. You can look at the sky this afternoon and foretell the weather tomorrow. You look at the sky in the morning and it’s red and lowering, and you say, it’s going to be a poor day. But you can’t discern the signs of the times.”
Well now, what was He talking about? Those religious leaders of Israel should have known, on the basis of Old Testament prophecy, that they were now in the fourth of Daniel’s empires. Everything concerning the coming of Christ in His first Advent was in place. They should have known that this was the promised Messiah. But did they? They didn’t have a clue. Well, we’re the same way today. My, we should be able to look at the signs of the times and know that the end is upon us. But do they? They haven’t got a clue.
You know, we’ve got a lady up in Twin Cities, Minnesota. I’ve been interviewed on her radio program more than once, and she’s on the same page scripturally with me 100%. And she was interviewing—I don’ t like to name names, but since it was on the radio and there was nothing secret about it, he was a Lutheran pastor. In fact, he was the pastor of the huge church where we always hold our seminars when we’re up there. She had called him in for an interview, because she had heard that he had just recently come out of that replacement theology, covenant theology, and had recognized that indeed Israel was where they belong according to prophecy.
Somebody taped it for me. I can quote from that tape without apology. She asked him, “Now pastor–” (He was a Ph.D. Now this will be playing in Minnesota, so I’ll probably get feedback.) She said, “Now, Pastor, when you were in seminary, didn’t you students ever talk about end-time prophecy?” He said “Never. Never.” “Well,” she said, “up until just (then) recently, didn’t you ever get together with your fellow pastors and talk about end-time things?” “Never.” She said, “Well, then what in the world got you to change your mind?” “Israel.” And that’s the point I’m constantly making. If ever there is a sign of the times, it’s the Nation of Israel. They’re there by no human endeavor. They should have never survived these last 2,000 years, but there they are! A miracle of history! And yet people cannot see it. But here we have it—that over and over the signs of the times should tell us something.
So anyway, getting back to Virginia Tech, why do I call this a sign of the times? Well, the Lord Himself says that, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of man.” Well all right, now all people think of as the sign of Noah is the flood. But go back before the flood a little ways. What was the picture? The world was filled with what? Violence. You want to see it with your own eyes? Come back to Genesis chapter 6, because this is what we mean by the signs of the times. Not just necessarily the flood waters, the destruction, but what was the moral climate of the world in general just before the flood.
I guess I can find the first one real easy, verse 13, but I thought there was another one. Verse 5. Yeah, we can use that one. See, this is the moral climate, that’s the best way I can explain it. Just before the flood, verse 5, of Genesis 6.
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6. And it repented (In other words, it made the Lord sorry.) the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” But then you come all the way down to verse 11.
“The earth also was corrupt…” Oh, you see that word in the paper every day lately, don’t you? Everybody is corrupt. The corporate big wigs are corrupt. Politicians are corrupt. Everything is feeding on corruption. And it isn’t just America, it’s all over. My, the traffic in women and children, it’s just sickening. But what’s at the root of it? Corruption. Men that are nothing but greedy for the filthy lucre that they can gain. All right, that’s the way it was before the flood.
“The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with (What?) violence.” What’s violence? Killing each other. All right, then come on down to verse 13. It’s repeated for emphasis.
“And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh has come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” In other words, I put it this way. To instantly kill all those innocent, little children in the opening hours of the flood was an act of mercy. Because had they kept on living, what would they have finally succumbed to? Murder. And violence.
All right, we’re getting there fast. So, whenever you see these horrendous acts of violence, whether it’s in Baghdad or whether it’s in Virginia Tech or whether it’s in California, it makes no difference. It’s just a sign of the times, beloved, that the end is getting near.
Okay, where was I—back in Genesis chapter 18? And now start at verse 24, and we’re going to pick this up. Like I said, just picture ourselves in America today. Go before the Lord and just beg Him, that Lord, for the sake of the believers spare America, because we know that judgment is coming.
“Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty that are righteous that are therein?” Now, for sake of time, verse 26.
“And the LORD said, if I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sake. 27. And Abraham answered…” Now evidently Abraham had a pretty good idea, don’t you suppose? Or he wouldn’t have kept coming down.
“And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, who am but dust and ashes. (Now see, he knows who he’s talking to, remember? He knows he’s talking to the God of glory.) 28. Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for the lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five I will not destroy it. 29. And he spake unto him yet again, (Can you just, can you sense Abraham? My, how he was pleading, and he says:) Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake. 30. And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there? And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there. 31. And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there? And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake. (And he still keeps going.) 32. And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.”
Now, isn’t it amazing that in these cities, now they were not like New York, of course, but they were pretty good-sized cities for that day and time, and not even ten believers could be found? Now, the verse that I wanted you to see before we go on from here is verse 33.
“And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.” Of course the Lord went on up into the invisible again, until it was time to reappear in another theophany.
All right, now to pick up the other two angels, so that we know what we’re talking about, you’ve got to go into chapter 19 for a moment. Here are the other two of the three in chapter 18. Verse 1:
“And there came two angels…” The same two that ate with Abraham and the Lord back in chapter 18. Those were all three heavenly creatures in what we would call a theophany.
All right, now let’s jump up to chapter 26. Now we come to the next generation, and it’s Isaac. And still God is going to appear in human form, temporarily, and then go back up into the invisible Godhead.
“There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.” Now you’ve got to know your Old Testament geography. Gerar, of course, was on the border between present day, like Gaza and Egypt now, on that neck of the Mediterranean Sea.
“And the LORD (What’s the word?) appeared (Here we have it again, the same word. All of a sudden, in human form out of the invisible Godhead, He comes down.) unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:” Now, I don’t know how many of you thought of it anytime all afternoon. How long does it take the Lord to travel from Heaven to earth. That’s an ambiguous question, isn’t it? But even on resurrection morning, where did the Lord go after He had told Martha, don’t touch Me? Well, He went to Glory. He went up to the heavens. And He presented His shed blood as the atoning blood in the holy of holies in Heaven, and then before time goes by, He appears again to Thomas and the rest of the Twelve.
Well I wonder, how long did it take? Must be a split second. And the same way here. I don’t think the Lord had to travel hours and hours to come down and appear to these people. It’s an interesting thought, you know, because one of these days we’re going to make that same trip ourselves. And it’s not going to take long, and we’re going to be translated from here to there.
Well, anyway, we’re not going to get very far with Isaac. But we’ll do like we did before, we’ll go as far as we can, and then we’ll come back. He appears to Isaac, because this is an important change in everything pertaining to God and the Children of Israel.
“And the LORD appeared unto him and said, Go not down into Egypt; (Now, that was a specific instruction to Isaac. Go not down into Egypt. Well, he’s on the border you see. He’s not very far from Egypt.) dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: (That was the Promised Land, the land of Canaan.) 3. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I swear unto Abraham thy father;”.