Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 3 * BOOK 75
CONNECTING THE DOTS OF SCRIPTURE – PART 19
Genesis – Revelation
Okay, program number three this afternoon, and, again, we want to invite our television audience to study with us. Get your Bible. Take your notes. If you get a question that just confounds you, you call me. I’m on the phone almost every forenoon. I guess that’s just part of the ministry. We just encourage you, don’t sweat it. Just give us a call, and we’ll try to clarify if we possibly can. Like I said in an earlier program, usually when people call with a question, it’s because they heard me wrong, and I can’t help that.
Anyway, here we go back to where we left off in our last program. And again, I guess I should thank my whole audience for your prayers and your letters and your financial help, because, after all, that’s what keeps us going.
All right, back to Acts chapter 7 for a little bit. We’re still in the message that Stephen preached. He was not one of the Twelve, but one of the seven that were appointed to take care of some of the material needs of all these multitudes of Jews who had been staying in Jerusalem. Remember, they’re living out of the common kitty, and, as we’re going to see in probably this program or the next one, their money runs out. Isn’t it amazing? It happened and when the money ran out, they didn’t have money to go back home. So, where’d they end up? Being those poor Jews in Jerusalem who are mentioned several times in the epistles. That, of course, is going to go right on into Paul’s ministry, as we will see.
But for now we’re still dealing with a multitude of Jews. We have Stephen making his appeal to the Jewish leadership that all the Old Testament was now being fulfilled right before their very eyes. And why can’t they see it is his message. You know, that’s what he’s asking them. Why can’t you see it? Well, he comes down to verse 35, still in chapter 7. He’s still rehearsing all the history of Israel. Now he’s up to Moses, who, after his second time, God used him to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt. All right, verse 35:
“This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.” Now I trust you all remember that in Exodus chapter 3, where Moses saw that burning bush and stepped aside to see what in the world was going on. It was the Lord Himself speaking. He was telling him that He would now send him back to Egypt to lead His people out of bondage. So reading on in verse 36.
“He brought them out, (out of Egypt) after that he had showed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt,…” Now, I’ve got to stop a moment. Go ahead to First Corinthians chapter 1 verse 22. This is Paul writing years later, but he makes such an appropriate statement that I always like to have people lock onto.
I Corinthians 1:22a
“For the Jews require a sign,…” See that? That’s all you have to see in that verse. Now come back to Acts chapter 7. When did God begin dealing with Israel on the basis of signs and wonders? When Moses went back to Egypt.
You remember the very first argument that Moses had that he wasn’t qualified anymore? He’d been herding sheep for 40 years. He’d been away from all educated people and a fluent civilization back there on the backside of the desert. He had all kinds of excuses. And what did God ask him? “What’s in your hand?” Well, a shepherd’s rod. What did He tell him to do? “Throw it on the ground.” What happened? It became a writhing snake. Now what does He tell Moses? “Pick it up by the tail.” And suddenly it was back to a shepherd’s rod. Well, it was, of course, a supernatural miracle, but for what purpose? To prove to Moses that God was going to use him to bring Israel out of Egypt!
All right, now from that point on Israel is accustomed to the supernatural, miracle-working power of God all the way up, except for the four hundred years between Malachi and Matthew. Those four hundred years of silence. Nothing, other than Sampson. What did Sampson do? My, all those signs and people think they are just a figment of somebody’s imagination. No, God did it miraculously on up through the prophets and their supernatural ability to prophesy the future. That was all part of Israel’s history. They were accustomed then to, “show me a sign.”
All right, so here we have it beginning with Moses who was shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt. Then the greatest one of all, I still think, is the miracle that God performed with Israel—the opening of the Red Sea. I mean, that’s just beyond our comprehension that God opened up the ocean as we would look at it, for a distance of however many miles it took for several million people and all their livestock to go through on dry ground.
And again, it’s not a figment of somebody’s imagination. It happened because the Book says it happened. Now, of course, some are beginning to find some of the evidence of chariot wheels on the bottom of the Red Sea. But whatever, these were all signs and wonders and miracles to convince Israel that they were God’s chosen people. Moses is indeed His appointed man and they were to trust him explicitly. But Israel has always had the same problem as the rest of the human race, and that is a lack of faith. So, in spite of the miracles, they were still so prone to unbelief. Okay, reading now where we were in Acts chapter 7.
“This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, (In other words, out of one of the tribes of Israel.) like unto me; (Even as Moses was a prophet and a leader and a deliverer, in the future there will come another one. Now the last four words–) him shall ye hear.” We know that was a reference to Jesus of Nazareth. Israel was to have responded to His three years of signs and wonders and miracles. All right verse 38:
“This is he, (speaking of Jesus of Nazareth) who was in the church in the wilderness (That called-out assembly of Jews coming out of Egypt and down to the wilderness of Sinai. This is He who was in the assembly in the wilderness.) with the angel which spoke to him in Mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the living oracles to give unto us: 39. To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and their hearts turned back again into Egypt,”
Well, many may think it’s referring to Moses, but I don’t think so. Because when the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, took them around Mount Sinai, gave them the law, built the tabernacle, and set up the priesthood, now where does He take them? Up to the southern border of the Promised Land, Kadesh Barnea. And what did the God of Abraham, Jacob, and the rest of them promise those Israelites? “Go in and take it. You will not lose one drop of blood. I’ll drive those Canaanites ahead of you, and they’re going to be chased out with hornets, and all you have to do is go in and take it, occupy it.”
And what did Israel do? Unbelievable, they said, “We can’t do it. Why the cities are walled, the people are giants, there’s no way. We’re like grasshoppers in their sight!” But God had said it. All right, now let me show you the verse that sets the whole thing on edge. Go back with me all the way to Hebrews chapter 3. This is so appropriate even for us today, because God is still dealing with America on the same basis. Believe Him, but they refuse. My, you wouldn’t dare bring any of these things up in the halls of Congress. They’d have a conniption fit because God isn’t in that part of our culture anymore.
But see, this is the problem: they will not recognize that we are still under the Sovereign authority of the Creator God. Israel was the perfect illustration. Hebrews chapter 3, start with verse 7. This is just good rehearsal. We’ve been here before. Hebrews chapter 3 verse 7:
“Wherefore (as the Holy Spirit saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, 8. Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation (or testing) in the wilderness: 9. When your fathers tested me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. 10. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.”
“So I swear in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) (Which was the Promised Land.) 12. Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of (Immorality? No! Was that their problem?) unbelief, (Unbelief! That’s been the problem all the way up through human history. People cannot believe what God says. Israel was no different. All right, so they had within them that evil heart of unbelief) in departing from the living God.”
Now the writer of the Hebrews, which I think was Paul, in verse 13 says:
“But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; 15. While it is said, (Now he’s bringing it all up from our situation rather than Israel’s at Kadesh.) To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as (they did back there) in the provocation (in Kadesh Barnea). 16. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.”
Because after all, Joshua and Caleb said, hey, we can take them. They were in the minority. Verse 17, now here’s where the lesson comes down to where you and I are today.
“But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them who had sinned, (The sin of unbelief, remember.) whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? 18. And to whom sware he (Now, we’re speaking about God and Israel.) that they should not enter into his rest, (the Promised Land) but to them who believed not?”
That was their problem. God had already forgiven them and dealt with them on the basis of that golden calf. They weren’t now practicing immorality; they weren’t having any other moral problems. What was their problem? They couldn’t believe that God said they could take it, and so they shrank back. Now verse 19 puts the cap on it.
“So we see that they could not enter in (That is to the Promised Land. Coming in from Kadesh Barnea, they could not enter in.) because of (What?) unbelief.” And so it is all through God’s dealing with the human race, it’s the lack of faith.
They just can’t take God at His Word. It’s the same problem today. They just cannot believe what this Book says. Like I said in the last taping, if this Book prophesied it, it’s going to happen and you can rest on it. It may not be in our lifetime, but its going to happen someday. All right, now let’s come back to where we were in Acts chapter 7. I want to be ready for Saul’s conversion in our next program, so let’s come on back to Acts chapter 7 for a little bit—verse 39.
“To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt. 40. Saying unto Aaron, make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him. 41. And they made a calf…” And you know the story of that one. All right, come all the way up, for sake of time, to verse 45.
“Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus (Joshua) into the possession of the Gentiles, (That is when Joshua came into the land of Canaan and had to fight for it and had to have war in order to gain the occupation of the land.) whom God drove them out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;”
We’re coming all the way up through Israel’s history now. Abraham is probably around 2000 B.C. Four hundred and thirty years later we have them coming out of Egypt, then the forty years in the wilderness. Now we’re up to the time of Joshua and through the Book of Joshua, and then we come to King David at 1000 B.C. All right, now David, verse 46:
“Who found favor before God, and desired to find, (or build) a tabernacle (or a dwelling place) for the God of Jacob. (In other words, he wanted to build a permanent temple. But we know David didn’t get to do it.) 47. But Solomon built him an house. 48. Howbeit the most High (That is, the God of Israel.) dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,”
“Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? 50. Hath not my hand made all these things?” In other words, He’s emphasizing even to David and Solomon that He’s more than just a God of a physical temple of wood and stone, but He is the Creator of everything.
All right, now verse 51, here Stephen begins to come down hard on the religious leadership of Israel. Remember, it’s the high priest who introduced the chapter. All right, now to the religious leadership Stephen says:
“Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears,…” Oh, they’ve been circumcised in the flesh, but not the circumcision of the heart—the cutting off of the old Adam as we’re showing lately in the Book of Romans. That’s all Paul emphasizes. You’ve got to put old Adam to death. Old Adam has to be cut off. Well, that’s the circumcision of the heart, when the old Adam is cut off. It was just as appropriate for the Old Testament Jew as it is for us today. But they were still in their carnal state. They were still in the flesh. So, he calls them uncircumcised in heart and ears.
“…Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers (and your forefathers) did, so do ye.” He’s bringing everything that happened in the past right up to their present day. He says you’re no different. Now, we know from history, what did Israel do to most of the prophets? Killed them. When they didn’t like the message, they’d kill the messenger. You’ve heard me say that more than once. All right, so Stephen is driving the point home. You’re no different. You’re just as rebellious as they were in the past.
“Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain (or killed) them who showed (or wrote, or prophesied) before of the coming of the Just One; of whom (That is, the Just One.) ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 53. Who have received the law (the Mosaic Law) by the disposition of angel, and have not kept it.” You didn’t care what the law said. You lived your own life. Now verse 54.
“When they heard these things, (These religious leaders, the Priests and the Pharisees, when they heard these things–) they were cut to the heart,…” They were convicted, but did they respond in the right way? No, they responded the wrong way. Instead of succumbing to Stephen’s message, they rebelled against it. What did they do?
“…and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55. But he, (Stephen) being full of the Holy Ghost (or the Holy Spirit), looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, (Here’s another miracle, again typical in Israel’s past. He saw the glory of God and in that open view into heaven, what he really saw was what?) and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,”
Now, that’s another question that comes in all the time. Why did Stephen speak of Jesus standing when all the other Scriptures such as Psalm 110:1 and Hebrews chapter 1 and a couple of others, say that He’s seated, but here He’s standing. Read it again.
“And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. (Now, as soon as he said that, what happened? An uproar.) 57. Then they cried with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord. What do you have? A mob.
Now, I’ve got one Scripture that I think is the answer. If you don’t want to agree, that’s fine. I’m not going to make a big deal. Come back with me to Psalms 68. I think this is the answer to what Stephen witnessed and to what these religious leaders of Israel responded. Psalms 68 is what I call the explanation of Acts chapter 7. Just drop right in at verse 1 and watch this really carefully.
“Let God (What?) arise,…” Now wait a minute, maybe I should take the time. I think I’ve got it. Keep your hands in Psalms 68 and jump ahead to Psalms 110 verse 1. And this is what the Jews knew. They knew these Psalms forwards and backwards. This is what everybody understands.
“The LORD said unto my Lord, (In other words, God the Father says to God the Son.) Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” Now, that’s a loaded verse. So when did God instruct Him to come and sit at His right hand? After His resurrection and His ascension He sat positionally, symbolically, however you want to put it, but He sat at the Father’s right hand. But not forever, what’s the word? “Until.”
So, there would be a time coming, but like I said, everything in the Old Testament was looking forward to a straight unfolding of the prophecies including the Tribulation, the Second Coming, and the Kingdom. So, all of this was in a rather tight timeframe. The two thousand years of the church-age was unknown.
All right, so in Psalms 110 verse 1 we have the Lord seated at the Father’s right hand until He would go and destroy His enemies. Now, back to Psalms 68 and I think these Jews knew Psalm 68 just as well as they did 110 verse 1.
“Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him (Do what?) flee before him. 2. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: (And I think they saw the whole impact of this.) as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.” Were those religious people ready for that? Oh, heavens no.
So, instead of succumbing to it by faith, they rebel at it under the instinct of old Adam as we’ve been seeing in Romans. All right, now if you’ll come back to Acts chapter 7, this is what I think you’ve got here. When Stephen saw Jesus standing, they reckoned according to Psalm 68 that He would be coming and destroying the wicked. Wow, they weren’t ready for that. So, again, instead of accepting the message, they killed the messenger. Isn’t it amazing?
“Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58. And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: (They put him to death.) and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, (We’re going to be introduced to him in our next program.) whose name was Saul (of Tarsus).” The next major player from there on until the Book of Acts is completed.
“And they stoned Stephen, who was calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” All right, for just a little bit of continuation, go on into chapter 8 verse 1.
“And Saul (Saul of Tarsus—this same man we’re going to deal with now in our next half hour, Saul of Tarsus.) was consenting unto his death. (Saul was more than consenting, he was actually promoting it.) And at that time there was a great persecution against the church (Assembly of these believing Jews that we’ve been talking about all afternoon. Now there are multitudes of them, thousands of them, and now there comes a great persecution against the assembly.) which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.”
They never left Jerusalem until a lot of time goes by, because they saw absolutely no need to go on out into the Gentile world. Because they were not apostles of Gentiles, they were apostles of Israel.