Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 75
CONNECTING THE DOTS OF SCRIPTURE – PART 21
Genesis – Revelation
Okay, it’s good to see everybody in on a chilly day in Okalahoma, but we’re glad that you braved it, and you’re here. We appreciate so much that you folks here in the Tulsa area come in and comfort us with your being here, because it’s the only way I can teach. Again, we always like to remind our television audience how we do appreciate your letters and your prayers on our behalf.
And speaking of prayer, you remember in one of my recent programs I mentioned that the young red-haired lady that always sits here in my front row is fighting brain cancer. She’s been gone about two months, but Sharon is back with us today. We want our whole national television audience to know how she appreciates your prayers. After I made that announcement of her illness, she actually had contact from people out there in the audience. So when I saw her today, I said, well, I just better let the audience know that Sharon is back. She’s not over the hill, but she also is not out of the woods. She still has to take some chemo, but we just praise the Lord because she has meant so much to the ministry. She’s the one that did the closed captioning and so forth.
All right, we’re going to pick right up where we left off in our last program, which for those of you here it was a couple three weeks ago. But for those of you on television, it was just a week ago. We’re still connecting the dots of Scripture, and we’re going to jump in at Matthew chapter 9. This will be a little review before we carry on from where we left off in the last taping.
I see it more and more all the time. You’ve got to repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat. So I’m not going to apologize for it. We just covered this, but I’m going to repeat it just to remind everybody where we’re coming from. All right, that would be Matthew chapter 9 and we’re going to start reading verse 35. Then we’re going to skip right over to chapter 10 verses 5 and 6. All right, Matthew chapter 9 verse 35.
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” Not just one here and there, but every sickness and every disease among the people. All right, now as you come down into chapter 10, He chooses the twelve disciples. We don’t have to read those names, but you can just jump across to chapter 10 verse 5.
“These twelve (Now, remember, this is at the onset of His earthly ministry.) Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, (That’s the key word. He commanded them.) saying, Go not, (And I have to emphasize that.) into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: (But instead of going to Gentiles–) 6. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” That’s what the Word of God says. Now that is as plain as language can make it. You don’t go that way; you go this way. There’s no making up your mind. You do what I tell you.
Now we know what happened after the three years of earthly ministry. The nation of Israel rejected it all, and that brought about the crucifixion, which, of course, had to happen. Peter and the eleven—after Judas is gone, they replace him with Matthias—too, continue on with that same message and the same signs and wonders and miracles. The only difference is that now Christ is ascended back into glory, but their operation, the modus operandi, stays the same. They are still ministering to Jews only, and they’re still preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom.
They’re still hoping to convince the nation of Israel that the One they crucified was indeed the Christ! So repent of it, believe that He’s alive. He’s been raised from the dead, and He’s gone back to glory; but He’s going to come very soon and still fulfill all the Old Testament covenants and promises.
But you see, God had something else on His mind which was totally, totally secret to every other writer of Scripture. You cannot find anything of this anywhere in the Old Testament, or in the four gospels, or Acts, or Revelation, or anybody else; because God is now going to take the opposite tact. That’s in Acts chapter 9 where we were just a few programs back at the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.
Acts chapter 9 and he’s just experienced the horrendous meeting of the Lord out there on the road. I think it left him physically devastated. He was blind. He was probably dehydrated. He was famished, and he actually needed physical help to get into the city of Damascus. But while his friends are helping him along the way, God leapfrogs into the city and approaches one of those believing Jews who no doubt ol’ Saul of Tarsus had on his list to arrest and take back to Jerusalem. All right, now we’re going to come in to Acts chapter 9 verse 10, just for sake of review, where the Lord says:
“…Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11. And the Lord…” Now remember, where is the Lord? In heaven. He’s ascended. So we’re dealing with the crucified, buried, risen, and ascended Lord from glory, and He says:
“… I am here, Lord. 11. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth.” He still hasn’t gotten over that tremendous experience out there on the road.
“And he hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.” He says Saul knows you’re coming. All right, now look at Ananias’ response.
“Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints (or those believing Jews) at Jerusalem:” You know the account. How he arrested them, threw them into prison, and, if possible, put them to death. He persecuted them without end. All right, now Ananias is rehearsing all that to the Lord. Now, he says, here he is in Damascus.
“And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind (or arrest) all that call on thy name.” In other words, Jews who were embracing Jesus as the Messiah, which was contrary to Orthodox Judaism. All right, now here’s the verse we come for.
“But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he (this Saul of Tarsus) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles,…” Now what’s the point I’m making? Back three years ago the Lord told the twelve, go not to the Gentiles, go only to the house of Israel. Now, these seven or eight years later, God is going to let Israel go, and He sends this man to the Gentiles.
That’s the point I try to make over the phone with people. They never hear it in church. They never hear it taught in Sunday school. But here you have two direct opposite commandments, not a contradiction; it’s a change of program. He tells the twelve go not to the Gentiles. He tells this man you’re going to go to the Gentiles. Okay, now that can bring us up to where we left off in our last taping. I want you to jump over with me to Galatians chapter 1, because this is so hard for people to see, especially theologians, Bible teachers, and preachers. They just can’t see that here we have two totally different programs.
I read it and hear it all the time, “Well, there’s nothing different between what Paul preached and what Peter preached. Paul’s is only in a little different atmosphere. Peter and Paul never had any difference of opinion. They all preached the same thing.” No, they did not!
You remember in my last program, I put on the statement from Lewis Sperry Chafer? My, I hope people will cut that out and pin it on the wall where he said exactly what I said.
“The Gospel of the Kingdom was God’s offer of salvation to the nation of Israel based on His Messiahship, under the law, nothing had changed. The temple was operating. But to this man Paul, this new apostle, this new direction, God is now not offering the Gospel of the Kingdom, but the Gospel of the Grace of God which is faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
And as Sperry Chafer said in that statement I put on the screen, “What an absurdity to try to say that the Pauline Gospel of faith in the death, burial, and resurrection is no different from the kingdom gospel which was before the cross ever happened. They didn’t know He was going to go to the cross. How could they preach it?”
Well, they couldn’t and they didn’t. All right, so that’s what we have to constantly point out. All right, now coming over to Galatians chapter 1, still a review from the last program, verse 11, where Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This is God’s word just as much as what the Lord himself said and read back in the four gospels.
“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, (That is by other men.) but by the revelation (or revealing) of Jesus Christ.” And never forget—where is He? In glory. So, from glory, God supernaturally through the work of the Holy Spirit, however you want to do it, revealed to this man this whole new modus operandi, is what I like to call it. All right, now verse 13:
“For ye have heard of my conversation (or manner of living) in time past, in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, (Which was the Jewish church at Jerusalem and these Jewish believers.) and wasted it: (destroyed it) 14. And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. 15. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,”
My, the man didn’t deserve it. He hadn’t worked for it. It was all of Grace, and what was the purpose?
“To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately (Now it wasn’t within the next five minutes, but within the next few days.) I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17. Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them who were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia,…” All right, now I’m going to stop right there.
If Paul is preaching the same thing that Jesus and the twelve preached, then why does the Holy Spirit inspire the apostle to say that I conferred not with flesh and blood? Why did Jesus make sure that this man would have nothing to do with those twelve men down there in Jerusalem? He wasn’t going to get it all mixed up, because He was going to come out with something totally different that these men knew nothing of. So everything, if you watch the Scripture, is done to keep Paul from them until he’s established enough that he can go back and compare notes with them.
All right, now keep your hand in Galatians. We’re going to come right back, but back up again to Acts chapter 9. And this is still a little review. We find that after Saul of Tarsus plays his hand, and they recognize that now he is indeed a believer that Jesus was the Messiah, again the orthodox Jews at Damascus were in a dither. They only had one objective, and that was to get rid of him.
All right, so come down to verses 20 and 21 of Acts chapter 9. After he’s come through that experience on the road, he’s been baptized according to the kingdom operation, because that’s what saved him. He didn’t yet believe in a death, burial, and resurrection for salvation. All he believed was that this Jesus that he thought he hated was indeed the Christ. Don’t lose that. That’s the basis of his salvation, so he has to still come through the water baptism bit. So after he’s baptized, he went straightway, verse 20, preaching Christ in the synagogues.
Well, that’s not what God intended. God intended him to go where? To the Gentiles. But, you see, he’s still adhering to that Jewish mindset that he had to prove to Israel that Jesus was the Christ—which is what he’d been hearing for three years while he was up there in Israel. So now he’s continuing on that same line—that Jesus was the Christ, and that Israel had to believe that. All right verse 21:
“But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither (That is up to Damascus.) for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?” But as a result of that conversion out there on the road–
“But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is the very Christ.” Not a word about faith in the death, burial, and resurrection. Not a word about the cross. It is still on that same premise that Jesus of Nazareth was that promised Messiah.
Now, you see, in God’s providence and in God’s miraculous power He could have just simply done with Saul like He did with Philip, I think, back there with the Ethiopian eunuch. Here he (Philip) was on the road down to Ethiopia and the next minute he’s up there at Azotus back in Israel. I think God just picked him up and set him down. Well, why didn’t He do that with Saul of Tarsus?
Well, God operates on two different levels. Sometimes He will do the supernatural, but most generally He uses common circumstances to get people where He wants them. That’s true of every one of us, I’m sure. We’re all where we are spiritually because God has just simply maneuvered us by one event or another, closed doors, and opened doors; and here we are just exactly where God wants us—every one of you whether you know it or not.
All right, so now God isn’t going to do the supernatural. He’s not going to just lift Saul up and set him down in the desert. He’s going to use circumstances and what is it? They’re going to threaten his life. Okay now let’s read on in verse 23.
“And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 24. But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.” They thought that if he would try to escape Damascus, they’d be able to nab him and put him to death and that would end it. But after they became aware of this conspiracy to kill him, his friends—these believing Jews as they’re called, the disciples in verse 25:
“Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.” All right, now as we said when we taped last time, there is a gap of time here between verses 25 and 26. Because we know he did not go from that basket experience in Damascus right back to Jerusalem, because that was the last thing God wanted. He did not want him to have contact with the twelve.
All right, that’s why we’ve got to flip right back to Galatians chapter 1. After they let him down in the wall in a basket, what happened? All right, here it is in verse 17. We see he didn’t do the logical.
“Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them who were apostles before me;…” Which, like I said in the last program, that would have been the logical. Go back and ask the twelve, tell me everything about this Jesus that you know. But no, that’s not God’s way. So God providentially gets him out of Damascus and evidently picks up with some kind of a supernatural way of taking him down into the desert of Arabia. Reading on in verse 17:
“…but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.” I think, because that’s where the primary trade routes were, from Damascus up over the Golan Heights, down around the north end of the Sea of Galilee, down into what is present day Megiddo, then over to the Mediterranean Sea, then down into Egypt.
That was the major trade route from the Far East. That’s why I think he goes from that desert experience in Arabia back to Damascus. All right, now the next verse is where we have to just use common sense. It does not specifically say that he spent the three years in the desert, it almost makes it sound like he spent the three years in Damascus. Let’s read it so you’ll know what I’m talking about—verse 17, the last half.
“…but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. 18. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.” All right, now what am I trying to do? There was a three year period of time, from the time he was let down in a basket until he finally goes back to Jerusalem by way of Damascus.
Now, you’ve got to know your Middle Eastern geography. Mount Sinai where—again, I didn’t take the time to do that, but we’ll do that right now. Turn on over to chapter 4 in Galatians. Here’s where I get the scriptural concept that he went not just into the desert someplace, but that he went down to Mount Sinai. Otherwise, I don’t see why the Holy Spirit led him to use the term right here just a couple chapters later. But in Galatians chapter 4, when he’s speaking of the Law and Grace allegory between Isaac and Ishmael, he uses verse 24 to bring out what I think is a scriptural point, and that is in verse 25.
“For this Hagar…” The mother of Ishmael, who, in the allegory, is the picture of law, which was of the flesh. It was fleshly. It was powerless. Isaac on the other hand is the picture of the spiritual, where we are. All right, but that’s not the point I want to make. I want to make the point of geography.
“For this Hagar is Mount Sinai (Where?) in Arabia,…” See? Mount Sinai in Arabia. Now why would that be put in here if it was not a little feedback on what Paul is talking about that he went into Arabia?
I’ve taught it for years that I think the Lord led him down to Mount Sinai which is in Arabia. And for three years he had a person-to-person relationship with Saul of Tarsus, unveiling all these things that had never been revealed before. And that’s the whole object of Paul’s doctrines: that they were never, ever revealed any other place in Scripture until God gave it to him.
Now I’m sure he didn’t get everything in those three years, but he got enough that it set him apart from Judaism—where he could make the statement in Romans 6 verse 14: “You’re not under law, you’re under grace!” All right, after these three years it says he went up to Jerusalem. Now the question comes every once in awhile from the TV audience, well, did he spend the three years in Damascus?
Well, I can’t just adamantly say, no way, because it doesn’t speak of it that way. But logically, had Paul spent three years in Damascus, what would he have left behind? Evidence. There would have been congregations in that city, more than one. But were there? Not a one. Nothing. You never ever read in Scripture that Paul, or Saul, left behind any kind of a group of believers in Damascus. So, on that basis I maintain, no, he didn’t spend those three years in Damascus. He spent the three years in the desert in the presence of the Lord.
Then I have another reason. You know, when Paul was in his ministry, especially amongst the Corinthians, they were always downgrading his authority and his apostleship. And what would they compare him to? “Well, we can believe Peter, we can believe Jesus, but who are you?” Well you see, with his three year experience behind him, I think he could come back and say, well, sure you had three years with the Lord, but so did I. The Lord just leveled the playing field. So, those are my reasons of assumption. Like I say, it’s something that I can’t point to and say, this is what the Book says, like I normally do. But on the other hand, you’ve got to figure some of these things out with common sense.
That he did not spend those three years in Damascus for nothing, but he must have spent that whole three year time in the presence of the Lord where He revealed unto him these glorious, glorious Gospel of Grace truths. All right, now I think we might as well finish the chapter here in Galatians 1, and then we’re going to run back to Acts a minute. So verse 18 again:
“Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem (Now, that’ll fill the gap back there in Acts 9 between verses 25 and 26.) to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. 19. But other of the apostles saw I none, except James the Lord’s brother. 20. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. 21. Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; 22. And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea which were in Christ: (those Jewish congregations) 23. But they had heard only, That he who persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which he once destroyed.”
All right, now I’m going to go to the timeline up here for just a little bit and review this as well—from Abraham to Moses to David to the Babylonian captivities and the appearance of the prophets of Isaiah and Ezekiel and Jeremiah and Daniel and all the rest of them, leading us up to Christ’s earthly ministry. Then we begin that three years where He’s rejected, He’s crucified, He’s ascended back to glory.
Now, so far as all of these prophecies were concerned, they were to shortly expect the 7 years of Tribulation to come in, and that would trigger the Second Coming. Then in would come all the fulfilled prophecies from back here in the Old Testament in the form of the 1,000 year Kingdom.
But unknown to all of Scripture, and I can’t emphasize that enough. Nowhere in our Bible do we have any indication that God was not going to finish everything with that top line. But here in Acts we have the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, and we have that specific instruction: don’t go this way, you go that way.
Now God opens up something that is entirely new and different. You can’t find one word, not one word, in the four gospels or in the Old Testament or Revelation or anyplace else. It’s a closed body of truth that we’re going to be looking at the rest of the afternoon.
All right, so come back to Acts chapter 9, and instead of the tribulation coming in, as Israel was expecting, God now does something different. You will see that the whole Jewish Gospel of the Kingdom program is going to fall through the cracks and disappear as Paul’s ministry takes the ascending role.
So back to Acts chapter 9 at that point where they let him down in a basket in verse 25. Now in verse 26 we pick it up after those three years that we just read about in Galatians, and now, as Paul said, he meets with Peter for the first time.
“And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed (or attempted) to join himself to the disciples: (That is to those Jewish believers now gathered around Jerusalem ever since Pentecost that we talked about last time.) but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way,…” And rehearsed his whole Damascus road experience. All right, now in verse 30, in the seconds we have left, we’ll see that now there was such hatred, again, rising about this new apostle that they had to get him out of Jerusalem.
“Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.” What was Tarsus? His home town. So he heads up into Gentile territory, north of present day Lebanon, up into Southwestern Turkey in our present day geography. There he will begin his ministry in his own hometown. Then from there on we’ll pick it up in our next program. But here is where you have that change of direction. Instead of going to Israel, God is now going to go to the Gentile world.