Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 3 * BOOK 76
CONNECTING THE DOTS OF SCRIPTURE – PART 35
Genesis – Revelation (The Mysteries Continued)
My, we’re glad to see everybody back from your coffee break. We’ll go into the third program this afternoon. We are in book 76, for those of you out in television. We’re in the final four programs of that book. Right, Jerry? And hopefully we can get through the next two mysteries in these next two programs. That will put everything concerning these mysteries in book 76. That would work well, wouldn’t it?
Okay, those of you in television, we’re asking you to turn with us to Romans chapter 11. The studio audience is already waiting. We’re going to drop down into verse 25. We’re looking at the sixth mystery up here on the board, which is “the Blinding of the Nation of Israel to Spiritual Truth.” Now these things are hard to comprehend. I know they are. I’ll comment on it in a little bit. Romans chapter 11 verse 25.
“For I would not, brethren, (So, he’s writing to believers, as I’m always emphasizing. Paul never writes to the unbelieving world.) that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, (or secret) lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; (Now here’s the mystery.) that blindness (spiritual blindness) in part (For a period of time. Not from here until eternity, but for a period of time blindness–) has happened to Israel, (And it’s going to remain–) until (That’s the time word.) the fullness (or the completion) of the Gentiles be come in.”
Now when Paul speaks of the “fullness of the Gentiles,” I have to feel he’s talking about one thing and one thing alone, and that is the Body of Christ. So, as we get closer and closer to the end of the Church Age, and the Body of Christ is nearly full, we have Israel back in the land where she has to be. Maybe a lot more will have to come yet, but whatever.
Israel has to be a sovereign entity, which they are. They’ve already come back from many, many of the nations of the world, but, they’re still in spiritual blindness. But, you know, that’s been Israel’s problem from day one. The people have been so prone to unbelief. It’s always been that small remnant that remains true to a faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Now, just to show you how all of this comes about from way back in the Old Testament, I’ve got to go back to I Kings. Way back in the books of history. I Kings chapter 19 and, of course, God is speaking here. He says:
I Kings 19:18
“Yet I have left me (Or, I have kept to Myself.) seven thousand in Israel, all the knees who have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” You think it would be the other way around. Maybe 7,000 fell into idolatry. But it wasn’t. Out of the whole 7 or 8 million that I usually put on the number of Israel’s population down through their antiquity, only 7,000 were faithful to Abraham’s God.
Today the Jewish population is somewhere around 15 million. But only 7,000 at the time of Elijah were faithful? You’ve heard me refer to this one over and over. That boiled down to about 1/10 of 1% of Israel who were remaining loyal to the God of Abraham. The rest had succumbed to idolatry. Of all people!
Now here’s where I think I’d better make my comment before I go any further. You’ve heard me say it with regard to the beginning of the human experience when God set the whole system of humanity on planet earth in motion back there in Genesis. He gave mankind a free will. Right? God did not use them like puppets on a string.
Yet here we are 6,000 years later. Is God’s schedule still on time? Absolutely! To the last jot and tittle after 6,000 years of human history of men’s free will—to declare war, sign peace, and do all of these horrible things. Yet everything is exactly where God programmed it. Which tells you what? He’s in control of everything! Which makes you ask the next question. Then why all the misery? Well, that’s hard to answer, isn’t it? Why, if God is in such total control, has He let the human race bring in so much misery and discomfort and heartache if He could have programmed it differently?
Well, I can’t answer that. You can’t answer that. It’s just one of the unique things of Scripture that God in His Sovereignty has permitted all of these things. I don’t think He directed it, per se, but He’s permitted it. Look at the suffering in the world today in this enlightened age with all of our technology. There’s more death and murder and sorrow than any other time in history. Well, why? Because it’s the way God programmed it.
All right, now with the Nation of Israel, it’s the same way. God miraculously brought Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees and miraculously brought him into faith. Miraculously gave him all the promises, following it up with the others, Isaac and Jacob and then those that followed. And in spite of all the promises and all the evidences that Israel’s God was the Eternal Creator God, yet what happened to the Nation spiritually for the most part? They departed by going into idolatry and rebellion.
God would discipline them, and they’d go out, like into the Babylonian Captivity for 70 years. How many of them came back to the homeland when Cyrus came up and said, all right, Israel, you can go back to Jerusalem. How many took the offer? Again, out of 7 or 8 million people, forty-four thousand or something like that. That’s all. Just a little handful comparatively.
Was that according to God’s design? Yes. Absolutely! That’s the way He designed it. These things just boggle the mind. That’s why we’ve got to come away from all of this thinking and trying to figure it out. Just take it by faith, what we can understand. Like I said in the last half hour. If the Bible doesn’t definitively give you your answers, wait until we get there! We’re going to be able to ask a lot of questions, if we have to. I don’t think we’ll have to. I think we’re going to have full understanding and knowledge.
But anyway, isn’t it amazing that this chosen Nation, this favored Nation, would, all the way through its history, only give a small remnant of obedient Jews or Israelites, whatever you want to call them, to God’s service.
All right, let’s move to the next one in Isaiah chapter 1 verse 9. This is a verse that we’ve used over and over through the years. And again, it just says the same thing. It’s just so hard to believe. Why, when these people were so favored. And because of their unbelief, they became almost what we would think the un-favored. Do you remember ever watching Fiddler on the Roof? What did the old boy, the main character, what did he say? “Well, if we’re the favored nation, I wish He’d choose someone else for a while.” Well, I can understand why they would. Why would God treat us the way He treats us? Well, because of their disobedience and their unbelief!
“Except (or unless) the LORD of hosts (There again Paul would define that. Who is it? Well, it’s God the Son in His Old Testament operation.) had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” And that would mean what? Destroyed. But what kept God from destroying the Nation? That small percentage of faithful He has always had. The rest turned their back on Jehovah and went into abject idolatry.
We can take the next ones now from Ezra and Nehemiah. Go back a few pages, back into the history again. Ezra and Nehemiah, these are the two that led that small contingent of Israelites back from their Babylonian captivity. Go to Ezra first, chapter 3 and drop down to verse 64. All got it? Ezra chapter 2 verse 64. Now, you’ve got to remember that up there in chapter 1—maybe we’d better look at that first. Keep your hand in chapter 3. Let’s go back to chapter 1 first—Ezra chapter 1 verse 1. They’ve been out in captivity for 70 years. According to today’s news, you should know where that is. That’s in the area of present day Baghdad.
“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia (Iran), that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, (Now this is what his proclamation said.) 2. Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; (Cyrus was the absolute monarch.) and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.” Fair enough?
They were all free to go. He wasn’t holding a one of them back. All right, now come back where we were looking in chapter 2. How many bought into it? It’s in chapter 2 and verse 64. Out of those several million Jews (Israelites) who had been taken captive, and Cyrus had given them full permission to go back to Jerusalem and reestablish everything. How many buy into it? Here it is.
“The whole congregation together was 42,360.” Isn’t that something? Why? What was the matter with the rest of them? They had no interest in what God had for them. They had no interest in rebuilding a Temple. They had no interest in seeing Jerusalem become once again the capital of the Nation. Why? Because they had become so materialistic.
What had they been doing? Oh, they’ve become bankers. They’ve become businessmen. They’ve been migrating throughout the then-known world. That’s why wherever Paul went years later, every place he went, what did he find? Synagogues of the Jews. But they had no real spiritual life or interest.
Now you can come into Nehemiah. He’s the next one some years later. Come down to Nehemiah chapter 8. He’s coming back to rebuild the city walls and the housing in order to make Jerusalem once again. All right, just to give you a little inkling, Ezra chapter 8 verse 35.
“Also the children of those that had been carried away, which were come out of the captivity, offered burnt-offerings unto the God of Israel, twelve bullocks for all Israel,…” Now, some of you may be wondering why I am emphasizing this. Well, most of Christendom has bought into this false idea that the ten tribes of Israel to the North disappeared into the captivities of the Syrians and so forth, and that really the only people of Israel that were left after all this were the two tribes in the South—Judah and Benjamin. That’s one of the biggest lies ever perpetrated on the Christian church.
Those ten tribes weren’t lost. Most of them had already migrated down into Judah before they were taken captive by the Syrians. And now here is the scriptural proof of it. That these twelve bullocks—in other words, one for each one of the twelve tribes. Now this is at the end of the seven years captivity and the beginning of the reestablishment of the Nation of Israel in its homeland.
“…twelve bullocks for all Israel, ninety and six rams, seventy and seven lambs,…” All I want to make out of that is the proof that Israel was not just two tribes, but all twelve are now represented.
All right, let’s take a quick jump, because I’d kind of like to wind this up in this half hour and it’s going so fast. So jump all the way up to chapter 13. And again, we’ve touched on this before, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat. We’ve got Paul and Barnabas starting their first missionary journey. After they left Antioch, they sailed those few miles west and stopped on the island of Cyprus. And as they went to the western end of Cyprus, they came to the city of Paphos, which is still there. Now come to verse 6, we’ll do this quickly.
“And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus: 7. Who was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, who was a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.” Now, what have you got? You’ve got a Gentile who is calling for the Apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13). He wants to hear the Word of God from this Apostle. All right, but this Jew is going to intervene now in verse 8.
“But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, (In other words, held them back from approaching Sergius Paulus.) seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. 9. Then Saul, (who is also called Paul,) filled with the Holy Spirit, set his eyes on him, 10. And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, (Boy, that’s strong language, isn’t it?) thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease (or stop) to pervert the right ways of the Lord?”
In other words, preventing this Gentile from hearing the Gentile plan of salvation from the Apostle of the Gentiles. Now verse 11:
“And now, behold, (Paul says to this sorcerer, this Jew) the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be (What?) blind, (Physically. The rest of your life? No.) not seeing the sun for a season….” What’s the picture? That’s Israel’s role. They have been the opposing force against God’s dealing with the Gentile world from day one.
In fact, come back with me to chapter 17. This is the Apostle’s second journey. He’s up there along the Aegean Coast of Greece, north of Athens. Look at the opposition that he’s getting from proclaiming the Gospel to Gentiles. Verse 5:
“But the Jews (See?) who believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city in an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.” They had to escape for their lives practically from Thessalonica. Now come on down to verse 12. This is while they’re in Berea now, just south of Thessalonica.
“Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable women who were Greeks, and of men, not a few. 13. But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, (That is down to Berea.) and stirred up the people.” To do what? To reject Paul’s message. They have been spiritually blinded in order to make opposition to the promulgation of the Gospel through the Apostle Paul to the Gentiles.
Well, now we can move back to Luke. Luke chapter 2 and, again, this is some 400 years after they had come back from the Babylonian Captivity. That’s a long time. The Nation of Israel has now been pretty well established again—under the Roman Empire, of course. The city of Jerusalem is thriving. The Temple has been renovated by King Herod. It’s time for the Messiah to arrive in His first advent.
Now, is the whole nation waiting and ready for this event? No, just a little smattering. I’m just going to point out a few of them. Luke chapter 2 verse 8 and down into those next few verses you have the response of the shepherds to the announcement of the birth of Christ. They knew what they were looking for.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” All right, now the shepherds responded. They didn’t reject that announcement. Now come on down to verse 25.
“And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; the same man was just and devout,…” So, we have that little remnant of believers even at the time of Christ’s first advent—but only a remnant. And you can just go through and pick out. Go down to verse 36. We have another one. This time it’s Anna.
“And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of great age, and had lived with her husband seven years…” Verse 38.
“And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” So, it’s just a smattering of these Jews who were still aware of the promises of the Old Testament. And then, of course, we come to the ones that are most well known—Joseph and Mary, Zacharias and Elizabeth—the parents of John the Baptist.
All right, let’s jump all the way up again to the Book of Acts, if you will. Acts chapter 1 and, again, we’ve touched on all these things before. This is just good review. The response of the Jews of Jesus’ earthly ministry—was there a great percentage? No. Just a few, comparatively.
Now, don’t let all those crowds that gathered around when He performed the miracles of the loaves and the fishes and all that confuse you. You’ve heard me say what that was. That was the free lunch. They had no interest in spiritual things but to fill their belly? Oh, absolutely. It’s no different today.
All right, in Acts chapter 1 verse 15 and this is a shocking number. After three years of signs and wonders and miracles, how many did even the Lord Jesus Himself gather, at least in the area of Jerusalem? Well, here it is in verse 15 of Acts 1.
“And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, (That is these believers who had become followers of Jesus of Nazareth.) and said, (the number of the names together were about (How many?) an hundred and twenty.)” That’s nothing. That’s nothing compared to the whole. But that’s been Israel’s response all the way through.
Now we’re going to come all the way up to Acts 28:28. Coming all the way up to the end of Paul’s ministry. He is now being taken prisoner to Rome. He has met with the Jewish leaders of Rome, and they’ve rejected him out of hand. And as they leave, verse 21:
“And they said unto him, (As they leave, they said unto Paul–) We neither received letters out of Judea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came showed or spake any harm of thee. 22. But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” Then verse 24.
“And some believed the things that were spoken, and some believed not.” Now come on down to verse 28.
“Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and they will hear it.” What has happened to Israel? They are losing their opportunity.
Now, when you get into Romans chapter 11, we have the concluding answer to Israel’s dilemma until the Church is gone. Then, of course, God will come back and still deal with them. But here it is—verse 7 of Romans 11.
“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it and the rest were (What?) blinded.”
And it’s so true. My, it is so hard to get a Jew to see these things. Some do, but it’s always been that small, small percentage.