Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 3 * BOOK 78
PART 2 of the MESSIANIC PROPHECIES – PART 3
Psalms 22, 23, and 24
Again, for those of you joining us on television, you can tell we’re informal. I mean we just don’t get too stiff if we can help it. We do appreciate the folks that come in and enjoy the afternoon with us. And for those of you in television, we just want to invite you to study with us. And evidently it’s working. Our letters tell us that you get your cup of coffee and you get your notepad and Bible and we have Bible study. Well, that’s what we like to hear.
We always have to thank our TV audience, as well as all of you in here, for your support, prayers, financial, whatever. We just trust the Lord is getting all the glory for it. We just had contact with our mission group in Russia, and they’re still translating all our stuff into Russian and Ukrainian. Churches are using it, and the Lord is blessing it.
And then last month in our retreat, we had a fellow from Spain and a fellow from Czechoslovakia who flew over just to be with us for a couple of days. They had picked us up on the internet. So you just have no idea how far the Lord is reaching with this—what I call—simple Bible study. That’s all it is.
All right, we’re in a series of three chapters back in the Book of Psalms that are pretty much tied together—Psalms 22, 23, and 24. They all deal, prophetically of course, with Christ at His first advent and especially in His identity with the Nation of Israel as the Shepherd of the Sheep. In our previous two programs, we dealt with His crucifixion and how He died for the sheep. And then we saw in the last program how He arose from the dead in power and glory. Now we’re going to look at chapter 23, the Psalm that I imagine every one of you know practically from memory—the Lord is my Shepherd and so forth.
“The LORD is my shepherd;…” Now, if I’m not mistaken, the original Hebrew would say that the Lord here is the I AM—the Jehovah of the Old Testament. And you remember, the I AM of the Old Testament was Jesus of the New. It’s the same person of the Godhead who is claiming to be the Shepherd of Israel.
Now we’ll jump up to the New Testament again for a little while, because I don’t like to get hung up in either part of Scripture. Because they dovetail so beautifully. Come up with me to Hebrews chapter 13. Here we have the term the Great Shepherd—Hebrews 13 verse 20.
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead (See, just like we saw in Psalm 22.) our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,”
Now, I think we have to stop and consider. From the very onset of Judaism, or the Jewish religion back there around Mount Sinai, they built the tabernacle—the tent made of animal skins—and established the priesthood and the feast days. And Israel became aware that there was only one payment for sin. And that was what? Blood.
They saw it in Egypt when they put the blood on the doorposts. It was their escape. It was their protection. Now they also became aware of it, especially on the Day of Atonement—which was not a true atonement, because animal’s blood could not atone for their sin. All it could do was cover it. But you see, Israel had now gone through 500 years of their religion. So they had a pretty well-established idea that there had to be an atoning blood that would pay their sin debt, which animals’ blood could not do. This little Book of Hebrews shows that.
In fact, while you’re in Hebrews, you might as well just back up so that you’ll know what I’m talking about. Back up to Hebrews chapter 9. This is what we have to understand. That everything is moving forward to the time when the true atoning blood would be shed. But, of course, Israel didn’t know how or why and when it would happen. Yet they had that understanding that animals’ blood could not take away their sin. It was just a cover-up. It was a temporary thing again.
All right, the Book of Hebrews, after the fact, now tells us exactly how it is. Here in Hebrews chapter 9 and let’s start at verse 11.
“But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, (Not made of animal skins, not made even of the cedars of Lebanon and gold and silver. But it was made without hands.) that is to say, not of this building;” Or this creation. It was in Heaven.
“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood (the blood from Calvary) he entered in once into the holy place,…” Not in the Temple in Jerusalem, but the Tabernacle in Heaven.
And you remember in John 20, that’s why He told Mary, Touch me not, I have not yet ascended to my God and your God. Well, He couldn’t be defiled until He had presented His own blood in the heavenlies—in the Tabernacle that is up there. Then he went on in verse 12.
“…but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, (not in Jerusalem but in Heaven) having obtained eternal redemption for us. Having paid the sin debt, not only for Israel, now, but of the whole human race.
“For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, (if that) sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: (in the Old Testament economy) 14. How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot (a perfect sacrifice) to God, (How much more shall that–) purge (or cleanse) your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” See, that was all appropriated by His shed blood.
All right, now lest we lose the Great Shepherd concept of the Book of Hebrews, let’s go back again to the Shepherd chapter in John’s Gospel, where we were in the first half hour this afternoon. John chapter 10 verse 1. And I was just sharing with somebody at break. This just struck me this morning. I’d only been up for just a little bit and mulling these things over, when it hit me like a bolt of lightening. And I’m going to see what you think of it when we’re through. But I think you’ll agree—what a tremendous comparison.
Here in John chapter 10, Jesus is speaking, still in the concept of the Shepherd and his Sheep. God and His Covenant people Israel. Look at verse 1.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold,…” Now I’ve got to stop a minute. How many ways into God’s salvation? One! How many doors in the sheepfold? One! And as I’ve stressed in past years, where was the sheepfold? In some inaccessible place or was it on level ground? Right out in front where the sheep could just walk right in without having to jeopardize themselves, without having to crawl up a mountain or cross a river. There was the sheepfold.
But now Jesus is making the analogy that not everybody is going to come in that one prescribed sheep door. They’re going to do what? They’re going climb up some other way. They’re going to find one excuse or another to go contrary to the one way that God has given. And what is it?
“…the same is a thief and a robber.” Not very nice terms are they? In other words, in the analogy, if someone is going to try to sneak into the sheepfold to do whatever dirty work he’s going to do, he’s not going to come through the door. He’s going to sneak in some other way.
That’s all well and good so far as God and Israel are concerned. But where is the same thing applied to us in this Age of Grace? Now, I’m going to shock you. Turn ahead to Galatians chapter 1. And like I said, it just struck me like a thunderbolt this morning. And if I wouldn’t have found time to share it this afternoon, I probably wouldn’t have slept a wink all night. But it just came up perfectly.
Galatians chapter 1, it is the same analogy. If you’re going to do something other than God’s prescribed way, you’re under the anathema of God as much as a thief and a robber were in John chapter 10. Now that’s strong language. I know it is. I’ve used these verses. I’ve spent three hours in seminars on these three verses, because people better wake up. They are going in some other way and God will not have it.
All right, look at it. Galatians 1 verse 6 and I’ve got to stop a minute. Always—before we read these verses—what was Paul dealing with? Well you see, he had his little groups of Gentile believers up there—especially from Antioch and Syria and then across central Turkey through the highlands, Derbe, Lystra, Antioch of Pisidia, and then on over to Ephesus. And here come the Judaizers from Jerusalem—who were still under the Law of Moses. The Temple was still operating, but they had become believers in Jesus the Messiah. They come along behind Paul and go into these little Gentile congregations and tell them…. I guess I’ve got to use Scripture. It’s the only way to do it.
Acts chapter 15—a portion, again, that most of Christendom doesn’t even know is in their Bible. And if they do, they ignore it. But here was the problem that Paul had to deal with that precipitated these verses in Galatians—Acts chapter 15 and start at verse 1. Now like I’ve said in so many other programs. I didn’t intend to do this. I was going to show you Galatians 1. But you see, you can’t teach Galatians unless you know why it was written.
“And certain men (We don’t know how many. But they–) which came down from Judea (Now what’s in Judea? Jerusalem, the Temple.) taught the brethren, (That is, Paul’s Gentile converts. And these Judaizers–) and said, Except (or unless) ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” Isn’t that something? And then you come along a little further up into verse 5.
“But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees who believed, (That Jesus was the promised Messiah in the Kingdom economy.) saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, (Now don’t forget who we’re talking about—Paul’s Gentile converts up there in Asia Minor and so forth.) and to command them to keep the Law of Moses.” Well, what did that fly in the face of? Paul’s Gospel. And that’s why he had to frantically write these six little chapters of Galatians.
All right, now come back if you will to Galatians chapter 1. Now don’t lose my analogy. The one that won’t come into the sheepfold through the door and goes in some other way is a what? “A thief and a robber.” And God has no time for that. All right, Galatians 1:
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto (What?) another gospel:” What’s the word in John 10? If he goes in another way instead of the door. See the analogy. I think it’s perfect. And this is where we are. John 10 was for Israel. But here for us in the Age of Grace, if someone comes in and muddies up our thinking with another gospel, verse 7:
“Which is not another; (In other words, in John 10 they weren’t going into some other or somebody else’s sheepfold. They were going into the prescribed one that Jesus is talking about. And so Paul the same way—it’s not a totally different and new set of circumstances, but here is what the problem is.) but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert (or pollute or corrupt) the gospel of Christ.” They came in and added to Paul’s Gospel. Now verse 8:
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be (What?) accursed.”
See how similar the language is? I just can’t get over it. All Paul’s converts were required to believe for salvation was that Jesus died for their sins, was buried, and rose again—as we see in I Corinthians 15:1-4. But now they were being told this was not enough!
If someone is going to come into Jesus’ sheepfold some other way, he’s a thief and a robber. If someone is going to come unto us with a Gospel other than Paul’s Gospel of Grace, he is under the anathema of God. Why? Because if someone is going to come and tell you and me that this Grace Gospel isn’t enough—you have to do this and you have to do that, etc.—he’s perverting that gospel. And God won’t have it. He won’t call them a thief and a robber, but you know what He’s going to call them? Liars. You’re liars. There is nothing else but the one Gospel. And if you’re going to add to it, even a smidgen, you’re telling God, You lied.
You know why? What were the last three words that Christ said from the cross? “It is finished.” And what has mankind been doing for 2,000 years? Saying, no, it isn’t finished. You’ve got to do this, and you’ve got to do that. You’ve got to do something else. Do you see the parallel? Boy, I was so excited. You know, I was just on edge driving up here all morning. But, listen, this is where we are. This is exactly what we’re up against, like Israel was up against the thief and the robber sneaking into the sheepfold without any authority to do so.
Now then, we know that Psalm 23 is that chapter of comfort, and we’re going to go back there. But since you’re in Galatians, I think I’ll just use it. I was going to go back there and then come back, but since we’re here, we’ll stay here. Stay in Galatians and move ahead to chapter 5 and jump in at verse 22. Now while we’re reading this, keep rehearsing in your mind Psalm 23 – “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” and all the promises that we’re going to look at in a minute. That was for Israel.
Now, we can take comfort from Psalm 23, don’t get me wrong. But it’s still not as applicable to you and to me as this is, because we have this power of the Holy Spirit within us. And this is as sweet a language as Psalm 23 is in the account of a shepherd and his sheep.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23. Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they who are Christ’s have (put to death) crucified the flesh (or the Old Adam) with the affections and lusts.” And in its place, we have all these good things in verses 22 and 23. That’s glorious, isn’t it? What kind of a better life-style could you hope for than to have these attributes in your everyday life?
Now let’s go back, in the few minutes we have left, and see how that compares with the Great Shepherd of Psalm 23. And again, never lose the concept. The Great Shepherd is just like the Good Shepherd. He’s willing to give His life for His sheep. But He is primarily interested in giving them all the blessings of life. And that’s what this chapter amounts to. It’s all in language that a shepherd and a sheep owner would understand.
“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:…” Well, what’s that a picture of? Tranquility. Peace and quiet.
You know, there’s nothing that looks better to me than to drive through the country and see a herd of cattle lying out there chewing their cud. What is that? That’s tranquility. Nothing to disturb them. They’re satisfied. Their bellies are full. Green grass abundant. Well, that’s what you’ve got here. This was the analogy of the believer’s life under the Law.
“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” Well, now what kind of creatures are we dealing with? Sheep.
Now sheep are different than all other animals. If they had a roaring river, do you think you’d get them to drink out of it? No way. They would never touch it. But you see, the shepherd made sure that he would bring them to a place of quiet, still water, where they could drink without fear. Always keep the analogy in mind. We’re dealing with sheep. Then verse 3:
“He restoreth (or He invigorates) my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Well, what’s the Psalmist talking about? Come back to Galatians once again. Because that’s the only way we can understand Scripture. It is to compare Scripture with Scripture. In this same chapter 5, just before the verses we read of the tranquil believer’s experience, like the sheep lying out there on green pastures drinking from still water. All right, that’s what our picture is in verses 22 and 23. But when David speaks of walking in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake, he’s speaking of the opposite that he’s not doing. And that’s what we have up here in Galatians 5 verse 19. This is the exact opposite of what it is to walk in the paths of righteousness.
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20. Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, (See, this is all part of the opposite of the righteousness.) emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21. Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” They’re going to miss it. Now back to Psalm 23 verse 4.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, (Well, what’s he talking about? Physical death. And that’s how Job described it—like walking through a valley. And here we have the promise, that even if he does come to physical death, the shadow of death–) I will fear no evil: (He doesn’t have to worry that he’s going to miss his eternal reward.) for thou art with me;…”
All right, once again let’s slip back to see how Paul puts it for us. What’s our assurance that if physical death catches up with us, and we have to go through that valley of the shadow of death before we’re called out in what we’re hopefully looking at—the Rapture. Now we come to II Corinthians chapter 5. This question comes in almost every day. What happens to a believer’s soul and spirit when we die? All right, II Corinthians 5—I’ll probably run out of time. Let’s just drop in at verse 6.
II Corinthians 5:6
“Therefore we are always confident, (As a believer. Now remember, that’s all Paul talks to.) knowing that, while we are at home in the body, (In other words, we’re functioning day-to-day under normal circumstances.) we are absent from the Lord:” We’re only seeing Him through the eyes of faith.
II Corinthians 5:7-8
“(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8. We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and (The minute our soul and spirit leaves this body that’s now in death, where does it go?) to be present with the Lord.” Immediately! So, if you’ve never known that before, you know now—that if you die, you go immediately into the Lord’s presence in that realm of the soul and the spirit.
Now quickly back to Psalm 23. I’ve got one minute left. Maybe we can do fairly good justice to it. Verse 5:
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: (Now you can just about picture that, can’t you?) thou anointest my head with oil; (Which was a Middle Eastern habit, or whatever you want to call it.) my cup runneth over.” And then here’s the promise.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: (Because David has this glorious assurance that he is the sheep of the Great Shepherd.) and I will dwell in the house of the LORD (How long?) for ever.”
And listen, it’s the same hope with us. We, too, once time ends, are going to spend eternity in God’s presence.