Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 3 * BOOK 9
ISRAEL: FROM JOSHUA TO NEHEMIAH
I would like for you to come back with me momentarily to II Kings Chapter 17 verse 23. Remember now, Israel has been a divided nation now for many years. We have the ten tribes to the north. We have the two tribes to the south; that was basically Judah and Benjamin. And then the capital of the northern Kingdom was Samaria, which we get the Samaritans of Christ’s day. Then the Syrian King, Sennacherib or one of the others, would come in and they would take the northern kingdom captive. And take them out of the land. Now let’s read verse 23.
II Kings 17:23a
“Until the LORD (providentially or sovereignly) removed Israel out of His sight,…”
Now that’s a terrible statement, isn’t it? We feel that America is at the same kind of a crossroads. You know I’ve always said that I wasn’t a preacher, so I’m not going to get on the stump and start preaching. But listen, I’m worried about our nation. I’m a patriot. I love America. I love my freedom; not just to worship but for everything. Imagine! There isn’t a nation on earth that has the freedoms that the Americans have. I mean, we can just pick up and change jobs. We can go anywhere we want to go. We can pursue any profession or occupation that we want to pursue. Listen, there’s not many places in the world that you can do that.
But we’re seeing it at a crossroads. And it’s not because of a political party, per se. But it’s because of the moral climate of our nation. And I don’t care whether it’s Republican or Democrat or Independent. When the moral climate declines, the moral fabric of our nation begins to fall apart. Some party can’t change it. The Republicans can’t change it. The Democrats can’t change it. It’s going to have to be an intervention by the power of God. We have to come back to The Book. And I like to feel that I have a small part in that. Of getting people, at least those watching the program, and getting them into the Book with a renewed interest in God’s Word. You know, it’s being ridiculed; it’s being scoffed at, by and large. But if people will just take the time to study it, like we do in my classes, it’s not so impossible to believe all this. It’s so valid, so logical. I mean, there’s nothing else more logical than what is laid down in This Book. But Israel had come to the place where God just simply puts them out of His mind. So He permitted the Assyrians to come down and take them captive.
Now I have to stop here for a moment, because there is so much false teaching. Remember a few weeks ago I made comment about the satanic powers in high places, and I said, “Now that doesn’t mean in government, but in spiritual places.” Well you know, I got home that afternoon, and the Biblical Archaeological Review magazine was in the mail. And in there was an article that I wanted to share with the class here as well as with the television audience, that said explicitly just what I was talking about. And we want to share this with you. Sometimes people in high places come out and ridicule the things that we know are the truth of God’s Words under the name of “scholarship.” Now I have nothing against education. In fact, I wish that I had a few degrees: instead I have none. And I make no apology for that. But if education takes a man to the place where he says some of the stuff that these people say, I’m glad that I haven’t got it. And I’m sure that most people would agree with me.
But anyway, there is so much teaching, and I think it primarily came about from one great Bible preacher, who’s now gone. As near as I can tell, he more or less instigated the doctrine of British Israelism. And he takes the approach that these northern ten tribes were taken captive up into Syria, and that they never came back tribally. Consequently we have the term,“the lost ten tribes,” and you’ve all heard it, haven’t you? As if they been lost and God lost track of them. Don’t you kid yourself. Number one, even though the Assyrians might have taken a lot of them captive out of the northern part of Israel, I want to show you from Scripture that so many of them migrated down into the Southern Kingdom, down into Judah. So that by the time that Judah comes into the same place that the Babylonians are going to come and take them captive, it isn’t just two tribes going to Babylon, it’s going to be all twelve.
Alright now let’s chase down some scriptures. Go with me to II Chronicles Chapter 13. And then in your spare time, if you don’t mind reading some of these statistics of history in the Kings and the Chronicles, you can chase this down more in detail than I have been able to so far. But in II Chronicles Chapter 13, I’d like to have you come down to verse 3. Now remember, this is while both segments of the country are still in place, the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom. And they’re about ready for a civil war. That’s just about what it really amounts to:
II Chronicles 13:3
“And Abijah set the battle in array with an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand chosen men (now Abijah was from the Southern Kingdom of Judah and Benjamin. He can only raise four hundred thousand top troops): Jeroboam (now remember, he was the first king of the Northern Kingdom. He was the one who seceded, as I taught here last week.) also set the battle in array against him (that is, against Abijah. And how many troops does he have?) with eight hundred thousand chosen men, being mighty men of valour.”
Now that’s logical, because you have ten tribes up here and only two down here. So this king is able to put eight hundred thousand men of war against the Southern Kingdom’s four hundred thousand. Now as you follow the numbers through the intervening years of history, you find that you finally get to the place where the Northern Kingdom can only put five hundred and eighty thousand troops in the field. The ten tribes, so called. Whereas the Southern Kingdom comes on the scene with a million one hundred and sixty thousand. Well, what has happened? Well, there’s been a mass migration of Israelites from the northern down into the southern. Over the years they just keep filtering down and filtering down, so that the tables are completely turned. And then when you finally get to the place at the end of the history of the Northern Ten Tribes, look how they have been so depleted in numbers.
I Kings 20:27a
“And the children of Israel were numbered (that is of the Northern Kingdom, now we’re not talking about Judah), and were all present, and went against them (that is, against Benhadad of the Syrians): and the children of Israel pitched before them like two little flocks of kids;…”
What does that tell you? Well, they weren’t even enough to fool with. That’s all they had left. Now let me see if I can find another verse. Come back with me again to II Chronicles Chapter 15 to prove my point that we have a constant migration of Israelites from the Ten Northern Tribes down into Judah. So in reality, all of Israel is down here at least representatively. II Chronicles Chapter 15 verse 9 makes it plain that this is just what happened:
II Chronicles 15:9,10
“And he (Asa, from verse 8) gathered all Judah and Benjamin (that’s the southern kingdom), and the strangers (you could say the non-citizens, the aliens) with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon (see, those were all tribes out of that Northern Kingdom): for they fell to him out of Israel in (what?) abundance, (see, they were migrating down to him so fast that he couldn’t even keep track. And Israel is being depleted and Judah is being expanded.) when they saw that the LORD his God was with him. So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.”
Let’s go all the way to the New Testament. Years and years later. Go back to the Book of Acts Chapter 2 verse 22. Now this is about seven hundred years later. Time just keeps rolling by. Seven hundred years later Christ has already come and been crucified and now we’re in the Book of Acts. Now let’s look what Peter says to that Jewish audience out there on that temple complex.
“Ye men of (Judah? Where?) Israel,…”
He’s not just talking to the residents of two tribes. He’s talking to all twelve tribes. Now verse 36 he says it even better. As he winds down this sermon of Acts Chapter 2, Peter says:
“Therefore let all the house of Israel…”
Is that two tribes? No, that’s all of them. When he says all the house of Israel, he means all the house of Israel. Those tribes aren’t lost. Oh, parts of them may have disappeared into the woodwork. Some of them we know came back and set up worship in Samaria. And they became the hated Samaritans of Jesus’ day, because they were half breeds. Remember that the true Jew was proud of his heritage. He was proud of his bloodline. But these Samaritans had intermarried and they had adulterated their bloodline and they had also adulterated their worship. They had set up a false temple. And consequently, the Jews of Jesus’ day wouldn’t even go through Samaria because they were hated for being half-breeds. But they were still more Jew than they were Gentile.
So when Jesus talks to the woman of Samaria at the well, I still maintain that He’s not talking to Gentile, He’s talking to a Jew. Now let’s go back one step further. Go back to the Book of Revelation Chapter 7. And of course this is still future. And I like to think not very far into the future. I think we’re getting very close to it. I think that things are winding down so fast that it’s going to be here before we know it. But look what happens. As soon as the tribulation has begun, one of the first things that happens in Jerusalem is the appearance of God’s two witnesses that are going to preach to the nation of Israel. And out of their preaching, the first thing I think that happens are the setting aside of these hundred and forty four thousand Jews. Now contrary to one of the cults that’s so evident, who maintains that they’re going to be the hundred and forty four thousand? Remember these hundred and forty four thousand are Jews. Look at it. Plain as it can be. Verse 4. And this is shortly after the opening of the seven years of tribulation:
“And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of (how many?) all the tribes of the children of Israel.”
You can’t make it any plainer than that. It doesn’t say two tribes. It doesn’t say the rest are lost. But they’re all represented. This is one of the amazing things about the nation of Israel. They’ve been in a dispersion of one sort or another for almost twenty seven hundred years. Out amongst all the nations of the world, and yet they’re still what? They’re still Jew. And then on top of that, when God brings them back to the land as we see them going back now, whether it’s out of Russia or wherever, they’re Jews. And even though they themselves cannot tell you what tribe they came from, I know someone who knows. God does.
He has providentially kept at least this many young Jews fairly pure in their tribal blood line so that He can say, “Twelve thousand from the tribe of Reuben. Twelve thousand from the tribe of Gad. Twelve thousand from the tribe of Asher.” And right on down the line, He’s going to be able to finger them and say, “You’re from that tribe.” This is amazing; after all these hundreds of years, there’s still going to be that many young, Jewish men who are going to have their tribal lineage intact enough for God to say, “You’re from the tribe of Reuben.” Now that’s your hundred and forty four thousand, and nothing else. They’re Jews. They’re going to be young Jewish men, who are going to circumvent this globe with the preaching of the Gospel (not of Grace, that has ended). The Church is gone and God is right back where He left off with Israel; back up there in the early part of Acts. And these young Jewish men are going to proclaim the coming of The King. The Gospel of the Kingdom. But I want you to see that all twelve tribes are going to be represented. Alright then, let’s go back quickly and pick up the remaining history for these two tribes and all the immigrants from the other tribes. About a hundred and fifty years after the Northern Kingdoms are taken into captivity and it’s left a waste land, Judah’s turn comes. They too have gone into abject idolatry. And for that we have to go all the way to the last Chapter of II Chronicles. Remember who we’re dealing with, the Southern Kingdom in the area of Jerusalem:
II Chronicles 36:15
“And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place:”
What’s it saying? God sent prophet after prophet; first to the Northern Kingdom (and again, we didn’t touch on it when we were dealing with the Northern Kingdom, but who were two of the great prophets of Israel up north? Elijah and Elisha. They prophesied and they worked the nation constantly, trying to bring them back, but they would not). Now God does the same thing with Judah.
Jeremiah was a prophet down here in Judah. That’s why he’s called the weeping prophet, because he could see (just like I said about America) the handwriting on the wall concerning Judah. God had told him that if they didn’t turn from their idolatry what would happen to them. Jeremiah prophesied, “The Babylonians will come and overrun you. They will kill you without mercy. They will come and take what’s left of you captive.” And do you know what they did with Jeremiah? The threw him into a dank, wet dungeon and left him there to rot. And that’s exactly where the Babylonians found Jeremiah, down in a dungeon. And do you know why he was there? Because he tried to warn his people. But they wouldn’t listen. So let’s go on. God, often times, sent the prophets and the messengers to warn them:
II Chronicles 36:16
“But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his Words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.”
Now, you know, one of the parables refers to that. And those of you who have been in my classes know which one that is. You remember where a husbandman set up a vineyard. Got it all prepared and got it into production. And then where did he go? He went off to a far country. And after a while he thought, “Boy, I had better have someone go and check on my vineyard.” So he sent a servant, and what did they do to the servant? They killed him. So some time later, he sent another servant and what did they do with him? The killed him. Finally he said, after losing all those servants, “Well maybe if I send my son, they’ll listen to him.” So he sent his son, and what did the keepers of the vineyard do to the son? They killed him. Now what was the parable talking about? God dealing with Israel. So when He sent the prophets into Israel, what did they do with them? They killed them. Finally He sent his Son and what did they do with Him? They killed him. Well anyway, let’s get back to this. So finally they:
II Chronicles 36:16b-18a
“…despised his Words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy (no hope. isn’t that sad?). Therefore he brought upon them the King of the Chaldees (or the Babylonians from Babylon), who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: He (God) gave them all into his (the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar’s) hand. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD,…”
Now remember that the temple that Solomon built was beautiful. It was gorgeous. It had tons of gold and silver and precious stones in it. And all the utensils that were made of gold. And what happened to them? They took them to Babylon. Alright, verse 20:
II Chronicles 36:20,21
“And them that had escaped from the sword carried he (that is, Nebuchadnezzar) away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia (in other words, throughout the whole concept of the nation of Babylon until they were defeated by the Medes and the Persians. Now all this happened): To (what?) fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah (see now when God prophesies something, and especially when it’s in a time frame, it’s going to happen), until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.”
That’s seventy years. What had happened? Well you see, when Israel went into the land under Joshua, and they were occupying the whole land of Canaan, one of the laws that God laid down was that every seventh year, the farm land was not to be cropped. It was called a sabbatical year, and we still use the term. But you see, Israel hadn’t been in the land very long and their greed got the best of them. What did they do the seventh year? They farmed it anyway. And God said, “I’m going to get it back. The land is going to lay fallow for seventy years. One out of every seven that you obliterated it.” So how long did they forget to keep the sabbatical? Four hundred and ninety years. And God said, “The land will lay rest.” So they were in captivity in Babylon, and that’s clear out here if you remember, on the Euphrates, for seventy years. And while they’re gone, the land remains empty. It just becomes a habitation of wild animals and what have you.
II Chronicles 36:22
“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, 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 you remember that is was the Persians and the Medes who destroyed Babylon. They had run their course. And Daniel, when we come to it, is the second man in the Babylonian kingdom. But when the Medes and the Persians overrun Babylon, Daniel winds up as the second man in the Persian Kingdom. Amazing. He must have been some sort of a man. But anyway, Cyrus is now the Persian king. And when the seventy years are expired, Cyrus, who was named in Jeremiah’s writing hundreds of years before, comes on the scene and God uses him to proclaim:
II Chronicles 36:23
“Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, `All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he (God) hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.'”