Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 16
THE SEVEN “I AM” OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
Let’s finish up the eighth sign in the Gospel of John. Be turning to John Chapter 21. I pointed out that the first seven signs all directed at the Nation of Israel were before His Crucifixion. I think in the early part of these signs, when Israel is without joy, and is sick and impotent, the nation still has a flicker of hope to recognize the Messiah. I believe that as Christ made His appearance to the Nation of Israel (at least based on the Old Testament promises and covenants), they could have had the King and the Kingdom had they just believed it. But God knew they weren’t going to accept it. He knew they would reject it, and so everything falls in place to fulfill the eternal purposes of God, which was the Cross. Remember, He made a valid offer to Israel; they could have had the King and Kingdom, but refused to believe Who He was.
So all through these first three or four signs the nation is still in a position where they could have repented, and recognized Who Christ really was, thus experiencing the fruition of all the promises. By the time we get to the account of Lazarus it’s evident that they are not going to accept Him and are in the position of rejecting Him in Crucifixion. They will call for His death. I think it is also amazing that after the Crucifixion and Resurrection, He again still spends 40 days appealing to the nation, primarily the Eleven. Then as you come into the early chapters of Acts, Peter and the Eleven continue to plead with the Nation of Israel to recognize the One they crucified was their Messiah.
That’s the whole theme in those early chapters. God at that time had not canceled the Nation of Israel, and the prospect that they could still have the King and Kingdom remained (though Christ knows what they will do). So as we come into Chapter 21 (after His death, burial, and Resurrection), pick up the mindset of these disciples:
“AFTER these things (all the signs that He has performed, and all of the things connected to the Cross) Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias (Sea of Galilee); and on this wise shewed he himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.”
“Simon Peter saith unto them, `I go a fishing (I think that is a classic statement. Do you realize what that is indicating? What does Peter now expect from the Messiah? Nothing. So what’s he going back to? His old life of fishing. I mean it’s all done. That was just three years of frustration, so now back to the boats).’ They say unto him (what?), `We also go with thee.’ They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.” It’s one thing to go fishing with a rod and reel, but with a boat and net and these men, that looks almost impossible not to catch a single fish.
“But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, `Children, have ye any meat?’ (food) They answered him, `No.'” Can’t you just hear them? Have you talked to a fisherman who’s fished all day and caught nothing? Fishermen haven’t changed. I’ll bet they were absolutely disgusted.
“And he said unto them, `Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.’ They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.” As soon as this happens their minds start clicking doesn’t it? So John’s mind went into motion first.
“Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, `It is the Lord.’ Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him (for he was naked), and did cast himself into the sea. And the other disciples came in a little ship’ (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.”
Now where did those fish come from? Not out of the net. Everything was ready for breakfast. Remember all the way up through the Old Testament, what is Israel being promised? The King and the Kingdom! This Kingdom is on earth, many people don’t understand that. This Kingdom will be on the earth (as many scriptures so state) and Jerusalem will be the capital. Israel will be the top Nation of the nations. That’s their promise. And by the time that Nation is brought into that Kingdom experience, everything is going to be ready. They won’t have to work by the sweat of their brow to get the Nation and earth restored after the Tribulation. Everything will be ready as breakfast was here.
“Jesus saith unto them, `Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.’ Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, and hundred and fifty and three (I’ve tried to figure why 153 is significant. I think The Lord here is showing that not a single fish was lost, meaning not one single Jew will miss the in-gathering into the Kingdom. We’ll look at an Old Testament verse in a moment): and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.”
Back in Luke Chapter 4, when they cast the net at The Lord’s command, the net broke and they lost their fish. That was indicative of Israel’s history, nothing really jelled for them. They never enjoyed all the promises that God had given them. But here the net doesn’t break. Not a single Jew that is intended to go into the Kingdom will be lost. Turn back to Ezekiel 37. We’ve often looked at this chapter as it pertains to the Nation of Israel. It’s the vision of the dry bones. You know the account of the dry bones in the opening verses, how they began to shake and finally came together and then skin came upon them, but as yet no breath. Well that’s a picture of the Nation of Israel coming back out of their dispersion as we have been seeing them do now for the past fifty years. But, as yet, the breath hasn’t been breathed into them, they are still spiritually dead.
“Then he said unto me, `Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel (all twelve tribes): behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.'”
They’ve been out in dispersion for so long that they had lost their national identity and language as a nation. They were just pictured as in graves, they were nationally dead. And that is all this vision is showing, that the day is coming when the whole house of Israel will be brought back to life nationally. Not that the Jews are going to be resurrected and then come back. But the nation, as they come out of the Dispersion among the Gentiles, will fill up the land.
“Therefore prophesy and say unto them, `Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,”
“And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land:…”
The United Nations can demand what they want. The Egyptians may tell everybody what has to be done, but in the final analysis God is going to do exactly what He has promised. We aren’t just taking about that little strip of land we call Israel, but rather all their land which extends all the way to the Euphrates River to the East. When The Lord says, “I’ve spoken” it, then that’s the way it is. When He gets ready to bring the saved of Israel, which will only be a remnant as we saw in the Book of Revelation, there will not be one of them lost, just like that net-full of fishes; not one flopped out. Let’s look at Amos Chapter 9. And I think this says it all:
“For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.”
Not a kernel of what God wants to keep will be lost. Not a single fish was lost from that net, and not a single Jew that God has ordained to go into that Kingdom is going to miss it. That is the Sovereign God. Come back to John. In John 21, after they had brought the fish up The Lord has breakfast ready; now it doesn’t say so here, but remember the account by Luke that The Lord ate with them in His resurrected body (and the reason I’m always emphasizing that is because in that new resurrected body it will be the kind of body we will have for the eternal state). Christ ate, drank and conversed, and they touched Him. And yet He could appear and disappear in that new body. And our body will be like His according to Paul.
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, `Simon, son of Jonas, Lovest thou me more than these?…'”
I’ve heard many sermons on this passage. Some preach that these were his fellow disciples. I don’t think so. What was Peter’s love? Fishing. The Lord knew that. Peter enjoyed fishing like I enjoy ranching. I know The Lord has a lot for me to do, but I’m glad The Lord lets me continue ranching because I love that kind of work. I hope He just lets me continue on with doing both ranching and teaching. Peter back in Chapter 19, had said, “Lord, we have left everything to follow you.” What was Peter talking about? His first love, fishing. So Peter wanted to know what they are going to get out of that. Peter wasn’t talking about his salvation, he already had that, but rather what reward was in store for them. And The Lord told them that they would get to sit on 12 thrones ruling over the 12 tribes in the Kingdom economy. But Peter loved his fishing. Then The Lord goes on here in the 21st Chapter of John and tells Peter how he was to feed His sheep. Which he does in the Book of Acts, as we find Peter preaching to the Jews, the Nation of Israel. No Gentiles are involved because at that time, Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles hadn’t been called out by God. This won’t happen for at least seven more years from the day of Pentecost in Acts Chapter 2. Peter never had a ministry to Gentiles except the one time in Acts Chapter 10; the house of Cornelius, and as you read Acts closely you will discover that The Lord had a purpose for that. Peter had to come to the defense of Paul in Acts Chapter 15. But Peter and the Eleven confined their ministry to the Jew as The Lord said here that Peter was to feed the sheep.
We need to tie this together so look at the seven “I AM’s” of Israel’s need in the Old Testament and compare them with the seven “I AM’s” Jesus claimed to be, in the Book of John. Start in Genesis 22. This is the account of the ram caught in the thicket when Abraham was about to offer Isaac. He didn’t have to kill Isaac after all when Abraham realized that God had provided the sacrifice in verse 14:
“And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, `In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen (Jehovah-jireh – “I am your provider”).'”
“And said, `If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandment, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee (Jehovah-ropheka).'” “I AM the one that healeth thee.” Then in Exodus Chapter 17 we find where Aaron and Hur had to hold up Moses’ arms during battle.
“And Moses built and altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi:” “I AM your banner.”
The next one is in the Book of Judges Chapter 6. This is where Gideon defeats the armies that were trying to destroy Israel.
“Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovah-shalom:…” “I AM your peace.” The next one is Psalms 23:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” The Hebrew reads it: Jehovah-roi, “I AM your shepherd.” Now Jeremiah 23:6 for the next one. Here Jeremiah is looking forward to the Kingdom:
“In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, `THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.'” Jehovah-tsidkenu, “The LORD our righteousness.” The last one in the Old Testament is Ezekiel Chapter 48, this is also referring to the Kingdom.
“It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, `The LORD is there.'” Jehovah-shammah,”The Lord is present.” Now, there are also seven “I AM’s” in the Gospel of John. The first one is John 6:
“And Jesus said unto them, `I am the bread of life:…'”
“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, `I am the light of the world:…'”
“Then said Jesus unto them again, `Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.'”
“I AM the good shepherd:…”
“Jesus said unto her, `I AM the resurrection, and the life:…'”
“Jesus saith unto him, `I AM the way, the truth, and the life:…'”
“I AM the true vine,…”
Those are the seven “I Am’s” in the Old Testament and in the Gospel of John. There is one more we find after the Tribulation is over and the Kingdom is beginning.
“…I AM… the bright and morning star.” Remember night is past and eternal day is coming.