Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 18
We continue with Peter and John dealing with the events surrounding the healing of the lame man in Acts 3:21. The Temple rulers are upset by how it happened, and Peter and John are trying to explain that it was through the power of Jesus Christ of Nazareth Whom they had crucified. Consequently, in verses 19-21, Peter had said that if the Nation would just repent of that awful sin of rejecting their Messiah, as well as their other national sins, then God would have immediately instituted the Tribulation, and brought in The King and Kingdom for them. Peter knew there would have to be a Tribulation period of seven years as prophesied by Daniel. That is why Peter said in verse 21 that, even though The Lord was ready to return if Israel would repent, it would still have to wait until that period of restitution of all things in the Tribulation. In verse 22, Peter’s still speaking to this great crowd of Jews.
“For Moses truly said unto the fathers, `A prophet shall the Lord of your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me;…'”
That takes us back to the role of Moses in the life of Israel. He was the deliverer. He was in so many words “the redeemer.” He led them out of slavery and captivity, and brought them unto Abraham’s God. So even as Moses was the deliverer in type back there, Peter says the real Deliverer has come; they’ve killed Him; God raised Him from the dead, but He is still willing to come and fulfill the promises. A few years ago I noticed that Peter is still on Covenant grounds. It’s so obvious, yet I missed it for many years.
“And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet (the one Moses foretold, which was The Christ), shall be destroyed from among the people.” In other words, what did Jesus say in the Gospel of John Chapter 3?
“…Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
This is a follow-up on that. If Israel would have repented (and as we will see in the last verse in this Chapter every one of them would have had to become a believer), then there would have been no problem. Remember that no unbeliever will ever go into the Kingdom of Heaven. Here is the verse that totally changed my thinking.
“Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken (and that includes all the Old Testament prophecies), have likewise foretold these days” This is only eight or nine weeks after the Crucifixion – only 3 years and a few months surrounding what Peter is making reference to: that all of these things that have happened in these days were all in fulfillment of what God had said going into verse 25.
“Ye are the children of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with our (that excludes you and I as Gentile believers. Gentiles aren’t in the lineage of Israel.) fathers, saying unto Abraham, `And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.'”
That was through the work of The Messiah, but through what Nation did The Messiah come? Israel. And Israel was to be the vehicle all along. Let’s go back to Isaiah 42:1. I want everybody to get the concept now, that God hasn’t forgotten about the Gentiles. He’s been dealing only with the Nation of Israel to be sure, but He still has the Gentiles in view. As so much of Scripture indicates, it’s all tied to the Nation of Israel. In fact, before we read Isaiah 42:1, look at Deuteronomy 32:8 again. Some verses must be seen over and over before we can understand what they are talking about.
“When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people (that is all the other nations) according to the number of the children of Israel.”
So who is at the very core of the whole human experience? Israel! God’s Covenant people. Everything else will fall in place as it begins with Israel. And even today, why is that tiny nation in the news every day? Why is the whole world so concerned about Israel making peace with their neighbors? They don’t know, but it’s the Sovereign God at work, and the nations stumble over that little nation. They will stumble over Jerusalem until Christ comes and becomes The Kings of Kings and Lord of Lords. Until then, the world can’t comprehend why this little nation of only a few million people are the center of the whole operation. Now back to Isaiah 42. And so God was only planning to deal with the Gentiles all the way up through the Old Testament through the Nation of Israel. They were the ones who would take Salvation to the Gentiles.
“BEHOLD my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment (rule) to the Gentiles.” So Who are we referring to? The Christ, The Messiah. Chapter 49 states so plainly:
“And he (God) said, `It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the(what people?) Gentiles, that thou mayest be my Salvation unto the end of the earth. Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One (Messiah), to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.'”
Now Isaiah Chapter 59. I wish people could see this, and then apply it as it was intended to be for the Four Gospels and early Acts. That would make the Book of Acts come alive. It’s like putting it under a microscope. It just jumps at you when you understand that this is how God had originally laid it out to the Nation of Israel. And it’s not that the Nation of Israel had trouble with this, they knew they couldn’t go to the Gentiles until the whole nation became a Nation of Priests. Peter and the eleven knew that. But it’s mankind today that can’t see it. In God’s total purpose as Paul speaks of it in the Book of Ephesians, God is looking beyond to when He would go to the whole human race without Israel, which He has done. But first things first. We’ve got to take it as the Scripture unfolds it. And here He is dealing with Israel.
“And the Redeemer shall come to Zion (Jerusalem), and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob; saith the LORD. `As for me, this is my covenant with them,’ saith the LORD; `My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.'” Those are the promises given to the Nation of Israel. Now Chapter 60, verse 1:
“ARISE, shine; for thy light is come,…”
Jesus said to the Israelites, “You are the light of the world.” And that was to have been their role. He also told them they were the salt of the earth. So, in the Four Gospels, it was God dealing only with the Nation of Israel under the Law, but we can come in and make applications. You and I as believers are the light of the world.
“For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth (spiritual darkness), and gross darkness the people (Israel): but the LORD shall arise upon thee (Israel), and his glory shall be seen upon thee (Israel). And the Gentiles shall come to thy light,…”
And who was to be Israel’s light? The Messiah, The Christ Who came in the flesh in the Four Gospels. It was for all the world, but it had to come through the Nation of Israel. Previously, we read the passage in Zechariah, where nations will take hold of the skirt of a Jew. If you want to look at it again, it’s Zechariah 8:20-23 and it ties all this together. Now back to Acts Chapter 3, verse 25 again:
“Ye are the children of the prophets (Peter says to these Jews), and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.”
The Abrahamic Covenant was basically three promises, and within those three promises all the other covenants are involved. The first one was a promise to Abraham, that out of him would come a nation of people: the Nation of Israel. The second was, when they became a nation of people God would put them in their own geographic area of land, the Promised Land, as we understand it in Scripture. And the third promise was when they were in a geographic area, they had to have a government, and so God Himself would come and be their Messiah, King, Redeemer and Savior. It had to be Salvation as well. There is the Abrahamic Covenant in a nutshell. All the other covenants are wrapped up in this one. I always make the qualification you cannot have a viable Kingdom without a King. On the other hand a king is of no earthly use unless he has a Kingdom. These two always have to come together.
When Jesus came and John the Baptist presented Him as Israel’s King, what was in the long view? The Kingdom. And this is what Israel was to have understood. Their King was there, and He was ready to bring the whole Abrahamic Covenant into fruition by ushering in the Kingdom. But Israel rejected The King and thereby rejected the Kingdom. And so The Lord went back to Heaven. The Kingdom is centered in Heaven, and according to Colossians 1:13 you and I as believers are translated into the Kingdom of His dear Son the moment we are saved. But it’s the same Kingdom, because it is yet going to come back on the earth and we are going to reign and rule with Him.
It’s funny how people are always running ahead of me. For a long time they couldn’t wait till I got to the Book of Acts. Now that I’m in the Book of Acts, they’re writing that they can’t wait until I get to Paul’s Epistles. But we’ve got to be patient. We’re going to be taking it one step at a time. But Paul’s Epistles are coming. And we’re going to teach them verse by verse. But it’s thrilling when you get into the Book of Romans and see how God is now dealing with you and I as Gentiles. Not under the Mosaic system, but under Grace. For now, we’ve got to see what it took before God revealed all those new doctrines or teachings which were in His mind since day one. He had kept them secret. So let’s finish the Chapter. Acts Chapter 3 verse 26. Covenant ground. Peter is resting on that Abrahamic Covenant, on the Davidic Covenant, on a Palestinian Covenant, on a Mosaic Covenant. And now he says:
“Unto you first (see that? Talking about the Nation of Israel) God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you (how?), in turning away (watch this. How many Jews had to turn?) every one…”
Every one. That was the prerequisite for The King. Every Jew had to repent of their sin. Had to follow it with water baptism. Acts 2:38 is appropriate still. And then Christ would have ushered in the Tribulation, lifted the curse, brought in the Kingdom. Israel could have gone out and evangelized the nations and brought them to His knowledge. It was a valid offer. Because God knew that Israel wouldn’t do it. So God knew that He would be going to the Gentiles without Israel. Remember that from the time of the Crucifixion to the destruction of the Temple by the Roman army was forty years. Don’t ever lose sight of that. The Book of Acts is a forty-year time when God is still dealing with His Covenant people. Even though He’s going to start going to the Gentile people before that forty years is up. But at the end of that forty years (which in Israel’s history has always been a period of testing), Israel is still adamant in their unbelief.
So what does the Sovereign God permit? Rome to come in and destroy the city in the most awful siege in all of ancient history. They destroyed the Temple and Israel was sent into a dispersion amongst all the nations of the world, which you and I have finally seen coming to an end. It hasn’t ended yet for the most part, but a lot of nations now are completely devoid of Jews. Albania doesn’t have a Jew left in it. Syria, I think, is down to less than two hundred. And so many of the Eastern European nations are down to relatively small numbers compared to what they were. But the Jew, you see, is finally returning to the Nation of Israel. It’s been slow, but there’s going to be something again that will trigger it. There’s going to be a great influx of Jews into the little Nation of Israel, in order to prepare for the coming of their Messiah. In verse 26, Peter admonished everyone to believe and confess their sins.
Chapter 4. Peter and the rest of these men are continuing to preach that this Jesus Whom they had crucified had been raised from the dead. That just flew in the face of one group of religious leaders, the Sadducees. They did not believe in a Resurrection of the dead. They did not believe in a life hereafter. They believed that you live to the best of your ability and the only eternalness they could conceive of was that you would pass it on to the next generation. That was what they thought of as eternal life. They saw nothing of a Resurrection of the dead. So when Peter and John and the rest began to proclaim the Resurrection of Christ and the hope of Resurrection for other believers, it caused a hornets nest.
“And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.”
There is not a Gentile in that verse. They are all next of kin to the high priest, and the high priest had to be a Jew. All right, verse 7. So now all these Jews that were in Jerusalem:
“And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, `By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?'”
What are they still talking about? The healing of that lame man. They can’t get it out of their craw. How did you do it? Read on:
Peter is always the spokesman throughout his earthly ministry. I don’t agree that Peter was the first Pope and I don’t make any bones about that because Peter never had a ministry among the Gentiles. And even though our dear Catholic friends might disagree with me, that’s their privilege. And so now he’s filled with the Holy Spirit. This still reverts to just a few weeks ago during the day of Pentecost. And now under the power of the Holy Spirit he again speaks forth, and he says:
“…Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel (and he doesn’t say and you Romans and you Gentiles. No, he’s talking to the Jews), If we this day be examined of the good deed done to this impotent man, by what means he is made whole (now look at verse 10): Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel (does that include any Gentiles?) that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,…”
When Peter keeps emphasizing the Name, the Name, what does that imply? I always give this illustration. If I were to name Bill Clinton, what would be the first thing that flashes in your mind? Whether you like him or not, that’s beside the point. He’s still Bill Clinton, the what? The President. And immediately your mind pictures the White House. Because he is the President. And when you mention his name then his position flashes in your mind. All right, this is what Peter is driving at. When they heard the Name, Jesus of Nazareth, or Jesus The Christ, what did Peter immediately want to associate that with? Who He was. His office. And what was He? The Messiah, The King, The Savior, The Redeemer of Israel. Again, watch the language here. There isn’t a single reference here to His Atoning blood; to His death; to His Resurrection or to His power. Not a word. Only that Israel had killed Him. That He was Who He said He was. He had proven it. God had raised Him from the dead. And He was still waiting in Glory to fulfill that which He had begun. Alright, read verse 10 again:
“Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified,…”
Now if Peter was on Church ground, what should he have said there? He should have said, “Who died for your sins.” But he doesn’t. He says, “whom you crucified,” You see how plain it is when we just look at it.