Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 25
Let’s get back to Romans Chapter 11, and we were commenting on verse 9 where David said in the Psalms:
“…Let their (that is Israel’s as a nation) table be made a snare,…” (and I made reference to that in the last lesson that Israel was literally feasting at the table of God Himself, but it became a snare,) and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompense unto them:”
As a result of their unbelief and rejecting of all the good things that Jehovah had showered upon them the conclusion was:
“Let their eyes (spiritual eyes) be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.”
And so in their unbelief God just made sure that they really wouldn’t believe by putting a spiritual blindness upon the nation. I’ve taught over the years that God deals with the Jew on two levels, National, and Individual. Nationally they’re blinded, waiting for the coming of their Messiah at the end of the Tribulation, when all of a sudden the remnant that has been protected will be saved. But today, in the Age of Grace, nationally they’re blinded, but an individual Jew has every opportunity to believe The Gospel (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4). So don’t feel sorry for the Jew that he has no chance, because he does. He has just as much chance of believing The Gospel of God’s Grace as we Gentiles, but on the national basis as God dealt with them by bringing them out of Egypt, and He dealt with them on the basis as a nation of people, that has ended. He has blinded them nationally, but individually they can still come into the Body of Christ. Now verse 11, and on that national basis:
“I say then, Have they stumbled (as a nation of people, as a Covenant people) that they should fall? (in other words, out of God’s program, that they’re completely removed from anything more to do with their God. Well look at his answer.) God forbid:…”
Don’t even think such a thing. They haven’t fallen out of God’s program. God has simply set them aside for a period of time. In the Book of Acts, where you don’t really expect to see prophecy, Paul had started his ministry (I think he was on the island of Cyprus), and Elymas the sorcerer tried to keep Paul from ministering to that Roman deputy, what did Paul do?
“And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.”
Although Paul gave him a blindness it wasn’t permanent, but only for a season. Now that was indicative of the nation of Israel. They too have been blinded, not forever, but for a season. Now it’s been a long season in human reckoning, as it’s been over 1900 years, but it’s not going to last forever. One day, and we trust that we’re getting closer and closer as time runs out, Israel will once again have her spiritual eyes opened. Now continuing on with Romans 11:11.
“…but rather through their fall (because the Nation of Israel rejected their Messiah, and King) salvation is come unto the Gentiles,…
And that had been unheard of, it was beyond human comprehension, how that the Holy God of glory could use something as graphic and as awful as that Roman Cross to bring about a Gospel that He could send out to the Gentiles free! Without works, without religion, without a ritual, without a priesthood, it was a Gospel that merely had to be believed. Now that’s what most people can’t comprehend – it’s too simple, but this is the way God intended it so that no one Jew or Gentile can ever say, “Well I just couldn’t measure up, I couldn’t reach that.” No one can say that, it’s out there for everyone because Israel fell.
This is strictly hypothetical, from the human stand point, if Israel would have accepted the Christ, if they would have embraced Him as their Redeemer, Messiah, and King, what would have happened? Oh, they could have had the King and the Kingdom, but according to the Old Testament prophecies had they had done that then what could Israel have done? They could have evangelized those Gentiles, and just brought them in by the millions. That was their prospect, but you see that’s hypothetical. In the foreknowledge of God it couldn’t happen, because He had to die, and so the Nation of Israel rejected Him, they crucified Him, and they continued to reject Him in the early Book of Acts, although Peter and the eleven preached their hearts out. And finally when Israel proved that they were not going to believe, God raised up that other little Jew, that rebel, that raging bull who hated Jesus of Nazareth. He saved him by Grace, and that is the epitome of Grace in the Salvation of Saul of Tarsus.
Then He told Saul before he even got out of Damascus, that He was going to send him far hence to the Gentiles. Israel is going to go out into a spiritual blindness, but Saul would go to the Gentiles, and so this is what this verse is saying. What Israel really did when they rejected The Christ, was open up the windows of heavens for us Gentiles, whose forefathers were pagan. Everyone of us, if we could follow our family tree all the way back, would find that every one of our ancestors were steeped in idolatry, they were steeped in the occult, in mythology or whatever it might be. Israel alone had the true knowledge of the one True God. But God has now done something totally different, as He sent this apostle out to those pagan Gentiles, and they suddenly almost began to swarm to The Gospel. They had a spiritual hunger that Israel could not comprehend. If you know your Book of Acts, every place that Paul went and preached The Gospel, when the Jews would reject it, he would go to those pagan Gentiles, what would those Gentiles do? They would embrace it, they were thrilled by it, but that made the Jews hate Paul and the Gentiles, because they were infringing upon their God. So the Jews were the chief opponents of Christianity.
Now it’s amazing how human nature works. As the Jew then became the chief opponent of Gentiles being saved in time, how did the Gentile react to the Jew? He began to hate them. Now let’s look again at this verse. See this is where human nature goes contrary to the will of God.
“I say then, `Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them (the Jew) to jealousy.'”
Now all you have to do is go back to a couple of kids in high school who are dating, and having a good time, and are in love, and all of a sudden there’s a falling out. And I dare tell you, unless kids have changed remarkably more than I think, what’s one of them going to start doing in order to win their little love back? Well, they’re going to date somebody else. Why? To promote jealousy! And this is exactly what God intended to do. God was going to turn to the Gentiles with the idea that Israel would get jealous. “Hey, they’re taking my place. I’d better wake up and get back to where I belong.” But contrary to what God intended it went the other way, and not only did it turn Israel in anger against the Gentiles, they precipitated in return the persecution of the Gentiles against them. Go back and read human history. Ever since Christianity became more or less the official empire religion way back in the early centuries, what did they do to the Jews? Persecuted and killed them by the thousand, chased them out of every place where they had established a community. Why? Because they were the Christ killers, they were the enemies of God, and some of our earlier reformers said horrible things about the Jews, and it was all human reaction to circumstances. Now that isn’t the way God intended it, he intended it to turn Israel to Himself by promoting a jealousy.
“Now if the fall of them (in other words they’re rejecting everything and God is setting them aside and turning to the Gentiles) be the riches of the world,…”
The word `world’ here in the Greek is `cosmos,’ which means the world’s system. It isn’t talking about terra firma – the earth – it’s talking about the human system. The politics and economy and the world population, predominately of Gentiles, of course. So the fall of this nation Israel, out of God’s program for them, is going to bring about the riches of the world. Now I’m not talking about the riches of wealth, money, gold and silver. We’re talking about spiritual riches, what we as Gentiles have enjoyed. Whether we’re poor as church mice, as we saw down in Haiti. You can’t imagine the poverty. You can’t imagine how hungry those poor people are. And yet, what did they have? A spiritual joy! I wish you could have heard those people sing. They’d just raise the roof. Why? They had that joy unspeakable in spite of their poverty. That’s what Paul is alluding to when he says:
“Now if the fall of them be the riches (the spiritual riches) of the (Gentile) world….”
And it’s true. Never lose sight of the fact that our forefathers were steeped in idolatry. They were steeped in paganism, superstition and fear. They didn’t have the freedom that we have as believers. I always tell women the greatest feminist movement that ever happened to the human race is Christianity. That’s what set women free. If you go back into ancient history and into those pagan cultures, who did all the work? The women! Who did all the child raising? The women! They did it all. I can remember seeing little old eight millimeter film from missionaries coming home from the mission fields, back when I was a kid, and the women were doing it all. They were planting the crops, harvesting, they were grinding the grain, washing the clothes, taking care of the kids, and where were the men? Sitting up against some hut drinking hooch – getting drunk. But Christianity changed all of that. Christianity brought the woman up to the place of respect and on an even keel with mankind. It’s been abused, of course. But listen, this is the riches that Paul is talking about. Christianity has just set people free.
Again, I’m logical and I look at things logically as well as spiritually. Have you ever stopped to wonder why did the western civilization explode and bring their standard of living ten times higher than any other place on earth? Why? Christianity! Just stop and look at it for a moment. As Paul went across the Aegean Sea into Greece, The Gospel went to Europe and Europe became the breeding ground of all our inventions and men of science. You go back into every bit of it and it either began on the continent of Europe or England or as they came over to America. And so all of our technology, almost without exception, where did it come out of? Western civilization which had been predominately “Christian.” Why? Because Christianity set people free. It loosed them from the superstitions of the pagan world. It loosed them from all the hang-up and the detriment to women and so forth. Christianity did it! And so we’d better thank our Lord that we too have been brought under this Christian influence rather than under some of these pagan religions that do nothing but keep their people subservient, and in ignorance and in superstition. If you don’t believe me, go to the library and read the history books. It’s in there just as plain as day. But so often time we just don’t stop to think. Reading on:
“Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them (putting them out in a spiritual blindness, taking away their homeland, priesthood, religion and their temple) the riches of the Gentiles; (now here it comes) how much (what’s the word?) more their (now we’re talking about Israel. Their what?) fulness?”
They’ve never attained it yet. They’ve never attained the fulness God has in store for them. But it’s coming. Don’t you ever sell the Jew down the river. It’s coming. They’re going to go through some horrible times. You can already see it in the little nation of Israel. They’re being backed into the corner a little bit tighter all the time. And this is why they’re so frantically trying to make peace. As I told one of my classes the other night, Israel today is no different than Israel back in the time of Samuel. What was the problem with Israel when Samuel was the last judge? They said, “Samuel, not anything against you, but we want to be like the nations around us. We don’t want to be different anymore. We want to be like the rest of the Gentile nations. We want a king!” And Samuel says, “Now stop and think. If you get a king, you’re going to be taxed to death. If you get a king, he’s going to draft your kids. If you get a king, he’s going to put his thumb on you.” But they said, “That doesn’t matter. We want to be like the rest of the world.”
Israel is no different today. The government of Israel tonight is frantically seeking to be accepted by the Gentile world. They want their economy to mesh with the European Common Market. They want to be out there competing with the Gentile nations of the world. And God says, “No you’re not! You are a separated people.” And they haven’t learned their lesson. And so as they try to assimilate and try to become just another member of the family of nations, they’re getting deeper and deeper into the hole they are digging for themselves. And they’re getting backed into the corner. I’ll keep emphasizing as long as I live, we’re getting closer to the day when Israel will have no hope except the coming of their King. And He will come. The false king first, we know that. Jesus said it in John’s Gospel:
“I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.”
That’s the Anti-Christ. Sure they will. They’re getting ready for it. I’ve told you more than once that I’ve had Jewish people tell me what they’re looking for in their Messiah. And they can’t comprehend that the Messiah is going to be God. He’s going to be a man, but he’s going to be a superman. He’s going to be somebody that has a lot of military apropos. He’s going to have a lot of economic for him. He’s going to have charisma. He’s going to be able to do all the things they think a superman can do. You know what I tell them? “You’re describing the Anti-christ.” But they just don’t see that. So what is left for the nation? Their fullness! All of the fulfilling of all those Old Testament promises are still coming. They’ve been withheld for almost 2,000 years. God hasn’t forgotten them. They’re still coming. Now let’s go on and don’t lose sight, that just because Paul has been dealing with the nation of Israel for three chapters, don’t lose sight of what he is. And you highlight this verse. You lock it into your memory bank. Because this is an important verse, one of the most important verses in all of Paul’s epistles.
“For I speak to you Gentiles, (he’s been talking about Israel for three chapters, but who is he talking to? The Gentile believers at Rome and those in our own time.) inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.”
Some of the newer translations move the “the” preceding apostle and put in an “an.” And when I first saw that, my hair stood on end, because that is a complete violation of the text and it changes Paul’s whole position. If he is just another apostle, then he is a liar. Because he claims in all of his letters, as he defends his apostleship, that it was to him and him alone that God revealed these great doctrines of grace. And see how subtly they change the meaning of a verse? But he says, “I am the apostle of the Gentiles.” And that’s not the half of it. He said, “I magnify my office.” You know what that means? He was never going to back down from his role of being God’s man for the Gentile world. I tell people all the time, you on your prayer knees, better thank God for this little Jew who was willing to suffer all the things that a human being can suffer in order to get The Gospel to you and I as Gentiles. There’s a verse that we use so often, and let’s look at it again in the Book of II Peter. I don’t know if pastors take the time to listen to me or not, but if they do I hope, and pray, that if they don’t get anything else from my teachings at least they get the idea that they have to get into Paul’s letters. You are not going to see a viable, living ministry if you do all your preaching and teaching from the Four Gospels. It’s just not back there, and you have to leave those things behind, which I call the “Milk of the Word.” And Paul himself in Hebrews tells us:
“For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
So we should get off that milk bottle. I used to tell my high school Sunday School kids years ago when they would come out of junior high into my class, to throw their milk bottles away. We’re going to start eating T-Bone steaks, potatoes, and vegetables. Well, that’s what the meat of The Word is all about. Now look what II Peter says shortly before he’s martyred.
II Peter 3:15,16
“And account (understand) that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; (and that’s what the whole Scripture is about.) even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, (that’s Romans through Hebrews) speaking in them of these things; (what things? Salvation!) in which (these epistles)are some things hard to be understood, (now good old Peter says that years and years after he had experienced that earthly ministry) which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest…(or twist the Scriptures.. And we see that every day, how they twist the Scriptures, and Paul says that when they do that they make it another Gospel, and the anathema of a Righteous God rests upon these people when they do it. So they twist the Scripture) unto their own destruction.”
But you know what the sad part is? It’s not just to their own destruction, but also all those people that are under them. Every time somebody twists the Scriptures to their people, whether it’s a small or large congregation, they are destroying those people who are listening to them. So we have to come back and search the Scriptures. Peter is telling us to get back to the writings of Paul, and we do have to get into his epistles, because, “He is the apostle to the Gentiles.” The Holy Spirit prompted him to say that, and so when some one calls or writes, and says, “I want to start reading my Bible more, Where should I start.” I always tell them to start with Romans Chapter 1, and read Romans till they’re blue in the face, then go on to one of his other epistles.