Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 29
I CORINTHIANS 15:20-23
Now let’s begin where we left off in our last lesson and that will be in verse 23 of I Corinthians Chapter 15.
I Corinthians 15:23
“But every man in his own order:…” (or company)
That means that Christ and the firstfruits were the first little group of resurrected people, and then following is the main harvest, which I feel is the Body of Christ, those who have been saved during this age of Grace. And then after the Tribulation has run its course, and we go into the earthly kingdom for an extra 75 days, then the Old Testament saints which includes Daniel and all the rest, plus the Tribulation saints will be resurrected in their company. But before we go any further let’s look at my timeline for few minutes. This timeline has opened a lot of eyes over the years to see how historically God’s plan of the ages just keeps unfolding. So to start let’s go back to Psalms Chapter 2 for a moment. And this chapter is the outline of the Old Testament prophetic program, and remember all true prophecy is directed only to the Nation of Israel. And usually, maybe not always, that prophecy will be within a time frame. In other words, the first real prophecy given in the Old Testament was when God told Abraham that the children of Israel would end up in a land that wasn’t theirs, and they would be in slavery.
“And he (God) said unto Abram, `Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;'”God was speaking of Egypt and how afterwards they would come back to the land of Canaan.
“But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again:…”
Now that was distinctive prophecy of what would happen years down the road, but He put it in a time frame of 430 years. And then you get to Daniel Chapter 9, and Daniel writes that 490 years are determined upon your people, Israel.
“Seventy weeks (490 years) are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” And then you have the prophecy leading up to the crucifixion.
“And after three score and two weeks (483 years) shall Messiah be cut off,..” (that was at the Cross)
Now we’re able to see 7 years are left of that 490 years determined for the Nation of Israel, and that’s where we get the idea that there will still be 7 years of Tribulation to fulfill the full 490 years. Now there is nothing in the Old Testament prophecy or otherwise that connects Israel to the Church, which is His Body. There is not a word in the Old Testament of some 1900 + years where God is calling out predominately Gentiles. And if people could get that through their head, they would have the battle half won on understanding the Bible. Now in Psalms Chapter 2 we see a brief outline of this Old Testament prophetic program given to the Jew.
“Why do the heathen (the Gentile, the non Jews) rage, and the people (the Jews) imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers (of Israel) take counsel together, (remember Peter only blames the Jew in Acts Chapter 2, yet we can’t just blame Israel for the crucifixion, because the Romans carried it out. Israel demanded it, so they were in it together.) against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, `Let us break their bands (that is, God’s desire to rule) asunder, and cast away their cords from us.'” (In other words they rejected His offer of being the King, and that was the whole scope of His earthly ministry. He had come in fulfillment of all these prophecies that Israel would have the Divine Son of God as their King, Messiah, and Redeemer, but they rejected Him, and crucified Him.) He that sitteth in the heavens (The Triune God Who is still watching over all of this) shall laugh: (At the foolishness and stupidity of mankind) the LORD shall have them (these nations) in derision.” Then (After having rejected the Messiah) shall he (God) speak unto them(that is the nations of the world as well as Israel) in his wrath, (Here’s the prophecy concerning the final 7 years of Tribulation) and vex them in his sore displeasure. (And then what’s the next event?) Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.”
And where’s that? Jerusalem. And it’s from Zion that Christ is going to rule in His thousand year reign. Now there is your timeline in a nutshell for Old Testament prophecy. We have Adam back here at 4000 B.C. and as we go forward in time we find the human race has run along for about 1600 years and then we come to the next big event in God’s time-table and that was Noah’s flood. And from the reverse side, of course, that will be about 2400 years before Christ. The three sons of Noah come out of the ark and under a whole new creation of sort that came about as a result of the flood, they stayed there in the Middle East for the next 200 years. Then in total rebellion of what God had said to scatter and to re-populate the planet, they gather at the Tower of Babel under a man called Nimrod. Now there at Babel they were under total rebellion against God’s authority, and remember the tower was never intended to take brick and stone all the way to Heaven, but rather it was a place of religion whereby they could literally usurp the throne of God religiously.
And we know that has always been Satan’s goal, and so this was the whole idea at the Tower of Babel. They were going to replace the things that God had instructed with the things that Satan now is going to promote himself. And there at the Tower of Babel is where every pagan, mythological, cultic, false religion even on the planet today, has its roots. You’ve heard me teach it over and over again, that every false religion has its roots at the Tower of Babel. I was just reading in the Reader’s Digest Book of the Month about this cult in Japan where they put the poison gas in the subways some time ago. Where did the old boy who became guru of that cult go for his “so called” enlightenment? To the Himalayas. And so who did he find in the Himalayas? Some Buddhist guru who supposedly gave him the enlightenment, supposedly, and he goes back to Japan and begins this cult. Well, already you can see that you go right through Buddhism and through these other Eastern religions and where are their roots? The Tower of Babel. And so every cult that’s on the planet tonight, and I don’t care who they are or what they are, every pagan religion, every mythological religion that has ever existed, have all run their roots right back to the Tower of Babel.
One of the big highlights in the Old Testament economy was the Tower of Babel and how God scattered them. You all know the account of Babel – it means confusion. Then another 200 years went by and once again God does something totally different. He pulls out of this mainstream of humanity, this man Abraham, and He brings about the Nation of Israel. By an act of a sovereign God, this didn’t happen accidentally. But God sovereignly pulls out of the mainstream of humanity, the man Abram, as he was first called, and He promises him the Nation of Israel. Now this will answer the question that I get so often in one form or another. Some will write and say, “Where did the Nation of Israel begin?” Others will write and say,“When did the Gentiles begin?” The Gentile line, as we understand Gentiles, is this mainstream of humanity, coming from Adam, coming from the three sons of Noah, coming through the nations scattered at the Tower of Babel, and they just keep on going. This is the Gentile stream of humanity. And out of the mainstream of humanity, God pulled the little Nation of Israel by virtue of separating the man, Abraham. Now Abraham was not a Jew. He was born of Syrian parents. His brothers were Syrians. And when Abraham’s servant went up to Haran to get a wife for Isaac from his uncle, what was Rebecca? She was a Syrian. And later on Jacob goes up and he gets his wife from his uncle Laban and what was Laban? He was still a Syrian. But, by virtue of God’s decree and God’s work of sovereignty, He declares that this man Abram is the father of the Jewish race.
And so if you’ve ever wondered where does the Jew begin, he began when God separated Abram out of his family in Ur of the Chaldeans, and by way of his wife, which he took from Ur, a half-sister, he has the first son, Isaac. I always tell people, “if you want to be real technical, the first real Jew then, would be Isaac.” But nevertheless, God refers to Abraham as the father of the Jewish people, even though he came from one of the other nationalities. And so now we have the Nation of Israel who has made her appearance and from Genesis 12 (and this is what’s so amazing), all the first 11 chapters of Genesis cover the first 2,000 years of human history. And then in Chapter 12 of Genesis we have the giving of the Abrahamic Covenant, and there is nothing more important in all the Old Testament than this Covenant that God made with Abram, as he’s called early on, at 2,000 B.C., to bring about the Nation of Israel. Now, Israel, according to the promises of God, was to be a nation that God would prepare and use. Now come back with me if you will to Genesis and we’ll just take a brief look at what I’ve already rehearsed in Genesis 12.
“Now the Lord (Jehovah) had said (back in Chapter 11) unto Abram, `Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:'”
Now I’ve got to stop there and go over to Joshua a minute. Let’s go to Chapter 24, and I want you to see where Abram really came from.
“And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said unto all the people, `Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor; and they (all of them. Abraham, Terah, Nachor) served (what?) other gods (small `g’).'”
And so what were they? Idolaters! Abram was raised in idolatry. Now when God spoke to him (and Stephen in Acts Chapter 7, gives us the impression that God visibly, appeared unto Abraham, that Abraham saw God in physical form, and God, or The Lord as we refer to Him now, told Abraham what you see back in Genesis 12), He told him to get away from his country, his kinfolk, and from his father’s house. Why? Separate yourself from these false religions. You cannot serve Me when you’re under the roof with idolaters. Let’s look at verse 2 and here comes the Abrahamic Covenant.
“And I will make of thee a great nation,….”
You want to remember back in the antiquities, when Israel comes out of Egypt, I’ve always taught that it was a number of people anywhere between 3 and 7 million. There wasn’t another tribe or nation anywhere in the Middle East that would come close to that. They just did not get that large in number. And so in the numbers of antiquities, Israel was the largest nation in that area of the world. And this was God’s promise:
“….and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
Now turn the page a little bit if you will and let’s look at verse 14 of Chapter 13. Now we see the next part of the Abrahamic Covenant. Not only would they be a nation of people but now God’s going to have to put them in a geographical area of land. They can’t just continue on in slavery in Egypt. If they’re going to be a nation of people that God is going to work through, they have to be in their own borders.
“And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, `Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:'”
You want to remember, if you’ve never been to Israel before, but right up through the spine of that little narrow neck of land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, are mountains. And so here Abraham is on high ground and God says, “Abram, you look as far south, north, east and west as you can see”, and now verse 15:
“For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever.”
Now let’s come all the way up to Genesis 46. Now time has gone by but it’s still within that time-frame of the prophecy that was 430 years. And within that time-frame Israel has become a nation, they’re in slavery in Egypt, Joseph has come to the top of the government, and Jacob is over there in the Negev desert and is about to starve to death. So now, let’s look at verse 1 of Chapter 46.
“And Israel (Jacob) took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba (just south of Jerusalem about 70 or 80 miles), and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac. And God spake unto Israel (Jacob) in the visions of the night, and said, `Jacob, Jacob’. And he said, `Here am I.'”
Now just look at this command. Almost a total opposite of what he’s been told up until now. He was told not to leave the land of promise and God would bless him. But now look what God says.
“And he said, `I am God, the God of thy father; fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:'”
Did He? Yes! And so Jacob ends up in Egypt with all his sons and they come out 215 years later, with about 5 millions souls. Now let’s look at Exodus Chapter 19. Time has gone by, another 215 years and now Moses has led the children of Israel out of Egypt. The 430 years are now completed and we see the nation gathered around Mt. Sinai and God is getting ready to do something totally different than He’s ever done before. And I’ll bet most people don’t even think about it. Do you know that from Genesis 1 until Exodus 20, there were never any written do’s and do not’s from God so far as what men could and could not do? Do you know there has not been one single item of God-instituted worship until we get here? I know, they probably brought sacrifices, but so far as having an organized system of worship, there has been none. And so here we have something that’s never happened before, that God tells the Nation of Israel that He’s going to give them the Law, the priesthood, the whole system of sacrificial worship. And for what purpose? To make them aware of God’s holiness, of His sovereignty, that He is preparing them for a future roll in the midst of all the pagan idolatry that was now all the way around them. Now you want to remember the whole world was steeped in idolatry except for the offspring of Abraham. Now let’s look at Exodus 19 and beginning at verse 5:
“Now therefore, if (there’s the condition) you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, (the one that He’s about to give – the Covenant of Law) then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:”
Now what does that do with the Nation of Israel? It lifts them out of that mainstream of humanity and puts them into that place of covenant relationship as God’s favored, chosen people. Now we know that by the time we get to the book of Acts, when Paul so much as mentions the word Gentiles to that Jewish audience, what happened? He had an uproar – a riot! Well, it all began with good intentions. That God intended this little nation of people to be a particular people of value that he could use to reach all those pagans. That was the whole concept. Now look at it again in Exodus 19 where he tells them they are a “treasure unto me above all people”. And why could God do that? Because He’s Sovereign!!! I can’t drive that home enough. God is sovereign. He created this ball of wax and He can do with it whatever He wants. And mankind can shake their fists in His face all they want and they’ll never diminish God’s sovereignty. And so in sovereignty, He says to the Nation of Israel, “I have made you of intrinsic value to Me because the world is Mine.” Now here comes the promise that if they would be obedient:
“And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of (what?) priests, (and anybody that knows anything about religion the roll of the priest is what? A go-between. So every Jew was to be a prepared person to be a go-between some day down the road between the pagan world around them and Israel’s God.) and an holy (or set apart) nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”
Now most people can’t understand that this is the purpose of Israel. They were to be a kingdom of go-betweens.