Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 34
OUR POSITION AFTER SALVATION
We’ll be starting in Galatians Chapter 4:1, but first let’s do a bit of review. Remember Galatians was written to that group of Churches up in Asia Minor which were called Galatia, which was central Turkey. And this was written for the precise purpose of correcting these Galatians going back under legalism. So I think it became such an urgent thing for the apostle Paul that he didn’t even wait for a secretary to do the writing for him as he does on his other epistles. But this was so urgent that we have to feel he wrote this letter in his own handwriting even with the eye problem he had.
“Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.”
I still think the eye problem was the thorn in the flesh he talks about in II Corinthians Chapter 12. And as blind people do, he no doubt had to print with large figures, so I think that was why he was not to be able to see the small print. So the whole little letter of Galatians is written with the view that you’re not under Law, but rather under Grace. And of course it’s still appropriate today. Most of Christendom today is so saturated with legalism that it is so hard for people to break away from something that has been drilled into them.
People have asked me why I think it took the Lord three years to show Paul (while he was in Arabia) all the things of Grace?” And I tell them with tongue in cheek, that it probably took 2 1/2 years to get Judaism out of him. You know it’s just human nature that when we are so brainwashed with religion and tradition even as Paul was in Judaism, so also everybody today is ingrained with legalism of one sort or another. So this little letter is just as appropriate for us today as it was the day that it was written, “We are not under Law, but Grace.”Now remember Grace means Total Freedom, and Total Liberty! But again I always follow that by saying it’s not license, but so far as being confined with any legal system, any idea that “you can’t do this, you can’t do that” is out, because we’ve been set free from all of that. And now through the power of the Holy Spirit which the Law had nothing of, we under Grace can live and be pleasing in God’s eyes without rules and regulations to tell us what we can and can’t do. So this is the whole idea of this little letter.
“Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, (or a slave) though he be lord (small “l”) of all;”
Now this is not so much from the Hebrew or the Jewish background as it is from the Romans and the Greeks. And of course Paul uses the whole spectrum when it comes to illustrating and so forth. So now he dips into the Roman and the Greek culture that the wealthy Romans and Greeks would hire tutors, and the soul purpose of these tutors was to prepare that child, that legal son who was an heir. Remember, “as long as he was a child he `differeth nothing’ from a slave even though he be lord of all:” which means he was a blood heir of the father. But until he has finished his time of tutoring he has no more authority in the family than a slave. So this is where Paul is coming from. These Greek and Roman children were under the responsibility of tutors, learning and preparing for the day as you see in verse 2.
“But is under tutors, and governors until the time appointed of the father.”
We don’t know how long they were under tutors as I’m sure the times were different. But they had to stay under the tutor until the child was old enough to take on family and business responsibility, which was all set by the father. The father would say to the tutor, “You take this child of mine, and you teach and tutor until such and such an age.” So these Roman and Greek kids were under these tutors and governors until the father was satisfied that they had now reached the time of becoming full heir with the father. Now verse 3. This shows it’s only an illustration.
“Even so we, (or in like manner) when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world;”
Now of course, I think in the pronoun “we” in verse 3, we find Paul referring to himself as a Jew. So he’s not including the Gentiles per se, but Jews who were under the Law. Remember the Gentile world was never under the Law of Moses – only the children of Israel fell into that category. Se he says in verse 3 again –
“Even so (just like these Roman and Greek kids were under the rule of a tutor, and the father paid very little attention to them, so in like manner, Israel) when we were children, (under the Law) were in bondage…”
Now I know I just keep hammering away at people that to live under the Law is always a bondage. It’s like Peter says in Acts Chapter 15. This is when Peter finally wakes up and realizes that Paul is right. He can now see that the Judaisers were giving Paul grief and causing him trials and tribulations by saying that apostle Paul’s Gospel was not sufficient unless his converts also became keepers of the Law, and practiced circumcision. But like I said, finally Peter wakes up and comes to the defense of Paul which had he not done before, and I think Christianity, as we know it, would have died right then and there. Now I know God is Sovereign and He could have done something else, but as we understand the unfolding here, had it not been for Peter finally coming to his senses and defending the fact that Gentiles could be saved without coming under the Law of Moses, Christianity would have never survived. Now look what Peter says –
“Now therefore (since Gentiles are not under the Law of Moses) why tempt (or test) ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, (or believers) which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”
Remember the Law had demands on the human race that were almost impossible to keep and the reason being that God had to show mankind that there was no way they could measure up to His standard of Holiness and Righteousness. So the Law then became a yoke which neither the forefathers back in Old Testament days nor the Jews of Peter’s day were able to bear. Now then when you come back to Galatians we’re going to see before we go too far in Chapter 4 that Paul also refers to them as almost the same kind of thing, they were beggarly. They begged to be something better than they were. The Law could not do anything to bring a person out of his sin. All the commandments could do was convince him of his sin as we’ve pointed out so often all the way back to Romans Chapter 3. All right so looking at verse 3 again.
“Even so we, (speaking as a Jew) when we were children, (when the Jews were still in the Old Testament economy) were in bondage under the elements of the world:”(system)
Now you’ve got to remember that Israel as a nation, when they came out of Egypt and had been surrounded with all of that pagan culture, when God gave them the Law at Mount Sinai, God didn’t lift them out of the world. They still had to live and move, eat and sleep in the midst of all that paganism. So the whole world system was still working even though Israel was now under the Law. In other words, God didn’t suddenly transport them into a whole spiritual world all their own, and that’s why they failed so often. They failed miserably, and it was always because of their unbelief, but nevertheless they were in bondage under the elements or the workings of the world around them. And how long had they been under it? 1500 years.
Now remember Abraham was called out of Ur at approximately 2000 BC, and then 490 years later Moses led them out of the land of Egypt and God gave the Law. So you’re talking in terms of about 1500 BC from the giving of the Law to Israel until the time of Christ at what we now refer to as 0 so there were 1500 years that Israel labored under this yoke of bondage. It’s no wonder that they were in such rank unbelief and I suppose a lot of the time they just gave up as they couldn’t keep the Law anyway. And of course that’s what legalism does. Legalism I think just destroys the incentive.
Oh I’ve had people come into my class where they’ve been under some of these abject teachings and preaching, and this is what they tell me. “When I was young and I heard all that kind of preaching I thought, well what’s the use. I can’t measure up to that.” Well that’s what legalism has always done, and so even Israel, God’s Covenant people, how many times did they go into abject sin and unbelief because they just couldn’t hack it. Now verse 4, what’s the first word? “But.” You know if it weren’t for the flip side of all of this, where would we be? Well we’d be back to where they were. And so even though Israel had been 1500 years under the Law, in bondage, but then flip side appears.
All of a sudden God stepped in and changed the format. I hope my listening audience realizes that, as you come up through human history, you can see how many times God changed the format totally. Although God Himself never changed, the format was changing. I always like to go back all the way to the Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden living was totally different than it was out of the garden. Wasn’t it? All you have to do is just stop and think. What was life like in the garden? Oh it was easy, no sin, no opposition, no weeds or thorns, it was just a beautiful lifestyle. What was it like after the garden? Just the opposite. All of a sudden now they’re confronted with all of the opposition of nature, weeds, thistles, briars, thorns, and insects and that was the curse. It was totally different, but had God changed? No, God never changes.
Then you take that economy up to the flood, and Noah and the family come off the ark, and again I like to draw the analogy, was it the same after the flood as it was before? Why heavens no. Everything was different. God’s whole economy for man was going to be set up differently. Where as before the flood there was no law and order, there was no system of worship prescribed per se. They couldn’t eat meat, and they didn’t. They ate of everything that grew naturally, but now as soon as they come out of the ark what does God tell them to do? Now you can kill and eat. Whatever lives and moves are for you to partake of. But God also at that time instituted capital punishment. For the man that kills another man he must be put to death. See that was a whole new economy, but had God changed? No, not a bit.
So then we come to the call of Abraham, and again God does something totally different without changing Himself. God says to Abraham, “I’m going to make of you a little separate race of people. I’m going to let the vast majority of mankind just go on their way, but I’m going to work through this little nation that will come through you and your wife.” So all the promises that God made to Abraham, although they took 490 years to come to fruition, there they came.
The Nation of Israel makes their appearance then God again does something totally different. What did He do? He put them under Law. Now listen, that was something totally, totally different from anything that had happened previously. God sets down these Ten Commandments, along with the priesthood and the Temple, and all of its rituals, and He tells Israel by instruction explicitly everything that they were having to do. Not only what we call in their spiritual life or in their everyday way of living, but everything was now prescribed. Everything was laid down as to what they could and couldn’t do. What they could now eat and what they couldn’t eat. Now listen that was all different.
Now then Israel lived under those circumstances up until the work of the Cross was finished. But the work of the Cross couldn’t be finished until first Christ had to be born at Bethlehem, and that’s what we have now in verse 4 after 4000 years of varying types of responsibility. All of a sudden God does something totally different and how does it begin? With the fulfillment of a promise that He made to way back in Genesis Chapter 3:15. But let’s read verse 4 before we go back and look at that.
“But when the fulness of the time was come,…”
That means according to God’s schedule, at the exact right day and hour and year the Messiah was born in Bethlehem. And when I look at this verse, I have to remember the time someone asked his pastor why he didn’t spend more time in the apostle Paul’s writing and less in the Four Gospels? And his answer was, “Well, if I leave the Four Gospels then I don’t have anything to say about the Christmas story.” How ridiculous can you get? This is referring to Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, but Paul doesn’t have to rehearse all the details of Joseph and Mary because that’s already been implied as it was prophesied. But now Paul brings us to the crucial point of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem. Why did it happen? Because it was in God’s timetable. It was all part and parcel of God’s plan for the ages, and at the exact right moment in time, Christ was born of a woman and became the fullness of time.
“God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.”
Now let’s go all the way back to Genesis Chapter 3. We’ve looked at it many times but I also know that you can’t repeat these things often enough. We always hope that once you’ve said something that people have it, but it doesn’t work that way because that’s part of our human makeup. It takes a long time for these things to get soaked in, and we have to be reminded of them from time to time. In this verse the Lord is now dealing with the serpent, Satan, after Adam and Eve have fallen. And God comes right back, as Romans 8 makes it so plain, with hope for the race and that is the promise of a Redeemer. God is talking to Satan through the serpent here.
“And I (God) will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; (the Christ, the Son of God) it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt (Satan) bruise his heel.” (caused the suffering that Christ had to go through)
This is the promise of the coming Redeemer. As soon as man sinned, God came right back with the remedy, and it’s the only remedy. Now coming back to Galatians Chapter 4 we see, then, in the fullness of time, right on God’s timetable the Son was born. I was just explaining to someone last night that when you watch the timing of things back in the Old Testament, God was never a day late! God was also never a day early, and I can always give examples. You take Abraham, at exactly the right time God brought him out of Ur, and set him on his path toward going into Canaan and becoming the father of the Jewish race. And exactly 430 years after is the night of the Passover in Egypt. Moses is then ready to lead Israel out of captivity.
Now we also know that there was to be a 40 year span of time from the time they left Egypt until they would finally get into the Promised Land. Which of course was 40 years to the day. Now as I was studying this some years ago I found it amazing that on the Passover night in Egypt it was the same day and the same month, but 40 years later, when they celebrated the Passover with Joshua leading them across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. God’s timing is right on. Sir Robert Anderson was one of the first to realize that from the decree to Nehemiah to go back and rebuild the city of Jerusalem as it’s recorded in Nehemiah Chapter 2. From that date until the triumphant entry or Palm Sunday is exactly 483 years as it was prophesied. God is always right on schedule. Now according to Paul then, Christ’s birth is the same way. At the exact moment in human history when the fullness of time was now fulfilled Christ was born in Bethlehem. Not an accident, but totally according to God’s program.
Now then the other part that is so amazing was that not only was the Son made of a woman, but under the Law of Moses. And I wish people would understand that. Everything concerning Christ’s first coming, the Law was in place, and we’re going to see in an allegory next month when we tape, that as Paul wrote this Book of Galatians the Temple was operating full speed ahead there in Jerusalem. The priests were performing the rites; they were bringing the animal sacrifices the whole Nation of Israel was under the Law. Now it was a degenerated religious system, totally degenerated.
Instead of now operating under the basic Ten Commandments you want to remember that Temple worship at the time of Christ was now under 613 rules and regulations which comprised the Law. And that’s what made it that much harder. Instead of 10 to keep, they had 613, that’s almost a life-long education to learn that many rules and regulations, but that was the Law under which Christ came. And not one time did He ever tell the Jews of His day to forget keeping the Law because they were under Grace. He never said that because He couldn’t. You see Israel was not yet in a place where the Law was set aside. That couldn’t happen until Christ died. The Cross was where the Law was finally crucified. The Nation of Israel at that time could see nothing but their own self-righteousness and they could brag about how they were Law-keepers.