Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 2 * BOOK 5
Law – Weak and Beggarly
Go to Genesis 21 where we left off the lesson before last (the allegory of Ishmael and Isaac that we explored further in Galatians).
“And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away; and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.” God had instructed Abraham to do this, remember. Hagar, with her son wandered in the desert of Beersheba, which is in the south of Israel, in the Negev.
“And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.”
The language here would seem to indicate that Ishmael was only a two or three-year old child. But we must remember that he actually was thirteen or better, so he was a pretty good sized lad. Most likely, Hagar said something to him such as, “Go sit in the shade of one of those shrubs,” and she went a little way away from him.
“And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, ‘Let me not see the death of the child.’ And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept.” And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, ‘What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.'” Remember, the “Angel of God” or the “Angel of the LORD” is always Jehovah; God the Son in another theophany, or appearance in human form.
“Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.” Again, remember that most of the Arabs today came from the line of Ishmael.
“And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.” The provision from the human element was a bottle of water. That’s all Abraham provided. But notice God gave her a well! Isn’t that always the way? When we depend on the flesh, we get “a drop in the bucket;” but with God, we get wells of living water!
“And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.”
Hagar, Ishmael’s mother, had originally come from Egypt? And notice where she went to get him a wife – back home. So there is a double connection for the offspring of Ishmael, who became the Arab nations to the nation of Egypt. We’ve pointed out, as we’ve reviewed the genealogies recorded in Genesis so far, that Egyptians are not true Arabs. But they are so closely related, that in political situations they usually work pretty well together. Let’s skip some intervening verses here where Abraham deals with Abimelech.
“And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.” Remember that Beersheba is down in the southern part of Israel, or Palestine, down in the desert area. In the city of Beersheba they now have a shrine for the ancient well spoken of here that was dug by Abraham.
A few weeks ago we explained these names of God or Jehovah, God the Son. Abraham, from Beersheba called on the name of the LORD, or the name of Jehovah, the everlasting God. Although the English kind of leaves us “hanging” here, in the Hebrew, the “everlasting God“ is “Elohim Olam.” Here’s where things get a little bit more interesting if you dig below the surface. Abraham called on Jehovah (and remember, Jehovah is God The Son, The Christ of the New Testament!) Who is, to clarify, “the everlasting God.” This fits beautifully with what we’ve studied in these last two lessons concerning the fact we’re not under Law, but under Grace. We see that God can do this from His very Name of Deity. He is “everlasting God.” I’ve already mentioned the word “Elohim,“ which is the plural form of the word for “God,” and this now states that He is the “Elohim Olam.” This word “Olam”is translated out of the Hebrew, with three different meanings (yet are all pretty closely related). In Leviticus “Olam” is used to speak of “a specific time.” The verse says that if the people want to redeem a piece of land, at that time, they have to do such and such. So it speaks of a specific time. In another place, “Olam” is translated as “hid” or “hidden.” To see this, turn to Psalms 10:1:
“Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thy self in times of trouble?”
While in Leviticus, “Olam” was translated as “time,” here in the Psalms, this same word was translated “hidest.” So the word “Olam” here refers to something hidden, or more specifically, God’s being hidden from view. Let’s look now at Psalms 90, (and I’m trying to use these words within the context of one book so that we don’t have to spend a lot of time looking them up.), where this very same word, “Olam” is translated “everlasting.” See verse 2:
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting (Olam) to everlasting (Olam), thou art God.”
The everlasting God, then, as used in Genesis, is speaking of more than the God who exists from eternity past (before Genesis 1:1) through the end of the timeline to eternity future.
God from Everlasting to Everlasting
This is the God of Creation, the everlasting God. But, as the word “Olam” is used in these other Scriptures, it points out that God is not only from everlasting to everlasting, but also is a God Who is associated with time, and that within time, in His everlasting role as Sovereign God, He can hide things at His pleasure. This may sound at this point like a bit of “gobbledy-gook,” but I’m trying to build my case. The God Who is from everlasting to everlasting is also the God of intrinsic time. Also, since He is Sovereign, He is fully able to either reveal everything within time or keep it secret. I know this is getting deeper than you may like to go, but I think it’s imperative to understand this premise, so that we can go to the timeline and show how there were times when God did not reveal, and there were times when He did reveal. Go back to Genesis and come up through our timeline as we did when we started our study.
Initially, Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, and we don’t know for how long. While they were in the Garden, God gave them no hint as to what would happen in the future. There were no prophetic statements that, by-and-by, something like this was going to happen. He simply chose to put them in time, and that was all. Then Adam and Eve sinned, and were driven from the Garden, and the next period of time runs from their expulsion from the Garden all the way down to the Flood. I like to point out that when Adam and Eve went out of the Garden, they entered a totally different situation than the one they had experienced in the Garden. In the Garden, they had no responsibilities but to enjoy their paradise. But when they came out, they had to labor for their livelihood under the curse. Everything was different! They had to work by the sweat of their brows; they had to work with sin around them; they had to deal with God regarding redemption; they had to bring blood sacrifices – everything was totally different. Then, because mankind went down, down, down, we come to the time when God decided He’d have to start all over, and so came the Flood.
Again, I need to point out that when Noah and his three sons came out of the Ark, the situation they found was totally different! All of the earth was different, from the atmospheric conditions on. Noah and his sons were then given permission to kill animals and eat the flesh thereof, which had not been allowed by God before. So it’s important to see that each time we come to the various breaks in time, entirely new sets of circumstances arise. So, after Noah and his family came out of the ark, they were instructed by God to set up a human government to maintain law and order (which had not previously existed). Then, about 175 years following the flood (because the people had been disobedient and had not scattered across the earth as God had instructed, but had congregated in the valley of Shinar at the tower of Babel), God confused their languages and caused them to scatter. And about 150 years following the dispersion from the Tower of Babel, God did something else which was totally different. He called out the man we have come to know as Abraham, through whose descendants He chose to work a different plan, while the rest of the world would go on in its own pagan ways.
Beginning with the Nation of Israel, Abraham’s descendants, God began to work in a totally different manner with regard to things being hidden or being revealed. From Genesis 12 forward, He began to reveal things to the Nation of Israel in great detail before they happened, and we call that prophecy. Everything that was to happen to Israel, God began to reveal beforehand – even to naming some of the people who would be involved such as Cyrus hundreds of years before they were born! He foretold the Cross, the Resurrection and the Ascension; He foretold the final seven years of Israel’s tribulation called “Daniel’s 70th week.” So, in contrast to the past in which He had kept things secret, God began to revealthe things that were to happen ahead of time to the Nation of Israel. In the New Testament, Jesus foretold the destruction of the City of Jerusalem; and the dispersion of the Jews which was to follow His Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension; and the establishment of the Church in the first part of the Book of Acts (see Luke 21). Then the Scriptures look forward to the seven years of tribulation (Jacob’s trouble referred to in Jeremiah), and reveals much about the end-times in the Book of Revelation.
But through this prophetic time, when God is dealing with Israel, there is one thing that’s never mentioned – the Age of Grace. Not a word about His going to the Gentiles to call out a multitude of people for His Name. About that He was totally silent. This period of time which I’m calling the “Age of Grace” is an undetermined period. Back in Israel’s history, God would lay out his plan on a time-table. He told Abraham that 430 years following his call, Israel would come out of Egypt, and they did! He told them there would be 490 years from one Temple to the next. He told them that there would be 490 years from Daniel’s prophecy to the appearance of Jesus on Palm Sunday. All the way through Israel’s history there was a distinct time-table, and it was right to the letter. But, when it comes to the “Church Age” or the “Age of Grace” there’s not a single time element mentioned. This was to be an undetermined period of time, about which God chose not to reveal details according to His sovereign decree. Look at Romans. This is a passage that I fear few people know is in their Bibles.
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:”
This is Paul writing to the Gentiles. And this period of time to which he refers (as well as everything that God is going to bring about during it), has been kept a secret from the beginning of the age! This is within the scope of the God Who is from Everlasting to Everlasting. He can do anything He wants! This is the God Who is from “Olam” to “Olam.” He is not only the God of everlasting time, but He is also the God of time; He Who can hide things in time. This is exactly what The Bible said He did concerning this Age of Grace. Turn to Ephesians 3. I’m going slowly because these are concepts not easily absorbed, and we need to read the Scriptures carefully. Start at verse 1. This concerns the fact we are not under Law, we are under Grace, and only the Sovereign God has the right to make that distinction. But He chose through the ages to keep secret the fact that there would be a time when men and women would be saved by Grace through faith plus nothing!
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation (administration) of the grace of God which is given me to you – ward:…”It was no longer for Jews only, but now Gentiles were included!
Earlier we showed that when God gave the Law to Israel through Moses on the mountain. Moses then came down to the people and gave it to them – so it came from God to Moses to the people of Israel. We have a similar analogy here. Paul had gone into the wilderness of Arabia (and I believe he was in Sinai), and as Moses received the Law, Paul received revelation of Grace, which had been kept secret since the age began.
“How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ); Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:” When Paul referred to “other ages” in verse 5, he used the Greek word “Aion” which is synonymous with “dispensation.”
(9)“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:” ‘Men’ in verse 9 is italicized because the translators added it. One more portion we need to look at is:
“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery (secret) which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:”
The world can’t understand it! The unbeliever can’t comprehend it! But child of God, tonight you can!