Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 4 * BOOK 53
James 1:1-2 – Part 2
I received a letter that I would like to have read on the program, but Iris and Laura thought people would think I was bragging and I don’t want to read them with that idea at all. But the lady was 94 years old, and had been in church all her life and just through our program she suddenly realized she had never experienced salvation. She had never understood the Scriptures. She had never believed Paul’s Gospel for her salvation. Oh, she had read her Bible through from Genesis to Revelation, but that’s just so typical.
I wanted to read it to let people know that if they’re experiencing this, they’re not alone. We’ve got people from all walks of life, from all different backgrounds, that are suddenly seeing the Scriptures, not for what I say, but for what the Scriptures say. In fact, I had one gentleman call from Florida just yesterday and he said, “Les, you know what brought me out of darkness into the light? It wasn’t what you said, it was the Scripture that you had on the screen.” And I don’t forget that. It’s the Word of God that is powerful. It isn’t what I say or anything like that. And hopefully all I can do is point out what the Scriptures say.
We’re in our fourth program this afternoon, and I’m still trying to introduce the setting for these little epistles here at the end of our New Testament that are addressed to Jews who were believers only in Jesus as the Messiah – which was appropriate at the time they became believers, and it was preparing these Jewish believers for pressures that were to come. Now I trust you’ve opened up to James 1:1, even though we’re not going to stay here long, but let’s just go look at it a minute again for the sake of our television viewers:
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.” Notice James is writing to the twelve tribes scattered abroad. In other words, they’re not in Jerusalem anymore, they’ve been scattered out. And as I pointed out in an earlier program, it was because of Saul’s persecution that we see in Acts chapter 8. And we’ll be seeing that soon. But then the purpose for his writing this letter is more or less headlined in verse 2:
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;” Now the word ‘temptations’ is unfortunate. I trust that maybe the newer translations… does anybody have‘testing’ in your Bible? Okay, that’s what it really should be. It wasn’t temptation to sin, but it was the testing of persecution.
Now again, like I told you in one of the earlier programs, some people will think these letters are written to Jews contemporary with the writers, early Jewish believers, recently scattered out of Jerusalem, which is certainly apropos. But many think that these letters are written to Jews who would be believers during the seven years of Tribulation. Well, I say it’s both. Because you see, these Jews scattered throughout the Roman Empire and were certainly under horrible persecution from their own people as well as from the pagan world. But it’s also going to be a time of testing for Jewish believers who find themselves in the Tribulation.
So remember, these little Jewish epistles at the back are written primarily to encourage Jewish believers under the pressures of persecution and hatred. And when you look at the two possibilities (and that’s why I’ve been putting all of this on the timeline), all of the Old Testament prophecies come right down the pike, one right after the other, with no hint of a 2,000 year interruption of a Church Age.
Consequently, every portion of Scripture, except Romans through Philemon, which are directed to the Body of Christ will be directed to this timeline, and hopefully you’ll all remember that, after the call of Abraham, 2000 BC, we have 2,000 years between Abraham and Christ’s first coming of the Old Testament, which is all Jew only with some exceptions, of course. Nineveh, and Rahab and so forth were some of the exceptions, but all of these prophecies were preparing the Nation of Israel for the coming of their Messiah.
Alright, so Christ comes and presents Himself to the Nation of Israel and His three years of earthly ministry and, in spite of all the miracles and wonders and signs, they crucified Him anyway. But God raised Him from the dead, called Him back to the Father’s right hand (Psalms 110, verse 1). And then as we saw in the last program, according to Psalms 2, shortly after His ascension there would come the seven years of wrath, or as we call it, the Tribulation. Then Christ would return to the Mt. of Olives and set up His Kingdom (promised to Israel), and then Israel could be priests of Jehovah and they, in turn, could reach out to the Gentile world. Now that’s the whole Old Testament program in a nutshell.
Come back now to Acts chapter 3 and I think that’s where we left off, where Peter now is appealing to the Jews of his day, shortly after Pentecost, remember, to repent of having rejected and killed their Messiah. Peter says that He was now alive and He had gone back to the Father, but that He was ready to return and yet bring Israel the Kingdom – but there was one other item that we didn’t have time to cover. So to get us into the flow, let’s repeat where I left off with verses 19 and 20. Remember Peter is addressing the Nation of Israel. There is not a Gentile in the bunch.
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;” Notice that’s not a period, that’s a semi-colon. The thought goes right on in to verse 20. The times of refreshing would come when…
“And he shall send Jesus Christ,…” God would send Jesus Christ. Now, where is He? He’s at the Father’s right hand. Where would God send Him? Back to Jerusalem to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies.
“And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:” But now, Peter says it can’t happen tomorrow, because first…
“Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things,…” Jesus couldn’t just return to the world as it was. He couldn’t return to that sinners’ planet covered with all the wickedness of mankind and set up His Kingdom. So what does He have to do? He has to regenerate it first. He has to cleanse the planet in order for the Kingdom to be set up. And now, that’s why the wrath and vexation is that period of seven years in which God will deal wrath and judgment on mankind, but also to cleanse the planet of all of the stuff that man has brought into the picture and make it ready for His Kingdom.
Now, you’ve heard me allude to this on the program many, many times. By the time we get this glorious heaven on earth scenario, what has to happen to all the garbage that’s on the planet now? It has to go! I don’t know how God’s going to do it, but it’s going to go. And I use this illustration over and over. In all of our travels lately, there is construction, construction, construction. Men are as busy as a colony of ants. And every time I go by one of these sites, I can’t help but think of my going over a hill of ants with my hay machine and just smashing that ant hill to smithereens. Well, that’s what God’s going to do with all of man’s activity. Oh, they’re building and building, and they have to, but it’s just an act of futility because the day is coming when God is going to cleanse the planet of all this stuff.
If you think I’m stretching the envelope, stop and think. Can God have all these nightclubs and these discos and these gambling casinos in His Kingdom? NO WAY! Can He have all the houses of prostitution and the bars and you name it in His Kingdom? NO WAY! Is He going to have all these multitudes now of ungodly, wicked people in His Kingdom? NO WAY! So what does He have to do? They’re going to have to go. It’s going to have to go. There’s going to be peace in the Middle East some day – absolutely there’s going to be peace when He returns. And there will be no argument because He’s going to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But all the rest of that stuff is going to go.
If you think I’m stretching the point (since I’m on that very concept), come back with me to Jeremiah 25 once again. We’ve done it in our Oklahoma classes until I think they see it in their sleep. And well they might. But Jeremiah 25 verse 30, and this is exactly what Peter is talking about in Acts 3. Now as you’re looking it up, let me read the verse in Acts 3 again in your hearing: “Whom heaven must receive as He is ascended and sat down at the Father’s right hand. Whom heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things.” Now what does restitution speak of? The same thing as regeneration. And when you regenerate something, what do you do? You make it like it was in the beginning. When you reconstitute something, what do you do? You make it like it was in the beginning. When you restore something. Now my oldest son and his son are getting interested in restoring old cars and stuff like that. They’re not actually doing it but they like to read about it. I like to read about restored tractors and stuff like that. Oh it’s interesting. And what do they do? They take an old piece of junk that they find out someplace and they take it in to their shop and they restore it until it’s just like when it was brand new. Now, that’s restoration.
Alright, that’s what Peter is talking about in restitution. It’s going to be made like it was in the beginning. Regeneration, like it was in the beginning. Now how is He going to make it like it was in the beginning unless He cleanses the planet of everything that is here. And here in Jeremiah 25, is what He is talking about. It’s going to happen! Start at verse 30:
“Therefore prophesy thou (this is telling Israel what’s coming in their future) against them all these words, and say unto them, The LORD shall roar from on high, (what’s that a reference to? His Second Coming, like we saw a few programs back. He’s going stand on the Mt. of Olives) and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; (that is this old planet) he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.” That’s not my idea; I’m not interpreting. That’s what the Book says. He’s going to crush the inhabitants of the earth like those who tread the grapes in the grape vat. Reading on in verse 31.
“A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; (not just the Middle East. It’s going to be around the globe) for the LORD hath a controversy with the nations, (Why? They’ve rejected Him. Out of hand) he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the Lord. 32. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation,…” Are you seeing the evil tonight? You pick up the daily newspaper and it’s all the same. Nothing but murder and rape and robbery and it’s awful. Well, and I’ve always said America is still head and shoulders morally above the rest of the world. So can you get a picture of the world’s moral climate today? It’s absolutely awful. Now here comes the effects of His Second Coming.
“…and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth 33. And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day (His Second Coming, the end of the seven years) from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, (there will be no funerals) neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.”
And that’s why the birds of prey will be called in to clean up the flesh. That’s what’s coming and the world goes on their merry way as if they’re going to rejuvenate it and make it themselves. No they’re not. They’ll just keep making a bigger and bigger mess every day. The politicians can try all they want – I’ve always said it on this program and I’ll say it again; the Democrats aren’t going to make it right, the Republicans aren’t going to make it right, nor will anybody else until Christ returns.
Alright, back to Acts chapter 3. So Peter, here, just shortly after the day of Pentecost (we’re probably back in 30 AD now), is still preaching repentance and water baptism. Peter wants the Nation of Israel to repent of their sins. Alright, read verse 21, again now, in light of what we’ve just read:
“Whom the heaven must receive (or hold) until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” That’s why I took you back to Jeremiah. Alright now let’s go down to verse 24:
“Yea, (Peter says,) all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold (prophesied) of these days.” Peter isn’t talking about 2000 AD. Peter is speaking in about 30 AD and he’s expecting all this to come within the next few years. So that, within a matter of 10 or 20 years, Christ would be ready to return and set up the Kingdom. That’s all Peter knows. He knows nothing of 2,000 years of what we call the Age of Grace. Now let’s read on in verse 25, and this isn’t Church language…
“Ye are the children of the prophets…” Well, I’ve always made the point, to whom was all prophecy directed? Israel – not the Gentile world, but Israel. Now as prophecy is fulfilled on Israel the whole Gentile world will get involved, of course.
“Ye are the children of the prophets, 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.”What’s he talking about? When He would return and set up this glorious Kingdom promised to Israel in which there will be Gentiles. They are going to survive the Tribulation, and they’re going to be in the Kingdom, as believers.
So now the setting, then, is getting closer and closer for the coming of the Messiah after the horrors of the seven years of Tribulation, but years are going by, and Peter and the Eleven, as well as the other six that were appointed, are pleading with the nation to yet repent and believe that this Jesus Whom they crucified was the Christ. And years have been going by and they had been preaching their hearts out to these unbelieving Jews.
Now you come all the way to Acts chapter 7, and now we have one of the six that were chosen to wait on tables back in Acts chapter 6. Alright, but now Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit is going to make one last appeal to the Nation of Israel. God is using this man, who was not one of the Twelve, but one of the six to make a last appeal to the Nation of Israel. And we don’t have time to take it verse by verse, but we’ll just hit the highlights. So let’s begin in Acts chapter 6, verse 15.
“And all that sat in the council, (what council? The religious leaders of Israel. All the religious leaders of Israel are now sitting here in judgment of this man, Stephen) looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.”
“Then said the high priest, Are these things so?” (in other words what they were accusing him of) 2. And he said, Men, brethren and fathers,….”
How many Gentiles would a Jew call his father? Not a one. And so Stephen is addressing Jews. And he goes all the way, as Paul does himself, back in chapter 22, back to Abraham, and again, reviews the history of Israel and how God, step by step, was bringing them to the place where He could present their Messiah and their King. Now let’s go all the way up to the end of his message – let’s go to chapter 7 and begin with verse 51, Stephen is now ending up and remember he’s addressing the elite of Israel. And He says:
“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: (or Spirit) as your fathers did, (back in history) so do ye. 52. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:” 53. Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. 54. When they (this elite again of Israel) heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing (not seated) on the right hand of God,”
And, wow! That threw fear into those Jewish leaders because what verse did they know better than their name and address? Psalms 110:1, “Come and sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” And they understood that when God would subject His enemies to the rule and reign of the Son of God, then He would be able to set up His Kingdom. And they saw it. He’s not seated, He’s standing. What does that mean? He’s ready to come back; He’s ready to pour out His wrath and judgment – and in their fear, I think, and in their nonsensical reaction to that, what did they do? The next verse:
“Then they cried with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, (now that was conviction supreme) 58. And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. 59. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
Now verse 1 of chapter 8, and here we have a complete change in the personalities of the Book of Acts. Saul of Tarsus:
“And Saul was consenting unto his death,…”
Now looking again at the timeline as far as we’ve come, all the way up through Christ’s earthly ministry – we saw He was rejected, but God rose Him from the dead; and called Him back to the right hand of the Father, waiting for the day when He could return and yet set up His kingdom.
So in this period of time, between His ascension and the stoning of Stephen is about 7 or 8 years in here – and during this period, Peter and the Eleven plus the six, like Stephen, are pleading for the Nation of Israel to yet accept the fact that the One they crucified was their Messiah, because they could see all the ramifications of the wrath and vexation coming and they were to be ready for the coming of the King and His Kingdom. And so everything that they preach is on this basis, but as we get to where we are right now, in this Age of Grace, all of a sudden God moves in with a whole new character, Saul, who will become Paul and He’s going to send him where? To the Gentiles.
Alright, I haven’t got time, we’ll have to do it in our next program, but when we come back next month, we’re going to draw the second timeline that shows how this prophetic line is now going to be totally stopped right here after the ascension, with the Tribulation and the Kingdom Age all pushed out into the future and we’re going to come into a parenthetical period of time of 2,000 years where God is going to be dealing with the Gentiles in the Body of Christ instead of Israel.