Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1* PART 3 * BOOK 55
I Peter 4:1 – 5:14
Okay, let’s get back to where we were in our last lesson. And again, I need to remind you, as we have new people joining us every day, that these little Jewish epistles are written to the Jewish believers who have been scattered from Acts 8:1 – I think predominately to the Jewish churches in the area of Asia Minor and Western Turkey. Probably it’s the same Jewish churches that are addressed in Revelation 1 through 3. And the whole idea was to prepare them not only for the suffering of the Tribulation that was ahead of them, but also to cope with the suffering that they were already under because of the Roman oppression and so forth.
And I think you are now aware that these were Jewish believers being prepared by Peter, James and John for the horrors of the Tribulation through which they would have to pass if they were going to enter into the glories of the earthly Kingdom. All right, now we saw that so vividly back up in verse 7, where Peter said:
I Peter 4:7a
“But the end of all things is at hand:…” And then we ended the last lesson at verse 11, and I think we’re ready to start in verse 12 where Peter now goes on to say:
I Peter 4:12a
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try (or test) you,….” Present or future? Future. He’s looking at the seven years of Tribulation up here in the top line. Peter doesn’t know about Paul’s outcalling of the Gentiles with the pure Gospel of Grace. Now, he will by the time we get to II Peter. But you see you’ve got a time element involved. When he writes on this top line in I Peter, he’s probably writing back there about the time that Paul’s letters are just coming out. By the time he writes II Peter (which is about eight years later) then, of course, he is aware of Paul’s epistles and he will make mention of them. But up here in I Peter there is not a word about Paul; not a word about Paul’s Gospel; not a word about Gentiles; it’s just as if he doesn’t even know that Paul is out there. But, he is preparing these Jewish believers for the fiery trials that are out in front of them – the Tribulation. Now continuing verse 12.
I Peter 4:12b
“…as though some strange thing happened unto you:” And, remember, as soon as the Tribulation begins, the supernatural begins. It’s going to be unusual. Whether it would have happened then or whether it’s going to happen in our day, that’s beside the point. It was going to be a supernatural period of time. All right, verse 13.
I Peter 4:13
“But rejoice, (because if they can survive the pressures, they’re going to enter into the glory of the Kingdom) inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” What’s he talking about? The Kingdom. And he says again, “If you can come through these fiery trials.” Remember he’s up here on this top timeline. If you can come through these fiery trials and witness the return of Christ, and go into the glory of His Kingdom…. Now sometimes people will say, “Well, how in the world do you come to a conclusion like that?” Well, I’m going to show you.
Go back with me in Matthew (in Christ’s earthly ministry). Matthew chapter 19, and let’s start with verse 27. Now all of this will make sense if you just keep it in that top timeline. Remember it’s all Jewish. All of this was just going to be coming down the pike. Peter has no idea that it would be interrupted by almost 2,000 years with Paul’s Gospel of Grace. But we can now look back and see how beautifully it was interrupted.
“Then answered Peter and said unto him, (that is unto the Lord) Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we (the Twelve) have therefore?” In other words, what’s he complaining about? Well, he’s not really complaining and yet on the other hand, he’s saying, “Okay now Lord, we left our fishing business. We left the beauty of the Galilee.” And I think I may have mentioned on the program, there isn’t a more beautiful sight on earth than sunrise on the Galilee. Some of you have been there with us, and it’s just gorgeous!
He loved his fishing business. His family. And Peter now says “We left all that to follow you, what are we going to have?” Now he’s not talking about salvation, he’s talking about reward. Now look what the Lord says, and He wasn’t playing games with them.
“And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, (in other words, the Twelve – we’re going to kick Judas out in a little while, but he’s still included here. Those of you who have followed me) in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory,…” Now you always have to pick that verse apart or you’ll miss the meaning of it. Most of you have heard me do this before, maybe some out in television never have. When “the regeneration” – what does that mean? When the earth is regenerated or reconstituted or remade like it was in the beginning. The earth is going to go back to that which was before the curse fell. And it’s going to be glorious. It’s going to be beautiful once again. And Christ is going to be sitting on the throne of His glory. Not in Heaven, but in Jerusalem, on Mount Zion. All right, so the Lord is referring to all that and He says to Peter and the Eleven:
“…That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Now that hasn’t happened yet, but they were expecting it to happen in their lifetime. Now do you have to have some seminary degree to understand that? No. That’s plain English. That when He returns at the end of the Tribulation and sets up that Kingdom, He’s going to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords – but the Twelve are going to be ruling the twelve tribes of Israel from smaller thrones there on Mount Zion. That’s as plain as I can make it. And this is what Peter and the others never forgot.
And when we teach Acts, we always point that out. Why was Peter in such a terrible hurry to fill the twelfth slot after Judas was gone? Because they expected all this to come in short order, and you don’t rule twelve tribes with eleven men. They had to have the twelfth one. And so the first thing on Peter’s agenda in Acts 1 was to fill the spot left open by Judas.
On our way back to Peter, let’s just stop at Acts chapter 8, and I can throw a curve at some of these theologians who evidently don’t read some of these things. Acts chapter 8 verse 1. Now Israel has just stoned Stephen – killed him – because Stephen made the last appeal to the Nation of Israel to repent of having crucified their Messiah. All right, now look at Acts 8:1 and how can anybody miss it?
“And Saul was consenting unto his death. (that is Stephen’s) And at that time there was a great persecution (headed up by Saul) against the church (Jewish assembly) which was at Jerusalem;…” That church or that assembly of Jewish believers, who had embraced Jesus as the Messiah. And they were just a small, small percentage of the vast number of Jews who were still practicing Temple worship in Jerusalem. These were those Jewish believers beginning from Christ’s earthly ministry and Pentecost. And now here we are seven or eight years later, and a great persecution has begun.
“…and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.”
Now these are the Jews that Peter and James and John are writing to, remember? They were all scattered except who? “the apostles.” I don’t think anybody ever reads that! Here most teachers and preachers have been trying to tell us (at least that’s the way I was taught for years and years) that Christianity began way back there at Pentecost, and the Twelve were out there ministering to the Gentiles. No they weren’t. This verse says they were still sitting tight in Jerusalem. They weren’t about to leave. Why? Because when the King comes, where is He coming to? Jerusalem.
My goodness, when the King comes, who wants to be out in Babylon? When the King comes, who wants to be in Spain? They were going to be right there when it happened and so they didn’t leave, in spite of intense persecution. They stayed right there at Jerusalem thinking that all this was going to be happening within a matter of a few years. Now back to I Peter chapter 4 again.
I Peter 4:13a
“But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings;…” Now, sure, Peter is referring to Jesus’ crucifixion. They knew that that was a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy. Psalms 22 is a clear picture and so is Isaiah 53. So it wasn’t that these Jewish believers didn’t know, now, that He had died for the sins of the world. But they did not knowPaul’s Gospel of salvation (which is that Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose again, and that you and I must believe for salvation) would go to the whole world without a part of Israel and Israel’s religion of Judaism. All right, so he’s referring back to the work of the cross, naturally.
I Peter 4:13
“But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” Well what’s he talking about? When Christ would come and set up His earthly Kingdom! Now let’s go back to the Old Testament. Go back to Zechariah chapter 12, because I want everyone to see how this is all in perfect accord with the Old Testament prophecies. And then we’re going to turn over to chapter 13.
“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced,(past tense) and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son,…” Now this is not a mourning as we would think of losing a loved one in death, but this is a mourning as the eleven sons of Jacob mourned, or rejoiced, when they were reunited with whom? Joseph. What did they do? My, they hung on his neck and they wept. Well it wasn’t a weeping like we would do when we lose someone in death, but it was a weeping of now being reunited with a loved one. And they just literally hung on his neck and wept tears of joy.
All right, I think you’ve got the same scenario here – when Israel as a nation will suddenly realize that this One in their midst is the One that had been crucified. And again, Peter is still talking in proximity of only a few years, remember. And they were expecting His soon return and all of this certainly fits, that they would see the One Whom they had pierced. They would mourn. They would have tears of rejoicing that the Messiah, the King, the Redeemer is alive and He’s in their midst:
“…and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. 11. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.” Now turn to Zechariah 13:6. This, again, is part and parcel of when He would return, and Israel would suddenly, as a nation, recognize Who He is.
“And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends,” Now we’re going to be careful. It wasn’t the Jews who actually carried out the wounding; it was the Romans. But it was in Jerusalem. It was in the house of the House of David. Okay, let’s go back once again to I Peter chapter 4 and we’ll pick up in verse 14.
I Peter 4:14a
“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ,…” That’s not hard to understand is it? That’s always been the case. The true believers were always hated and detested. All the way back into Israel’s history, the unbelieving, pagan worshipping Jews killed and detested those that were believers. My, you remember the parable that Jesus gave of the husbandman who planted a vineyard? Got it ready to go into production, leased it out and went into a far country.
He pretty well knew when that crop would be harvested and when his share of the crop would be due. So he sent his servants and what did the lease holders of that vineyard do to his servants? They killed them. You know the parable. And over and over every year he would send his servants and they would kill them. And then finally, he said, I’ll send my Son. Certainly they will reverence my son. What’d they do with the son? They killed Him also. And then of course, I always feel that Stephen is the epitome of the third person of the Trinity and that is what I always associate with the unpardonable sin of Israel. And when Stephen (full of the Holy Spirit, full of the Holy Ghost), throughout chapters 6 and 7 of Acts, appealed to the nation for the last time to recognize Who Jesus of Nazareth was, what did they do with Stephen? They killed him.
And so the parable was in regard to Israel – that Israel was the vineyard. Christ was the husbandman, and when He went to a far country and He sent His servants (those were the prophets of the Old Testament), they killed them. Then finally He sent the Son and they crucified Him. Then He sent Stephen who represented the Holy Spirit, and they stoned and killed him. And so Israel nationally rejected all three persons of the Trinity. Now verse 14 again.
I Peter 4:14
“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part (that is the persecutors, whether it was Jews or Romans)he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” Ring a bell? You know why the world in general hates our President? Because he makes no apology for his faith in Jesus Christ. Now, don’t expect him to preach Jesus Christ from the White House, he cannot. I don’t expect him to. He’s the President of a pluralistic society. But I have talked to several people who have met with him personally and he makes no apology for his faith and his trust. And I just have no reason to not pray for the man, day in and day out. But I don’t expect him to be an evangelist in the White House. I just can’t see that God expects it either. But, here we have that the world detests the name of Jesus Christ. We know they do.
So “…he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” Now, this is applicable for us just as it was for the Jews of Jesus’ day. The world should see Christ living in us wherever we go. All right now verse 15.
I Peter 4:15
“But let none of you (as believers) suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.” That’s not part of the believer’s lifestyle.
I Peter 4:16-17a
“Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, (now here the word ‘Christian’ is used by someone that you don’t expect to hear it from because Christians were usually associated with Paul’s Gospel, but here Peter uses the term for whatever reason and we can just take it as one who is Christ-like) let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 17. “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God:…” (Israel)
Now of course a lot of preachers and evangelists like to refer to the church as the house of God and, in a symbolic way, maybe that’s all right. But in its text here as it sits, Israel is the house of God. Israel was to be the example to the world. That was the whole purpose of God setting them apart and above – head and shoulders above all the rest of the world. They were to be the living example of the True God in the midst of an unbelieving world.
Now of course, that has been placed on you and I as members of the Body of Christ. But Peter is not addressing the Body of Christ. Peter is addressing only Jews. And so he says again: “The time has come that judgment (or God’s dealing now righteously) must begin at the house of God.” Now if this doesn’t make it clear I don’t know what can. Peter says:
I Peter 4:17b
“…and if it first begin at us….” And who’s the us? I’m trying to think of the old comic strip that says, “We’ve met the enemy and he is us.” But it’s just about the same thing. Who are the ones that are to be God’s example? Israel. They’re the ‘us.’ And so he says:
I Peter 4:17c
“… what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” Because if it can’t be shown through Israel, how in the world can the rest of the world measure up? Well, they can’t. And they didn’t and they won’t. See? Now verse 18.
I Peter 4:18
“And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Well I’ll tell you where they’ll appear. Turn back with me to Revelation chapter 20. This is where the non-believing element of the world is going to be. And that goes all the way back to the first registered unbeliever – Cain, until the last one at the end of the Kingdom. The last one and they’ll all be brought, before the Great White Throne in verse 11.
“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12. And I saw the dead, (that is the lost of all the ages) small and great, (whether they were just a slave in the bottom of a Roman ship, or whether they were kings and queens – makes no difference, they’re all going to) stand before God; and the books (plural) were opened: and another book (singular) was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead (the lost) were judged out of those things which were written in the books, (the daily record) according to their works. 13. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death, and hell delivered up the dead which were in them; and they were judged every man according to their works. 14. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. (or the spiritual death that is the eternal separation of lost mankind from their Creator) 15. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” All right, now come back if you will for just a second to chapter 20 and verse 10.
“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the last of fire and brimstone, where the beast (anti-Christ) and the false prophet are and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Now that’s what the Book says.