Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 4 * BOOK 61
ISAIAH 42:8 – 45:3 – Part 2
You in the studio audience have had your coffee at the break. For those of you joining us out there on television, I know a lot of you do as we do here. You grab your cup of coffee and then you go sit down and watch the program. We hear that over and over and over. But, the main thing is that you get what the Book has to say. If the coffee helps, so be it.
We’ve had many tell us that while studying with us they suddenly realize they had not previously believed in their heart that Jesus died for their sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, as Paul tells us to believe for salvation in I Corinthians 15:1-4. As a result of studying with us they have become true believers. So, praise the Lord for that.
Again, I want to thank our television folks. My, I just can’t put it into words how that without ever using any gimmicks, without ever begging or pleading for money for the ministry, it just keeps coming in and always covers what we need. We don’t have any great big bank balance, but the Lord just supplies it as we need it, so thank you from the bottom of our heart.
Okay, back into Isaiah chapter 44 where we were in the last lesson. I’m going to jump down to verse 24. We’ll skip a couple of verses here. But, remember now, that God is still pleading with Israel that He’s not going to give up on them. He’ll chastise them if He has to but He will never give up on them.
“Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb,…” In other words, Israel came about by God’s judicial decree when He called Abram out of the Ur of the Chaldees and gave him the Abrahamic Covenant. When He said in Genesis 12:1-3 “that I will make of thee a great (what?) nation.” That was God’s idea. It didn’t just happen by accident. They were by design brought out of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the Twelve Tribes.
“…he formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; (He’s the Creator of everything.) that stretchest forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;” He didn’t need any help! He speaks the Word and it accomplishes.
“That frustrateth the tokens of the liars and maketh diviners mad;…” (In other words, God can just totally foul up the works of Satan and his followers.) that turns wise men backward and makes their knowledge foolish;” My! Whenever I think of wise men made foolish, I have to think of the Apostle Paul when he confronted the intellectuals on Mars Hill and what’d they call him? The Babbler.
But, you know, as I’ve said over and over, whenever you go to Mars Hill and I hope it’s still there, (it was when Iris and I were there years back) there was a plaque to only one great famous figure who spoke on Mars Hill. It wasn’t Archimedes; it wasn’t Galileo or any of the other great Greek intellectuals. Who was it? It was Saul of Tarsus, the Apostle Paul. So, the babbler was the only one that history really made an account of. But see, here it is again, God can frustrate the work of the so-called intellectual community, because He is God.
“That confirmeth the word of his servant, (that is Israel) and performeth the counsel of his messengers;…” Now, there I have to think, what’s he referring to? The Word of God. This whole book comes from the pen of what people? Jews. Every one of them a Jew! Don’t ever buy the gimmick that Luke was a Gentile. He couldn’t have been. He had to be a Jew to be a writer of Scripture because it’s “God’s servant” that wrote the Word, as we see in Romans 3:1.
“…that saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited;…” Now, here’s a reference to when He has emptied them out for those seventy years of captivity and Jerusalem is a shambles, it’s empty, it’s lying waste. He’s going to bring Israel back.
“…Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, (after they come back) and I will raise up the decayed places thereof. 27. (I am the God. I’m putting that in now only for clarification.) That saith to the deep, be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers: “ If God wants the Euphrates to be dry, He’ll dry it up.
” (I am the God) That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure;…” Now, let’s stop a minute. From history, who was Cyrus? Well, he was the emperor of the Mede and Persian Empire that defeated the Babylonians. So, it was the Mede and Persian Empire that ruled the then known world, including Jerusalem. So, after the 70 years of captivity had run their course, the Medes and Persians was now the empire, it was no longer Babylon. God had decreed through one of the Jewish prophets over a hundred years before that this man Cyrus would be raised up to open the way for the Jew to come back.
You know, I think I made mention of this. I had someone call one time and say, “Why are you so adamant that the Bible is the only true Word of God?” Because the Bible is the only Word that proves itself. I used this analogy right here. I said, “There’s not another religious book on this planet, not a one, that can name people 150 years before they’re born. King Josiah was named 300 years before he was born. Here we have Cyrus named 150 years before he was born. No other book can do that. No other book can decree that the Jew would be scattered into every nation under heaven and then one day come back. No other book can give three hundred and some distinct prophecies concerning Christ’s first coming and all be fulfilled. Not a one.” So, we always have to be adamant and I am. There is no other Book besides this Book! It is the only Word of God. Everything else is counterfeit.
Everything else is by Satan’s design, not God’s. They can counterfeit it, but they can’t take its place. So, I love this reference to Cyrus and I’m going to use it to the hilt because here is a king, an emperor by God’s design, in the right place at the right time because the seventy years of the captivity have run their course. Israel has now been out of the land for 70 years. It’s time for the Jews to go back and rebuild the city and the Temple and get everything in place for the coming of the Messiah, some five hundred years later? By the time the Temple is rebuilt we’re down to 400 BC. And 400 years later, Messiah comes. All right, so let’s just look at this a minute. Verse 28:
“(I am the God) That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd,…” Now, this is unusual. No other Gentile is referred to as one of God’s shepherds. That’s amazing. But this man is. He is there by God’s design.
Some commentaries will actually depict Cyrus as a “type” of Christ because Christ is the true Shepherd and Cyrus is merely a “type.” Well, I can see where they’re coming from because, you see, what’s Cyrus going to do? Cyrus is going to set up the decree and make everything ready for the return of Israel to Jerusalem. Cyrus is going to be almost a Messiah of “type” because he’s making the way ready for Israel to return.
All right, let’s go back and pick this man Cyrus up in Ezra chapter 1. Now, while you’re doing that I can go to my timeline. Here we come to 606 BC. Nebuchadnezzar overruns Jerusalem and destroys the city and the Temple. Israel is taken out to Babylon for 70 years. The nation is completely out of the land. There may be a few stragglers left, but for the most part the land has been empty. All right, now, we’re at the end of the 70 years, which takes us down to 546 BC or something like that. Under Ezra a small contingent of Jews, 44,000 really, just a small tiny percentage are going to come back, and they’re going to be rebuilding the Temple.
Now, they have started rebuilding the Temple in about 546 BC. A hundred years later, about 446 BC or thereabouts, comes Nehemiah and Nehemiah’s instruction is under yet another Emperor called Artaxerxes the King, and we may look at that if we have time, who follows Cyrus, but he’s still an Emperor of the Medes and Persians. So, Ezra comes back to rebuild the Temple which takes almost 50-60 years and they dedicate it just shortly before Nehemiah comes back to rebuild the wall and the gates and so forth. All right, so by the time we get to 400 BC everything is now getting ready for the nation of Israel to be repopulated. The Temple is operating. The priesthood is in place for the coming of the Messiah. Everything has to be rebuilt and ready.
Now, we know that King Herod, in order to gain favor with the Jews, thought he could remodel and embellish the Temple that Ezra made because, after all, Ezra and his poor guys coming back from Babylon didn’t have a lot of expertise. So, it probably was not all that beautiful. So, King Herod thought, “Well, I’ll do a favor to the Jews,” and Herod was a builder. There’s nothing that Herod was known for more than being a fantastic builder. So, King Herod decided that the Temple Mount wasn’t big enough for the Temple complex he wanted to build so what did he do? He enlarged it. All right, now when King Herod decided to enlarge the Temple mount, even today if you’re going to enlarge a hillside what are you going to do to hold the dirt in place? Well, you’re going to build a retaining wall. That’s what Herod did. Herod built that huge retaining wall so that he could fill it with dirt and so forth and have more room for the Temple Complex. Now, that retaining wall is what you see in the news every so often – It’s now called the Wailing Wall. That’s not part of the Temple itself. It’s simply Herod’s retaining wall to hold the fill dirt. Got it?
Now then, with the Temple Mount enlarged, Herod could build a more beautiful, larger Temple Complex. That was the Temple that was in place when Jesus began His earthly ministry. That’s why the disciples were even proud of that beautiful Temple. They were almost braggadocio about it. Then, that’s why the Lord told them in Matthew 24, “See all these things, every stone will be thrown down one on top of the other,” which, of course, the Romans did forty years later, in 70 AD. But, all right, Ezra chapter 1 verse 1, they’ve been gone now for 70 years and everything is a shambles.
“Now in the first year of Cyrus the King of Persia, (same guy.) that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD, (Now, always remember that LORD is Jehovah, it’s God the Son.) stirred up the spirit of Cyrus the King of Persia, (Now, remember, who was Persia in biblical times? Present day Iran. Same country. Same people) that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it in writing, saying, 2. Thus saith Cyrus the King of Persia, the LORD God of heaven…” From a pagan king! See? But, I think Cyrus may have been a believer. I don’t think I’m being too far a field by saying that. He may have been an exceptional Gentile who became a believer.
“…The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; (the then-known world. Why did he succeed in every battle? Because God saw to it that he did.) and he hath charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. (Now, verse 3, so King Cyrus puts out the news to the whole Jewish community.) Who is there among you of all his people?…” Now, that’s Israel. He’s not asking the Persians, he’s asking Jews.
“Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD, the God of Israel, he is the God which is in Jerusalem. 4. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of this place help him with silver, gold, goods, beasts beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.” In other words, then, like now, if you’re going to go into a building project, what did it take? Money. It took money. It took goods. It took wherewithal. Things haven’t changed. It’s always been this way.
“Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all of them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.” Now, here they prepare to go.
And all they that were about them strengthened their hand with vessels of silver, and gold and goods and beast, precious things, besides that which was willingly offered. 7. Also Cyrus (this Gentile king) the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods.” You see why Nebuchadnezzar fell? He desecrated the Temple. He took all of the Godly things back to Babylon when he took Jerusalem and incorporated them into the pagan worship of the gods of Babylon. But Cyrus, you see, a servant of Jehovah, does just the opposite. He brings all of those things that were stolen from Jerusalem and takes them back to the building of the new Temple. Then, you get into chapter 2 and you have the number of people that will finally come forward and agree to go back to Jerusalem and start rebuilding the Temple.
All right, now then let me, while we’re here, just go on through Ezra. Go on to Nehemiah a minute where we were in our first program and stop in Nehemiah chapter 2. Now, this is many years later after the Temple has now been pretty much built, almost a hundred years, and now Nehemiah is a servant of the next king of the Medes and the Persians. It’s no longer Cyrus, who has already died and passed off the scene. So, here we are almost 100 years later in chapter 2 of Nehemiah, verse 1:
“And it came to pass in the month Nisan, (that is in April) in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king,…” Now, we’ve got a different king. Still the same empire, but this is probably a grandson or something of Cyrus.
“…that wine was before him: (he was serving wine before him) and I took up the wine, and gave it to the king. 2. Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is your countenance sad, seeing you are not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was sore afraid. 3. And I said to the king, Let the king live forever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, (Now, we’re not talking about the Temple, we’re talking about the city, the houses, the buildings, the wall for defense.) the place of my fathers sepulchers lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?” A hundred and seventy years! Why didn’t the Arab world go in there and fix it all up and have it going like everything and claim it themselves. Have you ever thought of that? They could have. No, they couldn’t have. God wouldn’t have let them!
But, nevertheless, when you hear the propaganda today that the Jews have no right to the land, that it’s the Arab’s homeland, it has always been their land, it’s always been a land of production, ignore it. No, it hasn’t! It was desolate! There was nobody building it up. The trash and the rubble the Babylonians had left 170 years earlier were still laying there. Amongst the trash they built the Temple up there on the mount, but the city itself is still in rubble. Now, reading on in verse 4.
“Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.” Now, he didn’t run to his closet. He didn’t run to someplace to get in private. Right before the king he prayed. Do you think he so much as moved his lips? Nope. How did he pray? Silently. He just prayed in thought. That’s what I always try to tell people. You don’t have to be in some special place to pray. You can pray anywhere. You don’t have to pray out loud. God reads your prayers.
“And I said to the king, If it please the king,…” And so on and so forth. Well, the same thing happens to Nehemiah as happened to Ezra. The king gives him letters to give him safe travel and to give him permission to use whatever he needed from the king’s forest to start rebuilding the city. All right, then you come down to verse 10, and here again we want you to understand that instead of the Arabs having rebuilt everything, instead of everything all nice and ready for the Jews like the Canaanites had done hundreds of years earlier, they haven’t lifted a stone! They haven’t picked up a piece of wood. It’s rubble everywhere.
“So when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, (now what are those? Those are Arabs) heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.” Has anything changed? Nothing.
“So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days.” All right, now for sake of time, I’m going to jump you all up to verse 17. Now, Nehemiah says:
“Then I said unto them, (that is to the Jews who are going to help build the city and the wall) You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth (what?) waste…” , I’m going to make the point if nothing else by repetition, repetition, repetition. How many years has it been laying waste? A hundred and seventy or more! Now, look, read on, the language.
“…and the gates are burned with fire: (They’re not closable. There were no walls to protect even the builders of the Temple. So, Nehemiah says) come let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.” Now, I made the point somewhere when I was teaching that back in antiquity what was the first real line of defense for a city? The wall. That was the only thing they had. They didn’t have the technology that we’ve got today. The wall was their first line of defense. If you were a city without a wall, you were almost a reproach. So, that’s what Nehemiah has said, “We can’t be a reproach in the midst of these people. We have to get the wall built.” So, they begin. Now, verse 18.
“Then I told them of the hand of my God (See His Sovereignty? Everything is accomplished because of the Sovereignty of Israel’s God.) who was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.” But, verse 19, here comes opposition from the Arabs again.
“But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah his servant the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, when they heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us and they said, What is this thing that you do? Will you rebel against the king?” They didn’t know that the king was the one that brought it about.
“Then I answered and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but you have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.”
That’s what the Word of God says. Yet, the world tonight can’t read can they? They just can’t put it together.