Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 2 * BOOK 63
THE PRAYER OF THE REMNANT – PART 2
ISAIAH 63:7 – 66:24
Okay, once again, we’re ready to go for another half-hour program. For those of you joining us on television, we would like to thank you. We just can’t get over how you support us financially and with your prayers, and with your letters. What an encouragement to read your letters. Yesterday, one letter just stood out about how our program and our teaching had transformed their whole household. Well, what else can you expect but to let the Word do its work?
All right, now we’re going to pick right up where we left off in the last lesson. In that lesson I kind of digressed more than I intended, and we only got one or two verses, so we’re going to jump back in at verse 8 of Isaiah 63. But I want to remind you that the whole half-hour we just spent was to show that God always keeps a remnant. Even in ancient Israel, the whole nation certainly was not obedient believers. The vast majority was anything but. If you doubt me, go back and read your Old Testament. But in the midst of them, they still had that remnant of true believers. So it is today. Just because the church is full and seemingly vibrant and is making a lot of headway numbers-wise doesn’t mean that they’re all believers, because many have never placed their faith in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection for their salvation.
I’ve given the illustration that years back, when we were in Genesis, I ordered a book from one of the Lutheran seminaries. A Lutheran theologian wrote it. It was just simply called The Flood. I’ve never gotten over the analogy he drew, I’ve repeated it before, and I’m going to repeat it again. This is so typical, I think, of what we’re seeing, especially today, with these huge mega-churches – full of a lot of excitement seemingly but how much of the truth of the Word?
But anyway he said this, “When Noah and those three sons were building that humongous ark, which remember was longer than a football field (450 feet long), and it was three stories high. It stands to reason they probably had to hire extra help.” “But,” he said, “When the flood came, were any of those extra workers in the ark? No. They had no concern. Even though they’d helped build it.” Then he took it one step further, and this is sobering. He said, “How many church people are busy, busy, busy. Singing in the choir, teaching Sunday School, giving, doing everything, but they’re not in the ark.” You know, that’s frightening. They have all the “churchianity” in the world, but they have no saving grace. This is why we try to constantly emphasize that it isn’t the work that you do, but rather it’s the faith that you have in what Christ has already done.
All right, now the same way in Israel. There was that small element that was true believers, not just worshippers. All right, jump in at verse 8. Now remember, this is the element that we’re dealing with, this little remnant of believers, but we’re picturing them in the closing days of the age or in the final days of the Tribulation. This is what we’re really referring to over and over throughout these final chapters – verse 8.
“For he said, (that is the Lord) Surely they (this remnant) are my people,…” Now you remember what the verse said in our last program. In Romans chapter 11 especially, what would God say? “They are my people.” Now he doesn’t say that concerning Israel today. They are out there in unbelief. And although He’s certainly in control, He’s got them where He wants them, yet they are not a nation of believers, they are not what God will yet call “My people.”
“For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their (what?) Saviour.” They were true believers. So, even back in the Old Testament economy, where salvation is far different than what you and I understand, He was their Savior. Next verse:
“In all their affliction (Now, Israel has always gone through a constant time of persecution and affliction, but in all their affliction…) he was afflicted,…” That is, He suffered with them. In fact, do you remember, I think I mentioned it in our last taping which was shortly after the Tsunamis over there in Asia, that God does not precipitate these tragic events, Satan does.
Now, God permits it, but Satan is the one who moves and shakes these things. But why does Satan bring so much turmoil and suffering on the human race when he’s already got them under his control? Because Satan knows it hurts the heart of God. God doesn’t enjoy seeing those thousands being washed away. It tears at His heart, even in their unbelief. So, this is what it’s saying here, as Israel was suffering affliction, who was suffering with them? God was.
“In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he (what?) redeemed them;…” Now, you want to remember the whole book of Exodus is really a picture of what? Redemption. Redemption is buying something back that you have previously owned. Well, I haven’t got time to go into all the applications, but nevertheless, when the brothers sold Joseph down into Egypt it was the sin that broke the fellowship between him and the brothers. So, the whole process of redemption had to begin, and that, of course, was bringing them back out of Egypt 200 and some years later.
“…he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. (In other words, up through their ancient history, the days of antiquity.) 10. But (in spite of all of His love and grace) they rebelled,…” In unbelief. They didn’t want to be collared by godliness and spirituality. They wanted to live the life of the flesh.
“…and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their (what?) enemy, and he fought against them.” Consequently, again, He used Babylon and He used the Syrians and He used other nations to be their tormentors.
“Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his Holy Spirit within him? 12. That led them by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name?” Now, every time I consider the parting of the Red Sea by Moses and the Children of Israel walking over on dry ground, I just have to mull over to myself how many of the current world’s population believe that really happened? Well, I don’t know, but I’ve got a pretty good idea – not many.
I think in the minds of most people, that’s just another legend, that’s another myth that was concocted around the campfire – but it happened. It is something that takes some faith. Yes, the water of the Red Sea parted. Now, I have one favorite portion of Scripture to prove that. Turn back with me to Joshua. If there’s any in my listening audience that may be of that persuasion, that this is just Jewish legend, that these things didn’t really happen, yes, they did! Physically. Physically, the waters of the Red Sea were parted, and Israel walked through on dry ground.
Come back with me to Joshua chapter 2 and verse 9. The spies have now confronted Rahab on the wall of Jericho. This is only a few years after – it’d be a little over forty years, because this is after the wilderness experience. They’re now coming into Israel from the east side of Jordan, and they confront Rahab on the wall of Jericho. This is what Rahab, the Jerichoite, says to these Jewish spies.
“And she said unto the men, I know (She’s not going by hearsay.) that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. (Now, here it comes.) 10. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt;” Now listen, Jericho wasn’t that far from Egypt.
This wasn’t something halfway round the world that they had picked up by hearsay and legend. No, this was front-page news, if you want put it that way. Here, the God of Israel opened up the waters of the Red Sea, and that nation of several million people walked through, not through the mud but on dry land. It was an established fact in ancient history that this is what God did when He brought Israel up out of Egypt. So, never doubt it – not for a moment. This is not just some legend or some myth. This is actual historical fact. All right, Isaiah 63 once again, and reading verse 13.
“That led them through the deep, as an horse in the wilderness, that they should not stumble?” Now, that’s a play on words that the average reader will never get. Like I’ve pointed out, I think in our last taping, in the Middle East what’s the wilderness? Desert. What’s desert? Flat. I’ll never forget our trip down to Petra. Remember that? Oh, just flat for miles and miles and miles. Well, for a horse and rider what is that? Hey, that’s smooth going. That’s smooth going compared to going through the rocks and canyons of a mountainous area. So, this is the picture now, the horseman in the wilderness in the Middle East is riding without fear of stumbling or rocks or whatever like that, and this is the God who led them as someone riding on horseback on a flat desert table. Then, “they should not stumble.” But, on the other hand, verse 14, we have another picture and it’s:
“As a beast goeth down into the valley,…” Now, why do beasts go down into the valleys of a terrain? What’s down there? Water! So, these are the analogies that you’ve got to look for. God brought them out just like a horseman riding on the desert, but He took care of them like animals going down to the cool water of a mountain stream.
“…the Spirit of the LORD caused him to rest: so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name.” Now, this is really a prayer, you see, on behalf of this small little remnant who recognized who the God of Israel really was.
“Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory: where is thy zeal and they strength, the sounding of thy bowels (innermost being) and of thy mercies toward me? are they restrained? (Now, in the next verse there’s an interesting statement, again, that the casual reader will just slip over.) 16. Doubtless thou art our father,…” Now, did unbelieving Israel think that? Let me show you. Come back to John’s gospel.
Now, I like to jump into the New Testament as often as I can, because I don’t want someone to accuse me of staying in the Old Testament – John’s gospel chapter 8 verse 39. The Pharisees are now confronting Jesus and ridiculing Him. They’re scorning Him.
“They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father.” So, they really didn’t understand God the Creator of everything as their Father. They ridiculed Christ when He claimed to know the Father and was the Father. I think I had a couple of other verses on my mind, but that should suffice. They knew nothing of God as their Father. They recognized Abraham as their father, and they were religious on that basis. But to have God as their Father; they knew nothing of it. All right, verse 16 again, back in Isaiah 63. So, the believing element can claim God as Father.
“Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not:…” Now, there again, what does that tell you? How did the rank and file of Israel feel about the true believers? They detested them. They’re nothing but negatives. They’re holding everything back. They’re not progressive. Sound familiar? Yeah, it does. It’s no different today. So it’s always been that the true believer was considered a stumbling block to progress.
“…thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; (See, there’s that word again, the One who purchased their salvation.) thy name is from everlasting. 17. O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.” Now, you see, way back here Isaiah is prophesying how the remnant at the end-time, that we looked at in the last half-hour, will be waiting for the return of Christ to establish His Kingdom. So they can pray, “Return.” But, did the unbelieving element want that? No. That’s the last thing they wanted.
In fact, this always brings up a question. Go back with me, I hope I don’t get myself in trouble here. I should probably look up where I was in Psalms, but anyway, go back with me to Acts chapter 7. Here we have the account of Stephen. He’d just finished his great dissertation condemning the nation of Israel, and then you come down to verse 54, Acts 7. I hope you’re catching my analogy. This is going to be the attitude of the masses of Israel compared to that remnant that will be spared and are waiting for the Lord to return – much like the unbelieving element confronting Stephen.
“When they heard these things, (That is from Stephen.) they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55. But he, (Stephen) being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,” Oh, that throws a curve at everybody. Why did Stephen see Jesus standing when all the rest of Scripture says, “He sat down at the right hand of the Father on high?” Well, if He’s going to return, what does he have to do from the seated position? Well, He has to stand. Was Israel ready for that in Stephen’s day? No. Now, flip back to Psalms 68, and this will show you why. Oh, they didn’t want Christ to return. That’s the last thing they wanted. But the remnant did.
“Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: (Why? Because when He stands from that seated position, He’s going to come in judgment first before He brings in the blessings of the Kingdom.) let them also that hate him flee before him.” Now, we showed that so graphically in our last set of four programs. My, when He returns He’s going to be as if stomping on the masses of humanity so that the blood is splattered on His raiment. It was compared to what? The grapes in a grape vat. Remember? All of Scripture draws that analogy that He’s going to return in wrath against His enemies, but it’ll be the greatest blessing on earth for the remnant of believing Israel who will be waiting for His coming.
“As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.” (That is his Second Coming.) 3. But (What about the righteous? They’re going to be glad.) let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice. 4. Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens, by his name JAH (Jehovah), and rejoice before him.” Now, that’s the exuberance of the remnant at the return of Christ. But the majority of Israel? No. They don’t want Him to return. They aren’t ready for Him. So, always remember these things, that the Second Coming will be wrath and vexation on the unbelieving world, but for that remnant of Israel it’s to be the culmination of all the prophetic Scriptures.
All right, back to Isaiah, we’ve got a couple of minutes left, Isaiah 63 verse 17. The last part again:
“Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.” See, the believers wanted Him to return. Now, don’t forget the setting. This is the Tribulation remnant that is waiting for His sudden return.
“The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries (Now this, of course, is a reference to the Babylonians as well as the Romans.) have trodden down thy sanctuary. (I feel it’s a reference to the temple. But, the little remnant of Israel can claim…) 19. We are thine: (Why? Because of their faith God has redeemed them. They are a believing remnant.) thou never barest rule over them; they (That is the adversaries.) were not called by thy name.” It’s so obvious now that this is the prayer and the expectation of the remnant.
Now, I think we can go right on into 64 because, after all, the chapter breaks were not in the originals, and it reads just as well without the chapter heading. So, it’s that same remnant that continues in this prayer of exultation.
“O that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down,…” Now, I think we did this in one of our last programs. Israel is waiting for Christ to come down. Turn with me to I Thessalonians chapter 4, and we’ll see the opposite effect for you and I and the Body of Christ. I Thessalonians chapter 4 and this is what we have to do. A lot of people try to put everything into one basket. No, you don’t ever do that. You just keep separating the Scriptures. The Old Testament believers expected God to come down. He’s going to stand on the Mount of Olives. He’s going to set up His throne in Jerusalem, and He’s going to give them an earthly Kingdom. But you and I, we’re going the other direction.
I Thessalonians 4 and I’m going to read them all again, because everyday we get letters from people who have just caught the program for the first time. You know, yesterday a lady called and she ordered something and I said, “Well, how long have you been listening?” One program! That’s unbelievable – one program. So, we have to constantly keep them in mind as we repeat and repeat and repeat. All right, here’s Paul’s take on what the Church or the true Church, the Body of Christ, is looking for shortly (7 years) before Israel looks for Him to come down into their midst at the end of the Tribulation. Now, it’s the same way with the two Jewish ladies grinding at the mill, one will be taken, the other left. Well, that’s not the rapture. The one taken in that case is the unbeliever. They’re going to be removed from the scene and the believer will be left, that is in the Tribulation, having received salvation through the preaching of the 144,000, but for the church age believer it’s just the opposite.
I Thessalonians 4:13-15a
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, (Who have physically died.) that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, (In other words, we believe Paul’s Gospel for salvation.) even so them also which sleep (have died) in Jesus will God bring with him. 15. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord…” See how plain that is?
Now, Israel would say the coming of the Lord is down to them. He’s going to come to the Mount of Olives. Zechariah 14 says it. Acts 1 says it. He’s going to stand on the Mount of Olives when He comes. But for us in the Body of Christ, He’s not going to come to the planet. He’s going to only come to the air!
I Thessalonians 4:15b-17
“…shall not precede (or go ahead of) them which are asleep (who have died). (This is the reason.) 16. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17. Then we which are alive and remain (We’re still in our everyday livelihood.) shall be (what?) caught up together with them in the clouds, (He’s not going to be brought down to our midst, we’re going to be caught up.) to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Well, that’s the beginning of eternity for us.
For Israel, it’s the beginning of the Kingdom here on earth, which will come seven years later at Christ’s Second Coming to the earth, at the end of the Tribulation. There will be a thousand years of glorious rule and reign, by their King, their Messiah, and their Redeemer.
But for us it’s already the beginning of the eternal state. We’re getting closer and closer every day. How we long for, as Paul puts it, to escape this old tabernacle of the flesh, with all of its disappointments and its pain and its suffering. One day we’re going to have that glorious new body like His resurrected body and not just for the thousand years, but for all eternity. But Israel…Israel is looking for the Messiah to come down from heaven into their midst and to set up the promised Kingdom.