Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 68
BUT NOW – YOU ARE MADE NIGH – PART 1
Eph. 2:13; Eph. 4:20; Phil. 2:27
All right, we’re just an informal Bible Study. We’re going to continue on with the theme we’ve had for the last several programs, picking out some of the unique “But Now’s or But God or But When.” Our next one is going to be in Ephesians chapter 2. We’re going to drop in at verse 11. We’re going to look at the “But Now” in verse 13.
Remember our system of study has been to look at what goes before, what goes after, and what are the circumstances that prompted these verses. Keep all that in mind as we pick this apart.
“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12. That at that time ye (That is you Gentiles.) were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: (Now our key verse) 13. But now in Christ Jesus ye (now remember who we’re talking about – Gentiles) who sometimes (at one time) were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” In other words, it’s a whole different program.
All right, we’re going to go back and see where it really began that God would deal with the Nation of Israel solely on the basis of the Covenant Promises, and the fact that they were a favored nation and the rest of the race of humanity would go on without God.
Now, maybe we should recap a little bit. You want to remember that from Adam until Abraham you had basically one race of people – the Adamic race. Even though they began to go into segments with the three sons of Noah, yet basically, so far as Scripture is concerned, it was one Adamic race until we get to Abraham.
Now, I think I brought it out in my seminar up in Minnesota last week. Do you realize what a disaster that first 2,000 years was – spiritually speaking? It was a disaster! From the time of Adam you have a few believers in the line that replaced Abel, in the line of Seth. They were small in number. Then after 1600 years of human history, what was it? There were still only a few people left that God could even use to build the ark. After 1600 years – eight believers. I always emphasize that we have a doctrine of the remnant from cover to cover, but that’s the smallest of all, eight people out of probably four or five billion people on the planet.
Then the next great event comes along after the flood and the sons of Noah. 200 years later you’ve got another spiritual disaster – the Tower of Babel. Wherein there was not a living soul that was not involved in the pagan false worship that arose around Nimrod and the Tower of Babel. Well, then we go another 200 years, and I maintain that there was not a believing soul left on earth. So, God calls out Abraham and begins the Nation of Israel.
All right, as soon as we start the Nation of Israel, God lets the rest of humanity go like “Old Man River to the Sea.” And as we’ve already seen in verse 12, they were without a Messiah, without the promises, without covenants, without hope, and without God in the world.
Now, don’t ever come down on God and say you’re not fair. Because remember, those folks from Adam until Abraham had every opportunity to get right with God if they’d have wanted to. It wasn’t that God didn’t give them a chance, but that they would not. It’s just like today. The numbers aren’t much different. But humanity has never wanted to succumb to God’s will.
All right, now beginning with Abraham and the Nation of Israel, we have to delineate the human race into two segments. Now we’re going to have the Jew and the Gentile. Of course we know we’re also going to have saved and lost. But, for our lesson today, we’re going to look at the two components: Jews on the one side, Gentiles on the other.
All right, now I think we can go all the way back to Exodus and pick up pretty much the first time that we see God set Israel aside from the mainstream of humanity. That they are going to be a chosen nation, a favored nation, and they are going to be above all the other nations of the world. Exodus chapter 11 and let’s see, I want to drop in at verse 6. Now remember, we’re getting ready for the Exodus. Israel has been under bondage. Moses has been brought back by an act of God to be their leader and to take them out. So, we’re preparing for the first Passover.
“And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more.” Of course, that was the night when death hit the firstborn of everything in Egypt. But now look at verse 7. Here we have the power of God separating the Nation of Israel.
“But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a (What’s the word?) difference (God, starting here, is going to put a difference.) between the Egyptians and Israel.” Now, never forget that. Here, before they even come out and are set apart as a Nation of people, God has indicated that there’s going to be a line of demarcation between the Nation of Israel and the rest of the Gentile world. That will carry all the way on through even to the time of Paul, the apostle of Grace. Up until Paul is designated to go to the Gentiles, everything is going to be primarily to the Nation of Israel.
All right, now let’s come over a few pages, still in Exodus, and let’s come over to chapter 19. Now, these are all things that we’ve hit before. It’s a lot of review. But my goodness, I think we get at least one letter a day where it just admonishes us – repeat and repeat and repeat. Don’t ever stop repeating. So, bear with me for those of you who have been with me so long that we do, we repeat. I’m aware of that. I usually tell my Oklahoma classes not to accuse me of senility. I’m not quite senile yet. I repeat purposely, because that’s what it takes.
All right, Exodus 19 and again we usually like to drop in at verse 3, so that you get the situation. Israel is out of Egypt. They’ve come through the Red Sea. They’re gathered around Mount Sinai by their tribes, in complete organization, remember. Now, Moses goes up into Mount Sinai to confer with the Lord.
“And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; (Now, this is what God is telling Israel.) 4. Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. 5. Now therefore, (since God has dealt with them so intrinsically) if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye (the Nation of Israel.) shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people:…”
Now, where does that put the Jew? It puts them head and shoulders above all the other peoples of the world, by Divine decree. They can scoff and scorn at this all they want, but this Book is sure and it’s true, and we can trust it. All right, why could God do it? He gives us the reason. Next statement.
“…for all the earth is mine:” It’s His! Now, one of my listeners reminded me that I use the word Sovereign quite often and the word Sovereign isn’t in the Book. I didn’t realize that. But that doesn’t bother me a bit, because I still use it correctly. Sovereign just simply means He’s in total control. Well, this says the same thing: I can do whatever I want to do, because I am Sovereign and the earth is mine. Fair enough?
All right, now in light of that, as we looked at it not too many programs back, since God has now chosen this nation to be above all the other nations and tribes in the world, they are there for a particular role. That comes up in verse 6.
“And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” Now, there is where we have that demarcation between Israel and the rest of the Gentile world.
Now, by definition never forget that the Jew is always that nation of people that is connected to and came out of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the Twelve Tribes. That’s the Nation of Israel. Everybody else – the Arab world out of Ishmael and Esau, all the others – the Africans, the Orient, the Europeans, whatever their station in life – they’re Gentiles.
So, what’s a Gentile? Someone who’s not a Jew. Who’s the Jew? Someone that comes from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Remember to always keep that distinction.
Now, as we saw in Ephesians, the Jews put another nomenclature on it. They call the Gentile world the Uncircumcised. They referred to themselves as the Circumcised. Now there again, keep that distinction clear, because not too long ago I heard a preacher claiming that the uncircumcision was just simply a reference to the unsaved and the circumcision a recognition of the saved. Hogwash! That is totally destroying the definition. The Uncircumcised is the non-Jewish world, because even the Arab world practices circumcision. I trust you know that. The Muslim world practices circumcision. But that doesn’t make them a Jew. It doesn’t take them out of the category of Gentiles. So, always keep those terms perfectly clear in your mind.
All right, now then, since the Gentiles, all the way up through Israel’s history, were devoid of any of the spiritual promises given to Israel, it does not mean that God had completely forgotten about the Gentile world.
Come up with me to Isaiah 42, and we’ll see that God still has a program for the Gentile world. But until it’s time for Him to turn to the Gentiles, He’s going to deal only with the Children of Israel. The law was explicit that the Jews were to have nothing to do with the Gentile world around them. Of course, the main reason being that the Gentiles, beginning back there 200 years before Abraham, were already steeped in idolatry and mythology. God knew that if Israel did not maintain their separation, it wouldn’t be long and they would be embracing all the gods of the Gentile world. This of course is what happened. But that was His reason. You stay clear of these Gentiles lest you fall into the trap of their idols and their idolatry.
But, on the other hand, we always have to realize that God has still got a program out in the future for these pagan Gentiles. Isaiah 42 and drop in right at verse 1. Now, this is written about 700 years before Christ.
“Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; (So, we’re talking about a person. Of course, the person is the Messiah, the Christ.) I have put my spirit upon him: he (Israel’s Messiah) shall bring forth judgment (or righteous rule) to (What people?) the Gentiles.” So, God hasn’t forgotten about them. But they cannot come into the covenant promises. It is utterly against the mind of God. The covenants were given only to the Nation of Israel.
All right, keep your hand in Isaiah 42. Before we read another verse in Isaiah, I’m going to jump you all the way up to Acts chapter 11. Just to show you that the Jews never forgot that this was God’s program for their nation. Here we come to a point in time about seven years after Pentecost. Keep your hand in Isaiah, we’re going back there. Acts 11:19, seven or eight years after Pentecost, after where most of Christendom thinks that Christianity has already begun. Seven years later. No, it hasn’t. Scripture flies in the face of that concept. Here’s one of my favorite verses.
“Now they who were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose around Stephen…” Now, stop and think. Who were they? Well, the Jewish believers up there in the Jerusalem church who had not left off law keeping. They’re still temple worshiping. They’re still keeping the Jewish law of Saturday Sabbath and the food laws, but they had embraced Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah and became Jewish believers. They had become adherents of the Kingdom Gospel. Then when Saul of Tarsus came in and began that intense persecution, followed by others, of course, those Jewish believers had to flee for their life. They’re still Jews. They’re still tied to the Jewish law, but they had accepted Christ as Messiah. All right, now these are the Jews that we’re talking about in Acts 11.
“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, (Now watch it.) preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.” Oh, people don’t want to buy that. They don’t want to believe that. But that’s what the Book says! They would not even approach a Gentile but only Jews.
Now remember, there’s no New Testament. So, what was the Word? The Old Testament. So, on the basis of the Old Testament Scriptures, they were still trying to convince their fellow Jews that this Jesus of Nazareth, as Peter preaches in Acts 2, 3, & 4, that this Jesus whom they crucified was the promised Christ. That was the whole thrust of their message.
All right, since they had no concept of going to the Gentiles, I’ve got to bring you back to Isaiah to show that God did. But it was going to be in His own time. God did. All right, back to Isaiah 42 verse 6. All got it?
“I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, (Now, who are we talking about? The Nation of Israel. We’re talking about the Messiah up in verse 1, but now we’re talking about the Nation of Israel.) will keep thee and give thee for a covenant of the people, (For what purpose?) for a light of the Gentiles;” God hasn’t forgotten about the Gentile world. But it was going to be in His own time.
All right, now we can jump all the way up into Christ’s earthly ministry, chapter 9 of Matthew. Matthew chapter 9 and I mentioned to my class Monday night, the best way to understand the setting and the scenario of the four Gospels is to realize it’s just an extension of the Old Testament. Nothing has changed except that now the Messiah is in their midst. This is what all the Old Testament has been talking about for 2,000 years. That’s all. They’re still going to the Temple. They’re still bringing sacrifices. They’re still going to Saturday synagogue. Nothing has changed, but the Messiah is now in their midst. And what’s He proclaiming? That He’s the promised King. See?
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, (Not the Gospel of Grace. The Gospel of the Kingdom. And with it–) and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” All right, now come across to chapter 10. This is a verse that I use over and over to make the point that you cannot bring the Gentiles into God’s economy until we get to that other apostle, because Scripture won’t allow it. All right here it is. He’s just chosen the Twelve. Now drop down to verse 5.
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, (Go NOT.) and into any city of the Samaritans (Who were half-breeds, they were half Jew and half Syrian.) enter ye not: (Why?) 6. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Now, you can’t make it any plainer in any words of English that I know. They were to have nothing to do with the Gentile world. Just like coming out of Egypt they were to have nothing to do with the Egyptians. They were to have nothing to do with the Canaanites. All the way up through the Old Testament Israel was not to have any kind of social intercourse with the world around them. They were not to intermarry. They were not to get involved in their religions, because God wanted to keep them unto Himself.
All right, now let’s see when all of a sudden something drastically different happens. Now, for sake of time, we’ll go all the way up to Acts chapter 9. Remember what Jesus just told the Twelve, “Go not to the Gentiles.” In keeping with all the Old Testament covenants they were to have nothing to do with a Gentile. Now, look what God does. Out of the blue! This is what most of Christendom cannot see.
Out of the blue He’s going to do something totally different. I’m going to take you all the way past Saul’s conversion experience up to where the Lord is addressing Ananias in the city of Damascus. Ananias, according to Acts 22, was a devout Jew according to the Law. He was just like the Jerusalem church. He was a Jew who was a law-keeping Jew, but he had embraced Jesus of Nazareth as his Messiah.
All right, this man, Ananias, was scared to death when he heard that old Saul of Tarsus was coming to Damascus. We can pick that up all the way back in verse 10 of chapter 9. Acts chapter 9 verse 10, we pick up the flow here. We’ve had Saul confronted on the road to Damascus up there in verses 4 and 5, but now drop down to verse 10. While Saul is being stricken on the road outside the city gate, in the city–
“And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias;…” Now, whenever I see that word disciple I always have to stop, because I think the mentality of most believers, or church people, is that the disciples were one of the Twelve. Well, we’re not talking about the Twelve. When the word is used in this vein, it’s simply “a follower.” So, this Ananias was a follower of Jesus of Nazareth.
“And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 12. And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.” Now, watch Ananias’ response.
“Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14. And here (That is in Damascus.) he hath authority from the chief priest to bind all that call on thy name. 15. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he (Saul) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the (What?) Gentiles,…”
Now listen. I’ve emphasized it before, and I’ll repeat it again. To the Jew of Saul’s day and of Saul’s caliber, that word Gentile was as foul a word as you could spit off your lips. Yet it’s to that people that this man is going to be sent, contrary to everything he had ever heard before. Can you imagine how the man must have felt? Again, I think I always have to rehearse with people, why were the Jews so despising of these Gentiles?
Well, you’ve got to remember only the Nation of Israel had been given the laws of personal hygiene. The Jews knew personal hygiene. The Gentiles knew nothing. The Jews knew the perfect food laws, cleanliness, and all that went with it. The Jews had a biblical morality, of course based on the Law, the Ten Commandments. The Gentiles had none of that. They were pagan. They were idolaters. They were worshiping the gods and goddesses of mythology. It just flew in the face of a good Jew. Now do you get the picture? Jesus said, “Go not to a Gentile” to the Twelve. But to this man He says, “I am sending you far hence to the Gentile world.”