Through the Bible with Les Feldick, Book 9
LESSON ONE * PART I
TABERNACLE SET-UP; DESCRIPTION OF MATERIALS: CHRIST; HIGH PRIESTLY WORK:
We hope that you will get your Bible and join in with us today. I've
said so often, we don't try to convince you that you're wrong and we are right.
But all we like to do is get people interested in Bible study and to be able to
read and understand what The Word really says. People have told me they never
watch religious programming on television, but that they just happened to stop
and watch ours and have gotten hooked. But always remember that nothing
happens accidentally, not when the Lord is in it.
Let's go to the little Book of Ruth for a moment and look at the word
"hap" here in Chapter 2. This word is so appropriate, and it is an
interesting little word. Ruth has come back from Moab, with her mother-in-law
Naomi. As the story unfolds, she ends up, of course, marrying Boaz. And that
puts her in the genealogy of Christ in Matthew Chapter 1. But look what had to
"And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of
wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz. And Ruth the
Moabitess said unto Naomi, `Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn
after him in whose sight I shall find grace.'" (In other words she didn't
know where she was going.) And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field
after the reapers: and her (And what is that next word?) hap..."
Now it is just "hap" in the King James at least, from which we get our
word happen. It just happened. I looked this up a long time ago in my
Hebrew dictionary out of the Strong's. The word means accidentally,
something that was not expected. But you see on the other hand, does anything
happen accidentally when it is in God's doing? No. So Ruth, from her point of
view, did not just say, "Well, I'll go and reap in Boaz's field." She just at
random stopped, but it was her "hap" to land in the very field where she
had to be to meet her future husband, which in turn put her in the genealogy of
Another interesting word just comes to mind. Come all the way back to John's
Gospel Chapter 4. Sometime when I get on a line of thought like this, I just
can't help but chase them down. One of the things that makes the Word so
exciting and interesting is when you really get involved in a study of it. All
of you have heard sermons on John 4, and here we have Jesus meeting the woman
at the well. Now Jesus full well knew what was ahead. Whether it was an hour
or eternity. And so as they were heading up to Galilee, instead of
circumventing Samaria, as all the good Jews did, Jesus insisted, "This time we
go through Samaria." And as He gets to the well (Jacob's well), He sends His
disciples on into town, so they won't be around to cause any controversy.
After all, they were not supposed to talk to a Samaritan. So Jesus sits down
on the well and waits. Now who comes and, as far as she is concerned, meets
him accidentally? The woman of Samaria. But it wasn't accidental. The Lord
knew He would meet this lady. So let's pick it up in Chapter 4:
"And he must needs go through Samaria."
Then in verse 8, He sends the disciples into the city to buy food, but back in
verse 7, while He is waiting at the well, what happens?
"There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith
unto her. `Give me to drink.'"
You all know the result of all of that. She recognized Him as the Messiah, and
ran into town and shared the news.
Let me share one more, and it too will have that same bearing. Nothing just
accidentally happens when God is in the picture. Come back with me to Acts 16.
Again it was a divine appointment. There is no doubt about it. Here we find
the seller of purple, Lydia, on the European Continent, as Paul has come across
from Asia Minor as a result of the Holy Spirit giving him that vision to go
over into Macedonia. In verse 13 we find:
"And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side,
where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women
which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of
the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: Whose heart the Lord
Now isn't that beautiful? If Paul had not come to that particular riverside
park, on that particular Sabbath day, she would have never heard the Word. She
accidentally was, from her point of view in the right place, at the right time.
But always behind it is the Sovereign God. So when you folks in our television
audience say, "I accidentally ran across your program, and I've gotten
interested in Bible study," remember it's not accidental. The Lord is in it
from start to finish. Now back to Exodus where we left off last lesson. We
have the Tabernacle diagrammed on the board.
TABERNACLE SET-UP; DESCRIPTION OF MATERIALS: CHRIST; HIGH PRIESTLY WORK: KADESH-BARNEA
We hope that you will get your Bible and join in with us today. I've said so often, we don't try to convince you that you're wrong and we are right. But all we like to do is get people interested in Bible study and to be able to read and understand what The Word really says. People have told me they never watch religious programming on television, but that they just happened to stop and watch ours and have gotten hooked. But always remember that nothing happens accidentally, not when the Lord is in it.
Let's go to the little Book of Ruth for a moment and look at the word "hap" here in Chapter 2. This word is so appropriate, and it is an interesting little word. Ruth has come back from Moab, with her mother-in-law Naomi. As the story unfolds, she ends up, of course, marrying Boaz. And that puts her in the genealogy of Christ in Matthew Chapter 1. But look what had to happen first:
"And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, `Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace.'" (In other words she didn't know where she was going.) And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her (And what is that next word?) hap..."
Now it is just "hap" in the King James at least, from which we get our word happen. It just happened. I looked this up a long time ago in my Hebrew dictionary out of the Strong's. The word means accidentally, something that was not expected. But you see on the other hand, does anything happen accidentally when it is in God's doing? No. So Ruth, from her point of view, did not just say, "Well, I'll go and reap in Boaz's field." She just at random stopped, but it was her "hap" to land in the very field where she had to be to meet her future husband, which in turn put her in the genealogy of Christ.
Another interesting word just comes to mind. Come all the way back to John's Gospel Chapter 4. Sometime when I get on a line of thought like this, I just can't help but chase them down. One of the things that makes the Word so exciting and interesting is when you really get involved in a study of it. All of you have heard sermons on John 4, and here we have Jesus meeting the woman at the well. Now Jesus full well knew what was ahead. Whether it was an hour or eternity. And so as they were heading up to Galilee, instead of circumventing Samaria, as all the good Jews did, Jesus insisted, "This time we go through Samaria." And as He gets to the well (Jacob's well), He sends His disciples on into town, so they won't be around to cause any controversy. After all, they were not supposed to talk to a Samaritan. So Jesus sits down on the well and waits. Now who comes and, as far as she is concerned, meets him accidentally? The woman of Samaria. But it wasn't accidental. The Lord knew He would meet this lady. So let's pick it up in Chapter 4:
"And he must needs go through Samaria."
Then in verse 8, He sends the disciples into the city to buy food, but back in verse 7, while He is waiting at the well, what happens?
"There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her. `Give me to drink.'"
You all know the result of all of that. She recognized Him as the Messiah, and ran into town and shared the news.
Let me share one more, and it too will have that same bearing. Nothing just accidentally happens when God is in the picture. Come back with me to Acts 16. Again it was a divine appointment. There is no doubt about it. Here we find the seller of purple, Lydia, on the European Continent, as Paul has come across from Asia Minor as a result of the Holy Spirit giving him that vision to go over into Macedonia. In verse 13 we find:
"And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: Whose heart the Lord opened,..."
Now isn't that beautiful? If Paul had not come to that particular riverside park, on that particular Sabbath day, she would have never heard the Word. She accidentally was, from her point of view in the right place, at the right time. But always behind it is the Sovereign God. So when you folks in our television audience say, "I accidentally ran across your program, and I've gotten interested in Bible study," remember it's not accidental. The Lord is in it from start to finish. Now back to Exodus where we left off last lesson. We have the Tabernacle diagrammed on the board.
Nothing professional; it is just simply hand drawn. I'm always reminded not to make this program professional. A gentleman told me again the other day, "Les don't you ever change a thing, just keep on doing things the way you are doing them." Now, before we move on into the Book of Leviticus, please turn to Exodus 40. Remember we are still in the first 12 month period of time, since they left Egypt. They have been gathered around Sinai. In the last lesson we studied how all of these materials used for the Tabernacle had been brought in by the people of Israel. All of this has been put together now by craftsmen. And the Tabernacle is now ready to be erected:
"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, `On the first day of the first month (it has been a year since they left Egypt.) shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation. And thou shalt put therein the ark of the testimony, and cover the ark with the vail.'"
And then he instructs all they should do. They have made everything functional. They have set up the tabernacle and all the furnishings are in it. Now let's come down to verse 33:
"And he reared up the court (that linen wall) round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work."
So the whole tabernacle complex is now complete and it is ready for the institution of their worship:
"Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD (Jehovah) filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, (remember only the priest will be able to do that) because the cloud (the very presence of God, it's called the Shekinah glory also) abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle."
Now remember this is the same cloud that made it's first appearance way back when the children of Israel were coming out of Goshen, and were encamped on the shores of the Red Sea. That cloud was what protected them from the onslaught of the Egyptians. To the Egyptians it became black darkness. And to the Jews, it became their protection, and at night became the pillar of fire. Now it rests over the Holy of Holies, in which is the Ark of the Covenant. Now verse 36, and this is now looking forward:
"And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys:"
This tells you that cloud rested there day and night. But when God intended for the Nation of Israel to pick up and move, they would take down the tabernacle (and remember everything in the tabernacle was made so that it could be moved. They had rings in them where staves could be used to lift.). And then they would move until the cloud stopped. And when the cloud stopped, that is where they would set the tabernacle up, and Israel would encamp. Now remember there was intense organization. This wasn't a haphazard deal at all. And as I pointed out before, the twelve tribes are all encamped in order around the perimeter of the tabernacle.
"But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys."
Get the timing here; get the chronology. This is on the first of April, at the end of just 12 months, coming out of Goshen. Now if you will turn with me to the Book of Numbers Chapter 10. We will skip Leviticus for now, and come back to it in our next lesson. So many people lose sight of time. The first thing we think of is the Tabernacle is set up, the priesthood is set, and the sacrifices have begun. People think they must have sat there a long time, before God decided it was time to move. We are creatures of habit. I know I am, and those of us that are associated with livestock, the first thing we think of is the supply of grass and water. Remember the children of Israel had multitudes of cattle, goats, and sheep. So I guess what I would think of is as soon as the Lord realized that their grass was running out, it would be time to move out to new pastures. So we naturally think it was a long time. Do you know how long it was from the time they set up the Tabernacle the first time until God moved it again.
"And it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month,..."
That would be seven weeks. That is not very long is it? In fact I'll bet those workman almost said, "But LORD, we just got through putting that thing up." So remember it was from the 1st of April till the 20th of May; then they pick it up and move. Where are they headed? They are headed for the Promised Land. So they will be heading due north in order to be ready to go in and occupy the land of milk and honey. I wanted you to get a picture of that. That the old Tabernacle wouldn't stand there for very long, till God said "Alright it's time to move on." And move they did.
So as we close the Book of Exodus let's make a quick review of this Tabernacle most people don't get it all the first time, but a least it will give you an impact of how every detail of this whole Tabernacle is a picture of Christ and His work of the Cross. The last time we started as the Scripture did, with the Ark of the Covenant, and that is because everything from God's point of view moves from Him out to mankind. But we are going to reverse the order now, and move from outside the outer court and end up then at the Ark of the Covenant. Now this outer fence was constructed of pure white linen. The framework of that fence (I guess we would call it the post and boards and so forth that stabilized it) was made of wood, covered with gold. Then those posts were set in sockets were brass. Now of course the white linen depicted the very righteousness of Christ, and was nine feet tall. And the picture is that the common person could not look in on the things of God. And that is still true.
Here again we must realize that as I pointed out in the last lesson, it is only as we become in-Christ, that we begin to appreciate all of these things. To the outsider it is of no interest. So that white linen fence kept anyone from looking in on these things that were taking place. Remember that fence is 150 feet long. 75 feet wide. That is half the length of a football field. And so as you come around to the east, here was a gate that was 30 feet wide. And that gate was comprised of a curtain, again of fine linen, but not white. This curtain, since it is the gate, and remember, who is the gate? Who is the door to the sheepfold? It's Christ. So this linen curtain is comprised of the four colors that are shown throughout the Tabernacle. And again, all depict Christ. They are blue, which speaks of His heavenly origin. The purple speaks of His royalty. The red which speaks of His sacrifice. And the pure white, again, speaks of His righteousness and holiness. So this gate at the outer fence was constructed of those four colors. Now as you move in toward the little tent that sits in the middle, the first thing that you come to, of course, is the brazen altar. That brazen altar is constructed again of that desert wood (Acacia), covered with brass. And that is why it is called a brazen altar. Now all through Scripture, brass always speaks of judgment. Remember when Israel was dying from the snake bites? What kind of a serpent did God tell Moses to erect. A brazen serpent, and it judged their sins as they would look at it. The Cross, what was the reality of the work of the Cross? Sin was judged.
And so everything with respect to judgment of sin will be denoted with the metal, brass. So the altar here where the sacrifices were committed was a brazen altar. Wood covered with brass. Now as we move to the next little piece of furniture between the brazen altar and the opening into the little tent, was the laver of cleansing. We referred to that in the last lesson, and after reviewing the lesson in John 13:4-11, I was distraught. If only I could have had two more minutes, I could have made my point in that teaching. But nevertheless, as the priest would come away from the brazen altar, he would have to stop at the laver of cleansing. It was made of brass from the women's looking glasses, filled with water, and the whole idea was, that as the priest would look at that looking glass, what would he immediately see? His need for cleansing. Then he would wash his hands and feet and so forth at that laver of cleansing. Do you see how all of this speaks of the finished work of Christ?
You know when Jesus was washing the disciples feet in John's Gospel Chapter 13, and old Peter came along, and said "Thou shalt never wash my feet." And what did the Lord say, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." What was Peter's answer? "Lord give me a bath" And then the Lord responded by saying "Peter, you and the others (Except Judas) you've been washed, you have your salvation. But by the very fact that you are in this sin-filled earth, what is happening in our daily walk? We are being defiled, we are getting our feet dirty. And that was the whole lesson in foot washing. And then we went into Ephesians where Paul speaks of a daily cleansing, not with water, but with the washing and cleansing with The Word. All through Scripture, you still have that apparent need of cleansing even for the believer. We are left here in this old world of defilement.
And so that is the lesson for us today; that although we have been saved and washed, we still need that daily cleansing. We don't get it by foot washing but by simply saturating ourselves in the The Book. You don't just get it from one or two hours of worship on Sunday, but the cleansing aspect as well as the feeding aspect of The Word is seven days a week. We don't just eat once a day or once a week, and you don't clean up just once a week. We cleanse constantly. And we must approach the spiritual the same way. Just as soon as we recognize a sin or failure, what does God want us to do with it? Confess it. You don't have to beg forgiveness, you have already been forgiven the Scripture says. But, though we have been forgiven and cleansed, we need confession. The Lord wants us to realize that we have sinned. And we can call it what He calls it. And so consequently it says in I John:
I John 1:9
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
So the priest would then go from the brazen altar. His next stop would be the laver of cleansing, which had the looking glass affect plus the water; so as he saw his physical need for cleansing, he would take care of it by washing his hands and feet. Then he would be ready to go on in to the little tent and accomplish the daily service. The ordinary priest served in rotation. They only went as far as that first room. It was only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, that the High Priest would go any further. But in the daily ministration, the priest would only go as far as the sanctuary.
LESSON ONE * PART II
TABERNACLE SET-UP; DESCRIPTION OF MATERIALS: CHRIST; HIGH PRIESTLY WORK: KADESH-BARNEA
As we study these lessons together, we trust that each of you will follow these references with us, because we don't want anyone to go by what we say. We just trust you will be able to see with your own eyes what the The Book really says. And, after all, it is the most thrilling piece of literature on the planet. So we encourage people to get it off the shelf and start studying it.
Let's get back to The Book now. In our last lesson we were talking about the furnishings in the Tabernacle and had gotten as far the laver of cleansing. During the break time, someone came up and said, "Now you have 12 tribes around the perimeter, and Levi makes 13." He is so right and I didn't make a point of it. You want to remember that, as the 12 tribes came together, Joseph was in the 12, but Joseph isn't up here on the board with the rest. What happened? By the time the tribes get stationed around the Tabernacle, you have the two sons of Joseph, and they are called the two half-tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim. And they take the place of Joseph. That would be twelve plus two, or fourteen. But, Joseph is left out because the two half tribes take his share. And Levi is left out, as they are the priestly tribe. In other words Manasseh and Ephraim take the place of Joseph and Levi. And remember, years later when they go into the Promise Land, Levi does not have an inheritance. They have a central area around the area of Jerusalem for the priests to live. They were entitled to that which came in from all the other tribes. And I guess it's much the same of God's servants today. They pretty much depend on the tithes and offerings of their believer friends.
We left off at the laver of cleansing, and remember that all the materials and aspects of the Tabernacle, are a picture of Christ in His finished work of the Cross. Also remember that all the numbers in the Tabernacle can be divided by five. And five, as I said before, is the number of Grace. The little tent or the Holy of Holies, was 15' x 15' and the main sanctuary was 30' x 15'. And as you went through that curtain of linen, white, blue, red, and purple, you would come into this sanctuary where there were no windows, or chairs. There was not a single place to sit down. Why? When Christ finished His work, what did He do? He sat down. Have you ever thought of that before? Hebrews Chapter 1 says, "And after He had finished the work He sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high." Because His work was finished. How about the work of these priests? It was never finished. So that is important to remember. There were no windows within this whole complex, because who alone can be the light? God himself, or Christ again, as the light of the world. Now this little tent (Holy of Holies) was constructed with the wood frame to hold all the cloth (made of Acacia wood, which spoke of Christ's humanity in his flesh). It was covered with gold (and that spoke of His Deity). He was man and He was God. You will see that throughout this whole construction of the Tabernacle.
As we see this frame, I want to start with the inside first, and work out. After the wood frame was set up, then on the inside (that which they saw as they came in) was this beautiful hand woven linen, and woven throughout it, not only were the colors, but also little cherubim (angelic beings) that were woven, not embroidered. In a commentary I read many years ago, the author thought the cherubim could be seen from either side of the material. Now if you can imagine a little bit, the the light coming from that candlestick of seven candles reflecting off of all this gold against that pure white linen, with the other colors running through it, and these cherubim woven in. It must have been beautiful beyond description. It had to be. But remember I told you a couple of weeks ago, as you went in that sanctuary, you saw the beauty from the inside, not from the outside. And remember I likened it to you and I as believers that have come into the Body of Christ, and we are in-Christ. We see a beauty and a loveliness that the world knows nothing of. Do you see how this is so intricately a picture of Christ?
Then, after the inside linen had been hung, and that was hung on golden hooks where the outer fence was hung on silver, the wood frame was set in blocks of silver. Huge blocks of silver. I read one time that somebody tried to figure the amount of silver and they came up with several tons of just silver. However, I'm not going to say that that was true. Then, as you began to cover this framework, right next to the wood frame itself was the covering of goat's hair. And then the ram's skins dyed red. And the outer covering were those badger (or seal) skins and had no beauty to it. But it was capable of withstanding the weather. So that was the construction of that little tent. And then it was divided by the vail. The vail depicted the very body of Christ himself. This vail kept even the priest from any approach to the Holy God who is back behind it. He was represented by that Shekinah glory, a cloud by day, and fiery pillar by night, and it was directly above the Ark of the Covenant. So this vail, this heavy curtain, comprised of this beautiful linen, kept anyone from approaching, except the High Priest once a year. And we will be going to Leviticus 16 in a moment to see how the High Priest goes behind the vail only once a year. But for now, let's come back to the sanctuary where there are only three pieces of furniture. Over on the north side we have the table of shewbread. It was constructed of wood, covered with gold, and up on it were twelve loaves of unleavened bread. There were six on each side, and they were changed everyday. And of course the shewbread is indicative of Christ, the Bread of Life.
Then over on the south side of the Tabernacle next to the wall and fairly close to the curtain was the golden candlestick, and as John's Gospel says, "Christ is the light of the world." He is indeed the golden candlestick. In the center was another little altar, constructed of wood, covered with pure gold, and it had a grate. I'm sure the Priest at different times of the year, but especially on the Day of Atonement, would take coals from off the brazen altar and would carry them in to this little altar inside. Now he would not burn animal fat on this one, but what would he burn? Incense. The smoke of that incense would literally obliterate the presence of God from that High Priest. The smoke would just cover this little room. In the Book of Revelation it tells of the incense being, in reality, representative of the prayers of the saints. So we are also involved in that. And again all of this simply speaks of Christ's finished work of the Cross. Then after you go behind the vail, we have the Ark of the Covenant.
Thanks to Hollywood, everyone's heard of the Ark of the Covenant over the past few years. The Ark of the Covenant was, again, wood covered with pure gold. It was just a little box (in Hebrew means coffin). I have a question for everyone. I can't find it but I think someone can. As we begin here in Sinai and the early wilderness experience, who can tell me what is in that Ark of the Covenant? We know the Ten Commandants of stone, the rod that budded, and a sample of what? Manna. But, a little later in Israel's history, it's as plain as day that the only things in the Ark of the Covenant were the tables of stone. My question for anybody that can answer is, when did the Ark stop containing the rod that budded and the sample of the manna? The other thing I want to know is, when does the Ark of the Covenant disappear from view. I know it was there at the time of the Babylonian invasion, but I can't find anything in the record that the Ark was taken to Babylon. So I want you to study this week and see if you can find those answers. This Ark of the Covenant, as we begin, contained the three items we mentioned. And then above that little hollow box was the Mercy Seat.
The Mercy Seat was pure beaten gold. Because this is strictly the area of the Holy God Himself. Not Christ in His humanity, but God in His Holiness. And it was shaped in the form of cherubim. Two angelic like beings, and their wings literally met over the middle of that little box. And those cherubim of course indicated a covering of God's mercy. And God's mercy is the only thing that could answer to that which was in the box. And that was the Law. The Law is so demanding, and there is only one way that we can even come close to satisfying the demands of the law and that is in God's mercy. That is why we have the mercy seat. Now in order to wrap all of this up, and hopefully I can do that in this lesson, I want us to now go back to the Book of Romans Chapter 3. I've had a lot of people tell me, "Les don't spend too much time on that Tabernacle, because after all it's not all that interesting" Well I found that the more interested you are in real Bible study, the more glorious this Tabernacle becomes. And here is the reason:
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Every human being, going all the way back to what man? Adam. We have all sinned - Jew and Gentile.
"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Now verse 25, here is the verse I want:
"Whom God hath set forth (watch your grammar here. Who is the Whom referring to? Christ Jesus in verse 24. So it's Christ Jesus that God hath set forth) to be a propitiation (propitiation is a great big word that people just stumble over and hope they don't have to deal with it again. But it is not that kind of a word. It is, in my line of thinking, the most inclusive one word in the whole New Testament. Christ is our propitiation. And how does he become your propitiation? By Faith! He becomes our propitiation) through faith in his blood (not His life. Not His three years of exemplar miracle working and so forth. He can only become the propitiation through faith in His blood, whereby he can), declare his righteousness (not yours or mine) for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God:" And then I love verse 26:
"To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: (Who's righteousness? Christ the propitiator) that he (Christ) might be just (what does just mean in plain English? Fair) and the justifier of him (that repents and is baptized? No, that is not what is says. It says) which believeth in Jesus." And what is believing? Faith. And what is faith? It is believing. You see, you can't escape it.
Let's put all of this in perspective. I have read all kinds of commentary on this, and most of it doesn't make sense to me. But I want to make it real simple. The word propitiation is used one more time, and we might as well look at it. It is in I John Chapter 2. As far as I know these are the only two places the word is used:
I John 2:1
"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. (naturally God doesn't want us to sin, but He knows we are going to) And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:" The word righteous popped up over here in Romans and here it is again. Christ is the righteous.
I John 2:2
"And he is the propitiation (Who is the propitiation? Christ.) for our sins (As believers): and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world"
That's why I'm not a dyed-in-the-wool Calvinist. Calvin maintained that his redemption was only for those who would believe. They called it limited atonement. I can't buy that because the Scripture is so plain, that His death was enough for every human being who was ever brought onto the scene. Propitiation, What is it? This whole Tabernacle and the elements in it, from the gold and silver and all the beautiful materials, to the wood, brass, and everything you can think of within the confines of the Tabernacle and it's court; from behind the vail to the very presence of God, resting in mercy above the Law; every jot and tittle of it is a picture of Christ's finished work. That's propitiation!
Let me do a little more construction. He became our sacrifice at the Cross. He fulfilled everything that the brazen altar could ever speak of. He became our laver of cleansing. It's His Word that shows us our needs as well as cleanses us. You move in and He is indeed the table of shewbread. He is the Bread of Life. He is the Light of the world. He is the very sweet smelling incense. He is the Mercy Seat. He is the God of the Shekinah glory. But not only that, we will be looking at the Day of Atonement here in a little while. He is also the High Priest that comes in once a year back in Israel's history, to present what? The blood upon the mercy seat in the very presence of God. Turn back with me now to John's gospel, and see how He completely answered all of this, in what I call the finished work of Christ.
I'd like to have you come to Chapter 20. As most of my class people know, I never know where I'm going to go next, so I can't give you any fair warning. You all know the account, how that Mary Magdalene had gone early to the sepulchre to anoint the body, as was the custom. When she got there, the tomb was empty and the stone was rolled away. And she ran and told Peter and John and they come running, and they suddenly realized that Mary was right, He must have indeed risen from the dead. And then I always like to point out verse 9, just to back up a good portion of my teaching which sometimes shakes people up when they first hear it, and that is that Jesus and the twelve never preached our Gospel as we know it. They didn't preach death, burial and resurrection. They didn't even believe any of it themselves. How could they preach it? And verse 9 makes it so clear. They suddenly realized that something had taken place and they knew that He must have been raised from the dead. Then in Verse 9,
"For as yet they (Peter and John) knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead"
Had they known that he was going to rise from the dead, where would they have camped out that night? At the tomb, and so would have all of His followers. But they didn't, they all went home and thought it was all over. And come down to Verse 15, where Mary sees this man standing there. She didn't know it was Jesus and assumed it was the gardener. Starting at verse 14:
"And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, `Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?' She, supposing him to be the gardener "
Here Jesus is appearing to her and she thinks He's the gardener. Now when you read something like that, I'm always telling you to ask yourself some questions. Does a gardener look like a ghost? Does a gardener look like some fog you see when they "beam" people up on Star Trek? No, a gardener looks how? Very human. Very ordinary. Now don't miss that. Jesus is standing there; now I know it's probably in the pre-dawn and semi-dark. Again I must point out that the last view Mary had of Jesus was on the Cross, remember? And was that a pretty sight? That was awful. The Book of Isaiah says what? No man has ever been so disfigured as Jesus was. Now naturally, that was the last view that Mary remembered of Christ.
In that pre-dawn darkness she sees a very normal human being, thinking it's the gardener. I want you to get that straight because I want you to understand that Jesus, in His resurrected body, from all outward appearances, didn't look any different than anyone else. Witness the people on the road to Emmaus. He fell in step with them. In spite of all their tears and gloom and doom, did He look so much different to them that they caught on that some kind of a ghost was walking with them? No. And He said, "Well, what's troubling you?" And they began to rehearse everything that had happened. They didn't catch on. He walked in the house and He sat down at the table with them. He must have partook with them. They still didn't know Who it was. And then all of a suddenly, what? He was gone. So now all of these things are what you have to gather here from just a few little words, "Mary supposed him to be the gardener." We will pick this up in the next lesson.
LESSON ONE * PART III
TABERNACLE SET-UP; DESCRIPTION OF MATERIALS: CHRIST; HIGH PRIESTLY WORK: KADESH-BARNEA
Let's start again in John's gospel, Chapter 20, where Mary confronts Jesus outside the tomb early on that resurrection morning, where she is supposing him to be the gardener:
" She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, `Sir, if thou has borne him hence, (if you've taken the body away) tell me where thou has laid him and I will take him away.' Jesus said unto her, `Mary '"
Now I've made this so plain over the years as I teach this. How many times have you heard the voice of some famous character from radio or television or movie, out of sight in the next room and immediately you know who it is, without seeing them, only by what? By voice. And the same thing here. Now you want to remember that Mary was so close to the Lord Jesus during His earthly ministry. She had probably heard Him call her "Mary" many, many times. And as soon as He speaks the word, "Mary", she knows Who it is. Even though she can't recognize Him, yet she knows Who it is. Now I'll pick it up in verse 16:
" She turned herself, and saith unto him,`Rabboni;' which is to say, Master.'"
Now what do you suppose she was ready to do? Oh, she was just ready to give Him a bear hug. An enthusiastic one. But look what He says in verse 17:
"Jesus said unto her, `Touch me not; .'"
Now that's unusual, because you get down the line into verse 27, which is probably a little later in the day:
"Then saith he to Thomas, `Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side '"
What's that? It's touching. He was for real. And yet to Mary He says immediately "touch me not." Now look at the reason. Come back to Verse 17:
" Touch me not; for I am not yet (what's the next word?) ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren (that would be to the eleven), and say unto them, `I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.'"
I call this the first ascension. The second ascension, of course being in Acts Chapter 1, when He left from the Mount of Olives as the disciples watched Him go. Now let's go to the Book of Hebrews. I think this will complete the record of what took place early that Sunday morning in time, yet also in eternity, as Jesus left the confines of this earth. Now those of you who have been with me ever since Genesis 1, you will remember when we got to about Genesis 17, that Abraham had a confrontation after defeating the kings that had overrun Sodom. He had this confrontation with a man who came from the then little known village of Salem, the city of peace, which is today Jerusalem. And who was this man? Melchisedec the High Priest. Remember that Melchisedec was a High Priest forever. And Christ was a High Priest after the order of Melchisedec, and not after Aaron.
I showed you back in Genesis that Melchisedec was not a priest under the Law, or the tribe of Levi. He was a priest of all. He covered the whole spectrum of the human race. That means that Christ is not just the High Priest of the Jews but the High Priest of whomever we might be. So I think early that Sunday morning when Jesus would not let Mary touch him, He still had to immediately go into the very presence of the Father. Jesus told Mary that He would ascend to the Father. Now verse 11:
"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;"
Remember when Moses was instructed by Jehovah up there in Mount Sinai to build this Tabernacle? What did He give him? A pattern of the Tabernacle in heaven. Here it is again, and the secret of this whole context is that the Tabernacle was not made with hands. This Tabernacle was not made by Jewish craftsmen, it was untouched by human hands. (The last word in the verse, "building" could have been better translated "creation") So this is not on the earth, or this creation, but in heaven.
"Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."
Now let's break that verse down: "Neither by the blood of goats and calves (as the High Priest of Israel did.), but by his (what? By His ) own blood he entered in once (not once a year like Israel's High Priest did. The key word in the Book of Hebrews is "ONCE" ) into the holy place (what's the holy place? The very presence of God at the mercy seat of God, and there He sprinkled His own blood on the mercy seat), having obtained eternal redemption for us."
Now you say "Les it ran down Golgotha Hill, it ran down that old rugged Cross." Now wait a minute. Is anything impossible with God? Granted it ran down to the earth, and I think the picture there is, it was taken up by that which was cursed. But is it hard for God to bring that blood back into a container that He could present in heaven? I don't think so. My own idea is that He presented His own blood there in the very throne room of heaven. It's going to be there for all eternity. And every time one of us may be confronted by (and I doubt that we will be, but if we were confronted), "Why are you here?" Our stock answer should be "There sits the blood." It will be an eternal testimony of why we are going to be in Glory.
A lot of people may go to a funeral of a believer, and come away disgusted because the preacher preached that this man will be in heaven. How in the world do they know that, because nobody knows. But do you know that's not what The Book says. The Book say that "You are to know" and the reason we can know is not based on what you and I do in good works, or anything else. It is based all upon that finished work of Christ. The fact that He is my propitiation. He is your propitiation. He is the one who was the sacrifice. He was your brazen altar, He is your laver of cleansing, He is your candlestick, He is not only the mercy seat, but He is the blood of the mercy seat. He's not only the God of mercy, but the sacrifice.
So that's what I like to put on that word propitiation. Everything that was pictured in type here in the Tabernacle was fulfilled by Christ to the very last jot and tittle, Who became our High Priest. He presented His blood. And remember when we looked at I John where it says "...And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:" So the moment we sin, God expects us to just simply confess it, you don't have to beg for forgiveness. I've told people for 20 years "Quit putting that cliche at the end of your prayer, asking God to forgive us for our sins. That is from habit. Our sins are forgiven. But what does He want us to do? Confess them. Call it what God calls it. And the moment we confess it, the Lord Jesus the advocate, points to that blood, and says "Father, he or she is under the blood" And Paul says "Nobody dare accuse us." And it is for that reason.
Let's go back, and pick up Leviticus Chapter 16. The only reason I want to touch on this Day of Atonement is that it so beautifully pictured, just as we saw from John's gospel and Hebrews, how that Christ fulfilled in every detail this Day of Atonement. I think it is unfortunate that our translators called it the Day of Atonement. Because it was not a Day of Atonement for the Nation of Israel. There was no Day of Atonement for Israel until Christ died. This should have been called the day of covering. And the word in the Hebrew is kaphar, which meant to cover. But we will have to stick with it, because it's the term we have all became acquainted with. And even the theologians who know better, do what I do, they keep on using it rather than upset the apple cart. But it is really a misnomer. In Leviticus 16 we will start with verse one:
"And the LORD spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the LORD and died; (remember they took strange fire) And the LORD said unto Moses, `Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.'"
What is under the mercy seat? The demanding Law, and there is no mercy in the Law. Always remember that. The Law can do nothing but condemn you. The Law can't save anybody:
"Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments, therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on."
We skipped over these garments because of time, not that they were not important. And before he could begin that Day of Atonement, here it comes again. How did he have to start? He had to wash, and wash, and wash. In fact when we get a little further, they had to wash in running water, much the same as surgeons do when they prepare for surgery. But it had to depict a complete physical cleansing. And then he could put on those linen undergarments, and then he put on the holy garments.
"And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering. And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house.
In other words, even though he was a High Priest of Israel, he was a sinner. He sinned just as well as anybody else. In order to began this role of the High Priest (and here again is where Christ of course went in sinless, even though He took our sins upon Himself), Aaron had to kill this first sacrifice for himself and his family. He would take the blood and make his way, and no doubt stop at the laver of cleansing; he would then come on through and then he had to take the coals from off the brazen altar, and he would bring them in and put them on the altar of incense, and the smoke would be more or less his protection or covering. And as he would take the blood of that offering, and would come through the sanctuary, and once a year he would come behind the vail. And he would sprinkle the blood of his sacrifice (the bullock) upon the mercy seat for himself and his family:
"And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats..."
Now he starts with two animals, the bullock and two kid goats. He has used the bullock for his own sacrifice, for himself and his family, and now he comes to the two goats and he casts lots. In other words I guess we would say that he drew straws to see which goat would be killed and which would be left alive:
"And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for a (what?) scapegoat."
You know, we still use the word today, don't we. A scapegoat is somebody who takes the blame for somebody else. Continuing on:
"And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD'S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness."
Now he takes the goat that is designated by lot to be put to death (and I should have used the bullock the first time) and he takes the blood of the goat and he goes through this same process and he again comes behind the vail and he sprinkles it upon that beautiful, golden, mercy seat of the cherub. II know a lot of people think, "That must have been just filthy with dried blood." But now listen, they didn't just sprinkle gobs of blood around. You know how they did it? The took their finger and dipped it in the basin and just touched on it. So there wasn't gobs of blood upon that gold. I've had that question come up more than once. But he would just simply take his finger and thereby present the blood. Then after he had presented the blood of the goat on behalf of the children of Israel, he would make his way back out.
And now then, we pick up his act on the scapegoat, where he lays his hand upon it. Come down to verse 20. Now again, I've got to make another comment. I've had this question before also. I bet you've all heard that the High Priest went in with a rope tied to one of his feet, and that in case he died, they could drag him out. Now listen, that may be according to legend, but it's not in The Book. Now he did have bells around the bottom of his garment. And if the bells stopped tinkling, then Israel would have known that he was in trouble. But there's nothing in the record that a High Priest ever lost his life behind the vail. But it was serious business. Had they done anything one bit wrong, God would have stricken them dead. Had anyone other than the High Priest tried to go behind that vail, he wouldn't have come out alive. And so the High Priest actually did have bells around the hem of their garment. And as long as those bells were tinkling, those outside knew he was still getting along okay. But, let's get back to this goat that has been left alive. Down to Verse 20. When he has finished his work in the Holy of Holies:
"And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, (in other words, he had finished all the ritual within that little tent) he shall bring the live goat: And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel...."
Don't lose sight of Who is pictured even in this scapegoat? Christ is. See, He has become not only our sacrificial goat, the One Who's blood was sprinkled, but now He becomes the scapegoat. Now there's a tremendous lesson here. There's a Hymn that says Buried, he carried our sin, where? Far away. Well, the Hymn writer picks it up here from the scapegoat. Let's read on:
"And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man (where?) into the wilderness."
Into the wilderness where there was no record, where there was no geographical pinpoint, where nobody could go back and bring it back. I think that's a picture of exactly what Christ did. Now very few people are aware of this, while He was on the Cross, there were three hours of time in which nothing was spoken. Now He made several statements from the time he was put on the Cross until high noon. And then at high noon, what happened? Absolute darkness fell upon the earth. And then at three o'clock in the afternoon, He speaks again the final statements from the Cross. The final ones. And that's when He gave up the ghost, then of His own volition and he died. But what happened in that three hours? Absolute silence. The earth is enveloped in darkness. Well I think that is when Christ took our sins as far removed, the Scripture says now, as East is from the West. They have been buried in the deepest sea. I think in that three hour period of time, not in time, but perhaps in the eternal state, He literally suffered all the hell, all the judgment that every human being deserved. And after stepping out of eternity back into time, now on the Cross, He can say what? It's finished.
You know I love to teach kids. I've got a couple of fourteen-year-olds in one of my classes and one of them came up the other night, and we were talking about this very same thing, and the statement one of them made shows that they were thinking. One of them said, "Now Les, I like this, you know it's finished from the Cross." But, then he said, "It wasn't really finished until he was resurrected." And I said, young man, your thinking is true But, what Jesus was really referring to was the business of obliterating our sin. Of suffering the sin penalty that was finished. And naturally, our salvation could never be complete until he rose from the dead. That's why I'm always emphasizing Paul and his writings. Because Paul says, "We know only Christ, crucified and risen from the dead." And remember, that's our Gospel. That was revealed to Paul from our crucified and risen Savior in heaven. Oh, so many people are hanging on Jesus' earthly ministry. A book came out awhile back by a famous author, "The Gospel According to Jesus," and the minute I heard the title I knew the guy was out in left field. Because you cannot be saved by the Gospel according to Jesus tonight. Because that is speaking of His earthly ministry. We have salvation only by virtue of His death, burial and resurrection. That's our gospel. And you people know it, but there are a lot of people out there that don't know that. They just can't comprehend that there is a difference.
Anyway, the high priest then fulfilled, or he pre-typed that which Christ fulfilled as our high priest. And as I've pointed out now in all the aspects of the Tabernacle program, those priests were human. They died. There had to be others come in and take their place. It was exercised year after year after year. But the finished work of Christ, the word in Hebrews as I've said so often is what? ONCE! For this He did ONCE! And He obtained what? Eternal redemption for us. Oh never lose sight of it and help your friends and neighbors who may know nothing of this, to understand.
Come back with me for just a moment to that verse that we looked at earlier in Romans Chapter 3. Because I think once you get the picture of how that all the aspects of Tabernacle worship were for the children of Israel, a burden. It was a yoke. I mean everything had to be done just exactly right. But, oh I want people today to understand how free we are from all of that, because Christ has done it all on our behalf. And now coming back to Romans 3 verse 26 and 27. Where now after showing that He is our propitiation, if we will just believe it:
"To declare, I say at this time his righteousness (He's done it all. He's the whole Tabernacle)that he might be just, and the justifier..."
He's done it all, from both directions. He is not only the just one, who was the perfect sacrifice who fulfilled all the demands of a Holy God, but He is also what? The Holy God. And then he says:
"...the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."
Or, as Paul normally puts it, "In Jesus the Christ, the Resurrected one."
LESSON ONE * PART IV
TABERNACLE SET-UP; DESCRIPTION OF MATERIALS: CHRIST; HIGH PRIESTLY WORK: KADESH-BARNEA
I've had many people writing and calling; admonishing me to hurry up and get into prophecy. So I am skipping a few things, that I don't really like to skip, but only for the sake of time, not that they are not important. But I want to take us up to the Book of Numbers. A couple of weeks ago we mentioned that seven weeks after the Tabernacle was raised up the first time, the cloud lifted, and it directed the children of Israel all the way up to the border of the Promise Land, the land of milk and honey. Now here we are in Numbers 14, and a lot has taken place in the mean time. We have had the episode of leprosy with Miriam because of her complaints. God dealt with it, but fortunately He also healed her. We also had the episode of the quails. Remember Israel was complaining because they didn't have the flesh pots of Egypt. But now as we come to this chapter, it's a sad, sad state of affairs:
"And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses (this wasn't anything new was it?) and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, `Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!'"
Always remember the setting. Here in the last thirteen months of time, they have experienced the miraculous exodus out of Egypt. Their task masters were thrown off their backs. They've walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. They've seen the appearance of the Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night. They saw all of the thunder and lightening and the fire on Mount Sinai. They saw how God could institute a plague and kill 20,000 people and He could also come back, in mercy, and stop it. They have just seen miracle after miracle after miracle, haven't they? And yet, here they come upon the very borders of the Promise Land; the land of milk and honey; the land that God said He would use hornets, as well as other means, to drive out the Canaanites, and He says, "All you have to do is occupy it." Now He says, "I won't drive them all out at once where you can't keep up, because then the wild animals might take over before you got there." But He said, "I'll drive them out just fast enough so that you can occupy the homes that they've built, use the wells that they've dug, tend the vineyards that they've planted. It's all yours. All you have to do is take it." But as I pointed out several weeks ago, go ahead to Deuteronomy because you have to see this from Scripture or you might not take my word for it. Deuteronomy Chapter 1, and Moses, of course is kind of rehearsing here, everything that has gone on before. And so after the fact, he is now writing a synopsis of it you might say, and you come down to Chapter 1, Verse 19 where Moses writes:
"And when we departed from Horeb, (that's Mount Sinai. After that Tabernacle had been constructed, taken down, and the Cloud moved them.) we went through all that great and terrible wilderness,..."
And the Sinai Peninsula is just exactly that. It is the most awesome geographical area that you can imagine. It's not flat desert. It's just tremendous mountains and canyons. How God kept track of between 3 to 7 million people and all their livestock, I don't know. That, in itself, was a miracle. But nevertheless, Moses writes:
"...we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the Lord our God commanded us; and we came to Kadesh-barnea. (that's on the border. The Promised Land is just ahead.) And I said unto you, `ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the Lord our God doth give unto us. (now is there any hint of problem in there? No, but it's there.) Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee; go up and (spy it out? No:) possess it...'"
What I like to emphasize and I think a lot of people miss. Did God intend those twelve spies to go into Israel? No. God intended for the nation of Israel to go right on in by faith. Knowing that He would take care of the inhabitants, because He said He would. He said that He would drive them out. Now, how did they cross the Red Sea? By faith. Now you say, "Yes, but that was on dry ground." But you wait a minute, they knew that water was walled up somewhere. I don't think it was like Cecil B. De Mille's movie, just a narrow cavern. I don't think the people really knew where that wall of water was. I think it must have been a wide area. But nevertheless, it was there. Now, would you have liked to just glibly walk though? So how did they do it? By faith. Here they come to the same kind of a situation. Granted, they don't know what to expect. But God has told them that He would have everything ready for them. He would drive out their enemies and all they would have to do is occupy. Now this is what I want you to understand, that the sending in of the twelve spies was not God's idea. It was that weakness of the flesh. And Israel said, "But, oh, we don't know. Can't we send in spies?" And God, in His goodness and graciousness, what did He do? He said, "Alright, I'll let you send in spies." But that was not His intention. So, verse 21:
"...go up and possess it, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged. (now read the next verse. But what happened?) And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, `We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come.'"
What are they really doing? They are saying, "Now listen Moses, we don't really believe that God is going to do what He says He's going to do. But let us send in men that can confirm, and they can tell us what to do." Isn't that awful? That's literally awful. You see, they were taking things out of God's hands and putting it into the hands of mere mortals. Had those twelve spies come back and said, "We can take it." Then what would they have done? They would have said, "Okay, we'll go." But when the twelve spies came back - let's go back over again to Numbers Chapter 14. And like I've already said, it was a sad, sad setting. Here the land of milk and honey was sitting there in front of them. Everything was ready, and they could have had it all, without one ounce of work. Of course, the picture here is that Israel could have entered into what the Bible calls; what's the word? His rest. See, they wouldn't have had to labor, they wouldn't have had to dig the wells and so forth. They could have just walked in and it was ready for them. That's why He called it "The land of milk and honey, the place of God's rest." But here they are. They're crying and murmuring:
"And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey?..."
What a hypocrisy. Is that who they were really worried about? No, these guys were scared to death of the giants that might be up there in the Promised Land. You know, it's almost amusing and yet it isn't because it was such serious business. Go to verse 28:
"Say unto them, `As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: 29: Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness (now remember, they could have had the Promised Land); and all that were numbered of you,...'"
See, we skipped all that. They were all counted and from those numbers is where I get the number that there were anywhere from 3 to 7 million of them. All you've got to do is a little computing, because all together there were over 600,000 men of war. That's young men, unmarried, and then you compute all their relatives and families, and you can easily get 5 million people. That's why I make it a round figure of 3 to 7 million. I can't imagine it, and I've used the analogy more than once. The whole megaplex of Dallas and Ft. Worth, Dallas and Tarrent County together is a little over 3 million. Can you imagine Dallas and Fort Worth, out there in the wilderness of Sinai? See, most of us have got a few hundred or a few thousand at the most. Listen, there's millions of them and that in itself is miraculous. Now finishing 29:
"...according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me, Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun." Remember that I'm always saying that one of the most important words in Scripture is b-u-t, and what does it say here.
"But your little ones (all the ones that they were so concerned would die in the wilderness. God comes back and almost like a comedy of errors, tells them), which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised."
Isn't that something? I always have to tie this in to today. Isn't that exactly where the human race is today? Everything that God has put out there for the human race, what do they say? For one reason or another, they've got a million excuses, "I don't what any part of it. I don't want it." And yet look what they're missing. That which God has promised and has made available, they have despised it. We're no different. We can't look down our nose at the Jew and say, "Well, you know we would have done things different." No we wouldn't. The human race is the same from start to finish. Come back to Numbers 14, verse 4:
"And they said one to another, `Let us make a captain, and let us (what?) return into Egypt.'"
Now, that's a short memory, isn't it? You remember what the conditions were in Egypt? What were they belly aching about? They would say, "Oh our task masters, they're cruel." And they were. They worked from sun-up to dark and they got just enough compensation to keep them alive to work the next day from sun-up to dark. And yet, when they are on the very threshold of the land of milk and honey, they look back and think Egypt was heaven on earth. And again, aren't people the same way today? Sure they are. I mean it's stark; what's the word: unbelief. That's all their problem was. Now, we've used it before, but I'm great on repetition. Go to Hebrews Chapter 3. In fact, we used it just a few weeks ago, but I'm going to use it again because I think it's just so appropriate for you and I right now, today, at this present time. Remember, when Paul wrote the book of Hebrews, he was writing primarily to Jewish believers. And, consequently, he's going to use an awful lot of the Old Testament contact and experiences in order to make his point. Here he is in verse 7, and he's going to be quoting from the book of Psalms:
"Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted [or tested] me , proved me, and saw my works forty years...)"
Do you see the setting? Paul is making reference to that forty years wilderness experience that followed their rejection of going in at Kadesh-barnea.
"Wherefore I was grieved with that generation,(the generation that said, `Oh we're going to lose all our women and children') and said, `They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So (God's speaking now), I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into (here's the words) my rest. (they could have had it) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you (remember, this is for us as well) an evil heart of (covetousness? No. Immorality? No. Anything else ? No, but what's the word?) unbelief..."
Turn with me a couple of pages to Hebrews Chapter 11; to what I call one of the two absolutes that we have to confront. You cannot detour around them and you cannot compromise them. They are absolute. Now there are a lot of things in Scripture that I will tell people I don't get all shook up if you don't agree with me because there is room for disagreement. But there are some areas that there is no room for disagreement. And here's one of them:
"But without (what's the word?) faith it is impossible (that means exactly what it says. That's why I say you can't compromise this; you can't skirt around it) to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe (see, that's faith. You've got to believe) that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
I said that there were two, so I might as well hit the other one while we are here in Hebrews. And that would have to be back in Chapter 9, verse 22. Now you know, there are liberal circles that don't have very kind words about the blood bought way of salvation. They comment about it. And a lot of denominations over the past 10 years have taken every song out of their song book that has any reference to the blood, whether you know it or not. Some of our major denominations have removed all of the hymns with any reference to the blood. Well, the reason is that they don't like it. But look what the The Book says. Here again is an absolute that you cannot compromise:
"And almost all things are by the law (going back again to the Old Testament) purged with blood (but here's the part of the verse that applies to every human being today); and without the shedding of blood is no remission."
There is no forgiveness. Again go back to the Tabernacle, what did the High Priest have to do every year? He had to present the blood. It was the only way for man to approach God. There is no other way. There is no approach to God other than the blood-sprinkled way. So without faith we can't please Him. Without the shedding of blood we can't please Him. Back to Hebrews Chapter 3 then, it all rests on their lack of faith. They could have had the very rest of God. The could have had the land of promise. But they turned because of their unbelief. Now down to verse 13:
"But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day (while we still have this kind of an opportunity); lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."
Always stop and think. How do we recognize sin, and how do we deal with sin? I want it in only one word. Faith. Because, unless we can believe what God says about certain activities or certain acts, we don't know that it's sin. But when God says it and we believe it, then we know what it is. Our whole daily walk is prompted by faith in God's Word. Think about it. When Romans 3:23 says that "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God," I always said that's the first step to salvation, to believe that I am what The Book says that I am. And that is, short of the glory of God. It's taking God at His Word concerning myself, concerning you. So faith is that which guides us not only into salvation, but all through our Christian experience. It's all based on what The Book says. Not what someone else says. People have told me and I appreciate it, "You know, you don't condemn this and you don't condemn that. Do you notice that?" I don't have to. I don't have to tell people, "Stop doing this and stop doing that" because as soon as they get into The Book and see what The Book says, by faith, then they're going to take appropriate action. I still maintain that if you get people into The Book, you get them to believe in what God says, and all those things that a lot of people scream about; they'll take care of themselves. So then verse 14:
"For we are made partakers of Christ (now remember, it's His righteousness and it's on that basis that He justifies us), if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;"
I know that a lot of people jump on that and say, "See, it says `if, and that's conditional." Well, in spite of the word "if" in this case, I'm still going to maintain that we are going to partake, we are going to remain steadfast. And then Verse 15:
"While it is said, `To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.
And remember, how many escaped? Joshua, Caleb, Moses and Aaron. But for the most part, that nation that was old enough to respond was totally in unbelief. This is hard to comprehend. Only a few survived that judgment in their unbelief.
"But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?"
Again, I always remind people of this. It was only a few months previous to this that they had that horrible, immoral setting around that pagan, golden calf. But is that what God is concerned about? No. Because why did they worship and why did they dance at the golden calf? Unbelief! Had they believed in the God that Moses was dealing with up there in the mountains, would they have asked for an idol? No. Had they believed in the Holy and Righteous God, would they have had lascivious dancing? No. See what I'm saying? Okay, but what was their problem?
"And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that (what?) believed not." And you know that's the problem today, just as much as it was then. People will not, and for some reason, cannot believe the Word of God. Oh the intellectual community will try to argue it away from their highly educated position. But they just can't bring themselves to say, "But this is what God says."
"So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."
LESSON TWO * PART I
DEUTERONOMY 26-34: JOSHUA 1-4: RAHAB
We'll pick up where we left off last lesson, and hopefully these next four lessons finish up to the end of Israel's history. And she goes into the Babylonian captivity. And that will bring us up to the Book of Daniel. And then we will finally begin to teach prophecy. But for now, we don't want to skip too much. I'm already skipping a lot for sake of time. So go with me now to Numbers Chapter 22. I have drawn a make-shift map on the board. I don't claim that this is according to scale, but it gives you a rough idea of the Mediterranean Sea coast.
The little land of Israel, between the coast and the Sea of Galilee, and the Dead Sea. Of course just off the corner of the Dead Sea is the city of Jericho, and Jerusalem is just a few miles inland. So this is all real close together. It's only about 40 miles from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan Valley. Israel is a tiny little strip of land. Down here at the southern part of Israel is Kadesh, where they sent in the 12 spies. And as a result of their unbelief God sends them back into the Sinai for 40 years of wandering.
If you want to get an idea of how many times they took down that Tabernacle, packed it up and moved out, you read Numbers Chapter 33. That Chapter gives the whole list of their stops. But remember that was 39 years plus. As you will see in the next four lessons, they will come out of the Sinai, and come around in circuitous route, through Moab, and they will end up coming into the Promised Land, not from the closest route, but clear around the Dead Sea just opposite Jericho. There they crossed the Jordan River, and just five miles from that river is the city of Jericho, which was their first conquest. There are very few average church goers who understand that Israel did not come in from the south.
But for now, they are in this area of Moab, and they have just come out of their 40 years of wandering. And when the King of Moab saw that multitude of Israelites, he knew there was nothing he could do militarily, so he said there is only one way that I can defeat these people. He had heard of what their God had done for them, so he knew it would have to be in the area of a spiritual curse. He knows he can't do it; his armies can't do it. But he must somehow put a curse on these people. As a result, he knows that there is an enchanter, a man of divination, out there in Mesopotamia, to the east. And he is known for his enchantments. So he called him, to put a curse on the children of Israel.
Now the main reason I stop and take an hour or two in teaching Balaam, is to point out two basic facts. Number one, I wasn't kidding when I said there was from 3-7 million children of Israel. We will see that in the text. Secondly, to see how Balaam is the perfect example of false teachers. And if ever there has been a day that we need to be aware of false teachers, it is today. We are just being overwhelmed by it from every direction. People who spout off at what they think The Word says. And too many people are just simply being brainwashed without realizing that a lot of this stuff does not come from The Book. And so that is why I'm going to stop and take these moments of time to study Balaam.
Now Numbers 22. I know that I read more than other teachers do, but I'm not going to apologize for it. Because even in our mail, we have lot's of people comment how the Scriptures have been opened to them even while I read. I don't know why that is, but it even happens in my classes. I've had people over and over say, "I had just read that this afternoon, yet when you read it, I understood what it says." But remember that is not my doing. For some reason the Lord has seen fit to bless that aspect. Someone will say, "How can you teach classes two hours a night, five nights a week from different areas of the Bible." My stock answer is, "You don't know how much time I spend reading." I don't have to have a lot of notes when I read to people.
"And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side (east of) Jordan by Jericho. And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites."
They have already fought battles down in the Sinai, one of which was with the Amorite Tribe which they utterly destroyed. They didn't have radio, television or telephones back then; just word of mouth. As the camel caravans went from Egypt to Mesopotamia, don't think they were any different from people today. They gossiped, and told everything they knew and had seen. So, by the time the Israelites get to Moab, the Moabites had heard all the things that had happened to these children of Israel. All the way back to their exodus, really, as we will see when we get into Joshua.
"And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many (many of you may think maybe 5000 or so would look like many in that day in time. Don't you kid yourself.): and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel.
"And Moab said unto the elders of Midian. `Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field....'" He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam (Balaam is this false prophet we will be talking about) the son of Beor to Pethor (that was out to the east of Moab), which is by the river of the land of the children of his people (Euphrates. He is going to call Balaam saying), `Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and abide over against me:'"
When he said "they cover the face of the earth," he meant as far as the eye could see, there was nothing but Israelites. Now what is the average distance to the horizon? Thirteen miles? But as far as old King Balak could see, he saw nothing but the children of Israel. Let me show you another verse. Drop down to verse 11:
"Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth: come now, curse me them (so I can defeat them); peradventure I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out."
So, Balak makes this offer to Balaam of tremendous wealth. He will give him almost anything if he will only curse these Israelites; and by virtue of the curse, God will turn His back on them. Balak just wants to somehow bring the Israelites to a place where God would destroy them. We are going to find when we go to the New Testament there were some things Balaam just didn't understand. In spite of her wickedness and sins, Balaam didn't understand that the Grace of God would always overcome Israel's shortcomings. He thought God should curse them. We will look at it in a bit.
Let's go to Chapter 23. Remember King Balak is still working on old Balaam to bring about the curse, and Balaam is having some difficulty. I like to point out as you read these verses that just because the LORD Jehovah is dealing with Balaam and speaking with him on a face to face basis, that does not mean Balaam is a valid prophet. He is a false prophet. I have to emphasize that because I can remember back several years ago I had Sunday School material which was trying to hold Balaam up as a prophet that had been misguided a little bit, but that he was a true believer. I can't agree with that one bit. He was a false prophet from day one. He used enchantments, and divination, and depended on the power of Satan to do what he did. He was not an Israelite, and not a valid prophet. So Balak takes Balaam up to a high place:
"And Balak said unto him, `Come, I pray thee, with me unto another place, from whence thou mayest see them: thou shalt see but the utmost part of them (you still can't see them all), and shalt not see them all: and curse me them from thence.'" And he brought him into the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah,..."
That was a very high mountain, and even then he could not see the end of the children of Israel. Remember when we were back in Exodus, and they came out of Egypt. I told you all you have to do is look in the Book of Numbers, and see how many men of war this little nation would be able to put in the field, and that was over 600,000 and remember that was a very small percentage of the total. If you start figuring there were 600,000 young, single men between the age of about 20-30 years of age, you would have to have a population of about 3-5 million to bring about that number of young men. I want you to see that we are not dealing with just a few thousand people, but rather a multitude of Israelites. So God is bringing them around opposite the Jordan River and no wonder old King Balak thought he needed help. But instead of Balaam staying home, when he received the message, he goes to King Balak, because he can see all the wealth of Moab that is being offered to him just for putting a curse on these Israelites.
Let's go back to the New Testament for a little bit. We haven't had time to read all that went on between Balaam and Balak. But Remember the King had offered old Balaam just about anything he wanted. But God immediately told Balaam, "Don't do it!" And old Balaam converses with Jehovah. And finally Balaam tells Balak, that he can't curse them because Jehovah is blessing them. And Balak gets all upset. But remember old Balaam has another plan. Now the New Testament gives us a perfect description of the man in three separate categories. The first one is here in II Peter Chapter 2, and the whole Chapter, as does the little Book of Jude which deals with false teachers. We are being warned that they will come on the scene in the last days. And believe me we are seeing them. They are coming from every direction and every hue and color. The average believer and church member today is totally confused. they don't know what is right or wrong. How can they sift out all this rubbish. I think that is one of the problems with our beloved nation, is that the people of our nation have just lost all concept of the truth of God's Word. Now let's look at how Balaam is described back here in II Peter Chapter 2:
II Peter 2:13
"And (the false prophets) shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceiving while they feast with you:" See what they are doing? They are fellowshipping with church people, but they are filled with false teaching.
II Peter 2:14
"Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling (confusing, deceiving) unstable souls (when the Scripture uses adultery, it does not always mean physical, sexual adultery. Many times it is mixing paganism with true Biblical truth. That is adulterating the Word of God. And these people are masters of that. Do you see why I'm always emphasizing that people have to be taught? Otherwise they're going to be blown away like Paul says, "With every wind of doctrine." ): an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:" Now verse 15:
II Peter 2:15
"Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness:
Remember what I said? Why couldn't he refrain from going back to Moab and cursing those people? He saw the wealth he could gain by confusing the issue. And aren't we seeing the same thing today. How many people are using the Word of God to line their own pockets. I think it is just as much an abomination in God's sight as anything else you can think of. They are using God's Word for profit. That's why I maintain to this day, that I won't take a dime out of this ministry. I know pastors and preachers are due their salaries, and I'm not taking that away from them. I'm talking about people who use the Word of God for no other reason but to enhance their own financial state. That is Balaamism. Balaam was in it for one reason and that was to line his own pockets. That is the way of Balaam. He wanted to cash in on his particular gift, which happened to be divination and enchantments.
Now when you get to the New Testament, you have the same thing. Paul had to confront more than once the workers of Satan, who were constantly confronting the apostle as he was going into those pagan areas with the Gospel. Now let's also turn on over to the little Book of Jude. And here we have a second description of Balaam. The Book of Jude is almost a carbon copy of II Peter, and he too warned about false teachers:
"Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation (in other words Jude had intended to write just a little letter concerning the plan of salvation. But the Holy Spirit forbade him to do that. Instead he says), it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith (the one and only. And we are to earnestly contend. We are not to be obnoxious, but we are to take a stand on what we believe, and help people to see that this is the Truth, the Word of God. I never try to shove it down peoples throat. We can't do that. But on the other hand we must stand for what we know The Word is telling us.) which was once delivered unto the saints.'"
"For there are certain men crept in unawares (nobody knows what they are up to. They can come into a denomination, or local church, and they are so deceptive that the average church member doesn't know what they are doing.) who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." He is going to explain how these false teachers are going to operate. Now skip down to verse 10:
"But these (false teachers) speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beast, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain (remember Cain's problem was no faith), and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward,..."
What was this error of Balaam? He thought that if he could get Israel to lose her separated position with Jehovah, and get them to sin openly, what would God have to do? Curse them. We are going to see that he succeeded. That was the error. Let's turn to Revelation Chapter 2. Here we are in the seven letters to the seven churches, and here in that letter to the church at Pergamos Jesus is speaking and he says in verse 14:
"But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine (Peter called it the way, Jude called it the error, and here Jesus calls it the doctrine, or the teaching of Balaam. And what does Balaam teach? That they could commit fornication and lose their separated state, and it wouldn't hurt them) of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication."
Now let's go quickly to the Book of Numbers again, Chapter 25. Now some time has gone by and God hasn't permitted Balaam to get away with it. But on the other hand he did get away with it.
"And Israel abode in Shittim and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab." Do you see what they were doing? They were breaking down the separated state. And now to Chapter 31. Why did the Israelites begin to commit immorality with the Moabites? Moses tells us here in verse 16:
"Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD."
LESSON TWO * PART II
DEUTERONOMY 26-34: JOSHUA 1-4: RAHAB
Now let's turn to Deuteronomy Chapter 7. And for those of you who are waiting for prophecy it will be about three more weeks before we get out of the goings on in Israel. We will be going through their history in the next lesson or two, then we will be ready for the Book of Daniel. And when we teach Daniel, we teach Revelation, Matthew and the whole nine yards as they say. But for now, let's turn to Deuteronomy 7. The Nation of Israel is sitting out here in Moab, on the east side of the Jordan River, and east of the city of Jericho.
The King of Moab, as we saw last lesson has tried to hire a false prophet to curse the children of Israel. He didn't totally succeed but he did to a certain extent, because he had advised the Moabites to put their prettiest young ladies and best looking young men right out there next to the Israelites and seduced them. And they did! At least several thousand of them. And then God had to do some cleansing, so quite a few thousand lost their lives as a result of their losing their separated position. But nevertheless, the Nation of Israel remained intact, so the Moabites will just have to put up with them until they cross the Jordan River.
So now in short order they will go in and occupy the Promised Land. They won't have the easy go they could have had at Kadesh. At Kadesh they could have gone right in, and could have had the whole land without losing a single soldier. But because of their unbelief (the twelve spies) they just didn't believe that God meant what He said. So God, in His wrath, turned them back into the wilderness for 40 years of wandering. When they cross the Jordan River and get on the other side, they will stop for Passover. And do you know, that Passover they will celebrate will be exactly 40 years from the Passover in Egypt. That is how meticulous God is with His timing. Now the Book of Deuteronomy is written in that final two months, while they are sitting here opposite the Jordan River. But as Moses writes from that time frame, he's going to reflect back, and review everything that has taken place from the coming out of Egypt. So remember Deuteronomy is a lot of recap. Now in Chapter 7, Moses is dealing with the here and now. They are about ready to go into the land of Canaan. However Moses is going to give some strict commands from God of course:
"When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;"
"And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them (now don't get shook up that God is being cruel and unkind. I'll show you in just a little bit why he gives these kinds of instructions.); thou shalt make no covenant (or treaty) with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them (they have already been guilty of some of it); thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son." Now here is God's reason. For they will turn away thy son from following me,..."
Stop and think for a moment. Who was the classic example in Israel's history that did this to the extreme. On the one hand he was a righteous Godly man to the extreme. But on the other hand he followed other women and their gods to the extreme. Who was he? King Solomon. When I read the account of Solomon, here as he dedicated that new temple that he had built (or least had been the architect and master builder of), and God so honored that man, that as he stood there to dedicate the temple, the Shekinah glory again came into the picture. That is how God felt about Solomon. And yet by the end of his life where is he? Do you know that he was guilty of offering little Jewish babies to the fires of the god of Molock. Don't think for a moment the average Jew wasn't faced with that kind of a temptation. And it is no different for us today. But we will discuss that a little later. Reading verse 4 again:
"For they will turn away thy son from following me that they may serve other gods:..."
When we talk about serving other gods, and idols, the first thing we think of is the cultures, probably in the orient, who actually worship the idols of Buddha, and so forth. But listen, there is another idol that is sneaking in on the American scene faster than we can shake our finger at. And do you know what it is? The idol of materialism. Things can become an idol just as fast, and just as much as wood or stone. I was talking to someone the other day who had just read an editorial in one of the major newspapers in the northwest. This secular paper was literally decrying Christianity, and it's influence, saying it was an enemy of our nation. Because after all we are living in different times than Bible times. This is 1994 they like to say. And we're not under that kind of a culture. Listen, do you know what I say to that? Yes people change, economies change, societies change, but there is one who never changes. God does not change! God hates the same thing today that He hated back here in Israel's history. We don't stand here and try to shove this down people's throats, but I think the American people have to be made aware once again that the God that made our nation what she is, is the same God that laid down these requirements.
To follow up this concept in Deuteronomy Chapter 7, come all the way over to Chapter 20. I hope you take the time to read the chapters in between. Beginning in verse 1, Moses is explaining to the Jews how they are to operate in warfare. However I want you to come down to verse 17. This is beyond ordinary warfare of occupation. Now he is talking about how they are to deal with the people who occupy the Promised Land at that time. Remember this is a Holy, Righteous, Just and Fair God that is speaking.
"But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee: (don't spare one! Why?)
"That they teach you not to do after all their abominations (an abomination back then to God is an abomination today) which they have done unto their gods; (notice small `g' meaning their idols and pagan worship), so should ye sin against the LORD your God."
Isn't that exactly what King Solomon did? It says it so plainly that after Solomon had married those 900 wives out of all the various pagan cultures, in order to satisfy the demands of those pagan wives, he built shrines, and places of worship to those pagan gods. And then he actually condones the sacrifices of little Jewish children in the fire. To me that is just unreal. Let's come back to Genesis 15. And this is another reason to follow me all the way from Genesis 1. I have said so often, unless you have a good understanding of The Book of Beginnings (Genesis), a lot of these things are hard to comprehend. But back here in Genesis 15, God has just called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees in Chapter 12. And He has given him the Abrahamic Covenant. In that Covenant He has promised the man Abram, that out of him would come a nation, a race of people totally different than anything that has been on the scene. And that race of people, when they would become a nation, He would put them in a geographical area of land. He pointed it out here in Chapter 15. And then in some point in the future, He Himself would come in the flesh and be their Messiah and their King. That is the whole concept of the Abrahamic Covenant. In Chapter 15, as God is dealing with this man Abram, and has given him the Covenant, and all these promises. But in spite of all of his faith, what does Abram (he will become Abraham a little later in Scriptures) say in verse 8?
"And he said, `Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?`"
In other words, what's the proof that I will inherit this land that you are promising? What happens now in these next few verses is the then typical means of transferring real estate, according to the ancient Babylonian rules, as Hammurabi had laid them out. And again the pagans, remember, did everything based on a blood sacrifice, so even in transferring of real estate they took these animals, killed them, parted the carcasses, and left a walk way down between them, and then the two men who were transferring real estate would make a blood covenant by virtue of a cut in the hand, then shake hands and thereby make a contract. Now God is going to come down and do the same thing. So this is what He says:
"And he said unto him, `Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.' And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not."
Then in verses 11 and 12 in order for this covenant to be as all covenants are from God and God alone, to make sure that Abram has nothing to do with this covenant responsibility, God puts Abram to sleep like He did Adam a long time before. Come down to verse 13, and I always say this is probably the beginning of genuine prophecy. God is telling Abraham things that will happen in the future, and they will come true exactly as He says they will.
"And he said unto Abram, `Know of a surety that thy seed (your children and your children's children) shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs (Egypt), and shall serve them; and shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation (Egypt), whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance (and we know that's exactly what they did).
"And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace (Abraham will die a physical death), thou shalt be buried in a good old age. Verse 16 is where we tie in Deuteronomy Chapters 7 and 20. Why does God tell Israel to utterly destroy the Canaanite people? Here is the reason:
"But in the fourth generation they (the children of Abraham) shall come hither again (why does God wait almost 490 years from the time of Abram's call till Joshua leads them in?): for the iniquity (or wickedness) of the Amorites (that is indicative of all the Canaanites tribes) is not yet full (hasn't reached the full mark)."
God has now given these Canaanites 490 years in all to turn from their iniquities, but they don't turn from it. Rather, they go deeper and deeper into their wickedness, immorality, and abominations until they finally get to the place where God can now tell Joshua to instruct the children of Israel that they are not to spare a one of them. They are so rotten, that unless you totally cleanse the land of them, it won't be long until your sons and daughters will be just like them.
A good example is potatoes and apples. If you have a nice container full of either one, would you think of putting one in with them that is half rotten? Of course not, because it wouldn't be very long before the whole container is rotten. And this is the exact lesson that God is trying to teach Israel. You have to remove the rot. Because unless you do, it's going to infect you and destroy you and then He'll have to deal with you. And isn't that exactly what happened?
Come back to the Book of Deuteronomy and I'm going to leave you with this to read in your spare time. Read Deuteronomy Chapter 27, verses 15 through 26, especially if you are an adult; and I will make the statement that you cannot take for granted that the God of Israel is any different than the God of today. So you can read that at your leisure. But for now let's look at Chapter 28. And again don't forget the setting. Israel is ready to go in and occupy the land of Canaan under Joshua. And we are going to see that God is going to tell Moses to write his own obituary while he is still alive. But that is what Moses does. He writes the whole thing as if it was in the past, and yet this is the beauty of Scripture. God is leading every word, and this is what we call the inspiration, so that Moses can literally write the account of his own death. But here we read:
"And it shall come to pass, if (this is a conditional word, so God is going to leave it up to them, to use their free will. He won't make robots out of them.) thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:"
That is quite a promise isn't it? Here they will be the greatest nation on the face of the earth, if they are just obedient. I know that under law it was far more demanding than what you and I have to be responsible for. But nevertheless it wasn't impossible. He wasn't asking them to live a life of misery to keep His commandments. They would have been blessed to the hilt. They could of been the happiest and most contented nation of all. Then He lists all the blessings that would come their way. Now I always qualify this by saying that we want to remember that in the Old Testament economy, God rewarded obedience with material blessings. This is all through the Old Testament. That is why so many of these great patriarchs were wealthy. God rewarded them.
Now we are being deluged today with prosperity salvation. And that is if you just get saved, then God will pour out all kinds of wealth on you. Have you heard it? Sure you have. Some of you have given me brochures from some of these outfits, where they tell you to just send them $50 or $100 and tomorrow your debt will be gone, and within a short time you will be a millionaire. They can preach it they can scream it, they can do what they want with it, but that is not according to This Book. All God has promised the believer in the Age of Grace is a roof over our head, clothes on our back, and food to eat. Beyond that it's just his Grace and blessing. There is nothing wrong with material blessings, and accumulating wealth. But if it becomes a priority, then God will frown upon it. But, here in the Old Testament, God is promising that if they are obedient He will bless them in every way. But go to verse 15. Look at that very first word. Here comes the flip side, one of the most crucial words in Scripture:
"But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:"
Now verse 16 and following, instead of the word blessed, what word is used? Cursed. And He spells out how Israel is going to receive the wrath of God because of their disobedience. And do you know, all of these things in the remaining verses have happened to the Jew? I remember reading, I think from the Jerusalem Post, where one of their most popular talk show hosts had an elderly rabbi on his program. This rabbi made the statement that the reason the Jews had been under such adversarial attack, including the holocaust, was because of their sin. And you know what happened? The phone just rang off the wall with angry Israelis maintaining that had nothing to do with it. Listen, it has everything to do with it.
I know that Satan is doing everything he can to thwart the work of God and, consequently, he does attack God's chosen people. But, on the other hand, they are responsible for their actions. And so he lists them all here. I'd like to have you go to verse 37, which is part of these curses. This is exactly what the Jew experiences in almost every nation on earth. Look what it says now in verse 37:
"And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword,..." A slur word.
People will just use a word on you that they wouldn't dream of using on anybody else. Has the Jew gotten there? Of course he has. And it's all because of their rejecting the love and mercy of their Jehovah God. Now verse 38:
"Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in;..."
And so it was all the way through with these curses and these blessings, but it was up to them.
LESSON TWO * PART III
DEUTERONOMY 26-34: JOSHUA 1-4: RAHAB
Let's get right back in Deuteronomy Chapter 28 starting at verse 63. Last lesson we were talking about the conditions of blessings or curses that God puts before the Israelites. If they would be obedient, he would richly bless them. But, on the other hand, if they would turn their back on Jehovah, and be disobedient, then God listed the curses that would befall Israel. Now verse 63:
"And it shall come to pass, that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to naught; (or to nothing) and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it."
Remember they are still sitting out here on the plains of Moab, just east of the Jordan River and east of Jericho. These are in the final days of Moses' life and he is passing this on, now, to the nation ere they go into Canaan. Now let's look at verse 64.
"And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other;..."
As we read this, keep reminding yourself, isn't this exactly what happened? This is written almost 1,500 B.C., and here we are almost 2,000 A.D. 3,500 years and it has come to pass to the exact word. Now I don't know how many of you are acquainted with the author, James Michener, but I remember reading the forward of his book, "The Source" that he wrote several years ago. "The Source," you remember traced Jewish families from all the way back. Michener is great on research, there's no doubt about it. He usually doesn't even start a book until he lives in the area. But in that forward, if I remember correctly, he made the statement that, as he researched that book, he found evidence of Jews in every culture around the globe, including (and this surprised me) the Eskimos. That's why I remember it so definitively because he mentioned it. The Book said that they would be scattered from one end of the earth to the other. Now verse 65:
"And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:" Can you imagine this? I'll give you a statistic in a little bit that will bear this out.
"In the morning thou shalt say, `Would God it were even!' And at even thou shalt say, `Would God it were morning!...'"
In other words what were they doing? They were wishing their life away. It wasn't worth living. Now I want to show you the other side of the coin; the better part. So skip over to Chapter 30:
"And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee,"
Do you see what God is telling them before it ever happens? Because of their disobedience, and unbelief, they are going to end up scattered from one end of the earth to the other. But God says.
"And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; That then (when Israel has gone full circle through the blessings and curses, then God will finally remember them) the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee."
This is then called the Palestinian Covenant. It is still a part of the Abrahamic Covenant, but it is a Palestinian Covenant; that the area of Palestine, the land of Canaan is still going to go back to the Jew. If only our politicians could understand this. That regardless of what they may try to do, regardless of how they may try to pacify the other nations of the Middle East, they might as well get it straight, that God has mandated one day the Jew is going to have her land back. Now you have to know history, and we know that after the destruction of the temple by Titus in 70 A.D., not only did God permit the Temple to be totally destroyed, but He permitted the Nation of Israel to be dispersed again. That was an act of God. A Sovereign act whereby He scattered them into every nation in the world.
But in our own time, what are we seeing? We are seeing God fulfilling His Word. He's bringing them back. And they are going to have it. No one is going to drive them into the sea. They are there for good, because The Book says they are. We will be looking more at that when we get into prophecy in about one or two more lessons. Let's go to Deuteronomy Chapter 31. This is in the final 30 days of Moses' leadership. Now we come to the very end:
"And the LORD said unto Moses, `Behold, thy days approach that thou must die (you know when I read these things, I try to put myself in their shoes. How would you feel, if all of a sudden the Lord could just somehow speak to you, and say, "Now Les, get ready. You have about 3 more days and that's it. I'm going to bury you." You see, that was Moses. He was just as human as we are. This is what God told him, and he is writing it before it happens. So the LORD told Moses to): call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge,' And Moses and Joshua went, and presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation."
"And the LORD appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud (God is approving of this event): and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle. And the LORD said unto Moses, `Behold thou shall sleep with thy fathers; and this people (watch this; this is God telling it before it happens) will rise up and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land,..." Now the Bible uses that word quite liberally. And it is not so much the physical as it is the spiritual. Always remember that adultery in the physical is that which brings together that which has no business being brought together. In the spiritual realm, you are bringing two religions together that have no business being together. In this case it is Judaism, or the Mosaic system, and any kind of pagan system. When they commingled, then it was a spiritual adultery, and God hated it.
It's no different today. When the true Church, the Body of Christ, begins to commingle with other doctrines (and here again the New Age Movement is going to come into the picture; you can't help it) and when the true church starts embracing these New Age things, then it becomes spiritual adultery. And God is going to judge it. He will not let it escape, so never forget that. God already knows that they are not going to literally destroy them. They will become soft hearted, some of them will trick them, but by hook or by crook, Satan, with all his power, is going to cause Israel to do what God said they would do. "...whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them."
"Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them,..." Now come down to verse 21:
"And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware. Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel."
I told you I was going to give you a shocking statistic. I've shared it with some of my classes already. I just read it in a national magazine, and again I have to trust the people who write these things, that they know what they are talking about. In the last 800 years, one out of every two Jews have been murdered; have faced a violent death. That is 50%. Think about that. It is hard to believe. But nevertheless, God had foretold before they even crossed the Jordan River, that all these things would happen to them:
Come over to Chapter 32. Moses now quits his speech, and has given his song for Israel to remember. Now God says in verse 48:
"And the Lord spake unto Moses that selfsame day, saying, `Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, unto mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession; And die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people.'"
After all that Moses has gone through, why in the world can't he lead them into the Promised Land? He's not old so far as his activity is concerned. It says that his eye wasn't dimmed, and his physical strength hadn't wavered. He still had everything going for him, I suppose, like a 40 year old. So it wasn't because he was getting decrepit. Let's read on and see what happened. Verse 51:
"Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel.
Then he tells him in verse 52 that he could see the land from Mt. Nebo. It is up here just east of the Dead Sea. And so he's going to get a glimpse of the whole area which is now the land of Israel. He's going to get a glimpse of it but look at what he says:
"Yet thou shalt see the land before thee; but thou shalt not go thither unto the land, which I give the children of Israel."
Let's go back to Exodus Chapter 17 and see what happens. This has been one of the questions that has come up over the years, "What was it that kept Moses from going into the Promised Land?" It wasn't a big thing. It certainly wasn't worshipping an idol or being part of the golden calf or having any immoral activity. But it went deeper than that. Let's look at Exodus 17. And in this Chapter, of course, they have just come out of Egypt. They are out there in the desert with all their multitude of people and flocks and no water. And they begin to murmur and complain. You remember the story. Now let's look at verse 5:
"And the Lord said unto Moses, `Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river (remember when he had the Nile turned to blood), take in thine hand, and go. Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock (he was to strike it one time), and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel."
Go back to the New Testament, in the book of Corinthians. All through the Scripture, any reference to the Rock refers to Christ, unless the text definitely indicates something else and that of course is possible. Look at I Corinthians Chapter 10 and verse 1:
I Corinthians 10:1,2
"Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; (what's he referring to here? Going through the Red Sea; the Exodus) And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; (that's usually a half hour lesson on the word "baptism." This is not water baptism in any way. The word indicated a placing of the nation of Israel under the leadership and authority of Moses) And did all eat the same spiritual meat (manna); And they did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ."
When Moses took that shepherd's rod and smote the Rock, who was he smiting? Christ! Absolutely he was, because, you see, it's the smitten Christ. Now, a verse just comes to mind and it's in Isaiah and I think it's Chapter 53. What does it speak in Isaiah 53 concerning Christ? "He was smitten for our transgressions." That's referring to the Cross. Now then, as a result of the work of the Cross, what can God now pour out on the human race? Living water! But how many times was he crucified? Once! And the book of Hebrews says that so emphatically. "For this he did ONCE;" never more than once. And the lesson is, those high priests did this over and over again. But Christ entered in ONCE. Let's read that scripture over in Isaiah 53, and I like the terminology. It's the same word:
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted."
This whole Chapter 53, of course, is a prophetic statement concerning the work of the Cross. Now I always have to qualify that. Do you think Isaiah knew, and could picture, the crucifixion as he wrote this? No way! Now a lot of people like to say that he did, or that the Old Testament believers saw the Cross out there in the future. No, they didn't. But God had Isaiah write this so, after the fact, we could go back to it, especially for the benefit of the Jew. Even today, the best place to start is Isaiah 53, and show to him (the Jew) that out of his Old Testament, God had the work of the Cross in mind all along. So now, let's go back to Exodus just a second. Chapter 17 again:
"...smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it,..." Not only for those millions of people, but for all their livestock. In fact, as we pointed out, it was shortly after that river of water began coming out of the rock, that even old Amalek came and tried to make war over that water.
Let's go to the thing that brought Moses down and kept him from going in. Let's go to Numbers, Chapter 20. Now this is many years after their coming out of Egypt and they are in their 40 years wilderness journey. They are down in that area of the Sinai, which is just that, it's just wilderness and it's a lot of desert. Sometimes in the rainy season, they may have the waddies full of water, but usually it was dry. They had to depend on wells. But at this particular instance, there was no water. Now, again, with all that livestock, everything was crying, bellowing, and bleating for a drink of water. Let's look at verse 2 of Chapter 20:
"And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the people chode (complained) with Moses, and spake, saying, `Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord!'"
"And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink. And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto them. And the Lord spake unto Moses saying (watch it carefully), `Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou and Aaron thy brother, and speak (not smite. Underline that word) to the rock before their eyes and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock; so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.' (now remember, this Rock is Christ) And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, `Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock (what is Moses's attitude here? Well, he's angry.)?'"
What's the pronoun here? Who is he leaving out? He's leaving God out. He's not saying, "now look, God has instructed me to speak to the rock and you will have all the water you need." That's what he should have done. But instead in his anger, and wrath, he says, "Alright, you want Aaron and I to bring you water? Watch us!" What does he become? I think he becomes arrogant. This is unlike Moses. He was the most meek man that ever lived. But here in a moment of weakness, and listen, we can't condemn him. Because we would have probably done the same thing. We would have run out of patience long before this. But here Moses finally reaches that breaking point. Now let's look at verse 11:
"And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice:..."
Now what was he destroying? The type, the picture that Christ was smitten once. And after the finished work of the Cross, how do we approach Him? Not with another smiting, but by communicating. We beseech Him, talk to Him, ask Him. The word in Romans 10:13 is "call upon the name of the Lord and thou shalt be saved." Do you see the picture? And Moses destroyed that. And so let's look at verse 12:
"And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, `Because ye..." What's the next word? "Faith." Isn't it amazing that it always comes down to that same one word, "faith," What faltered? His faith. What faltered? His obedience. And isn't it the same with us. We can be so stalwart and strong and yet in a moment of weakness, what fails us? Our faith! Every time a sin besets us, what's the problem? A lack of faith. Because if we know what God has said to us then we're not going to let these things befall us. But it's a lack of faith. Let's go on:
"...Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the Lord, and he was sanctified in them."
Come all the way back to that last Chapter of Deuteronomy now where it says that Moses was 120 years old, and he died, and God buried him there in Mt. Nebo. What did I say at the end of Genesis? God buries His servants, but never His program.
LESSON TWO * PART IV
DEUTERONOMY 26-34: JOSHUA 1-4: RAHAB
We'll go right on into the Book of Joshua. Remember, God called Moses up into Mt. Nebo. It was now time for him to pass off the scene. He could see the Promised Land, but he couldn't go in. And as we ended the Book of Genesis, with the death of Joseph, so we end the Book of Deuteronomy with Moses' death. And I think the same thing still holds true, God buries His servants, but never His program. It may look as if all hope is lost but things continue on right up until the present. You know so many people, especially these environmentalists, are so worried about the future of our planet. I certainly am not one for polluting it and nobody loves a beautiful earth more than I do. But listen, God is not going to let mankind ruin His program. This old planet is going to do all that it was intended to do until God is ready to finish it. And He'll do it His own way and in His own time, so we don't have to try to restore, "Mother Earth." Now in the Book of Joshua, God's program is going to continue on. The new leader is in place:
"Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, `Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have (past tense) I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.'"
Does that ring a bell for those of you who have been with me in Genesis? Isn't that exactly what God told Abraham? All the way from the Mediterranean Sea to the river Euphrates. Down to the Persian Gulf and then across the Red Sea and then out to the river in Egypt. That's all been deeded to the nation of Israel by way of Abraham. So God repeats it now to Joshua. But we know historically that Israel never occupied very much; we'll see that in a little while. They got a little bit east of the Dead Sea. And then under David and Solomon, they got a little bit up toward the Euphrates. But Israel has never occupied every thing that was promised back here in Genesis, and now in Joshua. That's still future. They're going to. One day, they will have the whole thing. But so far, historically, it has not happened. So now come down to verse 5. God tells Joshua:
"There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life..."
How long did Joshua reign as the leader of Israel? Twenty six years. Not long; twenty six years and then Joshua too, will die. And then Israel, as we'll see, will go into the time of the Judges and the Judges cover three hundred years. And then we come to King Saul and King David. So God said:
"...as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."
You know where else that verse is? Hebrews. The New Testament. It's the same promise that God has given to you and I. "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Now, no one knows better than you people that I am a stringent separator of Law and Grace. And that much of what God gives to Israel under Law is strictly for the Jew, under the Law. But on the other hand, there is so much that we can take and apply to our own situation today. Now here is one of them. Just as surely as God tells Joshua to be of good courage and be strong, isn't that the admonition for us today? Absolutely. In fact, a verse of Scripture comes to mind. Go back to Ephesians Chapter 6. Most of you know these verses from memory. You all have heard many sermons on them so I'm not going to enlarge on it. But I want to show you that the God of Joshua is the same God that we deal with today. And as He told Joshua to be strong and of good courage, look what He tells us through the apostle Paul, writing to the Ephesians:
"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
Do you know what high places means? It means spiritual high places. It means the big wheels of denominations or what have you, who have abdicated their position. They have turned, doctrinally, from the basic truths of Scripture. They no longer ascribe to the burial and resurrection of Christ. They will not recognize that He was the Creator God. They will no longer preach the atoning power of the Blood. Listen, we're up against that. And these guys have got a lot of influence. They've got a lot of power. They can crank out the books, like I couldn't even dream of doing. And people read them and people are influenced by them. We are up against spiritual wickedness in high places. I'm not saying all, but there are too many. I know that we still have good men out there. I know that we still have good men in seminaries, so when I say these things, I'm not making a blanket statement. My wife and I agreed many years ago that there were a couple of words that we should never use: never say never, and never say always. Because they will get you in trouble every time.
"Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to (what?) withstand (now this is a promise. God says that if we will do our part, then He will do His part.) in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore (that is, positionally), having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness: And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking (above everything. Coming back to what I have talked about. What is paramount?) the shield of faith..."
Obedience to what God has said. Several people have come and asked me about prayer, well what does it say?
"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, (that is, as the Holy Spirit is that One that takes our prayer right into the throne room of Heaven.) and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;"
I think prayer has been neglected too much. And as I've told several individuals, never underestimate the power of prayer. Don't limit God in prayer. I know there are some that say, "Well, we have no business asking God for anything but spiritual things." Listen, God is just as concerned about our physical needs and our material needs as He is with the spiritual. Remember when we were back in Genesis and I taught that God has made us not just soul and spirit, but He made us what? Body, soul and spirit. He's concerned with the whole person. If you'll come back to Joshua, just as surely as He told this man to be strong and of a good courage, so we can take that in application. So now He says:
"...for unto this people (the nation of Israel) shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them."
Here we come to that Abrahamic Covenant. God promised Abraham that not only would he have a nation arise, but that nation would have its own land in which to live. Here it is now. It's right before them. And God is telling Joshua, "You're going to divide the land," that is, to the various tribes of the twelve, all except Levi of course, and they are going to live off the inheritance of the other eleven.
"Only be thou strong and very courageous..."
And then verse 8. Now I believe that this is just as applicable, even though to Joshua, the Law is what He is talking about. Yet for you and I, living in the Age of Grace, the Word of God is still paramount in our everyday experience.
"This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein (how much?) day and night..."
You wake up in the middle of the night, what do you think about? Do you think about the Word of God? That's what God expects. And He's not expecting the impossible. The moment you wake up in the morning, what's your first thought? Oh, thank the Lord that I'm still in His care. You see that beautiful sunrise and do you give the Lord credit for it? We live in a beautiful part of Oklahoma. It's a beautiful sight to look at that sun coming up over, or setting on, those mountains. Do you stop and give the Lord the glory for it? Well this is what He wants:
"...meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: (now I've got to constantly remind us that He's talking about the law back here, but nevertheless, for you and I, it's the same God and He expects the same kind of a reverence toward Himself. And then He says, according to an Old Testament economy; He doesn't promise this in the New Testament or Paul's writing, but here He does. That if they would be obedient,) for then thou shall make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success."
That's what I call the "Prosperity Gospel" preacher, because they like to grab a verse like this. But Paul never says something like this. Paul never says that if you're obedient, that you would be rich. Paul doesn't even guarantee good health. In fact, I have to think as a good example, certainly a lady that must have loved the Lord. If you could have any judge of character by the songs that she wrote. Blind from birth, who was it? Fanny Crosby. Don't you suppose that if this held true, that she should have had her sight? Other believers went through terrible times, and according to this, that shouldn't have happened. Listen, we don't have that kind of a promise. The only thing God promises in the Age of Grace, is a roof over our head, clothes on our back, and food to eat. Everything else is just an outpouring of His grace. We don't deserve any of it. Come down to Chapter 2. Remember that Joshua is going to bring them across the Jordan River. And they're going to come across in the springtime, when Jordan is at flood stage. It isn't a little narrow river that most of us see when you get over there. It's going to be a great expanse of flood tide.
"And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, `Go view the land, even Jericho...'"
Remember, Jericho is just across the river. This is why it's good to go to the Holy Land, to go to Palestine if you get a chance. I never realized until we got there, back in 1975, that Jericho was just off the edge of the Dead Sea. I didn't realize that Jericho was just fourteen or fifteen miles, steep down a mountain, from Jerusalem. But when you get there, all of this suddenly falls into perspective. I never realized until we got there that Bethlehem was only five miles from Jerusalem. And I didn't realize that Hebron was only six miles south of Jerusalem.
I couldn't believe that I was so ignorant of the geography of the Holy Land until I got there. I always tell people that if you can afford it, by all means, go to the land of Israel and see it first hand. It's just amazing. Here they are just opposite Jericho. So they're going to spy on the place; they're going to look it over. Remember, Jericho was one of the great walled cities of that day. They had a wall large enough to drive chariots on. But not only that, they lived on the wall, some of the less fortunate. And so, as they went on the wall, they came into the house of a prostitute, believe it or not. And this harlot's name was Rahab.
I have to stop and teach a little bit about Rahab. Someone asked the question, "Les, how much faith do I have to have to be saved?" Now that's a logical question, isn't it? We sometimes wonder, "Do I believe enough?" And of course that's why a lot of people have doubts. Have I believed enough? You know what my stock answer is? How much did Rahab have? Enough to be saved. She didn't know everything all the way back to Adam. Rahab couldn't have written a book like Moses and Joshua did. But yet, Rahab had just enough faith that God could save her and call her His own. Let's read on. So the King of Jericho finds out that there are spies. And he has a good idea that they had hid out in the home of Rahab. And of course that's where they are. So anyway, the authorities from the King of Jericho come to Rahab:
"`...Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. And the woman took the two men and hid them, and said thus (now she's lying no doubt about it. But for the benefit of God's servants. And she said), There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out..."
So she's telling them, `There not in the city, they're long gone.' In fact, she uses a ploy that people still use today. She says, "They went that away." But where were they? They were still in her house. And she hides them in the thatched roof.
"But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof. And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate. And before they were laid down, (for a night's sleep) she came up unto them upon the roof; And she said unto the men, (here comes what I call that small portion of Rahab's faith. She didn't know everything, but she had enough faith that God could do what He did. So she said to these spies of Joshua) `I know 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 remember what King Balak faced back there in Moab, and the Canaanites are facing the same thing (they see this multitude of Israelites). But that didn't effect them near as much as what they had been hearing. And what had they been hearing? All that their God had been doing for them.
"For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt (40 years previous); and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things (about the power of Israel's God), our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath."
Now I call that Rahab's profession of faith. She couldn't profess faith in the Gospel as we know it, that Christ died for her, was buried, and rose from the grave for her, because it hadn't happened yet. In fact, Isaiah Chapter 53 hadn't been written yet. But what little knowledge God had given to her, she responded to it. And she embraced it in the arms of faith. I usually like to put something on the board. What is the basic difference between believing in God and believing God? It is all the difference in the world. See you can believe in God, and I suppose that 95% of Americans say, "I believe in God." The other 5% say they don't, but way down deep when the deathbed comes they do. I do not believe there is an absolute atheist. To believe in God is one thing. To believe God: that enters into faith; that implies that God has said something. And as soon as God said something and we believe it, then it is faith. For example, He tells us (in I Corinthians 15:1-4) that for our salvation we are to believe that Christ died for us, was buried, and rose from the grave, and that he did that for you and me. Now that is faith. Let's turn to the Book of Psalms for a moment. Chapter 14:
"The fool hath said in his heart, `There is no God.'"
Now the translation has two words there that are italics or in different print, and those two words are what? There is. I've told you over and over, the reason words are italicized is because they have been added by the translators, to hopefully clarify. Leave those two words out as it was originally. I like to put a comma after the word no. Now what does it say? "The fool hath said in his heart, no, God." So the fool says no, God. He is saying no to what God has said. That is the real fool.
I don't think there is a big enough fool to say that there is no God. But there are millions who say. "No, God, I don't want to believe what you say. I don't want to do what you say." Just as soon as we get like Rahab, and we can not only say, "Yes, I believe in God," but Rahab was already being obedient to God by hiding the spies. She was already putting her faith into action. Here we have one of those exceptions that I usually talk about in the Abrahamic Covenant, and that is Jew only with exceptions. Rahab is one of the exceptions. She is a Gentile, not a Jew. And she not only comes into the family of God, but in Matthew Chapter 1, we see this little bit of faith. Remember she was a harlot, a prostitute, living on the wall in Jericho; but she recognized who God was, and what He could do for her. And then in Matthew 1:5 who do we see in the genealogy of Christ? Rahab.
LESSON THREE * PART I
ISRAEL: FROM JOSHUA TO NEHEMIAH
Let's turn again to Joshua Chapter 3, and remember we closed the last lesson with Rahab, and how her little bit of faith was sufficient. And God recognized that faith by placing her in the genealogy of Christ. She is in the very family line of the Messiah. Remember that Rahab is one of four women in that genealogy. I have always said when we teach Matthew, that most people would say "I don't want those women in my family tree." But there they are. I'll explain that more in detail when we get to Matthew someday. Remember, Israel is coming in from the east side of the Jordan River. Let me put my makeshift map on the board (see page 38). Notice Jericho sits right off the northern tip of the Dead Sea.
So Israel has come out of the wilderness experience through Moab and there they are on the east side of Jordan. It is spring time and the river is now in flood stage. It may be a mile or two wide. Ordinarily the Jordan River is not very big. Those of us in Oklahoma would probably call it a creek. But at flood time it can be very wide. This is what Israel is up against. They're up against the Jordan River, in the spring at flood time. And just on the other side, about five miles in from the river, will be the city of Jericho (and of course you all know the story of Joshua and the city of Jericho). But now here in Chapter 3, I want you to see how things are changing a little bit. Remember when they came out of Egypt, the children of Israel were led by the Cloud or the Pillar of Fire. And throughout that whole forty years of wilderness experience there in the Sinai, that Cloud and the Pillar of Fire have been evident. That has been their leading force. But now when you get here, something else happens. It's not the cloud leading them into the river; now it's the Ark of the Covenant being carried by the priests. Let's pick up the account in Joshua Chapter 3:
"And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel,..."
And we're not talking about a few thousand; we're talking about a few million. I don't want you to lose that concept of this great multitude of people, plus all of their livestock, plus a great number of hangers-on (called the mixed multitude in the Scripture).
"And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host;
Now `three days' keeps popping up, doesn't it? And whenever you see that three days, there's an insinuation of the three days that Christ was in the tomb:
"And they commanded the people, saying, `When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levities bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.'"
That's going to be the sign of their leadership, the Ark of the Covenant. Remember from our Tabernacle study; that's why we had to stop there a few weeks ago. The Ark of the Covenant was that little box, overlaid with gold, in which were the tables of the Ten Commandments, the samplings of the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded. When I asked on television what was in the Ark of the Covenant, I thought I would get a hundred answers. But I only got one, and it wasn't right. But anyway, the Ark of the Covenant contained these things. And over the Ark of the Covenant, remember was what? The Mercy Seat. The place of mercy. Now when everything was completed, and they were ready to begin their Tabernacle worship, the Shekinah glory, this cloud, placed itself right above the Ark of the Covenant which was in the Holy of Holies. It's this same piece of furniture now that is signified by the very presence of God, the very mercy of God, that is going to lead the children of Israel. Back to verse 4. He says:
"Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits (that would be about three thousand feet; that would be a little over a half a mile. They were never to get too close, remember, to the Ark of the Covenant.) by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore." Now, as they are ready to cross Jordan, verse 6:
"And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, `Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people.' and they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people. And the LORD said unto Joshua, `This day will I begin to magnify thee (that is, Joshua who has now taken Moses' place, remember) in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.'"
In other words, God is going to prove to the nation of Israel that Joshua is, indeed, now His man to lead them in and occupy the whole area of Canaan which is still inhabited by the Canaanites and the various tribes. Tribes that God told Abraham would be driven out so that his offspring could have the land of Canaan.
"And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, `When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.'"
What happened? As they stepped in, the water just sort of piled up. And like the Red Sea experience, Israel is now able to cross the Jordan on dry ground even though it's at flood stage. I've emphasized before that when you deal with God and Israel, the supernatural is common place. Never be shocked by any kind of supernatural, miraculous event when God deals with Israel.
Now of course, we're living in the Age of Grace. We're not living in the time when God is dealing with His Covenant people and God is still the same, all powerful, sovereign God. We know that God can still do anything that He would want to do. But in this Age of Grace, He has chosen not to perform the supernatural. And I think the reason is that He has given us His Word, and it's all that we need. You and I today do not need a manifestation of the miraculous in order to believe and trust what God has said. But Israel, you see, even as Paul says in I Corinthians 1:22 that the Jew required, what? A sign. It was just part of their nature. They had to constantly see the very proof of God. So the miraculous was common place. Just think for a moment as you go up through Israel's history of all the supernatural events that were just constantly happening, whether it was in war or whether it was in the scope of their religion.
For example, when Elijah built that alter up on Mount Carmel; and he was going to confront all the priests of the gods of Baal. He filled the trenches with water and soaked the sacrifices with water. And then he encouraged the priests of Baal, "Alright, tell your gods to come down and burn up these sacrifices." They couldn't. After all, pagan gods are powerless when it comes to something like that. Now they do have a power that of course, comes from the other side. It's satanic power. But they didn't have the power to do what Elijah was tempting them to do. But what does Elijah call on his God to do? The same thing and what happened? Why, the fire came down, licked up the water out of the trenches, and burned up the sacrifices. It was miraculous; it was supernatural. Never doubt that it happened. And on and on we could go. Remember when old Samson finally stood between the main pillars of the pagan temple. It wasn't Samson that pulled it down. He was merely a vehicle that God used. God crumbled that temple. Again, it was a supernatural, miraculous event. Back to the text then. Supernaturally, miraculously, God stops the waters of the Jordan from flowing. They pile up and Israel crosses over on dry ground. Now verse 13:
"And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the LORD of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap (in other words, the water was just going to pile up). And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people; And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water (Now here it is, the scriptural account), [for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,] (now that would be barley harvest, which was the first crop in the early spring; March, April) That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho."
"And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan (now that's how completely God held back the waters of the Jordan River, even at flood stage. And they walked over again, as they did from Egypt on dry ground), and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan."
In Chapter 4, he sets up a memorial of twelve stones and so forth. Read that in your spare time. Now I'd like you to go to Chapter 5:
"And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward... (in other words, in this area now between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, Canaan. Occupied by these pagan nations that), ...heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their hearts melted,..."
That's what you call the fear of God. They had the proof that Israel's God was alive and well and still performing the miraculous. They had heard about what had happened 40 years earlier. Rahab rehearsed that. "Oh we've heard how God dried up the Red Sea. We've heard how your God brought you out of Egypt." Now they've been close enough. They probably had eye witnesses that saw that old Jordan River suddenly dammed up by an invisible power. "And so their hearts melted."
Now. I am going to say this with all sincerity. They've just crossed the Jordan river. They're now in enemy territory. They're only a mile or two away from the first city they're going to have to conquer. And then God stops them; and they have a tremendous national right of circumcision. Imagine! At the doorstep of the enemy, they have a national circumcision! Why? Because they had neglected it for forty years. I always have to put it this way. When it comes to dealing with God, it's first things first. In other words as far as God was concerned, it was more important that Israel fulfill their Covenant relationship with Jehovah, which of course, had been demanded from day one. First things first. Even at the doorstep of a mortal enemy, the city of Jericho, God literally lays the nation of Israel in a useless position. We think that's foolishness, don't we? That He would incapacitate the whole nation at the doorstep of their enemy. But that's what He does. So they went through this whole right of circumcision, in order to prepare them spiritually for the physical battles that were coming. It was a Covenant relationship that had to be consummated. Now then:
"And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, (that is, whatever they were living in; tents or whatever) till they were whole (or until they were all healed). And the LORD said unto Joshua, `This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you.' Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal (or rolling) unto this day. And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho."
Now mark this one down. This Passover, right here, is forty years to the day from the Passover they celebrated that night in Egypt. I was teaching in one of my classes last week on prophesy. A lot of people don't have the real, true definition of prophesy. They think that anything that speaks of something in the future is prophetic. Well maybe it is, but when you come to Old Testament Bible prophesy, always remember that not only does God foretell something, but He puts it in a time frame. God's timing is so exact that when He says something is going to happen, prophetically, at a specific time in the future, be it forty years, seventy years, five hundred years, or even a thousand years or more, you just bet the farm that it's going to happen just like God says. Now that's true prophesy and this is only associated with the nation of Israel.
Now we're still here today. Koreans are sitting on the mountain tops, they tell me, waiting for the Lord to come. They've already sold their houses and their lands and they have said that "Today is the day that the Lord will come." Well they're not the first. Others have done it before them and there may be others, but this is where they're way out in left field. Prophesy mandates dates setting for the most part. But you see there is no prophesy given to the Church. For that reason, the Church does not know when the Lord is going to come for her. Because if a date could be set, then you're putting the Church back under prophesy. You can't do that any more than you can put the church under law. You can't put the Church under prophesy because the two absolutely will not mix. So always remember that. There is nothing designated, date or time wise, for the Church. And consequently there is not prophesy, as such given to the Church. That's what insulates us and isolates us from the whole Jewish program.
I want to make a couple of real fast scripture references here. Now Israel has come through on dry ground again, even as they did coming out of Egypt. It again, is a picture I think, of our coming through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. All this, remember, is a picture for us. Everything that we try to teach out of the Old Testament has a New Testament doctrine attached to it. Now then, before we go to the New Testament. After they have finished circumcising, they have crossed the river Jordan and they have celebrated the Passover, and now in verse 11:
"And they did eat of the old corn of the land (that is the land of Canaan) on the morrow after the passover..."
This was probably the old grain that had been stored in the granaries of the Canaanites. Israel now partakes of that instead of, (now think a minute, what have they been eating for forty years?) manna. And now the manna stops. That is part of their beginnings. That was part of their weakness, you might say. But now that they have crossed over; they have gone through the river Jordan, they have gone through the circumcising, they have gone through the Passover, and now they eat of the old corn of Canaan.
What's the lesson? Now, we have to go to the New Testament. Turn with me to II Corinthians Chapter 5. Again we have to remember that in order to get to where you and I live tonight in this Age of Grace, there's only one section of your Bible that gives us all the instructions for it, and that is Romans through Hebrews (the writings of Paul). Look what Paul writes to the Corinthians, basically a Gentile congregation. He could just as well be writing to you and I tonight. Beginning with Chapter 5 verse 14:
II Corinthians 5:14,15
"For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again."
Now what is that? It's Paul's Gospel that Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead. Now verse 16 (I never get tired of teaching it and I don't think people ever get tired of hearing it):
II Corinthians 5:16
"Wherefore (whenever you see a `wherefore' or `therefore,' you always reflect back to what has just come before it. Well, Christ died for all and rose from the dead.) henceforth (what does that mean? He's going forward. He's not going back forty years. He's talking from this time on.) know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more."
Remember what I just said about manna? They feasted on manna as a result of their weakness. They had nothing to do but just wait on God. It was the very simplistic beginnings of the nation. But now that they have the crossing of Jordan behind them, and they're now ready to occupy the land, God says, "No more manna. You're going to have to get off the manna and you're going to have to eat off of what? The grain of the land." You see what Paul was saying? He was saying, "Oh I knew Christ in the flesh." And I'm sure he did, even though there's no record of the two ever meeting face to face. But Saul of Tarsus was a contemporary of Christ. I think they were basically the same age. So he had heard, and he had probably witnessed all that Jesus had done up and down the land of Israel. But Paul never concerns himself with Christ's earthly ministry. Paul concerns himself only with Christ after His resurrection. The power of the resurrection is all that Paul knows. And so he says, "Yeah, we knew Christ in the flesh, but henceforth since His resurrection, we know Him as such, no more. That has to be behind us." Let me show you another one. Turn to II Corinthians Chapter 13 verse 4:
II Corinthians 13:4a
"For though he was crucified through weakness (hey, that throws a curve at us, doesn't it? What is he referring to? His earthly ministry again. Even though He performed the miracles and everything else, what kind of a man was He? Meek, lowly, riding on the foal, or a colt of an ass. He had no place where with to lay His head, not even a pillow. He said, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests..." but He had none of those. So He was basically in a ministry of humiliation and as Paul says here, a time of weakness) yet He liveth (now what are we talking about? Resurrection. By what?) by the power of God..."
Do you see that. There has to be, even for us, a circumcision. Let's keep turning to the right. Colossians 2:11, and again Paul is writing to us Gentiles and he says:
"In whom also (and that is the Godhead of verse 9 and 10) ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands,..."
Now when something is done without hands, who's performing it? God is. It's the very power of God that is performing a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sin of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ. What has to be cut off at our salvation? The old Adam. That's spiritual circumcision. When the old Adam is cut off, it's superfluous, it's of no use. And a result of that, of course, is our entering into the Body of Christ. We enter into the Body of Christ no longer feasting on manna, but we're feasting on the old corn of the land. In Hebrews Chapter 5, Paul says, "Get off the baby bottle, it's milk, and for goodness' sake get on to a diet of what? Meat." I used to tell my little Sunday School kids, years ago, "You come into my class; you throw away the baby bottle. We're going to start feeding you steak and vegetables."
LESSON THREE * PART II
ISRAEL: FROM JOSHUA TO NEHEMIAH
Joshua, over a period of twenty-six years, gets the children of Israel to the place where they occupy all of land of Canaan west of the Jordan river, with the exception of two and half tribes who stay on the east side. One of them was Reuben, the other one was Gad, and the half tribe was Manasseh. Now I emphasize that for a reason. They are going to set up shop over here on the east side, which takes them all the way up to the Golan on the east side of the Sea of Galilee. Now remember who they are: the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh.
When we get to Christ's earthly ministry, I will be maintaining that Jesus only had anything to do with two Gentiles, the Canaanite woman and the Roman centurion. Invariably someone will come up after class and say, "Les, you forgot about the maniac in Gadara that Jesus cast the demons out of?" And I reply, "Oh he wasn't a Gentile." And they say "He had to be. He was over there on the east side of the Jordan." Then my answer is, "What are the first three letters of the word Gadarene? Well, it's Gad. That maniac of Gadarene was a descendant of the tribe of Gad, which lived on the east side of the Jordan. So when Jesus dealt with that maniac of Gadarene, He was still dealing with someone who was more Jewish than Gentile." So I merely wanted to mention that those two and a half tribes, stayed on the east side of the Jordan.
Now turn with me to II Kings Chapter 17. As we've skipped over now, the rest of the Book of Joshua which covered twenty-six years, we're going to skip through the book of Judges which covers three to four hundred years. That's a long time. That's twice as long as America has been a nation. But in that period of the Judges, if you know anything of Jewish history at all, they have occupied the land of Canaan of course, but did they destroy the Canaanite people as God instructed? No they did not. And they got soft hearted and they thought, "We could use these people for servants or for one reason or another." They left off destroying the Canaanite people. Now just exactly as God promised (we studied it two or three weeks ago), what kind of an effect did the Canaanite people have upon the children of Israel? They took them right into idolatry. Now that's hard to comprehend. How a nation of people such as Israel, who had all of the manifestations, the miracle working power of their JEHOVAH God in their midst, could turn to pagan idols. The history of Israel then, throughout the three to four hundred years of the Book of Judges, was a roller coaster. They will reach a spiritual height under a good judge, who was merely a ruler under God. A God centered government. And then when he would pass off the scene, the children of Israel would forget all about him and Jehovah, and would dip into idolatry and down they would go. Enemies would come in and overrun them and tax them, and put them under servitude. And finally the Jews would cry and lament their state and God would hear them and bring another Judge on the scene. Now when I speak of the Judges, I'm talking about Gideon, Samson (although he was a sorry one), Barak, and the last of course was Samuel.
So every time they have a good judge come on the scene, Israel comes up spiritually, prospers materially and they have it pretty good. And then he dies and down they go. Then another good judge comes and up they go again. There was three to four hundred years of that. Now come back with me to I Samuel Chapter 8. Israel, after all of her ups and downs, has it fairly good at the time of Samuel. But Samuel is getting old. And his sons, of course were a grief to him. They were certainly not Godly. And so when his ungodly sons started carrying on, the people started to complain to Samuel. After all, his sons were not honoring Jehovah. And so they come to this place in I Samuel 8:4:
I Samuel 8:4,5
"Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And they said unto him, `Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: (they are not in relationship to Jehovah like you are) now make us a king to judge (or rule) us like (what?) all the nations.'"
See, everyone had their King. You want to remember that when God made that Covenant first with Abraham and then with Moses and the nation of Israel, the first thing that He mandated was that Israel was to be different. They were to be a set-apart nation of people. That's what sanctification really means. They were to be a sanctified people. They weren't supposed to be like the rest of the nations. But now what do they want? "Hey, we want to be like everybody else. They've all got a King, we want a King." And poor old Samuel is just heartbroken. Read on, verse 6:
I Samuel 8:6,7a
"But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, `Give us a king to judge (or rule) us.' And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, `Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: (do you hear what He's saying? He's saying, "Samuel, let them have their way.") For they have not rejected thee (Samuel), but they have rejected me,...'"
They had turned on Jehovah. Now I imagine that Israel well knew that all these nations around them that had kings were pagan. They were idolaters, every one of them. I always have to stress that no one but Israel had the knowledge of the One True God. And when Israel would leave off and go into idolatry, there was no witness left. And then God would have to, again, pick out one man, such as a Gideon or a Samson or a Samuel. It was a sorry state of affairs. So anyway, they've rejected God and He says, "Go ahead and let them have a king." And when you get into Chapter 9, you get the account of Israel choosing their first king, and who is it? King Saul.
Several people had written that they picked this up through the program, and I'm glad when people think about some of these things. All through Scripture, there is a format that is never abridged and it is, first the natural and then the spiritual. It carries all the way through, from Genesis to Revelations. Now what do I mean, first the natural and then the spiritual? Adam, the first man was natural. He was of the earth; he was earthy. The second Adam, as we pick up then in Romans and Corinthians is who? Christ. And He wasn't earthy, He was spiritual. First the natural and then the spiritual. So now you come into the birth of the first two boys on record. The first was Cain, a natural man who had no faith. The second was Able, the spiritual man. You come forward a little (and I'm just hitting a few of the well known ones) and find Esau, the natural, no faith, and Jacob, the spiritual.
Now we come to King Saul, the natural, not a godly man. And who will follow him? David, the spiritual. And all the way through Scripture. Now bring it down to our own situation. We come on the scene and what are we? We're natural. That's our lost estate, we're natural. We're of the flesh. But when we have our born again experience, we become what? Spiritual. And I said all the way to the very end. First you have the false Christ, the counterfeit Christ, the man AntiChrist, the natural. And he will be followed by the second coming again of the true Christ, the spiritual. So just watch for it, all through Scripture. First the natural and then the spiritual.
So then King Saul comes on the scene as the first king. He is natural. He is of the flesh. He is not of the spirit of God. And of course you know what happened to Saul during his reign. He finally went off the scene in disrepute and King David comes on the scene and takes his place. Now just as a quick, off-the-cuff review of Israel's history. Most of you are aware that after David dies, and Solomon takes the throne, Solomon took the Kingdom of Israel to it's greatest height. Under Solomon, Israel even had a little more than the 2 1/2 tribes had on the east side of Jordan. Remember under the Abrahamic Covenant the Euphrates River was the eastern border of the Nation of Israel. King Solomon didn't get all their land, but he got more than any other of Israel's kings. Of course, Israel will have to wait until Christ returns and sets up His Kingdom to receive all the land that was promised to them under the Abrahamic Covenant. But, nevertheless, under King David and King Solomon, Israel did reach a pinnacle of greatness. Remember what the Queen of Sheba said? "Why, the half hasn't even been told of the glory of Solomon's Kingdom."
It had great copper mines, which the scoffers said for years they couldn't have had because they didn't have the technology. Well, now we know they did. Solomon indeed produced copper. He had chariots and horsemen by the thousands. They had a great world trade with the then-known world under Solomon. But even though Solomon started out as a Godly king, how did he finally wind up? Well, with his 900 pagan wives, and his altars all over Israel, he was setting the stage for the fall and demise again of God's Covenant people.
So Solomon dies. And Solomon has a son by the name of Rehoboam. And he was naturally heir apparent to the throne. And so Rehoboam comes on the scene and immediately the elders of Israel tell him, "Now look, your father built a great and glorious kingdom, but it was at the expense of the ordinary taxpayer." Aren't we up against the same thing today? Remember, a few years ago, when they had that tax increase that was supposed to balance the budget. For every dollar that they raised our taxes, how much did they spend? A dollar and eighty-three cents. That's exactly what is happening to us. They can raise our taxes, but they spend twice as much as they take in. Well, it was the same way under Solomon. Nothing is new under the sun. They taxed them to death. So they told Rehoboam, "Now look, your father Solomon was a great king, but he taxed us and he taxed us and he taxed us. Back off from that and Israel will just elevate you. They will just think the world of you." Good advice wasn't it. But what did Rehoboam do? He said, "No way. Tax them some more."
So when Rehoboam refused to lower the taxes and keep peace among the people, the ten tribes of the north (except Judah and Benjamin) seceded I guess we would say. And they said, "Alright, we'll have our own king." And that turned out to be a man who was not even in the kingly or royal line. And his name was Jeroboam. It's not necessary to remember these names, but nevertheless you have Rehoboam, now, a son of Solomon, who is going to set up shop on his father's throne in Jerusalem, where of course, the Temple is now. So we have these ten tribes of the north which we normally refer to as Israel, or the northern kingdom. And we have Judah and Benjamin down here in the southern part. And so Rehoboam is king here in Jerusalem, and Jeroboam becomes the king of the northern ten tribes. Keep that in mind because I think this is relatively important, even up to our own day. So the nation is divided. The first part of Israel that will go into abject idolatry will be the northern kingdom under Jeroboam. He immediately leads the northern ten tribes into idolatrous worship. So they're going to go down the banana peel first. A hundred and fifty years later, Judah is going to follow.
So now we come to II Kings Chapter 17. Again, a lot of time has gone by. The years are piling up. We are at the time of the fall of these northern tribes, about 740 or 750 B.C. Look what God has to do. They've been going down, down, down. Here was the state of Israel. I know that this is almost too fast a review of Israel's history, but not everybody likes history like I do, so I won't bore you with it unnecessarily. But as the nation has been divided, they have set up a separate government and religious system at Samaria. And now Syria is up here to the northeast. And Syria has always been a mortal enemy of Israel. And The Book says:
II Kings 17:7-9a,10
"For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods, And walked in the statues of (who?) the heathen (imagine. They became just exactly like those heathen Canaanites all around them.), whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the LORD their God... And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:"
Can you imagine what that was like? As you would walk through the countryside of Israel, wherever there was a little hill with trees growing on it, what was in the middle of it? Some idol, or shrine. So it was easy to just stop and worship.
II Kings 17:11
"And when they burnt incense in all the high place, as did the heather whom the LORD carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the LORD to anger:"
Remember, it wasn't that they just bowed their knee to an idol, which was bad enough. But when you go into idolatry, you go into abject immorality as well; in the name of religion. That is the way it has always been, and always will be. So they went into all the sins of the heathens:
II Kings 17:12
"For they served idols, whereof the LORD had said unto them, `Ye shall not do this thing.'"
II Kings 17:14a,15a,16a
"Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks,... And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers,... And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God (do you see what they are doing? They are just literally telling God, "Get out of my life, we don't want you, we don't want you in our national life or personal life."),..."
II Kings 17:17
"And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire,..."
They actually offered their own little children to the gods in fire. The idol of Molock was sort of like a Buddha with his arms outstretched, and they would heat that white hot, and then lay their babies on the outstretched arms of the god Molock. That's just unbelievable that an Israelite would do that. Well God couldn't take it any more.
Let's leave II Kings for a moment and go to Jeremiah. Jeremiah foretold all these things and tried to warn Israel as well as Judah. Remember Jeremiah was primarily in the Southern Kingdom. Now, in Jeremiah 44, we see the mentality of the Israelites. And this is why God had to deal so severely with them. They had completely turned their back on everything He had tried to do with them. Now as we look at all of this, keep your mind on Genesis 12, when God called Abraham, and made that Covenant with him, that they were to be a nation of people living in the land, who would in turn be under His Sovereign Kingship. And then, if they would be a nation of believers, God would use them to take a knowledge of Himself to all those heathen around them. But you see, they are losing their set-apart position. They are losing everything God had given them. Now look what they do. It looks like we are seeing the same thing today. I'm not anti-feminist, you ladies know that. But when it comes to apostasy in spiritual things, the women lead the way. Look at it here:
"Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods (who was doing it? Their wives) and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying, `As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee.
"But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven (who was the queen of heaven? The female goddess. It was always the female goddess that was at the very core of most abject idolatry.), and to pour out drink offerings unto her,...
"But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things (they are saying, "If we don't worship the queen of heaven, we won't have anything. We can't even get food to eat if we don't worship her." That is what they are saying.),..."
"Then Jeremiah said unto all the people, to the men, and to the women, and to all the people which had given him that answer, saying, `The incense that ye burned in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, ye, and your fathers, your kings, and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them, and came it not into his mind? So that the LORD could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings,...'"
Now let's come back to II Kings. What did He finally have to do? Remember, we are talking about the Northern 10 Tribes:
II Kings 17:18
"Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only."
II Kings 17:20,21a,22,23
"And the LORD rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight. For he rent Israel from the house of David (that was when they succeeded); and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king:... For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them (and now read that last verse); Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day."
LESSON THREE * PART III
ISRAEL: FROM JOSHUA TO NEHEMIAH
I would like for you to come back with me momentarily to II Kings Chapter 17 verse 23. Remember now, Israel has been a divided nation now for many years. We have the ten tribes to the north. We have the two tribes to the south; that was basically Judah and Benjamin. And then the capital of the northern Kingdom was Samaria, which we get the Samaritans of Christ's day. Then the Syrian King, Sennacherib or one of the others, would come in and they would take the northern kingdom captive. And take them out of the land. Now let's read verse 23.
II Kings 17:23a
"Until the LORD (providentially or sovereignly) removed Israel out of His sight,..."
Now that's a terrible statement, isn't it? We feel that America is at the same kind of a crossroads. You know I've always said that I wasn't a preacher, so I'm not going to get on the stump and start preaching. But listen, I'm worried about our nation. I'm a patriot. I love America. I love my freedom; not just to worship but for everything. Imagine! There isn't a nation on earth that has the freedoms that the Americans have. I mean, we can just pick up and change jobs. We can go anywhere we want to go. We can pursue any profession or occupation that we want to pursue. Listen, there's not many places in the world that you can do that.
But we're seeing it at a crossroads. And it's not because of a political party, per se. But it's because of the moral climate of our nation. And I don't care whether it's Republican or Democrat or Independent. When the moral climate declines, the moral fabric of our nation begins to fall apart. Some party can't change it. The Republicans can't change it. The Democrats can't change it. It's going to have to be an intervention by the power of God. We have to come back to The Book. And I like to feel that I have a small part in that. Of getting people, at least those watching the program, and getting them into the Book with a renewed interest in God's Word. You know, it's being ridiculed; it's being scoffed at, by and large. But if people will just take the time to study it, like we do in my classes, it's not so impossible to believe all this. It's so valid, so logical. I mean, there's nothing else more logical than what is laid down in This Book. But Israel had come to the place where God just simply puts them out of His mind. So He permitted the Assyrians to come down and take them captive.
Now I have to stop here for a moment, because there is so much false teaching. Remember a few weeks ago I made comment about the satanic powers in high places, and I said, "Now that doesn't mean in government, but in spiritual places." Well you know, I got home that afternoon, and the Biblical Archaeological Review magazine was in the mail. And in there was an article that I wanted to share with the class here as well as with the television audience, that said explicitly just what I was talking about. And we want to share this with you. Sometimes people in high places come out and ridicule the things that we know are the truth of God's Words under the name of "scholarship." Now I have nothing against education. In fact, I wish that I had a few degrees: instead I have none. And I make no apology for that. But if education takes a man to the place where he says some of the stuff that these people say, I'm glad that I haven't got it. And I'm sure that most people would agree with me.
But anyway, there is so much teaching, and I think it primarily came about from one great Bible preacher, who's now gone. As near as I can tell, he more or less instigated the doctrine of British Israelism. And he takes the approach that these northern ten tribes were taken captive up into Syria, and that they never came back tribally. Consequently we have the term, "the lost ten tribes," and you've all heard it, haven't you? As if they been lost and God lost track of them. Don't you kid yourself. Number one, even though the Assyrians might have taken a lot of them captive out of the northern part of Israel, I want to show you from Scripture that so many of them migrated down into the Southern Kingdom, down into Judah. So that by the time that Judah comes into the same place that the Babylonians are going to come and take them captive, it isn't just two tribes going to Babylon, it's going to be all twelve.
Alright now let's chase down some scriptures. Go with me to II Chronicles Chapter 13. And then in your spare time, if you don't mind reading some of these statistics of history in the Kings and the Chronicles, you can chase this down more in detail than I have been able to so far. But in II Chronicles Chapter 13, I'd like to have you come down to verse 3. Now remember, this is while both segments of the country are still in place, the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom. And they're about ready for a civil war. That's just about what it really amounts to:
II Chronicles 13:3
"And Abijah set the battle in array with an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand chosen men (now Abijah was from the Southern Kingdom of Judah and Benjamin. He can only raise four hundred thousand top troops): Jeroboam (now remember, he was the first king of the Northern Kingdom. He was the one who seceded, as I taught here last week.) also set the battle in array against him (that is, against Abijah. And how many troops does he have?) with eight hundred thousand chosen men, being mighty men of valour."
Now that's logical, because you have ten tribes up here and only two down here. So this king is able to put eight hundred thousand men of war against the Southern Kingdom's four hundred thousand. Now as you follow the numbers through the intervening years of history, you find that you finally get to the place where the Northern Kingdom can only put five hundred and eighty thousand troops in the field. The ten tribes, so called. Whereas the Southern Kingdom comes on the scene with a million one hundred and sixty thousand. Well, what has happened? Well, there's been a mass migration of Israelites from the northern down into the southern. Over the years they just keep filtering down and filtering down, so that the tables are completely turned. And then when you finally get to the place at the end of the history of the Northern Ten Tribes, look how they have been so depleted in numbers.
I Kings 20:27a
"And the children of Israel were numbered (that is of the Northern Kingdom, now we're not talking about Judah), and were all present, and went against them (that is, against Benhadad of the Syrians): and the children of Israel pitched before them like two little flocks of kids;..."
What does that tell you? Well, they weren't even enough to fool with. That's all they had left. Now let me see if I can find another verse. Come back with me again to II Chronicles Chapter 15 to prove my point that we have a constant migration of Israelites from the Ten Northern Tribes down into Judah. So in reality, all of Israel is down here at least representatively. II Chronicles Chapter 15 verse 9 makes it plain that this is just what happened:
II Chronicles 15:9,10
"And he (Asa, from verse 8) gathered all Judah and Benjamin (that's the southern kingdom), and the strangers (you could say the non-citizens, the aliens) with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon (see, those were all tribes out of that Northern Kingdom): for they fell to him out of Israel in (what?) abundance, (see, they were migrating down to him so fast that he couldn't even keep track. And Israel is being depleted and Judah is being expanded.) when they saw that the LORD his God was with him. So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa."
Let's go all the way to the New Testament. Years and years later. Go back to the Book of Acts Chapter 2 verse 22. Now this is about seven hundred years later. Time just keeps rolling by. Seven hundred years later Christ has already come and been crucified and now we're in the Book of Acts. Now let's look what Peter says to that Jewish audience out there on that temple complex.
"Ye men of (Judah? Where?) Israel,..."
He's not just talking to the residents of two tribes. He's talking to all twelve tribes. Now verse 36 he says it even better. As he winds down this sermon of Acts Chapter 2, Peter says:
"Therefore let all the house of Israel..."
Is that two tribes? No, that's all of them. When he says all the house of Israel, he means all the house of Israel. Those tribes aren't lost. Oh, parts of them may have disappeared into the woodwork. Some of them we know came back and set up worship in Samaria. And they became the hated Samaritans of Jesus' day, because they were half breeds. Remember that the true Jew was proud of his heritage. He was proud of his bloodline. But these Samaritans had intermarried and they had adulterated their bloodline and they had also adulterated their worship. They had set up a false temple. And consequently, the Jews of Jesus' day wouldn't even go through Samaria because they were hated for being half-breeds. But they were still more Jew than they were Gentile.
So when Jesus talks to the woman of Samaria at the well, I still maintain that He's not talking to Gentile, He's talking to a Jew. Now let's go back one step further. Go back to the Book of Revelation Chapter 7. And of course this is still future. And I like to think not very far into the future. I think we're getting very close to it. I think that things are winding down so fast that it's going to be here before we know it. But look what happens. As soon as the tribulation has begun, one of the first things that happens in Jerusalem is the appearance of God's two witnesses that are going to preach to the nation of Israel. And out of their preaching, the first thing I think that happens are the setting aside of these hundred and forty four thousand Jews. Now contrary to one of the cults that's so evident, who maintains that they're going to be the hundred and forty four thousand? Remember these hundred and forty four thousand are Jews. Look at it. Plain as it can be. Verse 4. And this is shortly after the opening of the seven years of tribulation:
"And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of (how many?) all the tribes of the children of Israel."
You can't make it any plainer than that. It doesn't say two tribes. It doesn't say the rest are lost. But they're all represented. This is one of the amazing things about the nation of Israel. They've been in a dispersion of one sort or another for almost twenty seven hundred years. Out amongst all the nations of the world, and yet they're still what? They're still Jew. And then on top of that, when God brings them back to the land as we see them going back now, whether it's out of Russia or wherever, they're Jews. And even though they themselves cannot tell you what tribe they came from, I know someone who knows. God does.
He has providentially kept at least this many young Jews fairly pure in their tribal blood line so that He can say, "Twelve thousand from the tribe of Reuben. Twelve thousand from the tribe of Gad. Twelve thousand from the tribe of Asher." And right on down the line, He's going to be able to finger them and say, "You're from that tribe." This is amazing; after all these hundreds of years, there's still going to be that many young, Jewish men who are going to have their tribal lineage intact enough for God to say, "You're from the tribe of Reuben." Now that's your hundred and forty four thousand, and nothing else. They're Jews. They're going to be young Jewish men, who are going to circumvent this globe with the preaching of the Gospel (not of Grace, that has ended). The Church is gone and God is right back where He left off with Israel; back up there in the early part of Acts. And these young Jewish men are going to proclaim the coming of The King. The Gospel of the Kingdom. But I want you to see that all twelve tribes are going to be represented. Alright then, let's go back quickly and pick up the remaining history for these two tribes and all the immigrants from the other tribes. About a hundred and fifty years after the Northern Kingdoms are taken into captivity and it's left a waste land, Judah's turn comes. They too have gone into abject idolatry. And for that we have to go all the way to the last Chapter of II Chronicles. Remember who we're dealing with, the Southern Kingdom in the area of Jerusalem:
II Chronicles 36:15
"And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place:"
What's it saying? God sent prophet after prophet; first to the Northern Kingdom (and again, we didn't touch on it when we were dealing with the Northern Kingdom, but who were two of the great prophets of Israel up north? Elijah and Elisha. They prophesied and they worked the nation constantly, trying to bring them back, but they would not). Now God does the same thing with Judah.
Jeremiah was a prophet down here in Judah. That's why he's called the weeping prophet, because he could see (just like I said about America) the handwriting on the wall concerning Judah. God had told him that if they didn't turn from their idolatry what would happen to them. Jeremiah prophesied, "The Babylonians will come and overrun you. They will kill you without mercy. They will come and take what's left of you captive." And do you know what they did with Jeremiah? The threw him into a dank, wet dungeon and left him there to rot. And that's exactly where the Babylonians found Jeremiah, down in a dungeon. And do you know why he was there? Because he tried to warn his people. But they wouldn't listen. So let's go on. God, often times, sent the prophets and the messengers to warn them:
II Chronicles 36:16
"But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his Words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy."
Now, you know, one of the parables refers to that. And those of you who have been in my classes know which one that is. You remember where a husbandman set up a vineyard. Got it all prepared and got it into production. And then where did he go? He went off to a far country. And after a while he thought, "Boy, I had better have someone go and check on my vineyard." So he sent a servant, and what did they do to the servant? They killed him. So some time later, he sent another servant and what did they do with him? The killed him. Finally he said, after losing all those servants, "Well maybe if I send my son, they'll listen to him." So he sent his son, and what did the keepers of the vineyard do to the son? They killed him. Now what was the parable talking about? God dealing with Israel. So when He sent the prophets into Israel, what did they do with them? They killed them. Finally He sent his Son and what did they do with Him? They killed him. Well anyway, let's get back to this. So finally they:
II Chronicles 36:16b-18a
"...despised his Words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy (no hope. isn't that sad?). Therefore he brought upon them the King of the Chaldees (or the Babylonians from Babylon), who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: He (God) gave them all into his (the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar's) hand. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD,..."
Now remember that the temple that Solomon built was beautiful. It was gorgeous. It had tons of gold and silver and precious stones in it. And all the utensils that were made of gold. And what happened to them? They took them to Babylon. Alright, verse 20:
II Chronicles 36:20,21
"And them that had escaped from the sword carried he (that is, Nebuchadnezzar) away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia (in other words, throughout the whole concept of the nation of Babylon until they were defeated by the Medes and the Persians. Now all this happened): To (what?) fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah (see now when God prophesies something, and especially when it's in a time frame, it's going to happen), until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years."
That's seventy years. What had happened? Well you see, when Israel went into the land under Joshua, and they were occupying the whole land of Canaan, one of the laws that God laid down was that every seventh year, the farm land was not to be cropped. It was called a sabbatical year, and we still use the term. But you see, Israel hadn't been in the land very long and their greed got the best of them. What did they do the seventh year? They farmed it anyway. And God said, "I'm going to get it back. The land is going to lay fallow for seventy years. One out of every seven that you obliterated it." So how long did they forget to keep the sabbatical? Four hundred and ninety years. And God said, "The land will lay rest." So they were in captivity in Babylon, and that's clear out here if you remember, on the Euphrates, for seventy years. And while they're gone, the land remains empty. It just becomes a habitation of wild animals and what have you.
II Chronicles 36:22
"Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,"
Now you remember that is was the Persians and the Medes who destroyed Babylon. They had run their course. And Daniel, when we come to it, is the second man in the Babylonian kingdom. But when the Medes and the Persians overrun Babylon, Daniel winds up as the second man in the Persian Kingdom. Amazing. He must have been some sort of a man. But anyway, Cyrus is now the Persian king. And when the seventy years are expired, Cyrus, who was named in Jeremiah's writing hundreds of years before, comes on the scene and God uses him to proclaim:
II Chronicles 36:23
"Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, `All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he (God) hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.'"
LESSON THREE * PART IV
ISRAEL: FROM JOSHUA TO NEHEMIAH
Now I would like for you to turn to the Book of Ezra. I mentioned two or three lessons ago, about the spiritual wickedness in high places. And immediately I felt I might be misunderstood, so I qualified what I meant right away. I wasn't talking about our local pastors, and men who are sincere and are proclaiming The Word. When I castigated some of these false teachers, what I was talking about were the big wheel scholars, and as I said in my last lesson (I didn't have the magazine handy), when I got home, I had a copy of the Archaeology Review in my mail box, and there was an article in there titled, "Did Jesus really die on the Cross?"
Fortunately, I had seen a portion of a TV program interviewing the lady who wrote the book, and she had cast all this doubt on the Scriptures. And she is a "scholar" now at the University of Sydney in Australia. She is almost totally committed to studying the Dead Sea Scrolls. There is nothing wrong with that. Now the Archaeology Review had read her book and was reviewing it. And to make a long story short she jumps to the conclusion that the famous teacher of righteousness of the Qumran text is John the Baptist. And that his opponent, the wicked priest whom she conflates with the man of the lie, is none other then Jesus. Imagine! and she's a scholar. She also scoffs at the Virgin Birth and writes that Joseph was the father of Jesus." And she goes on to say, "The story that Jesus died on the Cross is "fiction."
So, in short, the review was that the book was a farce from start to finish. But anyway, I want you to be aware of a verse in the Book of Romans, in Chapter 1:22. Paul writes "Professing themselves wise, they became fools." Now isn't that perfect? And that is exactly what we are up against. I had a lady tell me a couple of years ago, "Les I'm beginning to feel a belligerent antagonism against my faith." I thought maybe she was exaggerating a little, but listen, it's coming on strong. I'm having a lot of people in my classes who are beginning to feel it. Also our Christian students are feeling the pressure in our university environment. They hear, "To believe this stuff, you must be some kind of a nut."
Now listen, here we have to be concerned as Christians where America is going. I read an article by a university professor years ago; I think he was at the University of Minnesota. This was back in the 60's and he was advocating that if Fundamental Christendom stands in the way of social progress, one of the ways to reduce their influence would be to commit them to insane asylums. After all they are not mentally fit for our society. You see Hitler and Stalin did the same thing. And now we have people in this country that are advocating that same thing. It is not that far away. I'm not a prophet of doom and gloom, as you well know, but sometimes we have to be made aware of what we are up against.
Back to Ezra. At the end of our last program we saw the Southern Kingdom of Judah overrun by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and he empties the land of the Jews. They end up in captivity for seventy years. Now at the end of the seventy years Cyrus, the King of Persia, made a decree that the Jews could go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. They could then re-establish temple worship, and re-establish their national entity, of course, under his sovereignty. Now in Ezra Chapter 1 verse 1.
"Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled (He said it years before it happened), the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, `Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, `The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he (The God of heaven) hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.'"
So he puts the proclamation out to the Jews, who have been there seventy years. In fact two things happen to the Jews in that seventy years. Number one, they were cured once and for all of idolatry. A Jew may be anything but orthodox, but he will never be an idolater. For example, you will not find a Jew worshiping oriental religion. The second thing that happened is that they found out they had an acumen for business. That is where they learned it. In Babylon they became tremendous business people. Now remember Babylon was the beginning of our whole system of banking. In Daniel Chapter 2, we see all the various empires in that image that Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of, and we see that all of it is consummated with the second coming of Christ. All of the remnants of those previous empires in Daniel 2 - the Babylonians, Medes and Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans, as well as the revived Roman Empire, will all have residues of those previous empires with us today. And so the residue of the ancient Kingdom of Babylon that is part and parcel of our everyday existence is banking. The whole idea of interest and usury was really begun on that kind of scale in Babylon. So the Jew just embraced it and took that with them. But the amazing thing is that of all who were taken to Babylon (and it could have been a million), precious few take the offer to go back to Jerusalem and build the temple. We pick that up in Chapter 2 verse 64. Cyrus has now made it possible for any Jew to go back to Jerusalem. Remember, it's a barren wilderness; there is nothing there. It will take a lot of hard work. But it was still home. Now look how many take the offer:
"The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore."
That's 42,360 Jews. That's not very many is it? This is about 535 B.C. Remember Nebuchadnezzar came over here to Israel in 606 B.C. and 70 years later they are permitted to come back and rebuild the temple. Then turn over to Nehemiah for more of these historical events. They are so basic to understanding prophecy. Now remember I told you a few lessons back that all prophecy is centered on the nation of Israel. There is no prophecy to the Church. So if you really want to be a student of prophecy, you had better learn, and like, history. Because everything is going to be based on the history of Israel. Now some years later, almost 100 years after Ezra led those 42,360 Jews back and began to rebuild the temple, there comes another group also from Babylon, under yet another King and his name is Artaxerxes. We pick this up in Chapter 2 verse 1.
"And it came to pass in the month Nisan (April) in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I (Nehemiah) had not been beforetime sad in his presence. Wherefore the king said unto me, `Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart, Then I (Nehemiah) was very sore afraid,"
Now just put yourself in his shoes. You come before a king, and back in those days kings had power, and if you insulted him even a little bit, he could simply have you put to death. So I can see where old Nehemiah, when the king recognized that something was bothering him, would be scared stiff. And do you know what he did? Now here is the whole idea. You don't have to be in a prayer closet, or on your knees in a church pew or altar to pray. You don't even have to pray out loud. So what does Nehemiah do? The only thing left to do. He prayed.
"And said unto the king, `let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?' Then the king said unto me, `For what doest thou make request?' (can't you just see old Nehemiah just melt.) So I prayed to the God of heaven."
Now he didn't pray audibly in front of that king. So how did he pray? Silently. Does God read our thoughts? You had better believe it. The Psalmist says it as plain as day. "He knows our thoughts like an open book." I know we can't add to Scripture, but sometimes I can't help it. Like a book in large print. I mean there is nothing we can keep from Him. He knows our every thought. So He saw and heard Nehemiah's prayer. And as a result of it, Nehemiah is given permission to also go back to Jerusalem (not to build the temple, that happened under Ezra, but) to rebuild the city walls. Now I'm emphasizing that because when we get to Daniel Chapter 9, in a few more lessons, the prophecy there is based not on the day Ezra comes back, but on the day Nehemiah comes back. If I remember correctly, Daniel's prophecy from that day, I believe is April 14, 445 B.C. That is when Nehemiah got his permission to rebuild the city walls until Palm Sunday was fulfilled to the exact day.
Let's go to Daniel in the short time we have left. Daniel is writing from Babylon, while in captivity. We won't get into the prophetic part of it during this program, but nevertheless, I want to introduce you to the Book of Daniel, historically and hopefully, prophetically. Now when Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, and destroyed the Temple, and took the Jews captive, Daniel and his friends were just young lads. Probably early teen-agers.
Now the scoffers just love to scoff at the Book of Daniel, and they maintain that some impostor wrote this long after the fact (that it is not what we claim it to be). And one of their main arguments is that Daniel writes a good portion of this Book in the Aramaic language, and the rest of it in the Hebrew. But when you really analyze it, that's not a point of scoffing, that's a point of inspirational truth. Here he is a young Hebrew lad when he is brought captive to Babylon. Being in that environment, he is going to learn the native language. He already knew his Hebrew. But out in Babylon, in the course of instructions by the King to prepare Daniel and some of the other sharp young Jewish men for service in his government, they naturally learned the Aramaic language. So it is natural that Daniel learns to write in Aramaic. Secondly you need to remember that Daniel is a prophecy that is going to deal with the Gentile empires as they have contact with the nation of Israel. That is why prophecy is always centered on Israel, but it will include those Gentile empires that included Israel in their conquest. That is why you don't read about any great Russian or German Emperor, you don't read about the Kingdom of Great Britain, because they were not centered with the nation of Israel. But these Kingdoms, as we will see them come on the scene in the Book of Daniel, were all intricately involved with the Jew, so they come into prophecy. Now a verse or two in Daniel Chapter l:
"In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his (Nebuchadnezzar's) hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar (back to Babylon) to the house of his god;..."
In other words, he took all of those gold, silver, and brazen vessels from Jerusalem back to Babylon and put them in one of the temples of his god. I think Nebuchadnezzar got away with it, because he probably didn't use them until you come to that great drunken feast of Belshazzar, when they brought in the vessels and used them for their partying. And then what happened? The hand writing on the wall. Before we go any further in the Book of Daniel (this now is into the area of the Gentile empires), I want to take you to Luke Chapter 21. We probably won't get back to Daniel again until our next lesson. Here we have Jesus speaking. And he is addressing the scribes and elders and priests:
"And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these (Jesus says) be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. (prophecy will always be fulfilled; nothing can stop that) But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land (Israel), and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations (now there is the clue): and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the gentiles, until..."
There is that time word "until." It doesn't put a day on it, but nevertheless there is coming a time when the Gentiles will no longer trod the streets of Jerusalem. Let's look closely at that last verse we read. It said "they shall be led away captive into all nations;" The casual reader will read this verse and automatically think this is Armageddon, but it is not. The Jews will not go into captivity during the tribulation period. Jesus here is referring to the besieging of Jerusalem by Titus the Roman General in 70 AD. But as He makes this statement concerning Jerusalem, He goes on to say that Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the heavy boot of Gentile armies until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
The times of the Gentiles of course started back here when Nebuchadnezzar first took Jerusalem. Jerusalem, for the most part, has been under Gentile dominion ever since, and will be until Christ returns. We look at Israel tonight and think she is a sovereign state. The Gentiles aren't overlording her. Oh No? How much can Israel do without the permission or the financial aid of the Gentiles? They wouldn't last overnight. And although they have accomplished a lot, they are still under the control basically of the Gentiles.
Now I think I have time to go to Romans Chapter 11. Here we have another statement concerning the Gentiles, but it is in the exact opposite setting. The times of the Gentiles is that time when the Gentiles are overlording the Nation of Israel as I said, and I call it the filling of the cup of iniquity of the Gentiles. They are filling it and filling it and filling it, as they make that slide down, down, down. But counteractive to that, we have another group of Gentiles and here Paul speaks of them:
"For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery (it has never been revealed before), lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness (spiritual blindness) in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in."
What is the fullness of the Gentiles? The Body of Christ. As Gentiles are being saved, they are being placed into the Body of Christ. And when the last Gentile has been saved and the Body of Christ is full, it will be taken out (the Rapture) and God will pick up once again where He left off with Israel.
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