I am writing directly from Les Feldick Ministries - a clear and concise record of what the bible says, word-for-word and their meanings to us.
"The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah,…" See how you can see right from the text, he is a prophet of the Southern Kingdom. See, now here’s how chronologists can date so much of Scripture from just little tidbits of information like this, "In the days of King Uzziah." Again, history can pretty much nail down the time at which King Uzziah ruled and reigned in Jerusalem. All right, so these are visions that he saw concerning:
"…Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, (all) kings of Judah." Now, here begins Isaiah’s controversy with the nation of Israel.
"Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD…" Now remember, that term LORD in the Old Testament, with all four letters in capitalization, is Jehovah; the primary name of God concerning Israel in the Old Testament economy.
"… for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, (that’s why we refer to them so often as the children of Israel. They were the result of His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but what happened?) and they have rebelled against me." Now, verse 3 is a classic verse. You all know it. You’ve heard it at one time or another.
"The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass (or the donkey) his master’s crib:…" In other words, the donkey knew where his food was coming from. That’s why I love cattle ranching. I can drive out in the pasture and just give one yell, and here they come! Why? Well, they know where that little tidbit of tasty cubes is coming from. You know we feed cattle cubes. They know! But that’s more than a lot of people can do. A lot of people haven’t got enough wherewithal to come in out of the rain. But the animal kingdom does. So, it’s an example of Scripture, "The donkey knows his master’s crib," he knows where his next meal is coming from, but…
"…my people (Israel) doeth not consider." (or know) Now, remember, the "My people" here is Israel. We’re not talking about the Church. That’s another point I have to make. There is not one iota of reference anywhere in the Old Testament concerning the New Testament Church. Not one hint. The closest you can come is when Amos prophecies that God will call out a people for His name, which of course was a reference to the, I think, "the calling out of the Body of Christ."
But, other than that, there is not one iota of any reference to the Church, and we’ll look at that in just a minute. It was a secret held in the mind of God. All right, now I’m going to make a comparison Scripture. Jump up to Jeremiah chapter 8, and remember what we just read. Jeremiah is also a prophet writing and concerning himself with Judah, but he’s a few years later than Isaiah. Even though Isaiah dies before the Babylonian captivity, Jeremiah is still alive. Jeremiah was actually found by the Babylonians in a dungeon deep down under Jerusalem. That’s where the Jews had thrown him because they didn’t like his message. So, Jeremiah is writing some 75-80 years later than Isaiah, but he says almost the same thing.
"Yea the stork (the bird) in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people (Israel) know not the judgment of the LORD." Isn’t it sad? You know, I have said as long as I’ve been teaching, Israel could have known who Jesus was. Israel should have known who Jesus was, but now let’s see what the Scripture says.
Turn all the way up to the New Testament now, to I Corinthians chapter 2. Has anything changed? Nothing! See, this is why I love to compare Scripture with Scripture. Isaiah says, "the ox knows his master’s crib." Jeremiah says, "the birds of the heavens know when to migrate,", but Israel didn’t know. We’re not blaming the Jew only. My, we’re no different today.
You can go up and down the streets of any town and city in America today and ask the younger generation a Biblical question. Can they answer it? More than likely not. They don’t know what you’re talking about. In fact, I was just reading an article the other day on some of the clichés that we speak of, for example, "A Damascus Road experience." — Acts chapter 9 — Do you know that most of our kids haven’t got a clue what they’re talking about? That’s just one example. All right, so it isn’t just Israel. We’re just as far down the tube, having begun, I think, on as high a plane spiritually when our nation was formed, as Israel was from their beginning. I think it’s almost a perfect parallel between Israel in the Old Testament and America since her inception. Now, compare this with what we just read in Isaiah and Jeremiah
I Corinthians 2:7
"But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, (or a secret. That’s the other word for mystery) even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world to our glory." Now again, Paul could have just as well said, "my glory" because it was to him that all this was revealed. Now, look at verse 8.
I Corinthians 2:8
"Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory." So why did they crucify Him? They were totally ignorant of who He was.
All right, let’s move on over to Ephesians chapter 3, and now we have another account from the pen of the Apostle Paul of why there is absolutely no mention of the Church, this Age of Grace, in the Old Testament, and we might as well cover it right up front. I may come back to it again before we get out of Isaiah, but here it is. Ephesians chapter 3, we’ll read several verses starting at verse 1, probably down through verse 9. And this is the exact reason that the Church is not in Old Testament writings.
"For this cause…" Where Paul has just come out of chapter 2, where he had said in verse 8 and 9 "for by grace are you saved through faith not of works lest any man should boast," Therefore he establishes that we’re now under Grace.
"For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles." Not Israel. He’s the Apostle of the Gentiles, (Romans 11:13) like Isaiah was a prophet of Israel. Like Peter and the Eleven were Apostles of Israel, this man is the Apostle of the Gentiles.
"If ye have heard…" And we’re going to be using that word "If" when we get back to Isaiah after a while. Everything is conditioned on choice. You ever think of that? Everything you do, whatever your lot in life. Whatever kind of a marriage you’ve ended up in, whatever kind of a family you have raised, what’s it all based on? Choices! Nations make them. Families make them. Individuals make them.
"If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:" Maybe, by choice, you haven’t heard. You don’t want to hear. That’s a lot of people. They don’t want to hear it. In fact, someone just shared with me last night where they mentioned something to a customer that came into their store about eternity and you know what his answer was? (It didn’t surprise me one bit.) "I’ve never thought about it."
Isn’t that typical? They don’t ever think about eternity. In fact, I think I mentioned in one of my classes the other night, one of the pastors who we just ministered with up in Minnesota was telling me that when he was a young man going to the University of Minnesota, and many of you are acquainted with the ‘Twin Cities,’ there’s a hodgepodge of traffic coming in to what they call the "seven corners." I don’t know if it’s still there or not, used to be. Yeah, Bill says it’s still there! And he said that right there on the seven corners of Minneapolis was a huge billboard and all that was on it was the question, "Where will you spend eternity?" He said that thing just bugged hen and bugged him and he said, "I know that that’s what drove me into the ministry, knowing that most people have never considered the question, ‘where will you spend eternity?’ "
All right, so again it behooves us to understand that it’s a matter of choice. That was another conversation we had, I think when we were out in South Dakota. We were talking about God sending lost people to the eternal lake of fire. You know, a lot of people will say, "Well, how can a God of love and mercy send the vast majority of the human race to such a place?" He doesn’t send them there, they choose to go there. Never forget that. They choose to go there, and when they come before the Great White Throne Judgment someday, they’re never going to argue and say, "Well, you didn’t give me a chance." They’re going to know that they have chosen to go where they’re going.
All right, back to Ephesians chapter 3, that this dispensation of the Grace of God, which is given to Paul to us, now verse 3.
"How that by revelation (a revealing from His place in Glory) he made known unto me (the Apostle Paul) the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4. Whereby, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)" These secrets revealed to Paul that the world in general knew nothing of. Now, verse 5. Here it comes, just as plain as language can make it.
"Which in other ages (or generations) was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit." Now remember, Paul is speaking of those prophets and apostles who associated with his ministry, not the Twelve or any of the prophets of Israel. He’s talking about those associated with his ministry.
"That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 7. Whereof I was made a minister, (Paul’s apostleship is singular) according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8. Unto me, who am less than the lest of all saints is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9. And to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, (this secret. Now, here it is again) which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God, (the same God) who created all things by Jesus Christ:"
All right, now turn over a few pages forward to Colossians, and we see the same thing repeated, inspired of the Holy Spirit remember; Colossians chapter 1 beginning at verse 24. Now, this was all revealed to this Apostle and consequently the Old Testament writers couldn’t even mention it, they knew nothing of it. And we’ll be looking at what they were thinking when we get back there. All right, Colossians chapter 1 beginning at verse 24.
"Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh…" In other words, how the man suffered for 25 years to get the Gospel out into the Roman Empire. And remember what that Gospel of Salvation is? "How that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again." (I Corinthians 15:1-4) Now, continuing on in verse 24.
"…the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake which is the church: (or the Church, which is His Body) 25.Whereof (for the sake of the Body) I am made a minister according to the dispensation of God (or as he called it the dispensation of grace in Ephesians) which is given to me for you, to fulfill (or to complete or to bring the New Testament to an end) the word of God; 26. Even the mystery (the secret) which hath been hid from ages and generations,…" You see how plain all this is? All these things coming from the pen of the Apostle Paul were kept totally secret.
That’s why Peter wrote in his little epistle, "that in Paul’s epistles are some things hard to be understood." It was a whole new ballgame that Peter couldn’t quite catch, and this is the reason. It was kept secret. But now it was revealed to this Apostle. Iris and I decided last night that I’m going to have to do a program someday on the number of times that Paul uses that expression, "But now." I think it will easily make a thirty minute program. How many times Paul refers to the past with all of its misery and its sin and its rebellion, "but now" is on this side of salvation as a believer. All right,
"…but now (this which was kept secret) is made manifest to the saints;"
And you know how I’ve always explained the word manifest – put into the spotlight, where nothing is shaded and you can’t quite read it. It is all brought in just as plain as language can make it, but you know what? People don’t want to read it. They don’t want to hear it. It’s contrary to their normal comfort zone and I’ll never forget, years ago, a couple came into one of my classes and they had their eyes opened. The Lord saved them and they went back to their denominational people, and that was the first time I ever heard it, she said, "Les, they don’t want to be rocked out of their comfort zone." The comfort zone and isn’t that exactly it?
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