Tom: You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
We’re discussing Dave Hunt’s book When Will Jesus Come? Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ.
Dave, last week you gave us your understanding of Jesus’ words “this generation” in Matthew:24:33-34.
Now, let me read this for our audience: “So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that my coming is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”
Now, Dave, could you give us a capsule synopsis of the generation you believe that Jesus is talking about?
Dave: Very difficult for me to talk in capsules, Tom, but I’ll give it a try. Well, first of all, He’s saying that nobody will be surprised because all these things will be fulfilled, and “you’ll know that I’m right at the door.” And that contradicts, as we said last week, with—is it verse 44, or around there, where He says, “At such an hour as you think not the Son of Man cometh.” So He must be talking about two different comings. One of them is the Rapture, the one that will surprise everyone. We’re supposed to be ready and watchful and waiting for. Then the Second Coming, when He comes in power and glory and His feet touch the Mount of Olives, He comes to this earth. At the Rapture He doesn’t come to the earth, He catches us up to meet Him in the air.
Tom: There’s precedence for this. Many thought that Jesus’ first coming, that that was just going to be one event, but the Scriptures lay it out. There were two comings: His first coming, and then the Second Coming.
Dave: Exactly. And the Second Coming is…well, something happens before the Second Coming—the Second Coming back to the earth again—but He doesn’t come back to the earth again at the Rapture. He catches us up to meet Him in the air, and He takes us to His “Father’s house of many mansions.” He does not come at that time to this earth.
Well, then what is He talking about? “This generation shall not pass until all these things be fulfilled.” And we mentioned last week there are several ideas about that. Number one: There are those who say, “Oh, it’s the generation to whom He was speaking. In that day, by AD 70, Jerusalem had been destroyed. That’s within a generation, and therefore that’s what He must have been talking about.”
As we pointed out last week, there are many things that He prophesies that will happen, and He says, “All these things will come to pass before this generation passes away.” Among them there will be a tribulation greater than anything the earth has ever seen—so great that, unless He intervenes, no flesh would survive. And we know that that was not the case in AD 70; nobody was worried that all flesh on this planet would be wiped out. It is only today that we have the weapons that could do that, okay? He said it would be the greatest tribulation the world has ever seen or ever would see. Well, Hitler killed six million Jews, and the Romans only killed a million and a quarter or so, and Christians have been slaughtered by Mau and Stalin, etc. So certainly we’ve had greater tribulation than that, so you couldn’t say that that is what He was talking about. Whatever He was talking about is horrible, is worse, and it must be future.
And then later on in the chapter it says, “They will see the sign of the Son of Man in the sky. He will come in great power and glory. He will send his angels, and they will gather his elect from the four winds of the earth,” and so forth. That certainly did not happen at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Okay, so that could not be the generation that He was talking about.
Then there are those who said, “Well, it’s the generation that sees Israel back in her land. So, 1948, add another 40 years—1988, it’s all going to be fulfilled. Knock seven years tribulation off of that—1981: Christ will catch us up in the Rapture.” I’m old enough to have been around at that time—it didn’t happen, and in fact I did not think it would happen.
Tom: Although we’re always hopeful that the Lord will come at any second!
Tom: So there’s a little bit of disappointment even for those who weren’t date setting, which the Scripture won’t have us do.
Dave: Right. So…although, as I said last week, I would say to people in those days, “Well, I’m hoping, I’m watching, I’m expecting that the Lord would catch us up in the Rapture at any moment. But I don’t believe He will right now—at least it doesn’t look like it—because He said, ‘At such an hour as you think not the Son of man cometh.’ Everybody is expecting Him!” A lot of people were expecting Him; even unbelievers were expecting Him.
So it didn’t happen, anyway, within forty years. Now, are we going to say, “Well, maybe a generation is a hundred years,” as you have in Genesis 15? “In the fourth generation…400 years they will be slaves, and then the fourth generation they come back to this land.” I don’t know, Tom, but I don’t believe that this is what Jesus is talking about. Well, I guess we could wait for a hundred years—1948…we could wait until 2048, I guess. We’ve got a little ways to go yet, but…
Tom: That would be a good trip for both of us, Dave. I mean, you’re older than I am, but…
Dave: Yeah, don’t remind me! Well, I don’t think that that is what it meant, because Jesus used the word “generation” in a very special way. And we gave them a lot of verses: “…generation of vipers, this unbelieving, rebellious, sign-seeking, perverse generation.” And I think Jesus was saying (and it certainly has been true so far) that, although many Jews have come to Christ, as a whole, Israel would remain in unbelief until all is fulfilled. And then the Scripture tells us all Israel will be saved. That unbelieving, sign-seeking, rebellious, perverse generation will pass away…when? Well, Zechariah 12 tells us—it’s very clear: “They will look on me whom they have pierced,” God says, “and they will mourn because of Him. There will be a great mourning, and there will be a fountain open for the cleansing of Israel.” And they’re going to mourn and weep because they will realize that the One that they have rejected all these centuries, that Israel has rejected, He’s Yahweh.
Yahweh says, “They will look on me whom they have pierced.” When was Yahweh pierced? “They will mourn because of Him.”
So Yahweh and Someone else are one and the same. He was pierced, and yet Yahweh says He was pierced. Okay? So they will remain—this unbelieving generation will remain intact, with few exceptions of those individuals who have come to Christ, until all is fulfilled. And all will finally be fulfilled only when Christ returns in the midst of Armageddon to rescue Israel, and they see Him and they believe.
So, Tom, I think the Scriptures support this.
Tom: Yeah, and the Scriptures identify that generation. It will be the end of the “generation of vipers, the evil and adulterous generation, wicked and adulterous generation”—these are all from Matthew—"faithless and perverse generation,” Matthew:17:17. So that will be the end of that.
Dave: Yeah, and we get that in Ezekiel 39. Well, let me just read those verses again (Ezekiel 39) because I think that will be helpful. Okay, let me read from Ezekiel 39. This is Armageddon; [Ezekiel] 38 tells you Armageddon. And, in fact, it says in [Ezekiel] 38:20: “All the men that are upon the face of the earth shall shake at my presence.” God is coming back to this earth, no question about it. They are going to shake at His presence, not because He’s up in heaven—He’s always there. They will shake at His presence on the earth, and everything will quiver, will shake—"The beast of the field, the creeping things, the fish, everything everywhere on this earth, at my presence,” God says. And then He says: “So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel. I will not let them pollute my holy name anymore. And the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.”
So Israel will never pollute His holy name again. Well then, that perverse generation must have passed!
All right, you go down to Verse 22: “So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward.” Okay, so this is not an unbelieving generation anymore. They know! They have believed. Verse 29: “Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God.” That’s got to be it.
Tom: Now, Dave, these are Jewish prophets, but what gives you the confidence that these things are going to take place as you’ve read?
Dave: What gives us the confidence…
Tom: Yeah. People…you know, I’m thinking about somebody who just—maybe just started listening to our program, and says (for instance), “Boy this is amazing stuff! But what are they, just words on a page?” I mean, how can you back this stuff up?
Dave: Yeah, it’s a good question, Tom. It’s talking about Israel, and we’ve mentioned it often, but I guess we need to mention it again. Because, Tom, I may have mentioned last week—I’m writing a book right now: Cosmos, Creator, and Human Destiny. And I have to read what an awful lot of atheists say, evolutionists, and so forth. And I’m reading Sam Harris, who’s an interesting guy—I just was looking at his book A Letter to a Christian Nation. Wow! I don’t want anybody out there to read that—you might lose your faith! He’s got some powerful arguments, but the guy does not know what he’s talking about.
Tom: Well, I was going to say, was that tongue in cheek, or are you serious?
Dave: Well, from his standpoint, and from the standpoint of people who don’t know the Bible, these are powerful arguments. But he doesn’t know what he’s talking about; he doesn’t know the Bible. And anyway, the point that I am trying to make is: what is the one thing that all of these critics…I’ve read Richard Dawkins…
Tom: He’s the hero today.
Dave: Exactly. The God Delusion is his book, and some of the others. One thing they all overlook: prophecy! They try to say the Bible doesn’t know what it’s talking about; they don’t know what they’re talking about!
So you ask, “Why do I believe that these things will happen?” Because we’re talking about Israel. The Bible—70 percent of the pages in the Bible are about Israel. There are—well, Israel is mentioned 2,562 times, I think—something like that—in the Bible. That’s a lot! That’s more than the word “Messiah” is found in the Bible. It must be very important! God is called “the God of Israel” 203 times; “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” 12 times. Okay?
God has put His integrity on the line, and He has made promises to Israel. Most of those promises have already come true. He told Israel, “You disobey me, I will cast you out. I will scatter you all over this world to every nation.” It happened!
“You will be hated and persecuted and killed like no other people.” It happened! Anti-Semitism is one of the great proofs of the Bible. You cannot it escape it. Why are the Jews hated? Because Satan must destroy them. That’s the foundation of Islam! Muhammad said, “Every Jew on the face of the earth must be killed before any Muslim can be resurrected,” okay? Why would that be? It’s very simple, for the Bible explains it: because God has made promises to Israel that He would preserve them, even though they are under His judgment. They would be hated and persecuted and nearly destroyed, but He would preserve them, and in the last days He would bring them back into their land. They have come back to Israel from more than 100 nations from where they’ve been scattered all over the world. Jeremiah:23:7 says, “You’ll no longer talk about when God brought His people out of Egypt, but the whole buzz will be He brought them back from all the nations where He had scattered them!” Well, He hadn’t even scattered them yet when that prophecy was uttered, and now they have been scattered and brought back, okay?
The Bible tells us that all the nations—this is Zechariah:12:2—all the nations surrounding Israel would be united against her with the purpose of destroying her. That never happened in the past, never happened in history. They hated one another, all those nations—name them! They had different gods, different religions, they fought one another, and so forth. That they would all be united against Israel? Incredible! But they are today, and what unites them? Islam, all right?
Then God said He would make Jerusalem a burden to the whole world. It’s the number one problem the United Nations has had to deal with and is still dealing with. They spent one-third of their time on a little nation Israel, that has one one-thousandth of the earth’s population. Okay, I mean, I could go on and on.
Tom: Sure. Dave, these are particulars, these are specifics—this isn’t like, you know, Nostradamus, or astrological column, or something like that.
Dave: No. Let’s give one more: Joel:3:2, God said He is going to punish all the nations of this world for dividing His land—never happened until our day. UN Resolution 181 November 29, 1947—it’s called the “Partition of the Land,” and the nations of this world joined to partition to divide up Israel. They gave Israel 13 percent of what they had been promised; they gave most of it to the Arabs, okay? God says, “I am angry, and I’m going to punish the nations for dividing My land.” Never did it before! The Bible anticipates an organization called the United Nations! How is He going to blame all the nations for dividing Israel unless there was an organization that they belong to, you know, and so forth?
Okay, so why do I believe this that is written here? Because this is God’s Word. Ezekiel, for example, more than 50 times he says, “The Word of the Lord came unto me saying….” All right? And the Bible proves itself; prophecy proves it.
So we have confidence that these events that are future (“yet future” is what the Bible says) will be fulfilled, because everything that the Bible has said would be fulfilled has been fulfilled in its time, except for those that the Bible says are yet future. So if everything that was supposed to be fulfilled has been fulfilled, then the rest of it will be fulfilled.
Tom: Dave, there’s nothing like going along with 100 percent accuracy.
Dave: Right. Okay, so God says He will have poured out His Spirit upon the house of Israel. Well, if that doesn’t mean the end of this perverse, sign-seeking, rebellious, unbelieving generation, I don’t know what would. And this is when it will happen, Tom. So we have support from the Old and New Testament; we have support from the words of Jesus and from the prophets.
Tom: Dave, what about the kingdom? That’s your title for chapter 21 of your book When Will Jesus Come? And if you’ve just joined us, that’s what we’ve been discussing for a number of weeks, and we’re heading into, actually, the last couple of chapters—chapter 21 and then 22. Well, you begin chapter 21, “What About the Kingdom?” (that’s the title) with some verses. Let me read these verses. And it’s interesting to talk about, Dave, because it sounds like if we don’t understand these verses it can get pretty confusing. And it’s not difficult, but we just have to really make a concerted effort to understand them.
Anyway, Matthew:24:14, you begin with that: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians:15:50).
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John:3:3).
“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke:12:32).
And finally, “Wherefore we, receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace (Hebrews:12:28).”
Now, many evangelicals—people you know and I know, Dave—they think that Matthew is declaring (in the first verse cited) that the gospel must be preached to every tribe and tongue, and even, as some suggest, to every person on earth before the Rapture can take place. Now, that sets a condition, and we’ve been saying for weeks and weeks there is no condition to the Rapture.
Dave: Tom, as you indicate, that’s a verse that many people, at least in my opinion, misunderstand. It doesn’t say, “The gospel must be preached to all tribes and tongues and people and nations, and so forth, and then shall the Rapture come.”
It says, “Then shall the end come.” Okay, what is that end? Well, the end we read of in 1 Corinthians 15, when Paul says, “Then cometh the end when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to the Father.” Now, that must be after the kingdom has been established on this earth. That’s what you were coming to: What is this kingdom?
Tom: Yeah, we’re going to talk about the Millennium, even the Great Tribulation. I mean, the end!
Dave: So, He’s going to deliver up the kingdom to the Father, it must have been established. And so this could only be at the end of the Millennium. Well, what is the Millennium? Tom, we don’t have time to deal with it properly…
Tom: Well, let’s touch upon it. We only have a couple of minutes, but it might interest some people in this.
Dave: We can come back to it.
Now, let me say, first of all: the kingdom, apparently, that He’s going to deliver up to the Father must have been in existence. Well, that began when He came to this earth to rescue Israel in the midst of Armageddon, and to rule over Israel and the world on the throne of His father David, okay? That’s the kingdom that was promised. However, that is not the ultimate kingdom, which is eternal, because it’s quite obvious. You quoted a number of verses there, Tom—I don’t have that open in front of me, but it doesn’t matter because there are many verses, more than we have there. Even Nebuchadnezzar knew. Nebuchadnezzar said, “His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.” Well, but wait a minute! The Millennium ends at the end of a thousand years, so that couldn’t be what he’s talking about.
You quoted, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” but there will be flesh-and-blood people on the earth at that time. You quoted Christ (John 3), who said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot even see, much less enter into the kingdom.” There will be a lot of “unborn-again” people there, because we know for sure at the end of the Millennium when Satan is loosed, they come like the sand of the sea to attack Jerusalem and Jesus! These are not born-again believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, so there will be a lot of unbelievers in that kingdom. That can’t be the eternal kingdom. So we’ll have to come back next week and talk about that.
Tom: And it’s exciting, Dave! We have been dealing with the Tribulation—we’ll talk about that part as well—but this is what it’s all about: God’s kingdom.
Dave: It is eternal, and of His kingdom, Isaiah:9:7: “Of His kingdom and peace there will be no end.” The Millennium ends how? With a war. And it ends, so that can’t be it, although it is a demonstration of the kingdom God wants to have.