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 currently discussing Dave Hunt’s book When Will Jesus Come? Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ.
Now, Dave, as you may recall—and I have to say “may recall” because you’ve written lots of books, and you would know we’ve been going through this week by week; it’s hard to remember titles of chapters, and so on. But chapter 20 of your book is titled, “This Generation,” and you lead off with Matthew:24:33-34. Now, let me read that for our listeners.
So this is Matthew:24:33-34: “So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Well, to whom and what is Christ referring? Is it Israel or the church? Is it the Rapture or the Second Coming?
Dave: Well, Tom, when we read the Bible, we have to be careful not just to jump to quick conclusions. We have to reason. God says, “Come now, let us reason together.” So we have to reason about this a bit. “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Well, obviously He could not have been referring to the generation that was present at that time. Now, there are those Preterists who argue this. They say everything was fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem AD 70, and so forth, and it’s all over with.
Tom: Well, let me explain that term to, maybe, some of our listeners who never heard it. Preterist—it’s a term used to identify those who, in their view of eschatology, of prophecy, they would say that all the prophecies, probably right up to the middle of Revelation…
Dave: Revelation 20, I think, yeah.
Tom: Yes, Revelation 20… Of course, there’s a mixed bag of Preterists. Some may not go that far, but generally they would say that all the prophecies have been fulfilled within the hundred years starting with the birth of Christ, a hundred years later, would all have taken place. Of course, the opposing view to the Preterist view is the Futurist view. And, with regard to eschatology, the last days prophecies, they would say that, certainly, certain prophecies have been fulfilled; but the bulk of them, especially with regard to Revelation, have not yet taken place, but will take place in the future. And that’s the difference.
Dave: Right. Yeah, it’s pretty hard to say that all prophecies have been fulfilled. For example, if we went back to the Old Testament, we went to Jeremiah 31, God says Israel will never be destroyed again. Jerusalem will be rebuilt and never destroyed again. Furthermore, if we went to Ezekiel 39, next to the last verse—I don’t remember what the number is, I think it’s 28 or something—God says that He is going to bring all Jews back to Jerusalem, back to Israel, and there will not be one left anywhere that hasn’t been brought back, okay? Now that certainly hasn’t happened—never happened in history—so that certainly is future.
Then, if you go to…well, I mean, Tom, I don’t want to get bogged down in this, but there are so many prophecies. And the Antichrist hasn’t appeared, obviously. The two witnesses haven’t come, Armageddon hasn’t occurred. But, therefore, they have to do away with Israel, so these people are Replacement theologians…also that the church has replaced Israel.
But, anyway, it couldn’t have been that generation. Let’s just look, Tom, at a couple of the signs that Jesus said. They asked Jesus for some signs. They say…well, let’s look at it—verse 3: “Tell us, when will these things be? [That is, the destruction of the Temple.] What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” They think these are all one event. In fact, they’re three separate events. They don’t know that. But anyway, He begins to give signs: false prophets will arise, gospel of the kingdom will be preached, wars, rumors of wars, nation rise against nation, and so forth…
Tom: Well, Dave, as you’ve pointed out many times, it begins with, “Take heed that no man deceive you.”
Dave: Well, that has certainly been fulfilled! Right. But here’s some things that have not yet been fulfilled. It says, “except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.” Now, I don’t think that all flesh was in danger of being wiped out with bows and arrows and swords and spears at the destruction of Israel in 70 AD. In verse 21 He says, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
Well, Josephus tells us about 1.2 million Jews were slaughtered there when Jerusalem was taken in AD 70. But Hitler killed 6 million. So you couldn’t say that fulfilled it, because surely something worse for the Jews and the Christians…and, of course, Hitler killed millions of Christians, and so did Mao, Stalin, and so forth, so that could not have been the greatest. So just on simple logic He could not have been speaking to that generation that was hearing His words at that time.
Then there are those who say, and some people thought that this was the at least implication of The Late, Great Planet Earth…Hal Lindsey denies that he intended this. But I’m old enough to remember, Tom, and I was a Christian in those days—"Well, the Rapture is going to occur!”
Well, but now, “‘This generation is not going to pass away….’ It doesn’t mean the generation at that time. Well, it must mean the generation when Israel is reinstated as a nation. So, 1948 [I’m thinking of the 70’s now]—1948. Forty-year generation, that’s 1988. Subtract a seven-year Great Tribulation—wow, 1981! That’s when the Lord is going…the Rapture will occur!”
Tom, I remember very well, you know, the bumper stickers: “Drive at your own risk—I’m leaving in the Rapture!” Tom, everybody was talking about the Rapture. And they used to ask me in those days, “What do you think?”
I would say, “Well, I long for the Rapture. I expect the Lord any day as we’re supposed to, but I don’t think He’s coming yet because…” Well, we went over to verse 44—He says, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” And I used to say, “Too many people are looking for Him now. He’s going to come when very few people are looking for Him,” okay? And that, of course, goes together with this verse that you brought to our attention, Tom. So…
Tom: Well, Dave, it also, at least on the surface, doesn’t it seem like a contradiction of sorts? Matthew:24:42 says, “For ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” And in 44: “For in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Doesn’t that sort of…
Dave: But verse 33 says, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” So He’s talking about a coming that everybody will know is going to take place. He must then be talking about another coming when nobody or very few will even suspect it. Otherwise we have, as you pointed out, a contradiction here, okay? So the Rapture is something different from the Second Coming. And here He’s talking about the Second Coming. We don’t have to have any signs fulfilled before the Rapture, but we do before the Second Coming.
Okay, so I think we can eliminate both of those that we mentioned. It was not the generation of that day, obviously. It could not have been; all the things that were prophesied had not happened before that generation passed away. Okay? And there’s so much prophesied in Revelation. You know, the Antichrist, and he’s going to rule the world, and there will be a one-world government, and so forth. We don’t have that yet. Okay, so we can do away with Preterism by simple logic and the Word of God.
Well, then, what about this idea that within 40 years from 1948 there will be the end of the Great Tribulation and the Rapture occurs seven years before that? Well, it didn’t happen. But maybe the idea of a 40-year generation is wrong, because if we went to Genesis 15, God says, “Your…”
Dave: Right. God says, “Your seed will be slaves.” It doesn’t use the word “slaves,” but it says they’re going to be abused and mistreated and so forth in a foreign land for 400 years. And then it says, “And in the fourth generation, I will bring them back in this land.” Well, then, maybe a generation is a hundred years, okay? Well, that seems a little bit long. Not many people live to be a hundred.
But anyway, okay, well, who knows how long a generation is. Maybe we’re still hanging in there with 1948, we’re counting it down: 1948—well, it’s almost 60 years now. It’s 58 years since 1948. So, maybe a generation is 60 years or 70 years. But I don’t think that’s what it means, because it doesn’t say the generation that “will see Israel back in her land.” You’d have to really work hard to find that in there. Where does it say that? It doesn’t say that. But this is something you want to believe—you’re hoping, and so forth—but we’ve passed the 40-year generation period. Now, I don’t know how much longer you’re going to hang on to that one.
What did He mean? Well, Jesus used “generation” in a way that was rather unique, and so did John the Baptist. If we go back one chapter to chapter 23 and look at verse 33: “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” Jesus uses terms—"a disobedient generation, a faithless generation, a sign-seeking generation, a perverse generation,” and I believe this is what He’s talking about: “This generation of unbelief will not pass away until all is fulfilled.”
Now, how can we document that from Scripture? Well, it certainly is true so far. Israel—Jews world-wide, as a whole (although many have come to Christ—thousands, not millions, but many thousands), yet Israel as a whole, Jews as a whole, they remain in unbelief. If you went to Israel today, I think about 30 percent or more claim to be atheists. They’re New Agers and even the Orthodox. (You had a demonstration, I think, Tom, in New York a few years ago—was it 20,000 Orthodox Jews demonstrating against Israel? They don’t believe that they should be back in that land until the Messiah comes and takes them there, okay?) So you’ve got all shades of belief.
Tom: Dave, it upsets many Christians. I mean, it’s why some people fall into Replacement Theology, because they don’t believe that Israel deserves anything, especially not to be placed back in a land and then God to bless.
Dave: Well, they don’t deserve anything and neither do we.
Dave: It’s by grace that we’ve been saved, and that’s unmerited favor. The Lord is merciful and gracious.
Tom: Plus this is a fulfillment of Scripture; they have to be there in that way, in that state.
Dave: He has made promises to them that they would be brought back into that land still under His judgment, and there they will be attacked at Armageddon. He’s going to get them all saved before they go back to Israel so they can be attacked at Armageddon? I don’t think so!
Now furthermore, Zechariah:12:10 says, “They will look on me whom they have pierced.” This is Christ intervening at Armageddon. Well, they come to faith in Christ at Armageddon! They’re in the land when they turn from unbelief to faith, and it is through seeing Christ returning to rescue them. So they have to be back in their land in unbelief and unworthy; and, in fact, two-thirds of the Jews are going to be killed, Zechariah 13 tells us. So I think He’s saying, “This generation of vipers, this generation of unbelievers, of rebels, will not pass until all is fulfilled.”
Tom: Dave, let me just give our listeners some other verses or phrases from the Scriptures, all from Matthew. We have Matthew:12:34, “a generation of vipers”; Matthew:12:39, “evil and adulterous generation”; Matthew:16:4, “wicked and adulterous generation”; Matthew:17:17, “faithless and perverse generation.”
Dave: So, Tom, that generation is not going to pass, that’s for sure, until Christ intervenes at Armageddon. We know that from the Scriptures. All right, then what will have happened? That generation will have passed. And Jesus said on the way to the cross, “You’re not going to see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.’ You’re going to be in such dire straits that you will cry out for the Messiah. Two-thirds of all the Jews will have been killed, and I will return.”
And it says, “All Israel shall be saved.” Now, when is all Israel going to be saved? That would be when this perverse, faithless, unbelieving generation passes away. When is that going to happen? Not before the Rapture, that’s for sure. When is it going to happen? It’s going to happen at Armageddon, the only time that it will. So He must be talking about the Second Coming, and He’s saying, “Israel, you’re not going to see me…I’m not going to return to rescue you at Armageddon until all Israel has turned to faith in me—until this wicked, adulterous, sign-seeking, gainsaying, faithless, perverse generation—they are going to pass away that fast at Armageddon, and I will rescue them. They are going to cry out, they are going to believe in the Messiah, and I will appear and they will know, and all Israel will be saved.”
Tom: Right, and I think it’s important to point out that, just as you do, that this is addressing the Jewish people as a whole, but there will be individuals who don’t fall into this category because they have personally reached out for their Messiah.
Dave: Yeah, there are many Jews who—and I have seen quite a few of them come to the Lord, and we desire that they would be. Paul said in Romans 10, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved.” So he’s praying that, God wants them to be saved, but the fact is it’s not going to happen to all Israel as a whole until Armageddon.
Well, how is all Israel going to be saved? When will it happen? Well, it’s told to us in the Scriptures; we’ve been talking about it. Zechariah 12: When He appears, “They will look upon me whom they have pierced.” This is Yahweh speaking! “They will mourn for Him. He and I are one.”
Jesus said, “I and my Father are one.” There will be this great mourning, such as never occurred in Israel, because they will recognize finally—wow! “This One that we’ve despised and rejected all these years, that we’ve maligned, He is our God! He came to this earth as a man exactly as the prophets foretold!”
Isaiah:9:6: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; the government will be upon His shoulders.” So that’s the Messiah. “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father.” Most Jews today don’t even believe that God is a Father. That is—interestingly, Tom, that is one place where the Jews, most of them agree with the Muslims, because, as you know, the Qur’an says, “Allah is not a father and he has no son,” and the Jews say, “Amen.” Israel agrees with them.
“One day they are going to look upon me whom they have pierced [this is Yahweh speaking]. They will mourn because of Him. This is the Son that I have given them to be the Messiah through the virgin birth, but He and I are One.”
Okay? So I think, Tom…
Tom: Dave, let me interject this. You have been referring to Zechariah. Let me read some verses.
Dave: Well, please interject, Tom.
Tom: Okay, this is Zechariah 13, and I’m going to read verse 1 and then jump to 6: “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.” Verse 6 says: “And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”
Dave: Now, Tom, obviously this is a post-resurrection appearance, because He didn’t have any wounds in His hands until He was crucified. Then He was resurrected and the Jews didn’t see Him then. So what is this day? “In that day…” Zechariah 12 is very clear. It begins to talk about that God will gather all nations together against Jerusalem. He’s going to destroy them, and He will pour upon the house of Israel the spirit of supplication and mourning, and so forth, and “they will look upon me whom they have pierced.” So that’s when they look upon Him. Then they are going to say, “What are these wounds in your hands?” And it’s very clear this is the Second Coming.
So when does all Israel turn to God? When does all Israel believe in the Messiah? They see Him at Armageddon! So when does this perverse, unbelieving, godless, faithless, rebellious generation, when will they pass away? At Armageddon, when Christ intervenes to rescue them and they see Him with their own eyes. Then He’s going to gather every Jew from all over the world—that’s Ezekiel 39, as we mentioned. And you get that in Matthew 24—my Bible is no longer in Matthew 24, but anyway, what it says: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, the moon won’t give us light, and they will see the sign of the Son of man coming with power and glory and clouds with his angels.”
Tom: Dave, to the Preterist we have to say, “When did that happen?”
Dave: Yes. Well they say it happened when—Tom, it’s blasphemy—that Christ returned to Jerusalem in the person of the Roman armies to destroy Jerusalem.
Tom: But, Dave, we know when Jerusalem was destroyed. We have historical evidence then.
Dave: AD 70.
Tom: Do we have any historical evidence with regard to the moon not reflecting its light to the sun, and so on—turning to blood?
Dave: No. And furthermore, Tom…
Tom: Which the whole world, the Scripture says, sees.
Dave: Right. Furthermore, the part that I was referring to, it says—this is Ezekiel 39, next to the last verse—He’s going to send His angels. He will gather His elect—that didn’t happen either. So it didn’t happen, Tom, but it’s going to happen, and I think it’s very clear that then all Israel will believe.