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.
The topic for our discussion in this first segment is, and has been for a number of weeks, Dave Hunt’s book When Will Jesus Come? Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ.
Now, Dave, you write in chapter 18, and I’m quoting, “Many students of prophecy believe that the next event on the prophetic calendar is World War III, and that only thereafter can the Rapture take place.”
Now, as you know, I’ve been to a number of prophecy conferences where some of the speakers, most of them very good friends of yours, well, they have differences with you regarding Ezekiel 38. So could you give our listening audience an overview of the controversy pertaining to Ezekiel 38 and 39, and why you take the position that you do?
Dave: Well, Tom, I just looked to see when this book was written—1993! That’s 14—well, 13 years ago. So we haven’t had World War III yet! I think it was around maybe 10 years earlier than this that I wrote Peace, Prosperity and the Coming Holocaust.
Tom: Yeah, it was just before The Seduction of Christianity, 1985.
Dave: Yeah, at that time, they were all convinced that the next event was a Soviet invasion of Israel. I think interest rates were 23 percent, if you can remember that, imagine that! And housing…so many unsold, unoccupied houses. The stock market pundits were predicting a 1929 crash—I mean, this would make 1929 look like a Sunday school picnic. And…
Tom: The “death of the dollar” was a big item.
Dave: Absolutely. In Christian book stores, the death of the dollar, international banking collapse, and so forth. And I think I entitled my first chapter, “A Contrary Scenario.”
“That’s not going to happen, it’s going to go the other way.” Now, for the information of the…
Tom: Dave, what was the Dow Jones then?
Dave: It was around 700.
Tom: Wait, you mean 700? You don’t mean 7,000? You mean 700?
Dave: Oh, no, no, 700.
Dave: It’s now over 12,000.
Dave: So, should have followed my advice back there!
Tom: [laughing] Wow! Well, yeah, invest nothing and nothing…
Dave: Anyway, no, I do not recommend investing in the market. It’s a bad business. You can lose everything the next minute.
But anyway, just for the enlightenment of the listeners and some viewers who may be interested, actually the Soviets were planning an invasion. And part of the reason for the Israeli invasion of Lebanon—of course, they had all kinds of problems in there that they had to root out exactly as they did recently…
Tom: We’re talking—we’re not talking about the recent invasion of Lebanon, we’re talking…
Dave: This is in the ‘70s.
Dave: Because they knew that there were arms for a million-man army hidden in Lebanon—much of it in UN territory the UN helped these terrorists coming north. So Israel went in, and they took it out. They brought it back to Israel. I don’t know what they’ve done with it or how good it was—Soviet armaments for a million-man invasion army, much of it too sophisticated for the PLO, at least in those days, to operate. Quite obvious who it was for, and Israel took care of that! I don’t remember how many—I think it was more than 5,000 truckloads. Oh, it had to be more than that that they hauled that all into Israel.
Anyway, so they were and definitely were planning, but of course that was not God’s time, and that was what I was going by. It was not going to happen.
So Ezekiel 38, most prophecy teachers, I would say maybe 90 percent or more, believe that this is some preliminary war—not Armageddon—some preliminary war before the Rapture or mid-Trib or something. And I and very few others say, “No, this is Armageddon, and there’s no question about it, and we can prove it from the Bible itself!” So I’m just going by the Bible, Tom.
Tom: Well, speaking of the Bible, you list a number of verses from Ezekiel 38 and 39, and just to give our listeners verses to go to, if they’d like, let me read some of them. You quote, “It shall be in the latter [that is, the last] days, and I will bring thee against my land Israel, that the heathen may know me,” Ezekiel:38:16.
“Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel, so that the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the heaven and the beasts of the field and all the men that are upon the face of the earth shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down,” and that’s Ezekiel:38:19,20.
And then [Ezekiel] 38:23, you also quote: “And I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord.”
Dave: Yeah, Tom, it’s…you read some powerful verses there. Every creature, the creeping things, the fish in the sea, the epicenter of this shaking is Israel! But every creature all over the world, every creeping thing on the face of this earth will tremble! Every human being will tremble! The mountains will be thrown down. Every wall is going to come down, it says.
Now, Tom, that’s not some preliminary event. This is the grand finale! And it says—what are they shaking at? “My presence!” God is coming back to this earth! You can’t escape it! There’s no way you could say, “Well, that’s some preliminary battle.” God himself is returning to this earth!
Now, we know how He appears when He returns, and that’s why Israel will finally believe what their prophets have said: He is Jesus Christ! They will look…Zechariah:12:10: “They will look on me whom they have pierced [now, this is Yahweh speaking] and they will mourn because of him.”
Now, wait a minute—“look on Me…I’m the one that was pierced, but they’re going to mourn for Him….” Are we talking about two people? Or…Jesus said, “I and my Father are one.”
Isaiah:9:6: “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father….” So amazingly, the Babe born in Bethlehem is also the Father, but He’s also the Son! This is the Trinity.
Tom: Now, Dave, let me go back to…
Dave: All right.
Tom: …just how we began this. I said that at prophecy conferences, and I’ve been privileged to be a part of a number of these, and these are your good friends who take a different position, and I would say, for the most part, they are premillennial pre-Tribbers!
Dave: Oh, yeah. Right.
Tom: Yet they believe that Ezekiel 38 and 39 is necessary in order to set the stage for the Antichrist to come on the scene.
I’ll tell you, the Rapture, the pre-Trib Rapture, Tom…I mean, I could give many verses, and we’ve given some—many on this program—why the Rapture is pre-Trib. He has to take His church to heaven because there’s a Judgment Seat of Christ up there! There is…
Tom: Yeah, for rewards.
Tom: Don’t confuse it with—I’m speaking to our audience here—with the Great White Throne Judgment.
Tom: They’re two distinct judgments.
Dave: Right. There’s a wedding! Chapter 19—the bride is married to the Groom! Okay? Now, she’s got to get up there somehow! Okay, I mean, we can give you many, many reasons. Pre-Trib Rapture, the saints have to be taken to heaven, because there are things that happen in heaven that they must be present for these things, okay?
So the Rapture is the one event, and it must be pre-Trib! It’s the one event that could unite this entire world under Antichrist. You’re not going to unite the world from Armageddon, and some man is going to arise from a world war, nuclear holocaust, or whatever. You’ve never brought unity from a war. It only makes hatred grow. But if…well, I’m not saying how many, but if—I think maybe a hundred million suddenly vanish from this earth…. You remember the film Independence Day, and the world rallies, they’re under attack…hey, the world will really rally if a hundred million of their fellows have been suddenly snatched off of this earth! Nobody believes it’s the Rapture. It’s got to be, “Beam me up, Scotty!” Some...some…they’ve come…
Tom: Of course, that was the line for, or that was the idea behind Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Tom: People were removed, now they’re going to be returned once they’ve been straightened out.
Dave: Well, yeah, Tom, you know, we used to get to some of these New Age conventions and so forth. It was kind of a little bit of fun in those days to see what they were…. You remember the guy, the Breathairian?
Dave: Claimed he had a technique: he could get all the nutrition and water and everything the body needed just from the air, and people were signing up to get in on this nonsense. Then they caught him sneaking into McDonalds!
Dave: But anyway, Tom, it was…
Tom: You know, Heaven’s Gate, remember that cult group? Waiting for…
Dave: Yeah, wow!
Tom: So these ideas are out there.
Dave: But the point I’m making, Tom, is nobody is going to believe it was the Rapture, okay? But they will think—I mean, they know people are missing! Wow! Why did they take them? Why didn’t they take me? Where did they take them? Are they coming back to get me? I mean, the world will be absolutely terrified, and it’s at that moment, I believe, that this man arises. He has all the power of Satan to do lying signs and wonders, and he has the answer. And the world will rally around him… “You take my mark, and you won’t be removed. And I’m in touch with the intergalactic counsel, and this was some rogue civilization.” I mean, all kinds of possible explanations. It won’t be the Rapture.
Okay, so the Rapture will unite this world, not some world war.
Tom: So those friends of yours—and these are good friends…
Dave: Right, yeah!
Tom: …believe that a war is necessary to open the door or open the way for the Antichrist to be revealed. So you’re just dismissing that because you say, “No, the Rapture itself will be the event.”
Dave: Absolutely. But now, Tom, it’s becoming more popular even among my friends, even at these conferences, and I’m beginning to hear it now—it’s become more popular now to say, “Well, the Great Tribulation doesn’t occur immediately after the Rapture. There may be months, or there may be years.” Well, that is a new idea, Tom, that I never heard as I grew up. No, it is the Rapture itself that will put the Antichrist in power!
Tom: But doesn’t Ezekiel 39—we gave some scriptures from 38—doesn’t 39 sort of imply that?
Dave: Let’s go, first of all, back to verse 11 here.
Dave: It’s very clear from verse 11 against whom this attack is! First of all, we have to establish that. Who’s being attacked? Well, of course, God says, “I’m going to bring you against my land.” Well, that must be the land of Israel. But in verse 11: “I’m going to go up to the land of unwalled villages to them that are at rest, that dwell safely. All of them dwelling without walls, having neither bars nor gates, upon the people that are gathered out of the nations.” So here we have a people gathered out of the nations. Who could that be? I don’t know—haven’t gathered the Irish out of the nations, haven’t gathered the Scottish or the Germans all into one place, and then they’re all going to be attacked. The only ones: the Jews! So this is Israel restored, reassembled, and they’ve come from more than a hundred countries now, millions of them.
And furthermore, Tom, it’s rather interesting, because notice: “unwalled villages.” Without walls, without bars or gates!
Tom: Sounds like peaceful times.
Dave: Yeah! How is that going to happen? The wall is coming down. I can say that definitely. I can predict it! No, I’m not predicting it—the Bible says so!
Tom: All you’re doing is pointing out what the Scriptures say!
Dave: Right! So that wall that they’re building in Israel is going to come down.
By the way, you know where they’re building another wall right now? Saudi Arabia’s putting up a wall, a fence, on their border with Kuwait to keep out the terrorists! Okay? And then they criticize Israel. How about that?
So it’s clear who these people are. This is Israel. There’s a false peace. Well, only the Antichrist can do that, and you get that in Daniel:8:25: “Through peace he will destroy many.” So the Antichrist is obviously in power. He has made a peace treaty, or he is enforcing peace between Israel and the world. Israel thinks he’s on their side, and Daniel:9:27, of course, he authorizes them to rebuild the temple. In fact, in the Hebrew—and I don’t know Hebrew, Tom, but I can check with my Hebrew friends, some of them who are Israelis or whatnot, and they say, “Hey, that doesn’t say he will confirm a covenant [that’s what the King James says], he will enforce a covenant.” He’s going to make this. It’s going to happen. That temple will be rebuilt. Well, Israel thinks he’s their friend. In fact, he’s going to put his image in the temple, right, and demand to be worshipped as God!
So they have believed this evil man who poses as their benefactor, and they’re dwelling safely without walls and gates. That of course is when he’s going to come against them, and you don’t have to be too bright to see that coming along, Tom! “Why, Israel is such a burden to us!” (I’m just speaking the way people think.) “Why should we keep helping Israel, this tiny little nation?” And it gets the anger of all the Muslim countries, and they have the oil and so forth. And finally the world will be fed up with Israel. And I think, Tom—again, I’m not dogmatic about this—I think one of the things that really angers the world, the final straw that breaks the camel’s back, I don’t think the plagues that God pours out upon this earth are going to come to Israel!
Tom: Well, we have the example of the land of Goshen when the Israelites were in Egypt!
Dave: And you remember in the Middle Ages when the Jewish communities didn’t get the Black Plague?
Dave: And everybody blamed them! “Well, then you’re putting it on us!” No, they were following God’s hygienic rules given through Moses.
Dave: So anyway, they’re going to attack. So God brings them, here they come, and He will personally intervene to rescue them. Remember? Jesus said in Matthew:24:22, “Except those days be shortened, no flesh would survive.” Israel has nuclear weapons. They’re not going to lay down all their weapons just because they knocked down the fence.
Tom: Well, but that brings up a question I have, Dave, out of Ezekiel 39, which I’ll get to in a minute. But let me read some verses from Ezekiel 39.
Dave: Okay. Tom, Ezekiel 38 deals with the nations of this world and what God is going to do. There are two purposes of Armageddon: Number one, “We’re going to punish the nations of this world for what they’ve done to Israel.” Joel:3:2 gives you that too. Verse 39 now turns to Israel! So what is God going to do with Israel? He is going to break their hard hearts! He is going to put them in such a desperate strait that they will have to call out for the Messiah! That’s what chapter 39 is about.
Tom: Right. And, Dave, we’ve mentioned this over and over again, but I have to keep saying it: this is not your idea! You are reading from the Old Testament…
Tom: …okay? You are reading the prophet Ezekiel, a Jewish prophet, and…well, I’ll read some verses from Ezekiel. [Ezekiel] 39:7: “So I will make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel, and 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.”
Dave: Okay, Tom, let me stop there for a minute: so if there’s a point of time coming, from then on, Israel will never pollute God’s holy name. They’ve been converted!
Dave: This is the grand finale! If this were some preliminary war, before the Rapture, let’s say…
Tom: Which some pre-Tribbers, premillennial pre-Tribbers believe…
Dave: …but Israel is converted now. They never pollute His holy name again—from that time forward? No, no, this is Armageddon, okay? Go ahead.
Tom: Ezekiel:39:17,18: “Speak unto every feathered fowl, Assemble yourselves! Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty and drink the blood of the princes of the earth.”
Dave: Sounds like Revelation 19!
Dave: Which is Armageddon! It’s exactly what it says in Revelation 19!
Tom: Right! Then Ezekiel:39:21,22: “And I will set my glory among the heathen so the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward.” Let me just finish with 29…
Dave: That’s the salvation!
Tom: This is finality, I think, Dave, with regard to Israel.
Dave: Yeah! This is Zechariah 12, where God says He’s going to pour upon the spirit of supplication, and they will call upon Him, and then, He says, “they will look upon me whom they have pierced, and they will mourn.” So this is the redemption of Israel, and, Tom, we’ve got to come back—we are not finished with this…
Dave: …we have to come back…
Tom: Oh, I’ve got some big time questions!
Dave: Oh, okay! We’ve got to come back next week, because there’s an amazing verse here, verse 28: “Then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, which caused them to be lead into captivity among the heathen, but I have gathered them unto their own land and have left none of them anymore there.” At this time, every Jew on the face of this earth will be back in Israel. They will be miraculously taken there. That has never happened yet! It’s going to happen, and how is that going to happen? Well, Jesus tells us in Matthew 24. We have to come back and talk about that.
Tom: And, Dave, I have a few side note questions. For example: burning the weapons as fuel?
Tom: Sounds like wooden weapons, because it says, you know, they’re not going to go out and collect any wood anywhere. So there’s a tough one.
Dave: Good one! They do it for seven years…
Dave: …so how could that be the Millennium? I mean, would they be burning weapons in the Millennium? And they’re gathering dead bodies in the Millennium? That doesn’t make sense. Okay, well, that’s good! Good, Tom. I’ve got a week to study it up!
Tom: There you go!