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.
In this first segment of our program we’re going through Dave Hunt’s book When Will Jesus Come? Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ. And, Dave, God reveals Himself in the Scriptures as the God of prophecy, and that Israel is His witness to that fact. And you point out in your book that no one can have a true understanding of the Bible unless he understands the prophetic significance of Israel and Israel’s Messiah. Why is that?
Dave: Well, Tom, because, as you know, probably most of the listeners know, Israel is the major subject in the Bible. Just thumb through the pages of the Bible, and most of the pages are about Israel. Even the New Testament, very much of it, is about Israel. And Paul, in Romans 9, is still concerned about Israel—“…rather in my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved.” So that’s Romans:10:1. In chapter 9 he says he would go to hell, literally, if he could save these people.
Tom: And his “kinsmen according to the flesh.”
Dave: Right. So God is called the “God of Israel” 203 times. So I don’t know whether we have anyone listening to this program who is anti-Semitic, but if you are, you have God’s curse upon you: “I will bless those that bless you and curse those who curse you.”
Tom: Yeah. I don’t know how somebody like that could claim to read the Bible and come to that position. It’s stunning!
Dave: So first of all, if we are going to know God, and Jesus said in John:17:3, “This is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hath sent.” So if we are going to know the only true God, we’re going to know Him as the God of Israel. He never says He’s the God of the Americans, or the French, or Germans, and so forth; He is the God of Israel, okay? So Israel is absolutely essential to the plan of God. He chose a man, Abraham, and from him, Isaac, and Jacob, and so forth, and then these people.
And as we’ve often said, the Messiah doesn’t just step off of a UFO and say, “Voilà! Here I am!” He comes with a pedigree. He comes, of course, with prophecies uttered by Hebrew prophets. The whole Old Testament is written by the Hebrew prophets, with the possible exception of Job—I don’t know who wrote the Book of Job—but He comes with a history, with ancestry…
Dave: Right, and this is the proof of the Messiah. So you can’t take Israel out of the picture. “He came to his own,” the scripture says. He came first of all to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He says, “I am not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He came to give them the opportunity to receive their Messiah. The promise of the Messiah had been made to Israel. So, Israel—wow! They present tremendous lessons for us.
We’ve talked about the base of Mount Sinai. They had just heard God speak with an audible voice. In fact, He gave the Ten Commandments with an audible voice before He wrote them on the tables of stone, and all the people heard Him speak, they trembled at His voice, they promised they would keep these commandments, and before Moses got down from the Mount they had already broken the very first commandment, okay? So that tells us a little bit about ourselves—tells us about how we can promise to serve God, obey Him, and then we don’t. It tells us about God’s mercy and His grace.
Also God said they would have to remove the tabernacle from the center. It was the center of Israel, and all the twelve tribes were around it, and God said, “I cannot remain among these people. I would consume them because they are sinful and I am holy.” So they moved the tabernacle out, and those who wanted to seek the Lord, they went out. All of these Old Testament pictures are fulfilled in the New Testament.
So the writer to the Hebrews in Hebrews 13 says, “Let us go forth outside the camp unto him, bearing his reproach.” The tabernacle was a picture of Christ.
So we read in John’s gospel, chapter 1, “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” The word, literally, is “tabernacle.” The tabernacle, to begin with, and then the temple, was a dwelling place for God. Well, Jesus is God manifest in the flesh, so it was like God is dwelling among us: “Thou shalt call His name Emmanuel, which means, God with us.” So instead of being a tabernacle of skins and so forth, or the temple, here comes God himself as a Man, and He is dwelling among us. The scripture says, “A body hast thou prepared me.” So this is the eternal God, the eternal Son of God, tabernacling—dwelling among men—and, of course, coming to pay the penalty for our sins.
In Israel we have so many examples: the sacrifices, the Levitical sacrificial system, Passover, the Passover Lamb, and, of course, John the Baptist says, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” So if we don’t understand what the prophets have said—like Isaiah 53: “He is despised and rejected of men, man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. We hid, as it were, our faces from Him. He was despised; we esteemed Him not.” So Israel is really a picture of the rejection by mankind of the Savior.
I believe it was Wernher Von Braun, who said—you know, he was a Christian—and he said, “How amazing that the God who created this universe comes to reveal Himself to man, and they nail Him to a cross!” The cross—it reveals the evil of the human heart, and there is no better way to reveal the grace and mercy and love of God than in the fullness of the manifestation of man’s evil. God didn’t love us because we were loveable, or because we deserved it.
Tom: Dave, before you go there, let me just back up to Israel a minute. Some of the things that you have been saying—Israel, these are God’s chosen people; the book—Jewish people refer to the Old Testament as the Tanakh, you know, and as you read the Old Testament, you say, wait a minute! Yes, this is a Jewish book written by Jewish prophets under the inspiration of God, but you know it’s not a book like you would find today where, when men write books for other men, or men and women; it’s to make them feel good, to kind of puff them up, to encourage them—you know, be positive and so on. In other words, you go through the Old Testament and you find, Wait a minute, this has got to be God speaking through men to us, because Jewish people—humanity, for that matter—we are not presented in a light that would build us up or, you know, turn the focus on us. I mean, there are some very difficult things.
Dave: You just get the truth.
Tom: Right, and it brings conviction of the heart. So, the point is that this is God’s book, and the Jewish people, as you pointed out, are His witnesses of that.
Dave: Exactly, that’s what Isaiah:43:10 says: “You are my witnesses to yourselves and to the world that I am God.”
Okay, so as we’ve probably said a hundred times on this program—somebody says, “Why do you believe in God?” The Jew; Israel—one word! This is the great proof. But then we have another problem because, well, there are many people today, particularly Presbyterians, Reformed Theologians, who say, “Yeah, but Israel is finished. The church has replaced Israel.” Well, that’s simply not true!
Tom: Well, it was a Catholic idea before it was a Presbyterian idea.
Dave: Right. In fact, there are many Catholic ideas, dogmas, that hung on, that clung to the Reformers. They left that church, but they couldn’t escape many of the ideas. We know that Martin Luther himself was an anti-Semite. In 1542, he wrote a book titled, Against the Jews and Their Lies. In fact, it was filled with lies about Jews! He couldn’t shake that, and it was the Catholic Church that first taught that the church had replaced Israel. Roman Catholics are the people of God, the Jews no longer are, okay? So we’ve got to be careful of that.
There are those…. For example, the Knox Seminary in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, founder D. James Kennedy, and so forth—you know they—I don’t know that we’ve mentioned it on this program (maybe we have), but a few years ago they put out a document signed by more than seventy evangelical leaders. I think it’s Section 10 of that document that said that all of the promises that God made to Israel…well, they say there is nothing in the Bible to indicate that there is any ethnic group of people who are given a special land. I don’t know what Bible they have been reading! And then it goes on to say that all of the promises given to Abraham concerning this land—oh, well then, now they contradicted themselves—there must have been some people to whom the land was promised, but they say they were all fulfilled under Joshua.
Now again, I don’t know what Bible they are reading, because if you went to Jeremiah:23:7-8, it very clearly says, “Thus saith the Lord, the day is coming when it will no longer be said, ‘Blessed be the Lord who brought his people out of the land of Egypt,’ but Blessed be the Lord who brought his people from all the nations where he had scattered them back into the land.’” That certainly did not happen under Joshua.
So, Israel important? Yes, for the Messiah. The Messiah is a Jew; without Israel we’ve got no salvation. God said to Abraham in Genesis 12, “In thee and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” So Messiah would be a Jew, okay?
Well then, what purpose does God have for them, and where do they fit into when will Jesus come, and the Rapture, and so forth? Any Jew, or any Gentile who believes in Christ as the one who died for their sins, they are born again; they are in the church. Any Jew who does not, or any Gentile who does not, is not in the church, and Jesus said very clearly in John:3:36, “He that believeth on the Son has everlasting life. He that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Well then, does that mean that there’s no blessings for national Israel? Indeed there are. So if we went to Jeremiah 31, beginning at verse 35, God said, “As long as the sun is in the sky, the stars are up there, Israel will not cease from being a nation before Me forever.”
So you asked me a simple question, and I get all involved, because this is the subject of the Bible! How are we going to cover the whole Bible in a few minutes?
Tom: Right. And that’s the point we want to make: that the scriptures—Old Testament, New Testament—this is God’s Word, and it’s about Israel and it’s about the Messiah. It has to do with the salvation of mankind, and this is God’s—I hate to say “program,” but this is the way God has declared He will go about, you know, and has redeemed humanity.
Dave: And it’s the only way! Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me,” and that is because the penalty has to be paid. And in contrast, you could put all religions on one side, and biblical Christianity is on the other side. If you put all the sacred books, so-called, of all the world’s religions over here, and the Bible is over here—because they all basically agree with one another that the gods can be appeased, or salvation or redemption, however they want to phrase it, comes by good works, comes by our own efforts. We’ve got to turn over a new leaf, we’ve got to please God, we’ve got to somehow make reconciliation for our own sins, and that there are certain religious rituals, sacraments, and so forth. And, as a Catholic, you know, that’s what you were brought up believing.
Tom: Or even some who would profess to be evangelicals that say, “Well, you know, good works, and going to church, and doing this, becoming a deacon, whatever it might be, you know, that’s going to endear me to God and make it okay for me.”
Dave: The Bible is very clear: “Not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but by his mercy he saved us. By grace are you saved through faith, not of yourselves—it’s the gift of God.” And right there we have a little problem, because faith is not the gift. Well, I couldn’t do anything, I can’t even breathe without God, so I couldn’t have faith without God. But that doesn’t mean that God gives certain people the ability to believe and the other ones he damns to hell because they can’t believe because he doesn’t give them the ability to believe. The subject in Ephesians:2:8-10, is salvation, so salvation is a gift. “By grace are you saved, through faith. It’s the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” No one can boast of good works or rituals or anything that he has done that has brought salvation to him. All we can boast in is in the Lord and His mercy and grace to us.
Tom: So that’s what the Bible is about: it’s about salvation for mankind. And, Dave, it’s not just a theological book. Some would say, “Well, yeah, it’s a good book because it’s got good moral teachings in it,” and so forth. It’s a history book; it’s a history book divinely presented. It’s God speaking through men, His words, His thoughts, His ideas, and we can check it out by history. You know, you write in chapter 3— chapter 3 is titled, “An Irrefutable Sign”—you write: “God’s unique dealings with Israel before a watching world constitute an irrefutable proof that He exists and that He is guiding history.” I mean, all people need to do is check it out and check back in history. You add, “Jewish history stands as a universally visible monument to God’s existence—to the fact that the Bible is His infallible word and the Jews are His chosen people.” So history, and people can check it out.
Dave: You can’t escape it, Tom. And, of course, I always think of the contrast between the Bible and the Book of Mormon. They haven’t found anything. They can’t even find the topography; they can’t verify the geography.
Tom: Not even the kingdom of Moron, that’s in Ether.
Dave: Right. They have searched—you know, their archeologists have searched North, Central, South America. They have spent millions and can’t find anything, in contrast to museums around the world. I mean, you’ve got mountains…. Tom, our family visited the Hittite Museum in Ankara, Turkey, and there was a time when the skeptics said Hittites didn’t even exist. The grammar school kids—or, I guess, high school students as well—in Israel, they study their history out of the Bible. You want to know where to dig to find an ancient city, or an ancient well, or anything else, read the Bible! The archeologists go by the Bible and it will tell you where to go. The Book of Mormon? Nothing. Okay?
So, this is history, and I love it, because when you read Genesis you are reading about real people, real nations, real places, real events, there is absolutely no escaping it. So, that’s a good point, that historically the Bible can be verified. It doesn’t make any mistakes about history. If it made mistakes about history, then it’s not true.
Tom: Sure! How can you trust any other part of it?
Dave: Exactly, exactly! And, by the way, God brought Abraham, led him into—not the land of Palestine; there was no such place and there were no such people as Palestinians. He led him into the land of Canaan, and He said, “I have given the land of Canaan to you and to your seed for an everlasting possession.” It’s an everlasting covenant, and we get that in many places; 1 Chronicles 16 would be one of the places. So, He gives us everlasting life; He promises everlasting life, and if this everlasting covenant isn’t everlasting, then the everlasting life He promises us couldn’t be everlasting either. Tom, as you point out, we’ve got to take the Bible as one book. It’s either all true or it’s worthless!