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.
Dave Hunt’s book, When Will Jesus Come? Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ, is the subject of our discussion in this first segment of our program.
And, Dave, last week we discussed the point you addressed in chapter 18 regarding the different perspectives that some prophecy teachers have about Ezekiel 38 and 39. And what makes that curious, at least, is that many of the speakers I’m thinking about hold the same last-days view that you do, Dave—that is, they’re pre-Millennial and pre-Trib. And for our listeners who are not familiar with those terms, someone who takes the pre-Millennial and pre-Tribulation view believes that the Rapture of the church will take place prior to the Great Tribulation period of seven years in which the Antichrist will rule on the earth and prior to the thousand-year reign of Christ from Jerusalem.
Now, Dave, since that’s what you believe, what’s the problem with a differing view of Ezekiel 38 and 39?
Dave: Well, it doesn’t have any bearing on the Rapture unless—there are a few people who would say that this comes before the Rapture, but offhand I can’t name them. But most of them, I presume—at least the ones that hold this pre-Millennial, pre-Trib view that you referred to—believe that Ezekiel 38 and 39 occur in the middle of the Great Tribulation, and that doesn’t even solve their major problem. I believe that very clearly this is at the end of the Great Tribulation—this is Armageddon, in other words. Ezekiel 38 and 39 are describing Armageddon. They say, “Well, if that’s the case, then you’d be burning weapons seven years into the millennium.” Well, but even from there, mid-Trib, you are going to be burning weapons three and a half years. So I don’t see the difference there.
But, Tom, I think that there’s no question that this is Armageddon, and of course we talked about that a bit last week, as I recall. But let me go back—can I take time to go back over a little bit of it?
Dave: This is a remarkable prophecy, Ezekiel 38, and I’ll be as brief as I can. Verse 11…and I’m not going to get into Gog and Magog, and say that this is Russia, and so forth. I think that’s problematic because we have Gog and Magog in Revelation 20, and it simply is all of the armies of the earth that have gathered together against Jesus at Jerusalem. So I would say that that's what it signifies.
But anyway, who are they attacking, and where? Well, it’s quite simple: it’s the land of Israel. It speaks of the land several times, the land, and verse 11 is rather interesting. [Ezekiel:38:11] says, “You are going to go up to the land of unwalled villages.” Now, I suppose there are many lands of unwalled villages all over the world, so what would be so special about this particular land being unwalled? Well, right now you know that Israel is building a wall, so that would be special if it no longer has that wall, and I think that’s what it’s talking about. Otherwise, what is the point of “unwalled villages?” I don’t know of a city in America that has walls around it, and the only cities in Europe that I know of, that…you could think of Carcassonne in France. They’re completely walled. We have one in Switzerland, but these are replicas from the past.
Tom: Sure. Well, I was just in Europe, Dave—we visited Rutenberg.
Dave: Yes, there’s one.
Tom: But these are medieval, as you say. Some of them were destroyed during the second World War, so these are just to replicate the medieval times. That’s what Rutenberg was about.
Dave: Yeah, they’re of great interest to tourists, but they’re not for defense anymore.
Dave: So for this to be significant, this place, this land must have had a significant wall, and in the last days that wall has come down. So I would say, from Scripture, the wall that Israel is building is going to come down. Well, I think we commented on that. Why will it come down? Because Antichrist will guarantee peace, and he will deceive Israel and deceive the world. Daniel:8:25 says, “Through peace he will destroy many.” That’s an interesting statement. So obviously it’s a false peace, and he is going to break that peace.
But it gets more interesting: verse 12…these are the people, the middle of verse 12, “that are gathered out of the nations.” So whatever this land is, it’s a land that once was vacant, and now it has been reoccupied by a people who have been gathered out of the nations. It had a wall, but apparently of significant use in defense, and now that wall has come down. Okay? I don’t think it’s too hard to decide what country this is talking about.
Tom: Dave, we mentioned last week—obviously these people are prospering.
Tom: And we talked about another time…or this people, when they lived in the land of Goshen in Egypt, and were not affected by the plagues that seriously destroyed much of Egypt.
Dave: Right. So, Tom, we can’t be dogmatic about that, but I would rather think that Israel will be immune from the plagues, the judgments that God is pouring out upon this earth. Everything we read about—well, we could go to Jeremiah:30:10-11. There God says, “Though I will make a full end of the nations whither I have scattered you [now, they have been brought back, obviously, out of there], yet will I not make a full end of you, but I will punish you in measure,” it says. So Israel is coming in for some punishment. And the punishment, of course, is going to be in this attack that comes against them.
So, okay, we’ve got a land that had significant walls about it for defense—a fence or whatever you want to call it. That defense has surrounded a people who have been scattered to the nations and brought back. Okay, I don’t think there’s any doubt this is the land of Israel, and verse 14 makes it even clearer in the middle of it: “In that day, when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it.”
So this is what you were talking about, Tom—last days prophecy. These are events for the last days, and God says, “I will bring thee against my land.” Well, there’s no question about what that land is. This is not Israel living somewhere else, but this is Israel in God’s land.
And Leviticus:25:23, God says, “This is my land. It’s not to be sold forever.” Okay? And the nations of the world have defied God in what they are trying to do with that land. Well, they’ve divided it, and we know that they will be punished for that. So God says, “I’m going to bring you up against my land.” Well, it’s not that He gets behind them and shoves them. He will open the door—He will allow it, in other words. He’s not giving them a hatred for Israel—they have that—but He’s going to remove the restraints and allow them to come against this land.
The nations of the world have wanted to destroy Israel for a long time. The United Nations, of course, is against Israel. They would never vote Israel in again as they did in 1948 when they had just a momentary twinge of conscience because of the Holocaust, and even Russia voted her in—not only into the United Nations, but as a nation. So…
Tom: Well, Dave, we have an added incentive here, because Israel is prospering. That hasn’t happened before.
Dave: You know, Tom, I kind of suspect they may discover oil. It’s strange that Israel is the one place in the Middle East that doesn’t seem to have any oil. I mean, the Arab nations all around them are sitting on oceans of it. Why would God let them have all this oil? I don’t know, Tom, but I do know this: in spite of all the wars, the burden that’s been upon Israel, they have been prospering. Of course, they were in terrible shape until they put the wall up, because tourists—that was their main business, and tourists were staying away, except for Christians. I’ve been over there a few times—hotels empty. And who is there? You see Calvary Chapel and other Christians. They’re about the only tourists that were coming [and] supporting Israel. But now they’re prospering again when the wall has gone up. People are not afraid (at least not as afraid) of suicide bombers and so forth. Maybe one or two get through once in a while.
But, I mean, their electronic industry, their high tech industry, their aircraft industry! These people are geniuses, really. And Silicon Valley in San Jose area has been buying them up, or they’ve put their research centers over in Israel and hired Israelis for their research. And when you check out the percentage compared with the percentage…I think there must be a little over two-tenths of one percent of the world’s population are Jews. And, Tom, I don’t remember the statistics, but wow! It’s a very high percentage, higher than any other nationality, of Jews who are Nobel Prize winners. It’s really startling when you look at the statistics.
So there will be some prosperity there. There’s prosperity, and Israel’s got a lot of secrets. We don’t know what they do to our airplanes—they buy airplanes from us, fighter jets and so forth, and they soup them up like kids used to do. Oh, you see how old I am—we called them “hot rods” in those days. They probably didn’t do that when you were around, Tom.
Tom: Oh yeah. That was before the computer age, Dave, when you could work on a car without a fifty-thousand-dollar machine to figure out what the computers are doing.
Dave: Yeah. Israel has been able to do amazing things, and I think that could be another reason why they’re there. And of course, as you point out, Tom, they are the only place on the earth—and we are not dogmatic about this—that has escaped the judgment of God. The destruction on this earth has been horrendous, okay? Another reason to go there.
Now let’s take a look and see what else it says. The language becomes frightening, Tom. It is rather interesting. The end of verse 17, God says, “I will bring thee against them…” That is, “against my people,” but we’ve explained that. God is not forcing them to do this. He doesn’t cause them to hate Jews. And then God says at the end of verse 18, “My fury shall come up in my face.”
Now, Tom, I don’t think this is a mid-Trib operation, but I have a lot of friends who believe that, and I would say that that is a majority view—that Ezekiel 38 refers not to Armageddon, but to a big war in the middle of the Tribulation. There’s a lot of problems about that, because the destruction is going to be so great, Tom. Three-and-a-half years later, and now we’ve got these armies coming against Israel again? I don’t think so!
But let’s go on and see what it says. And we mentioned this last week but I think it bears emphasizing again: there will be a great shaking in the land of Israel. So, as we said last week, this is the epicenter of this shaking, but every fish in the sea, every creeping thing, every person on this earth is going to tremble! And what are they going to tremble at? The end of verse 20 says, “All the men that are upon the face of the earth shall shake [or tremble] at my presence.” God is coming back to this earth. You cannot escape it. Every wall is going to fall down, and so forth. And what does God say? Verse 23: “Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations [I think that means (many nations) all the nations] and they shall know that I am the Lord.”
So, Tom, this is not a preliminary war three-and-a-half years before Armageddon, this couldn’t be anything but Armageddon, just on the basis of what we’ve seen.
Tom: Yeah. Dave, what would be the point of this happening midway through the Tribulation? So what happens for the next three-and-a-half years? God is magnifying Himself; God is doing this, and then He’s going to back off for three-and-a-half years, or does it get worse? I mean, how can it get worse?
Dave: They are going to know through this. I think this is the final knowing of the nations who God is, and that they have been dealt His judgment. But let’s see: the next chapter, 39—remember, there were no chapter divisions originally—now it shifts to Israel. What about Israel? There are two purposes in Armageddon, and I believe, without a question, this is Armageddon! It has two purposes—number one: To destroy Antichrist and his armies. And it’s very clear that this is Antichrist who is leading these armies, and they are going to be destroyed. Well, then they will rise up again in three-and-a-half years? I don’t think so!
There are two purposes of Armageddon. Number one: To punish the nations for what they have done, and I think that that without question then would be Joel:3:2. God says, “I am going to bring all the nations of this world against Jerusalem to bow to Jehoshaphat, to punish them for two things: They scattered my people all over the world, and they divided my land!” So this is a final judgment of God upon the nations.
But the second reason is to break the hard hearts of the Jewish people. And that’s not anti-Semitism when I say that; this is what their own prophet said. God says, through Jeremiah and others, “All the day long I’ve held out my hands unto a disobedient, gainsaying people. I sent my prophets, rising early, pleading with Israel, ‘Don’t do this abominable thing that I hate!’”
By the way, it doesn’t quite fit with Calvinism, does it? God is in charge, He causes everything to happen, and He pleads with His people? Well, you’re pleading with the people to repent, and if you really want them to repent, then why don’t you extend irresistible grace to them? Why didn’t you predestine them to repent? It’sjust…it’s almost—Tom, what would you say?
Tom: It’s like a charade.
Dave: It’s mocking them. “You can’t repent because I am not giving you the grace to repent, but I’m going to punish you for not repenting.” It doesn’t make sense, okay?
Jesus said on the way to the cross, “Henceforth, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.’”
And we read of that in Zechariah 12: “I will pour upon the spirit of supplication; they will cry out.” Why will they cry out? Because they’re about to be destroyed! Israel is terrific, but they can’t stand up against all the armies of the world, especially like the United States with whom they’ve shared many of their military secrets.
Verse 7 of 39: “So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more.” Now, in the middle of the Great Tribulation, Israel is redeemed? They never disobey God again? They never do anything that would bring a reproach upon the name of God? I don’t think so, Tom!
Verse 22: “So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward.” Well, Israel is redeemed, they’re saved! They know who their Messiah is, they know the true God, they have been reconciled to God from that day and forward. That’s not the middle of the Great Tribulation!
Verse 29: “Neither will I hide my face anymore from them, for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel.” This is the redemption of Israel. “I will pour upon them the spirit of supplication,” and so forth, began—again, this is Zechariah chapter 12—when it says (verse 10), “They will look upon me whom they have pierced, and they will mourn because of him.” Okay?
But now, Tom, we didn’t get to verse 28 last week, and I wanted to have a minute on that: “Then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen, but I have gathered them unto their own land and have left none of them anymore there.”
Now, Tom, there’s not a Jew left anywhere. They have been miraculously…I mean, they didn’t all get on planes or something. “I have brought them back,” God says. When did that happen? Well, if you go to Matthew:24:29-30, and immediately after the tribulation in those days, “the sun will be darkened, the moon won’t give us light,” and so forth and so on. It goes down and they will see the sign of the Son of man coming in power and great glory. He will send His angels, Jesus said, to gather His elect from the four winds. Well, who is His elect? “Israel, mine elect!” The Christians—I mean, the church is already in heaven. The Rapture has already taken us up there. Who would this elect be? This is what Jesus is explaining what Ezekiel is talking about. There’s not going to be one Jew left anywhere on the face of this earth? How is that going to happen? “I will send my angels.”
Now, when does this take place? At the Second Coming! Zechariah:12:10 again: “They will look on me whom they have pierced.” Every Jew is going to see Him. Well, I think not just on TV—I don’t know if TV will even be operating then—but His presence will be manifest all over this world, in any jungle or mountain or wherever you go. “I will send my angels and they will gather my elect from the four winds.” And this is not the Rapture catching us up to meet Christ in the air. “From the four winds…” obviously from every part of the earth brought back to their own land. And those are the people we read of in Ezekiel 38.
So, Tom, this is Armageddon. This is the Second Coming. This is the grand finale. You couldn’t put this—you mean, in the middle of the Great Tribulation, somehow, He sends His angels and He gathers all the Jews back into their land? I don’t think so! This is nothing but Armageddon, and I rest my case!