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. Thanks for joining us in this segment of Search the Scriptures Daily, as we discuss Dave Hunt’s book, When Will Jesus Come?
Now, Dave, I remember this book—well, most of it, anyway—when it was called, How Close Are We? And this is a Harvest House book, but then they wanted you to revise it.
Dave: Well, it’s not so much a revision; “revision” sounds like there was something wrong. No, we just made some clarifications, some additions. They thought this title When Will Jesus Come? perhaps was a little clearer than How Close Are We? How close to what? You know, so that’s what we did. I think it’s a bit larger than the other book. I think it’s a better book. Hopefully, Tom, when you redo a book, you do improve it some.
Tom: Well, Dave, just to give a little bit of an insight, you know, we are now publishing our own books under The Berean Call label, as it were.
Dave: And I think—maybe I shouldn’t say this, but I think our staff does a better job than any publisher I’ve ever been with as far as cover design and so forth.
Tom: You’re a little biased. But in fact it has made things much easier for you, and we do have the ability now that when a later edition comes out in any of your books, that you can expand and update them, and you don’t have to go through quite the committees and the process and so on.
Dave: It could take a year, Tom, with a publisher. Now I can just call our managing editor ten minutes before the book is going off to the press, and say, “On page such-and-such, could we just make this slight change?” It’s really wonderful, because it can be done right there.
Tom: Right. Well, last week as we were going through—as we began our discussion of When Will Jesus Come? Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ—Dave, we talked about the confusion among the Jews, especially when Jesus walked the earth with His disciples, but some confusion about the Messiah, who the Messiah was to be and what exactly He was going to accomplish. Can you give us a little review on that?
Dave: Well, not only was there confusion among the Jews, confusion among the disciples, and even John the Baptist... Remember, from prison John the Baptist sent two of his disciples asking Jesus, “Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?” So he asked the right question—someone was promised to come. That would be the Messiah. Well, what was the promise about? How did it define who He would be? How would you recognize Him when he came? And they got that altogether wrong! All they thought was that He was going to take the throne of His father David, and they expected to be…you know, remember the disciples arguing? They had such low self-esteem! You remember the night that Jesus was betrayed, the Last Supper, Jesus says, “One of you is going to betray me.” There was a momentary flurry of concern. They should have locked the doors: “Don’t let anybody out of here until we find out who this guy is and change his mind! We’re not going to let somebody betray our Lord!” No, a little flurry—“Lord, is it I?” Another one: “Lord, is it I?” And then the next thing you know…
There’s just this plague of self-esteem that is on a rampage around the world even then. They’re arguing about who will be the greatest, and who will sit on His right hand and who will sit on His left. That’s what even…the sons of Zebedee, their mother came, James and John, and wanted to be sure that her sons got the priority in the kingdom. And I think that John the Baptist was probably thinking, when he sent these disciples, “Look, I ought to at least be prime minister. I’m the one who introduced You! I’m the one who said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’” What do you think that meant?
Tom: What am I doing in jail?
Dave: Right. “Maybe I’m going to get my head cut off.” I don’t know what he was thinking. It was by the inspiration of God that he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who bears away the sin of the world.” Now, what is this Lamb for? This is the Lamb that Abraham—you remember? He’s got his son Isaac, and they’re walking up to Mount Moriah. And his son Isaac is probably a strapping young guy and he’s carrying the wood. And so he says, “Well, here’s the wood; you’ve got the fire. Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham, speaking under the inspiration of God, said, “God will provide himself a Lamb.” And we all know the story. As he’s about to, you know—he’s raised the knife, he’s going to go through with this, because he is sure that his son will be raised from the dead.
Tom: Well, he just told the servants as he left—he said, “We will—we—will return.”
Dave: Right, “The lamb and I will return, come back to you.” And of course he’s given credit for that in Hebrews 11. He received him back from the dead because he really believed that this would happen. Why would he believe that? Because God said, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called,” and the promises of God were wrapped up in Isaac, okay? So he had to come back from the dead.
Anyway, you know the story, and the Angel of the Lord stopped him, you know, as the knife is raised, and says, “Now I know that you would not withhold your son.” This is a picture of God the Father not withholding His Son to be sacrificed for our sins. And he turns, and there is a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. It’s a picture of the power, the horns, and only Christ could die for our sins. He was the only sinless person. If we were going to be saved, the Son of God had to come to this earth and be born of a virgin and die for our sins. That was it, okay?
So, what was John thinking when he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God”? I mean, isn’t the Lamb supposed to be sacrificed? So there was a problem. Tom, I’m taking too much time on that, but this was the problem. They thought the Messiah would immediately take the throne. But how then can He die for our sins? You could say, “There is no place in the Old Testament where it says the Messiah would come twice, not in clear language.” How would you know? Because you couldn’t put in one event, in one timeframe, what even Isaiah 53 says: “He’s wounded for our transgressions, He’s bruised for our iniquities, He’s cut off out of the land of the living. For our sins He’s cut off.” But then it says, “He will prolong his days. The pleasure of the Lord will prosper in his hand. He will see the travail of his soul and be satisfied.” So there’s going to have to be two comings. He’s going to come once, very interesting!
Oh, Tom, you get me started on the Bible, I mean, every verse fits in with every other verse! What do we see Him in the Book of Revelation 5?
Tom: Before the beloved John. He’s definitely different than we see Him when He’s walking with the disciples.
Dave: But you know, John, as we think, because no one can open this book and loose the seals to find out what’s in it. And the angel said, “Don’t weep, there is one who will do that—the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He is able.” And John turns to see this Lion—he sees a Lamb as it had been slain.
Now, Jesus had to come, the Messiah had to come as the Lamb to be crucified for our sins. It was foretold that He would be crucified. So they didn’t know this, and they thought because He got crucified that proved He wasn’t the Messiah.
Okay, Tom, so you would have to know by implication there would be two comings, the same regarding the return of Christ. It must have two parts to it. He’s going to come at a time of peace. No, He’s coming at a time of war in the midst of Armageddon. He’s coming to raise His own, the church from the dead, catch them up; they will meet Him in the air, take them to heaven. No, no, He’s coming! His feet are going to land on the Mount of Olives and He brings all the saints with Him, and He’s going to come to rescue Israel in the midst Armageddon… Tom, there has to be two comings. You couldn’t put it into one time event, one timeframe.
Tom: But, Dave, you make a really good point here: it’s the truth, but it’s by implication. You don’t find any verse that lays this out in clear terms.
Tom: On the other hand, much of what Jesus did, not only what He said but what He did…for example, I’m thinking about the time that He’s reading from Isaiah in the synagogue.
Tom: He could have read that whole passage, but there would have been some confusion. Where did He stop, Dave, and why did he stop at a certain point in that passage?
Dave: Okay, well, Tom, Jesus opens the book, or the scroll, and He starts reading in Isaiah:61:1, and here is what He read: “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.”
Now, these are two events. He didn’t come to proclaim vengeance at that time, He came to set the captives free, to heal, to offer salvation to “whosoever would.” But He’s coming back to proclaim in the day of vengeance of our God.
Tom: Yeah, to those who reject all these things that He has offered and continued to offer, not only when He was here but through His disciples. That’s us, Dave—not just the two of us, all believers in Him.
Dave: Right. So, Tom, when we talk about the title of this book, When Will Jesus Come?—come to do what? Come for whom? That depends, because there are different aspects to his coming. As there were to His first coming, there are different aspects to His Second Coming. Okay? And we try to deal with that in this book.
Tom: Well, Dave, you know, one of the things I like about your writings: you don’t avoid the tough questions—the things that people think, but they either never ask or nobody ever really goes there. And one of the things is you write, “I will come again.” After nearly two millennia, that wonderful but as yet unfulfilled promise remains shrouded in misunderstanding. What should be one’s attitude today concerning this solemn promise made by Christ to His disciples and to each of us? If the promise is to be taken literally, then why such a long delay? It has been a long delay; why is that?
Dave: Well, He’s going to come when He’s going to come. There are many prophecies to be fulfilled—not before the Rapture. What is being delayed is the Second Coming. Now, you can’t have a Second Coming, for example, until the Antichrist is revealed, because the major purpose of the Second Coming is for Christ to destroy Antichrist. I think the church had to be prepared, but now we have to be very careful because the church is not being prepared. As some people would say, Christ isn’t going to come for an unfaithful bride; He’s not going to come for a church that is divided, you know. No, the Bible indicates that will be the condition of the church when He returns at the Rapture.
So I will not give up immanency, because all through the New Testament we have that taught. “Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation, looking for the blessed hope,” and so forth. We come back and talk about some of that later. But it’s very clear that the early church was taught to watch and wait for him.
Now, the Bible tells us that He’s not willing that any should perish, that He delays so that people will have the opportunity to believe. On the other hand, you could argue, “Yeah, but the longer He delays, more people are being born than those who actually believe.” But yet the Bible says it’s His mercy.
Also, I think the longer He delays, the more people would be in heaven, or the more people would be in hell.
And, Tom, that’s another topic, but people say, “Well, how could a good God create a world with such sin and suffering?” Well, He didn’t create it; it’s not His world. This is what we made of it. “Yeah, but what about people in hell? You mean they’re forever in torment? Well, how would that glorify God?” In fact, in would. It’s a horrible thought. It would glorify God because He did not knuckle down to their pleadings. They rejected His offer…
Tom: Free gift out of His love.
Dave: …and they rejected His terms, and so He doesn’t compromise. You know, like grandpas, like me—you’ll soon be a grandpa one of these days, Tom, if the Lord hasn’t come. Well, you tend to be, “Well, let’s just forgive them. Give them another chance.” God does not do that. There will be no end to another chance for all of the scoundrels in His world. So God says, “Look, I created this universe, I make the rules. You can’t even play a game without rules. I’m entitled to make the rules. You either come to Me on my terms….”
You know, I wrote a little booklet back there, The Nonnegotiable Gospel. You don’t negotiate with God. So the fact that He does not negotiate, the fact that He does what He says He will do, the fact that judgment falls on those who defy Him and rebel against Him is to His honor and glory. And this is what hell, the lake of fire, will testify to for all eternity. It’s a horrible thought, but there is no other way, Tom, unless God is going to compromise and just in sympathy violate His own Word and His own justice by forgiving people on an improper and unjust basis.
Tom: You know, Dave, people who get upset with the idea that God is judging and—His judgment is absolute and perfect, all right, and they get upset with that. Well, what’s the other side, His other attributes? He is a God of love, and His love is just as perfect and incomprehensible to us because of what He has done. Look to the other religions of the world—what God sacrifices Himself? The other religions turn things around so that we or someone else has to be sacrificed to appease this god, and so on.
Dave: Well, Islam certainly offers a lot of sacrifices to god. They commit suicide in order to get in there, and in the act they kill a lot of people and think that Allah (well, he’s not the true God) is going to reward them in paradise.
Tom: But my point here is, Dave, for those who get upset about it, they don’t want to be in submission to God. So what they’re going to get is what they want for eternity!
Tom: So, you know, I don’t know what people are ranting about. Besides that, if anybody was willing to come to Him… But as you said, He’s a perfect God, so it has to be on His terms. If they’re willing to submit to that, He’s provided everything for them.
Dave: So anyone who complains, Tom, they’re rebels. They want to run the show; they want to be “God.” And of course, you know, this is the lie of the serpent, the lie to Eve: “You can become one of the gods.” This is…Mormonism is based upon the belief that we’re all going to become gods. This is Hinduism, self-realization—everywhere they want to become gods. And this is what Satan’s downfall was. In Isaiah 14, we read it: “He said in his heart, I will be like the Most High.” Well, how many “Most Highs” can you have? There can only be one! There either is Someone in charge, and He makes the rules and it’s His universe—we didn’t create it—or, Tom, I mean, this is rebellion of the most horrific kind! It would tear God from His throne!
Tom: Well, and what would happen to heaven? Again, we’re getting hypothetical here, but if somebody like that were allowed into heaven, what would it turn heaven into? For that individual’s sake alone it would be hell, because he would not want—he wouldn’t have the attitude that, “I want to submit to God, I want to love God,” and so on. If you just want what you want, there’s another place for you, even though you’re not going to get what you want.
Dave: Well, Tom, actually they’ll get what they want, the ultimate selfishness: they’ll be locked in with themselves. They will be locked in with themselves and all of their sin, their evil, their ambitions, their hatred of others…
Tom: Well, Dave, I want to go back to this promise. We’ve been talking about When Will Jesus Come?, and we have about four minutes left. What about the first promise of God in this respect? When did He first offer that He would solve man’s problems?
Dave: Of course, Tom, that promise was first made in Genesis:3:15, and the serpent deceived Eve, did not deceive Adam. It says, “The woman being deceived was in the transgression.” Adam was not deceived. He knew what he was doing; he didn’t want to lose his wife. I don’t know any other explanation for it.
Tom: So this is the fall of mankind.
Dave: Right, when he took that forbidden fruit—now, forbidden fruit? Was there some magic quality to it? No, it was rebellion, that’s it—simply rebellion! It was the easiest command God could give, okay? “You’ve got millions of trees, you can have any one of them, just don’t eat the fruit on this tree,” and they failed! So that is rebellion.
Tom: It was a test of obedience more than denying them something that…
Dave: No, He wasn’t denying them. No, probably hundreds of trees of the same kind of fruit. So God said to the serpent, He said, “For doing this, you are going to crawl on your belly,” and so forth. Now, Satan isn’t literally a serpent, but he loves to be called a serpent. He loves to masquerade as a serpent, and he apparently spoke through this serpent, and was apparently very beautiful in that time. And God said, “There’s a virgin-born Son that is going to come…” The “Seed of the woman,” He called it. “You will bruise his heel, but he will bruise your head and deliver a death blow.”
So what the serpent did, introducing sin and rebellion and the consequences—death, judgment, eternal judgment—that was going to be undone by a virgin-born Seed of the woman who would come and who would redeem mankind from this curse that the serpent had put upon them. And this salvation would be available to everyone who would be willing to come under obedience to God and who would acknowledge their sin (because we’ve all sinned), who would acknowledge that God’s way is the only way, God’s standards are just and right, and who would accept the penalty paid by Christ, who would accept the provision for our sin that was made on the cross. Okay?
Now, I would think that would be very good news! So only those who say, “No, I’m going to take my own way. I’m going to do my own thing. I’m going to continue to defy God. I’m going to say one religion is as good as another. We’re all taking different roads to get to the same place. This Jesus Christ, He’s only one, but He’s not who He really claimed to be.” All right, you want that, then you will suffer the consequences of it.
Tom: Dave, we have a really interesting example when Adam and Eve hid themselves from God. They covered themselves with something of their own making, but that wasn’t going to cover them, was it? God had to provide. You mentioned earlier about the Bible, how it just fits together. The Old Testament in terms of types and shadows that all point to Christ—God’s act of taking skins of animals and covering Adam and Eve with them. It’s a type of Christ, His blood. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin, Hebrews tells us.
Dave: Because death was pronounced by God the punishment for sin. We had to die. We either die in Christ, accept His death as ours, or we will suffer an eternal death forever.