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 continuing our discussion of Dave Hunt’s book, When Will Jesus Come? subtitled: Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ.
Dave, what I’d like to focus on today is the biblical fact that Christ’s coming to rapture His Church and the Second Coming of Christ are two distinct events, and that it’s critical to understand the distinction. But first, sort of related to this is another item of real controversy. You know, in Mark:13:32, Jesus says, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, [and that’s the controversial phrase] but the Father.” And, Dave, as you know, a couple weeks ago we talked about YWAM and how, I think it was Joy Dawson who was pretty instrumental in the development of that organization way back, probably 30-40 years ago, but she didn’t believe that Jesus, or that God, knew the future. So, does the Son not know the time or hour?
Dave: Yeah, Tom, I don’t even remember dealing with that question, but God knows the future, of course, and as James said in Acts 15, “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning.” Ok? So…
Tom: We read that a couple weeks ago.
Dave: Did we? So if God knows all of His works, He must know what’s going to happen—otherwise He wouldn’t know what He’s going to do in response to it. Well, this is a tough passage, Tom, but just looking at it logically—what do we know? Jesus said, “I and my Father are one.” We believe that Jesus is God.
Tom: He makes that claim, certainly.
Dave: One-hundred percent man, one-hundred percent God. So, it can’t be that Jesus really doesn’t know, because He has to know, if He is one with the Father. You know, He is the Creator of the universe. He knows everything. And we have to be very careful that we don’t over emphasize the humanity of Jesus to the detriment of His deity. For example, when Philip brought Nathaniel to Jesus, and Jesus saw him coming and He says: “An Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile." Nathaniel—I like him; he wasn’t one to be flattered. “How do you know me?” He’s not going to accept this compliment from a total stranger. “What’s the guy want to sell me?” you know. And Jesus said, “Before Philip called you when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” And Nathaniel says, “My Lord and my God.” And of course, Jesus said, “No, no, don’t take that to be any indication of My deity. Everyone can develop a faith like this. This is the potential that is in all of us,” you know. No! Jesus accepted his worship. And so He was manifesting His deity, but He also sat, tired, on the well in Samaria—that was His body.
Tom: Sure, angels ministered to him after His forty days in the desert.
Dave: Says he was hungry. I can imagine! So, Jesus must be saying something else here. I think what He is saying is the same thing that He said when He said, “My Father is greater than I.” Also, when often He said, “I can only do those things that I see the Father do, and the works that I do, I do not of myself. The Father that dwells in me, He does the works.” It’s not that the Son of God—we call Him the second person of the Trinity—is inferior to the Father, but there is a unity in the Godhead. When Jesus says, “I can do nothing of myself. I only do what the Father wants done.” But also, in John 16, He said, “When He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will lead you into all truth. He will not speak of Himself, but He will tell you things to come.”
And I can remember when I was an anti… Well, I’m not happy—it depends on what you call the charismatic movement and the tongues movement and all of this kind of stuff—there’s so much that is wrong—but I can remember when I preached against anything like that because they put too much emphasis on the Holy Spirit. And “Jesus said the Holy Spirit won’t talk about Himself.” No, that’s not what it says. He will not speak of Himself. That is, from His own initiative. So, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit don’t do anything independently of one another. They are One—three persons, one God. So I think Jesus is simply saying, “The Father is in charge. Just as I can’t do anything that the Father doesn’t have Me do, so it’s up to the Father when this day will occur.” But at the same time, Jesus knows exactly when that day would be. He is simply telling us of the greatness of the Father—that He doesn’t decide. Of course, the Godhead works as One. So, I don’t know any other way that you could interpret that, Tom, unless you’ve got something else.
Tom: No, Dave, but a point that you make is something that we’ve seen create some problems, and that is when there is not an understanding here, what usually happens is they limit Christ. For example, they said, “Just as Christ, being the infinite God, limited Himself to a body for His time on earth, they would add that He also limited His powers.”
Dave: Yeah, but Tom, the example we just gave showed that He didn’t limit Himself to His body because He saw Nathaniel when he was miles away. And if we went to John:3:13, for example, Jesus said, “No man hath ascended into heaven except He which came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven!” So, how could He limit Himself to His body if He said He was in heaven right then? And when He says, “I and my Father are One,” and the Father’s in heaven, Jesus must be there, too! See, we begin to talk about things that we can’t fathom, because God is everywhere, God is infinite. I don’t understand that. He’s not some influence, permeating everything.
But for example, I was thinking about it this morning. (Why should I be even thinking about this? I don’t know.) But what holds the atom together? You know we have electrons whirling in orbit. If you just get one more electron, you have a totally different substance. But in the nucleus of the atom, you have protons. Well, those are positively charged. You have neutrons—those are neutral. So, you only have positive charges in the nucleus of the atom. (Why was I thinking about that this morning? I don’t know—I must have been coming out of a nightmare or something.) And like charges repel. So what holds the nucleus of the atom together? The electrons are whirling around in orbit—they have nothing to do with it.
Well, the scientists—I don’t want to make fun of scientists; science has accomplished a great deal. But sometimes they’re reluctant to admit there are things they don’t know. So, some people have called it “cosmic glue.” Something holds that thing together; we don’t know what it is. Oh, well, but put a label on it—then we know what it is: cosmic glue, of course! We talk about gravity. We don’t know what gravity is; we don’t know what electricity is. Anyway, Tom—I don’t want to get off the subject here.
Or some of them, physicists, say, it’s the strong force. But the Bible says Jesus holds all things together. And I’m not a nuclear physicist, but they tell me that that is very technical terminology. Something—He is the one who holds the atom together. So, we can’t limit the power of Jesus; we can’t limit His knowledge. But I think He is just showing that there’s an order in the Godhead, and the Father is the One who decides.
Also, Tom, I guess you could take an illustration from the tradition that was extant, in that day, of marriage. You remember? The groom-to-be, or the man, when they got engaged, would say to his wife: “I am going away to prepare a place for you.” This is what Jesus said. And because there were communal families, you know, the next son got married, well he adds some quarters, and these houses get bigger. And, “I’m going to go away and prepare a place for you, and then I will come again and receive you unto myself.” This is what Jesus says to His bride, the Church. You get the illustration in Matthew 25: “While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept,” and at the midnight hour a great cry arose, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh! Go ye out to meet him.” Because the bridegroom would try to catch his bride by surprise, so these attendants would supposedly be watching, and that’s the meaning of that story, “While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept,” even the wise ones.
Well, you could look at it like this. This is the way that it was—the father would tell the son when he could go and get his bride. Maybe Jesus is giving that illustration as well, because the groom is very eager for the wedding, but he can’t just throw a dingbat together and ruin the character of the father’s house: “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” Now, he’s built one for his bride. It’s got to be up to spec, and it’s the father who’s going to check on it and, “Okay, son, go get her!” Maybe, there’s a little bit of that in there, too, I don’t know, Tom.
Tom: Dave, you know, that makes sense to me, because, first of all, what you’re doing—and I think this is so important for myself or our listeners out here. Once we come to a difficult passage, we need to let scripture speak to that verse. In other words, scripture interprets scripture, and if we come up with an idea about it that somehow, as you pointed out at the beginning, undermines the deity of Christ, undermines His power—then we are really going to be in trouble. And, as you said, there are some verses that are difficult and you need to wrestle with, and so on. But you should never put yourself in the position where some other truth about Christ is being undercut.
Dave: Right, absolutely.
Tom: Yeah, I agree with that. You know, it also may be that…there are many verses that you find in the Scripture where Jesus is saying something. Like, for example, when the woman comes to Him and touches the hem of His garment, and she’s healed of this disease that she has had for a long time. He says, “Well, who touched me? Power went out from me,” and so on. Now, Dave, if there weren’t some of those things in there, Jesus would have all these things in His mind. If He didn’t articulate those things for our benefit, we wouldn’t be able to grasp it.
Dave: Well, obviously, we know, as you said, we’ve got to get our interpretation from the Bible, and we know from…well, He saw Nathaniel miles away. We know that Jesus knows everything. He wasn’t clairvoyant when He gave prophecy: “Jerusalem is going to be surrounded by its armies,” and so forth. He knew who had touched Him, but He is giving her a chance. See, she’s trying to do this secretly, and He’s giving her a chance to openly testify, and she’s been healed. He knows!
Tom: And if He didn’t do that, you couldn’t communicate what took place—that’s my point. So, He was doing it for our benefit, not because He was unable to…
Dave: She would have sneaked off.
Tom: Right, so we would have no story in the Bible regarding this. Well, let’s get back to the focus of this particular chapter in your book, When Will Jesus Come? Two distinct events, Dave—it has to be. Jesus is going to come for His saints, and then He is going to come with them, but people still don’t…many people don’t regard the Second Coming and the Rapture as two events.
Dave: Yep. I can’t remember all that we may have said about this in the past, Tom, but the complaint is, “Well, show me in the New Testament where it says there are two comings yet.” And I have a simple response: “Show me in the Old Testament where it ever said there would be two comings of the Messiah.” Well, it never does say that. Well, then, how would we know there are two comings? Because you couldn’t put into one event, in one time frame, what the Old Testament said about the coming of the Messiah. The Jews were looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. Well, what did it say about the coming of the Messiah? What were they looking forward to? “He will rule on the throne of his father David” (Isaiah:9:7). “Of His kingdom and peace there will be no end.” But wait a minute! Daniel 9 says, “He will make His entrance 69 weeks of years until the coming of the Messiah, the Prince, then He will be cut off!”
Tom: Meaning He would be killed.
Dave: That’s right, and in what way and why? Because He is coming as the Passover Lamb, Paul says it in 1 Corinthians 5, I think, somewhere around there, 7 maybe: “Christ our Passover is slain for us.” Well, if He’s the Passover, when He comes, that would be the 10th of Nissan when they took the lambs out of the flock; the 14th of Nissan He is going to be killed, because that’s when the lamb was supposed to be killed, if all of these Scriptures are going to be fulfilled.
So, how can He set up an eternal kingdom and get killed? You have contradictions right within Isaiah 53: He shall see His seed; He shall prolong His days; the pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.” No, it says “He’s cut off out of the land of the living” and “for the transgression of my people is He stricken.”
So, either we have a contradiction in the Bible, or it’s talking about two events. The first one He comes as the Lamb of God, to bear away the sin of the world. Exactly what John the Baptist said when he saw Him: “Behold, the Lamb of God who bears away the sin of the world.” Then He is going to come as the Lion of the tribe of Judah to execute judgment, and you can’t have both of those happening at once! They don’t fit. So, He had to go away after He came to purge our sins, to pay the penalty for our sins, and He’s coming again in glory and power. All right, the same thing is true in the New Testament. You cannot put into one event and one time frame what the New Testament says about the coming of the Lord.
Tom: Well, let me give you a couple of those. He’s going to come at a time when He’s least expected vs. He’s going to come at a time where all these signs need to be fulfilled.
Tom: He’s going to come in the midst of peace vs. He’s going to come in the midst of war. How do you reconcile those two things in one event?
Dave: Well, give them those verses, Tom. He says, “At such an hour as you think not, the Son of man cometh.” But a few verses earlier than that, in Matthew 24, He said, “When you see all these signs, you know I am right at the door.” Now, how could He come at a time when any idiot knows He’s coming? I mean, all the signs have been fulfilled—even Antichrist goes out to meet Him. And yet, come at a time when no one expects that He would come.
Tom: And, of course, Dave, you write about two distinct purposes. The first purpose: Christ presenting His bride to His Father. You went over John:14:1-3, and you have Him coming to rescue Israel and destroy the Antichrist and his empire.
Dave: Yeah, you said it earlier: He comes for His Bride. Then there’s a wedding up there, and He comes with His Bride.
Tom: A wedding, plus the judgment seat of Christ.
Dave: Right, you couldn’t put this in one event, and yet there are those who try. Pat Robertson—I don’t know what he believes today, but at one time he said—well, you know, and there are many others, Tom, as you know—you could name them, who believe that the Rapture and the Second Coming are one event. Christ descends from heaven, He catches us up, His Bride, we’re transformed, and then He just continues right on down—takes His Bride into the middle of a war, Armageddon—but it leaves no time, as you point out. The judgment seat of Christ, you’ve got to be clothed in white robes, and the wedding up there, and so forth.
Tom: Dave, of course this is referred to as the post-trib Rapture, but I know in the past you’ve called this a non-event. How could it be an event? Certainly, there must be an event that so terrorizes the world that it’s going to take all the religions, and they are going to lay down their views, their ideas, whatever it might be, to come together under the religion of the Antichrist. Certainly, the religion of the Antichrist will incorporate many diverse views, but that’s a Rapture, that’s an event.
Dave: Well, it would be a non-event, Tom, because if we believe the Bible—and we have to believe the Bible—those who come to Christ, or the Christians during the Antichrist rule, will be killed. You can’t buy or sell, you will have to eat out of the garbage pails, or if you don’t take his mark, you don’t bow down and worship his image, he will kill you! But if you do, you get the wrath of the Lamb!
So, it would be a classic non-event because there wouldn’t be anybody left to Rapture, unless there might be a few people hiding out in the jungle somewhere that Antichrist hasn’t quite gotten. That’s not what the Bible talks about. So, any way you look at it, Tom, these are two events, separated, I believe, by seven years.
Tom: So, these are basic problems. It doesn’t work with John:14:1-3. It allows no time for other events, as you have mentioned—the judgment seat of Christ when all believers…this is not the Great White Throne Judgment. That’s the Bema seat of Christ. And, certainly, the marriage supper of the Lamb. And then, as I just mentioned, it’s not going to be a world-shattering event if we’re right there at Armageddon when the Rapture takes place.
In other words, people disappearing—that would be to their pleasure to get away from all of the…well, of God pouring out His wrath. So, it just doesn’t make sense biblically, Dave, as far as I am concerned.
Dave: Yeah. If you went to 2 Timothy 4—I don’t remember the exact verse—well, Paul says: “The time of my departure is at hand. I’m ready to leave this place. I fought a good fight, a crown of righteousness is laid up for me. Not for me only, but unto all those that love His appearing.” And, as you were intimating, Tom, in the midst of Armageddon, who wouldn’t love His appearing? I don’t think you get a special reward for that.
But if, when things seem to be going really well—I’ve got a nice bank account, I’ve got some good investments, I’ve got a 401K, we just got married—let us at least have our honeymoon, you know. Get an award for loving His appearing then? I don’t think so! It only makes sense—not at Armageddon, but at such an hour as you think not.