Tom: We’re going through Dave Hunt’s book Countdown to the Second Coming, and we’re in chapter four and we’ll be covering, as time permits, these topics: Regarding the last days, didn’t Peter and John write that they were in the last days and that was nearly 2,000 years ago? The signs of the last days are warnings for Israel, not the church. Jesus declared, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it [that is, the Second Coming] is near, even at the doors.” And our generation is the first to have all these signs within reach.
Dave, I could go on with some of the signs. We’ll see how far we get, but we’re going to cover as many of the signs as we can.
So, let’s go back to Peter and John. Skeptics say they said that they were in the last days, and that was 2,000 years ago.
Dave: Well, John did say, “Beloved it is the last time. And we know that because there are many antichrists, but we know that Antichrist is yet to come.” People will often say that Peter, Paul, and so forth, expected to be raptured. So, if they expected to be raptured, and they weren’t raptured, I mean, why should we be expecting it now?
In fact…and, Tom, I can’t remember—the older I get the worse my memory becomes—I can’t remember whether we have talked about that before, but they did not think they would be raptured. That’s interesting. In Acts 20, Paul said, “After my departing, grievous wolves will enter in, not sparing the flock.”
He told Timothy (2 Timothy 4), “The time of my departure is at hand.” He said, “I’ve fought a good fight, I finished my course, I’ve kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to those who love him in that day.” All those that love His appearing have that crown waiting for them.
And Peter (2 Peter 1) very clearly said, “I will endeavor that after my decease, you will have all these things in remembrance.” That’s why he put it in writing.
So, if they knew they weren’t going to be raptured, why would they tell the church to look for it? Well, because, again—and, Tom, you correct me if I’m wrong. I may be way off base. I’ve never heard anybody else say this, and I don’t know why. But in 1 Corinthians:4:9-10, Paul says, “We apostles are the last appointed unto death.”
Now, it’s appointed unto man once to die. So you would say, “Well, it’s appointed unto everybody to die, isn’t it?”
Well, yes, but we could be raptured. So everybody doesn’t have to die, but Paul said, “We must die.” And the reason the apostles had to die—they were special witnesses. They died testifying to facts, and not one of them begged for his life and said, “Guys don’t kill me! I’ll tell you the truth: we stole his body, hid it Peter’s basement, and, you know, we made the whole thing up.” No one is fool enough to die for what he knows is a lie. And all the apostles (with the possible exception of John, we’re not sure) went to their deaths as martyrs. For what? For testifying to facts. They said He did rise from the dead. He did walk on water. He did raise the dead. He did open the eyes of the blind. He did feed 5,000 the few loaves and fishes. “You can kill me if you want to, but I cannot deny what I know to be the truth.”
So the apostles, I believe from the Scripture and from simple logic, were special witnesses. And we have a powerful testimony then from them that what the New Testament says about Christ is true.
So, then why are we talking about the last days?
Well, I think the last days (the “last time,” as John mentions it) really began with the rejection of Christ by the Jews. And Peter in his sermon, if you want to call it that, on the day of Pentecost said, “What you see is what was written. In the last days I will pour out my spirit upon on…”
Tom: Quoting Joel.
Dave: Right, and so forth. Well, when do the last days end? I think the last days go on through the millennial reign of Christ. This is all the last time. It’s winding this thing up. Christ has come, and He has been rejected, and now He could come back at any moment.
Of course, there are many signs, and we believe the signs—the disciples asked for signs. When He said the temple would be destroyed and so forth—of course, that would mean the city would be destroyed. “What will be the sign of these things, and of your coming of the end of the world?” they asked in Matthew 24. And Jesus then begins to give signs.
And the biggest sign is apostasy, of course. False prophets will arise. False workers of miracles. They’ll seem to do signs and wonders and so forth.
But that the Rapture could occur at any moment is very clear. Luke:12:35, for example, Jesus says, “Let your loins be girded, your lights burning, and you like those who watch for their Lord—that when he knocks on the door, you’re ready to open.”
And He clearly says…in fact, in Matthew:24:44, Christ said, “At such an hour as you think not, the son of man cometh.” So He warned, “Watch, be ready. You could be caught by surprise.”
So, to catch us by surprise, that means there are no signs for the Rapture. But yet in Matthew:24:33-34, Christ says, “This generation won’t pass away until all of these things are fulfilled.” And then he says, “When all of these things are fulfilled, you know I’m right at the very door.”
Now we have a contradiction. He comes when we know He’s coming, when all the signs are fulfilled? Or does He come when we wouldn’t expect Him? There must be two events: one when He comes for the church and takes His bride to heaven. There will be the Judgment Seat of Christ, the marriage, Revelation 19. We will be clothed in white raiment, fine and clean, and then we come back with the armies of heaven.
So in the Rapture, He takes his saints to heaven. At the Second Coming, He brings them with Him from heaven, as [Zechariah:14:4] says: that when His feet touch the Mount of Olives, He brings all the saints from heaven with Him. If He brings all the saints from heaven with Him, He must have taken them up there. They didn’t climb up there on their own.
So the fact that Christ at the Second Coming brings all the saints from heaven with Him is clear evidence that He took them up there. That’s the Rapture.
So, no signs for the Rapture. The signs are for the Second Coming, and I know you want to talk about those, but they’re already in the world now, so the Rapture must be very close.
Tom: Well, Dave, when you say the signs of the last days are warnings for Israel, not the church, that doesn’t mean that we’re not to take heed. You know, on the one hand, we’re not to be worried about what the Antichrist is going to implement, but that doesn’t happen instantly. So there’s a preparation for him, which we’re going to talk about. But my point is that the signs that we’re going to look to, some of them are signs related to the church, aren’t they?
Dave: Well, I don’t think they’re given as signs.
Tom: Well, apostasy.
Dave: Paul says…
Tom: Falling away.
Dave: Right, Paul says, “That day will not come except the apostasy comes first,” 2 Thessalonians:2:3. But when did the apostasy come? I think it already came. In other words, Paul says, “After my departing, grievous wolves will enter in and not sparing the flock…”
Tom: Right. But the development of a false church, an apostate church, we see that. That’s a clear sign that it’s taking place today and probably in ways—well, we’ll get into some of the other signs—in ways that they’ve never happened before in the history of man.
Dave: But, of course, the church is not going to be here when those signs come to their fullness.
Tom: Full…correct, correct. But the church is being impacted by it now.
Dave: We should heed them. I mean, you can see it ahead of time. Yeah, so there are signs, definitely, and the church can see them. And some of them pertain to the church, but they don’t have to occur before the Rapture. That was the point…
Tom: Right. Now…
Dave: …I was trying to make.
Tom: This generation—the question that you pose in the book and that you answer—is that this is the generation in which all…because Jesus said, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it [that, is the second coming] is near, even at the doors.” So it’s this generation—that’s part of your premise, your position—that our generation is the first to have all these signs within reach.
Dave: Yeah, that’s true. But I don’t think that that was what Jesus meant when He said, “This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled.”
Tom, I haven’t looked at this book, so I don’t know what I said, but I hope I said the right thing!
Tom: I’m sure you did.
Dave: Because Jesus used “generation,” and so did John the Baptist, in a way that no one else did—very uniquely. He talked about, “You generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? This disobedient, gain-saying, rebellious, perverse, faithless generation.”
There were two theories. One, of course, and you’ve dealt with that extensively. The Reconstructionists, the preterists, said, “Well, this generation obviously means the generation that was listening to Him—that was alive at that time.”
Well, that couldn’t be, because, for example, He said, “Then will arise tribulation greater than any tribulation that ever was.” And we’ve had greater tribulation under Hitler, under Stalin, Mao. They killed more Christians and more Jews by far than the Romans ever did. So you couldn’t say that Nero was the Antichrist, which these people try to say.
Furthermore, Jesus said beginning at verse 29, verse 30, and so forth, he said, “There will be signs in the heavens. You will see the sign of the Son of man coming with power and great glory, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds.” Well, that certainly didn’t happen in A.D. 70.
So there were things that Jesus foretold that did not happen then. So that generation couldn’t have been the generation.
Then there are those who said, No, it’s the generation that sees Israel back in her land. And that was a theory. “Well, 1948, forty-year generation—1988 everything will be wrapped up…subtract the seven-year Tribulation: 1981. Oh, that’s when the Rapture will occur!”
And I can remember, Tom, we had bumper stickers: “Ride at your own risk: I’m leaving in the Rapture.” Everybody was expecting it, and in those days, I don’t know—did we—we didn’t know one another then, did we? In ’78?
Tom: That’s about when we started working together.
Dave (simultaneously with Tom): We started working together? Okay, I’m trying to think of where we were living at that time. We were living in Northridge, not in Woodland Hills, where we had lived before.
But anyway, people used to say, “Well what do you think? Is Christ coming?”
And I’d say, “Well, I long for His coming. I look for His coming, but I don’t think He’s coming right now, because too many people are expecting Him.”
He said, “At such an hour as you think not, the Son of man cometh.”
Well, I never believed either of those theories. There is another application, I believe, and I think it’s quite clear. When Jesus said “this generation,” He didn’t mean those living at a particular time. He meant the unbelieving, perverse, Christ-rejecting, God-disobeying generation of Israel. And that Israel would continue—many Jews would get saved, and many are getting saved today. There are a number of them now in Israel. But that Israel as a whole would remain in unbelief until everything is fulfilled.
And we just quoted from Zechariah, and Zechariah:12:10 says, “They will look on me whom they have pierced, and they will mourn.” When Christ returns (everything will have been fulfilled, of course), that is when Israel will recognize Him—that is, those who are left. Two-thirds of the Jews on this earth will have been killed. It tells you that in Zechariah 13. So, the one-third of the Jews left, they will believe only when they see Him, and this faithless, perverse, rebellious generation will have passed forever. And I don’t think there is any other rational, biblical interpretation we can come to.
Tom: But there is the issue of a generation that’s going to see all these signs, and that the potential is there for it. They’re related to the Second Coming, but that could be the generation in which Jesus is going to return.
For example, Dave, the signs that you argue for with regard to the Second Coming: “Except those days should be shortened, there would be no flesh saved.” That is, the capacity for man to annihilate himself. When did that ever happen before? What generation could say…?
Dave: Yes, of course. There are signs today that never were present for any other generation. That a man could control all banking and commerce with a number…
Tom: Well, let’s go over those. First of all, you don’t lay them out number by number in your book, but you do address those. The signs that I just mentioned, and a ruler controlling the world politically, militarily, and economically. Could that have happened prior to this time?
Dave: Not prior to our modern technology—with communication satellites, they can…Big Brother can trace you anywhere, follow you. You can’t get away. That wasn’t possible before. But that, the Rapture, and then the Second Coming must happen within a generation’s time from those developments, I couldn’t say. But I would say—I would argue rather from this point of view, Tom, and I’m not disagreeing. You’re making a good point. I don’t think these signs can remain in the world very long without the world destroying itself.
In other words, Christ said, “Except those days be shortened, no flesh would survive.” And you point out that foretells weapons of mass destruction that the earth never had, and when you put those in human hands…. Well, you know the old saying way back in the early days of atomic energy: “We are atomic giants, but we’re still moral midgets.” And we have terrorists who would love to nuke with dirty nukes. New York would be uninhabitable for centuries. So it’s a terrifying time, and we have developed these weapons.
So from that standpoint, you could say, I don’t think this is going go on much longer. But I believe He’s talking about this rebellious generation of Israel, and they will believe suddenly. And that generation will have passed.
Tom: Dave, you know, some of our listeners, they’re not familiar with the Bible. I’m sure that’s the case. A number of programs ago we went through a whole list of things, key events in the Bible, and we laid it out for people just to get an overview of what we’re talking about. But I think it’s important, as we mention these things, to point people to Scripture.
For example, when we were talking about a ruler controlling the world economically—this is Revelation:13:16-18: “And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand and in their foreheads….” I’m quoting this because this isn’t just some Hollywood scenario, okay?
“...And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here’s wisdom. Let him who hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six.”
“But no man might buy or sell,” so that’s something that no generation prior to this one…
Dave: They didn’t have the capability.
Dave: For sure. And, Tom, we know that it’s coming to that. There’s no doubt about it. I mean, good reasons. There would be no more muggings on the street because there’s no cash to steal from anybody. And you can’t steal their credit card because the mark is now in their body. A chip in the forehead or on the—it says in the hand.
Tom: The forehead.
Dave: And we have the technology for that. We’re going to have to come back and talk about this.
Right now, there are some large amusement parks where you just check your kids in and they get a bracelet that they wear and they know where that child is at every moment. And you can be a little more relaxed about them if you lose them.
Tom: We see these signs. They are preparations for the Antichrist. Some of them, we’re going to talk about later, are conditioning and they can impact us now, but these kinds of things, some people live in fear: O,h I’m not going to…the coding on a can of beans. I’m not going to buy that can of beans, because I’m taking the mark of the beast!
Dave: Tom, you couldn’t have anticipated this. You read this a hundred years ago, you wouldn’t have known what it was. I’m a little bit older than you, and I can remember, I think it was in the 30s, NRA. I don’t even remember—National, something or other, Act.
Dave: Recovery Act. Thank you. Wow!
Tom: You’re not that much older than I am.
Dave: Okay. National Recovery Act. And I remember people saying that’s the mark of the beast! We had all kinds of ideas about that. No, it didn’t even come close! You can’t control the world with that. You can control the world with a computer chip and the technology we have today. No question that we have this now.
Tom: Dave, 30 seconds left. But next week, we’re going to get into more of this conditioning and things that impact believers. As you said, we’re—the Rapture will take us out prior to the establishment of the Antichrist. But there are still things that impact us, that affect us, and one of the things that we see going on in the world—a conditioning with regard to worshiping Satan and the Antichrist. And this does affect us in many ways.
Dave: Yeah, that’s like never before.