Tom: Thanks, Gary. 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. Currently, we are going through Dave Hunt’s book, A Cup Of Trembling, subtitled: Jerusalem and Bible Prophecy. Dave, we are currently in chapter 3 of your book, and there’s a quote: “I have chosen Jerusalem that my name might be there, and have chosen David to be over my people Israel....And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee; thy throne shall be established for ever.” And of course, that’s 2 Chronicles:6:6 and 2 Samuel:7:16.
Dave: And this is God speaking.
Tom: Right. Now, it sounds like a good deal, Dave, but then I go to the bottom of page 48 in your book, and you have a paragraph heading that says, “A City Given to Destruction.” Now this starts out really good, but you list here—and I think it would be helpful for some of our listeners who may not be familiar with the history of Jerusalem, certainly the Middle East—to kind of take them through some of these destructions that came upon Israel, and certainly, Jerusalem, beginning with, I would say, Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king.
Dave: Well, I suppose the question immediately arises, if this is God’s city, where He put His name forever—this is the City of David, and David is God’s chosen man, and He promised that on his throne the Messiah would reign, a descendant of David—then why would Jerusalem be a city given to destruction? Well, it’s the same reason why the Jews have been hated, persecuted, and killed. Now, of course, there is another reason—because the Messiah comes through them, and if Satan could destroy them, then there is no Messiah—he has won his battle with God.
But when you are chosen of God, you have some responsibility: “To whom much is given, much is required,” the Scripture says. And Jerusalem is not going to be exempted by God from His judgment when they sin, and they sinned grievously. In fact, Moses, when he brought the people up to the land (he couldn’t go in the land because of his own sin), he warned them that they would be scattered; he said that they would disobey. In fact, Joshua also warned, “You will disobey, and God is going to bring his judgment upon you.”
So, God’s judgment comes because of sin. It came upon Sodom and Gomorrah, and I would have to say it’s going to come upon America because we’re following in the ways of Sodom and Gomorrah. It’s going to come upon the whole world.
Tom: Right. So, Dave, although this is His city, these are His people, chosen, God doesn’t change His standards. That’s the way we tend to think: “Oh well, you know, God is going to cut them some slack, show favoritism, these are His special people.” But God’s standards are perfect, and He is no respecter of persons. So they are chosen and privileged, but as you said, there’s a certain responsibility, accountability, that comes with that.
Dave: There certainly is. So Jerusalem eventually—you know, God sent His prophets day after day, year after year, decade after decade, and you read Jeremiah, for example: “I have sent my prophets, rising early, warning them, don’t do this abominable thing that I hate. I don’t want to destroy Jerusalem. I don’t want to judge my people and punish them, but if you continue like this, and you will not repent, I will be required in my righteousness to punish you.” And eventually it happened. Of course, it happened first of all with the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar and his armies somewhere around 587 BC.
Tom: Right. Then it happened again, 320 BC Ptolemy/Soter went on to Antiochus Epiphanes, 167 BC. I think we could elaborate on that a little bit. That’s interesting…character he is, kind of a precursor of Antichrist, wouldn’t you say?
Dave: Yes, it’s amazing that the City of Peace—that’s what Jerusalem means, “the City of Peace”—has been given over to war. Every major power has fought over Jerusalem, and today it is the center of world conflict, exactly as the Scripture said it would be. In fact, that’s where the subtitle of the book comes from: A Cup Of Trembling. God said he would make Jerusalem a burdensome stone around the necks of all the nations, a cup of trembling. And Tom, just from that one prophecy—we have seen it fulfilled before our eyes; it continues to be fulfilled. That would be enough to establish the accuracy of Scripture and the God of the Bible as the one true God. But of course there are hundreds of prophecies that have been fulfilled.
And Tom, as you said, in about 167 BC, Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the temple. He slaughtered Jerusalem’s Jews by the thousands. He offered a pig on the altar. He put the holy city to the torch; smashed, beat down its walls and sold many of the Jews into slavery. And foreigners were brought in to resettle the city—what was left of it. A new fortress was built on Mount Zion, where the temple had been; a garrison of troops was left there in his name. And at times he thought of establishing and requiring the worship of himself as a god, even as Antichrist will, and he is, as you said, I think he gives us a rather vivid picture of the Antichrist who 2 Thessalonians:2:4 says, “As God, he will sit in the temple of God, claiming that he is God,” and we know that Revelation 13 says, “He will demand to be worshipped as God.”
So, although the Antichrist is the one, I think scripture is clear (Daniel:9:27), he’s the one who will, by his authority—he’s the only one who could, who will authorize, in fact, command the rebuilding of the temple. He’s going to impose this upon everyone. Only he could. You can’t get this done without the Rapture, in my opinion, which will terrify the world and will catapult this man into power, and he will be worshipped, he will have absolute power—no one can oppose him. He alone could cause the temple to be rebuilt, and the Jews think the Messiah will cause that, and many of them will accept him as the Messiah.
So, he will have the Jews on his side at that point. They will think, Wow, this is a good guy. Many of them will believe this is the Messiah. He establishes peace, but he has an ulterior motive. He intends to put his image in the temple and demand to be worshipped as God.
Tom: And it’s interesting, Dave, you just said he establishes peace. Most Jews that you talk to today that are willing to discuss the Messiah, that’s their main objection to Jesus—that he, in their view, didn’t establish peace.
Dave: Mm-hmm. I remember a couple of 16-year-olds, I think they were, who were over there in Jerusalem—this was a couple of years ago now—they wanted to find a rabbi who spoke English. They finally found one. They went into the synagogue and sat down with him, and they said, “We’re Christians. We believe Jesus was the Messiah.”
And the rabbi said, “Well, I don’t think Jesus was the Messiah. He didn’t bring peace, and the Messiah hasn’t come yet.”
So these two young boys, in innocence, just asked him, “Well, when the Messiah comes, how do you think you would recognize him? There are many prophecies in the Scripture that it would seem he couldn’t fulfill because they had to be fulfilled long ago.”
And they said that the rabbi began to describe the Antichrist according to the Bible. It just sent chills up and down their spine, and basically, what he said was: “He will bring peace, and he will rebuild the temple.”
It’s rather astonishing, and there are so many prophecies, and you try to bring them to the attention of rabbis, Jewish people today, orthodox people, and they seem blind to them. And Paul said, “Blindness in part [not every Jew is blind, but many are] has happened unto Israel until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
And Jesus said the city of Jerusalem would be “trodden down of the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled.”
Tom: Dave, going on with this, again, you know, I keep coming back to it—this is God’s city, the city of David, the city of God, the scripture says clearly, but He continues to…would you say “allow”? Or how is He involved in disciplining them? I mean, He brings certainly the Babylonians…
Dave: Yeah…well, Tom, I guess we could get into a little bit of a Calvinistic discussion over that. (chuckling) The Calvinist, of course, believes that everything that happens on this earth—even sin, wickedness, the worst crimes—have all been foreordained and are caused by God. Well, you could say, “Well, how could He get these people to do this? How does He get them to do it?” Well, there are plenty of people around with evil hearts who would love to do wickedness—the greater the better. And God is able to arrange that they will be on the scene at the right time in history and that they will have the opportunity. It’s not that He causes them to hate Jews and causes them to come in and destroy Jerusalem—that’s what they want to do, out of the wickedness of their own hearts. And so He allows them to do it, and He manages to arrange, Tom—I’ve said it many times, I could prove the existence of God by the people He sits me next to on airplanes! I don’t know how He does it. I get off the airplane, and I say, “God, you did it again! Now how did you get that person in that seat next to me on this particular flight?” I don’t know, but I don’t think He twisted any arms.
Tom: And Dave, what you are referring to is that, as I listen to many of the stories you tell when you come back from your trips, you sit next to people who have a question about something that the Lord has given you answers to with regard to salvation, or whatever it might be, and rarely, I’d like to say, “Yeah, Dave, every time I go out, there is somebody always with questions about the Bible or questions about this,” but they are few and far between. But the Lord seems to be honoring you that way.
Dave: Well, it doesn’t happen to me all the time, Tom, but so many times—most of the time—and I remember the ex-Marine pilot…I mean, I won’t go into details of how incredible it was that I happened to be in that seat where I shouldn’t have been and he shouldn’t have been on that plane, which even went back to get him after it had pulled away from the gate, and his first words out of his mouth were, “I want to know God!”
And I remember sitting next to a young man who told me he had just broken up with a Mormon. He had had an arrangement with her for eight years, but he never could swallow Mormonism, and here I am sitting next to him able to tell him about Mormonism—tell him what he wants to know. Many, many stories like that.
So, God does not cause these people to do this—the wickedness in their own hearts. But He is able to arrange the circumstances.
Tom: Well, Dave, the thing that comes to mind, going back to the Babylonians, to Nebuchadnezzar, you have King Hezekiah showing these—what would you call them? Would they be soldiers from Babylon?
Dave: Well, they were ambassadors.
Tom: Ambassadors—and he takes them through and shows them the treasury!
Dave: Incredible, and God judged him because of that.
Tom: Right, and then there was a good reason for them to go back and say, “Hey, choice pickings at this place called Jerusalem.”
Dave: Right. Well, anyway, this is the City of God, the City of David, the place where God has chosen to put His name. This is the city to which the Messiah will return to rule over Israel on the throne of His father David. This is Jerusalem, and God has promised blessings upon that city. He has made prophecies about that city, and there is no other city on this earth that God says, “This is the city of God. This is where I put my name; this is my chosen city.” Just as the Jews are His chosen people, Jerusalem is His chosen city—not New York, not Washington, D.C., not Paris or London or anywhere else; not Baghdad, not and Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia—nowhere, no city but Jerusalem. And the honor of that city’s name is placed upon the heavenly city that we will inhabit as God’s people, the redeemed, that comes down: “I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven, adorned as a bride for her husband.” That’s Jerusalem. There is no new New York, no new London—but Jerusalem.
Tom: Dave, continuing on with the destruction of this city, 63 BC, we have Pompeii coming in, destroying…. Each time the city is taken over, many are killed and many are dispersed throughout…sent off as slaves to Africa…
Tom:…wherever it may be. One that I wasn’t familiar with, you know, I knew some of these, but 57 BC, not too much later after Pompeii, Herod the Great. I didn’t know he had come, and I guess I didn’t really study it that much. So Herod the Great comes, conquers Jerusalem, builds the temple—it took him a long time, about 40-some years, and then the final destruction of Jerusalem under Titus.
Dave: Seventy AD—according to Josephus, about 1.2 million Jews were killed, thousands sold into slavery. So, the City of Peace has just known war, one war after another, and no wonder then you could say that God urges us, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” Psalm:122:6.
Tom: Dave, you have a quote in here from Will Durant that really lays out some history that maybe many of our listeners are not familiar with. It says: “Fifty years before the fall of Jerusalem, Strabo, with anti-Semitic exaggeration, reported that ‘it is hard to find a single place on the habitable earth that has not admitted this tribe of men, and is not possessed by it.’ Philo, twenty years before the Dispersion, described ‘the continents...full of Jewish settlements, and likewise the...islands, nearly all Babylonia.’
“By AD 70, there were thousands of Jews in Seleucia on the Tigris, and in other Parthian cities; they were numerous in Arabia, and crossed thence into Ethiopia; they abounded in Syria and Phoenicia; they had large colonies in Tarsus, Antioch, Miletus, Ephesus, Sardis, Smyrna; they were only less numerous in Delos, Corinth, Athens, Philippi, Petra, Thessalonica.
“In the west there were Jewish communities in Carthage, Syracuse, Puteoli, Capua, Pompeii, Rome, even Horace’s native Venusia. All in all we may reckon 7,000,000 Jews in the Empire—some seven percent of the population, twice their proportion in the United States of America today.”
Dave: Well, God said He would scatter His people. Moses foretold that, because of their sin, and He did and you find them everywhere today. We call them “the wandering Jew.” Well, that was, I guess, the final Diaspora, you could say, of Jews. They have been trying to get back into their land ever since. They have been chased out many times since then by other invading armies, but never in the numbers that occurred in 70 AD.
Tom: Dave, that’s true, but wasn’t there one later, 132 AD, a rebellion that was put down? And there’s a quote here you have in your book: ”The Romans destroyed 985 towns in Palestine, and slew 580,000 men; a still larger number, we are told, perished through starvation, disease, and fire; nearly all Judea was laid waste. Bar Cocheba [that is, Simeon Bar Cocheba, who led the rebellion] himself fell in defending Bethar. So many Jews were sold as slaves that their price fell to that of a horse. Thousands hid in underground channels rather than be captured; surrounded by the Romans, they died one by one of hunger, while the living ate the bodies of the dead.” Not good.
Dave: Pretty horrible picture. Of course, Tom, that is when Israel became Palestine. Because the Romans, in 132 through 135…well, about 130 AD, actually…rebuilt Jerusalem as a pagan city dedicated to Jupiter. They had a temple to Jupiter on Temple Mount. That naturally upset the Jews. That’s why this uprising came about, and it lasted for 5 years, and that’s when all this slaughter took place, and in anger, the Romans renamed Israel, the land of Israel, Syria Palestina. That’s where the title “Palestine” comes from today. The Jews were the Palestinians—they were the ones who were living there. Drive them out, they come back. In fact, we could give you many quotes of Arabs who rejected the title. They would not be called Palestinians. They said the Jews were Palestinians. And that goes into the 40s when they were saying that.
But this is where the name, Palestine—“Syria Palestinia,” it was called, and quite a history to this city! Amazing! And it was all foretold in the Bible. This is the great proof that God is God, the God of the Bible, and that the Jews are His people and that Jesus is the Messiah.