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.
Dave,we’re going to jump right into our first question. For maybe some new listeners, we’ve been taking these questions from Dave’s book, In Defense of the Faith, and these are questions that he’s had to address over his many years of ministry. And we find them really helpful because, not only have you, Dave, wrestled with them but I’m sure many of us in some form have either thought about them or had to maybe give answers to people. So again, we hope, and you’re to check us out in this—we hope our answers are biblical because that’s the heart of what the program is about.
So, the question is: “According to Matthew:24:34 Christ declared, ‘This generation shall not pass till all these things (which had been prophesied) be fulfilled.’ No one can deny that the ‘gospel of the kingdom’ was not preached ‘unto all nations’ (v 14); that ‘all tribes of the earth’ did not see Christ ‘coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory’ (v 30); or that angels did not ‘gather together his elect from the four winds’ (v 31) before the generation to whom Christ spoke had passed away. That this is an obviously false prophecy cannot be denied. What do you make of it?”
Dave:Well, Tom, it’s interesting that this person calls it a false prophecy. That should not sit too well with the Preterists who say it was all fulfilled.
Tom:Now, “Preterists”— you have to explain that.
Dave:Well, you go ahead and explain it.
Tom: A Preterist is somebody who takes the prophesies of the Bible—some would say there are different kinds of Preterists. Some would go farther in this theory, this idea, than others, but they would say, basically all of the prophecies of the Bible have been fulfilled, perhaps with the exception of Revelation 21.
Dave:It’s all happened in the past and Nero was the Antichrist….
Tom:And the second coming took place in AD 70.
Dave:Jesus returned in the person of the Roman armies to destroy Jerusalem, if you can imagine that. On the contrary, it’s a comforting promise that He will come and rescue them. We read of it in the Old Testament. So this person obviously is not a Preterist—seems more like an atheist: “It didn’t happen.” So maybe we should deal with that first, the fact that, as this person says, the gospel wasn’t preached unto to all nations, verse 14, that’s a misunderstanding. It doesn’t say, “Then the Rapture will occur,” and it didn’t say that it will happen within this generation.
There are a number of different statements that Christ makes. That’s not one of the signs, but it says, “Then the end will come.” Some people think the gospel must be preached to all nations before the Rapture. Jesus did not say--let me just read it again: Matthew:24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations: and then shall the end come” —not the Rapture. And the end, I would take that to be—we read of that in 1 Corinthians, chapter 15: “Then cometh the end, when he will have delivered up the kingdom to the Father, and God shall be all in all,” and so forth.
But this person points out very accurately—well, he leaves some things out, for example, verse 22: “Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.” Well, there was no threat to exterminate all flesh with the weapons that they had at that time, within that literal generation. So, that certainly couldn’t have been fulfilled.
How can the Preterists then say, “It was all fulfilled back there.” Now these would be Reformed theologians, many of them, and they say, “Well, it all happened. Israel is finished, the church is Israel, now we have taken the place of Israel, and so forth.” Absolutely untenable! There was no danger of wiping out all flesh with bows and arrows and swords and spears. And then, verse 27: “For as the lightening cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Well, He didn’t come like that, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, [this is a worldwide event—everywhere] and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Come on! The Preterist tries to say, “Well, that’s figurative language—we find language like that in the Old Testament. It doesn’t literally mean that Jesus would come, and the Roman armies fulfilled that,” and so forth. Simply not true!
Tom:Dave, let me just add a little bit to that. As Amillennialists, they believe that we are in the Millennium right now.
Dave:We must be in the slums, Tom.
Tom:Well, I asked—as a matter of fact, I had a chance at CBA, which is Christian Book Sellers Association, I had a chance to ask one of the leading Preterists. He had the booth; it was called The Preterists Association, International Preterists Association, and he had the booth and the books, and so on. So, I said, “Well, if we’re in the Millennium right now and Satan is bound [that’s what they believe], then, you know…,” I sort of threw my hands up. I said, “Well, why aren’t things getting better?”
And, Dave, with this absolute straight face, I said to him, “So, what’s the problem?” And with a straight face he said, “It’s dispensationalism. It’s those people that believe in the Rapture—you know, this ‘helicopter theory’ taking you out. They’re not putting their shoulder to the plow and making this earth into the paradise it’s supposed to be!” Wow!
Dave:Incredible, Tom. I don’t know how you can believe that. A) Logically, rationally, it isn’t going to happen; B) From the Bible, there will not be peace—it won’t be a new world until Christ returns. You could go to the Book of Daniel, chapter 2. Remember the image, Nebuchadnezzar, in his dream—the head of gold, and so forth. And these are the kingdoms of this earth. And then you have the revived, fourth one is revived—ten toes, ten kings under the Antichrist. And what happens? There’s a stone cut out without hands, obviously Christ, smashes the image on the feet—obviously, it will happen in the last days when this Roman Empire has been revived and is worldwide—and turns it to powder! The wind blows it away and this stone cut out without hands becomes a great mountain that fills the whole earth. And Daniel says that God will establish a kingdom. In fact it plainly says, “In the days of those kings, the ten rulers under Antichrist, shall the God of heaven establish a kingdom that will never be removed.” These guys are trying to make their kingdom, this kingdom? They think they are the stone cut out without hands that is going to smash all the kingdoms of this earth? No, this is Christ returning in judgment to destroy Antichrist and to rescue Israel, and we read of it all through the Scriptures. It simply isn’t a tenable position to take, but they are determined and they keep pushing this.
Tom:Dave, but obviously, as you said, this person asking the question is not a Preterist. He’s somebody whose trying to take apart the validity, the credibility of God’s Word.
Dave:And he’s focusing on Christ’s statement, I’ll read it from the scriptures here, Matthew:24:34: “Verily [that’s ‘truly’) I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” And, as he points out, it wasn’t fulfilled. Now, the Preterist says, “It was fulfilled in that generation.” Well, I’m sorry, that’s just foolishness. There’s no way you could maintain that except by falling back upon allegory.
Tom:Right, figurative language. They just will not take what’s being said here literally.
Dave:Right. Okay, so it didn’t happen—if you consider “generation” to be that group of people who were alive at that time when Christ made this statement. But “generation” doesn’t necessarily mean that.
Now, there are other theories, you know, Tom. There is a theory that generation, this generation, Christ says, was the generation that saw Israel back in her land. So, within that time period. I’m old enough to remember this. I remember in the 70s, The Late Great Planet Earth came out. I think, what—78 or something like that, and I remember the bumper stickers: “Ride at your own risk. I’m leaving in the Rapture!” And, people were saying—I remember it very well—1948 Israel was brought back into its land, you know, a nation was born in a day. Add 40 years to that, the length of a generation, which, you know, a generation could be much longer than that, but anyway, this is what they were saying hopefully. It brings us to 1988, subtract the 7-year tribulation period—1981—the Rapture will occur.
I remember people saying that, and I’ve probably mentioned it many times, but I can remember people in those days saying, “Well Dave, what do you think? We’re right there at the Rapture,” and I said, “Well, I wish it were true, but I don’t think so because we have a verse in the same chapter—verse 44: “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” And I used to say, “Too many people are expecting Him. He’s coming when almost no one will be expecting Him.” And indeed, he hasn’t come yet.
Well then, what alternative is there? The generation of that day? The generation that saw Israel back in her land? Well, Christ, both Christ and John the Baptist used the word “generation” in a peculiar way—in a specific way that is peculiar to them. Christ, for example, Matthew:3:7—He referred to the Jews as, “a generation of vipers.” And John the Baptist said the same.
Tom:(laughing) He wasn’t being anti-Semitic there, was He?
Dave:I don’t know, Tom…
Tom:Yeah, how could He be? He is Jewish Himself.
Dave:Okay. Matthew:12:39: “…an evil and adulterous generation”; and Matthew:12:45: “…a wicked generation”; Matthew:16:4: “…a wicked and adulterous generation”; Matthew:17:17 and Luke:9:41: “…a faithless and perverse generation”; Mark:8:38: “…an adulterous and sinful generation”; Mark:9:19: “…a faithless generation”; and Luke:11:29: “an evil generation.”
Tom:Sounds like He is talking about a specific generation to me.
Dave:(chuckling) Yes, He is (—a generation of unbelieving people, and I believe we can substantiate from the scripture that Jesus was saying although many Jews will come to Christ—many Jews have come to Christ—that Israel as a whole would remain in unbelief: rejection of her Messiah, rebellion against God, faithless, perverse, corrupt, until everything is fulfilled.
And if we turn to Zechariah:12:10, it says, “They will look upon me whom they have pierced.” They will mourn at that time. It is only when Israel is surrounded by the armies of this world—the IDF—Israeli Defense Forces—they are the best in the world, no doubt about it. They have nuclear weapons, they have nuclear missiles, they have the aerodefense system—they can deliver nuclear missiles from submarines. Amazing what Israel, that tiny country, has done! They have tremendous capabilities, and I don’t think they are going to go down in defeat. One day the entire world will come against them, and they’re not going to go down in defeat without using their ultimate weapons.
And I think a nuclear exchange, whether it is pending or whether it has already begun, Christ says, “Except those days be shortened, no flesh would survive.” He says—and that’s an amazing prophecy from 1900 years ago—Christ is saying, “The day is coming when this world will have such weapons of mass destruction”—that’s what this whole thing about Iraq is about now. We even have letters for it, WMD, Weapons of Mass Destruction, that’s become so well known, and Christ says “Weapons of such power, such destructiveness, that they could wipe out all flesh on planet earth, and if I don’t intervene there won’t be any flesh left alive!”
Now, that’s an amazing prophecy, and it certainly didn’t apply in that day. So, everything will have been fulfilled—well, let me read it from Matthew 24 and verse 33: “So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it [that is, “my coming”], is near, even at the doors.”
So Christ says, Look, there’s a time coming when any idiot knows “I am coming.” Antichrist, Revelation 19, knows, goes out with his armies to meet him.
And yet, He says in verse 44, we read it, “Be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” This is one of the reasons we know there is a distinction between the Rapture—Christ comes when very few expect it—and the Second Coming, when everything has been fulfilled, and anyone knows He’s coming, you know for sure. And Jesus said, you remember, to the Jews, as He was being led away to be crucified, “You will not see me again until you say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.”
There are two reasons for Armageddon. One of them is, God says it very clearly: “I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle.” That’s Zechariah:14:1. “I am going to bring the nations of this world to judgment and, appropriately, as they come against Israel to destroy—to ‘effect a final solution to the Jewish problem,’ as Hitler put it”; and they are going to come to wipe out Israel—to wipe out, to kill, all Jews all over planet earth and God says, “I am going to punish them for the way they have treated My people.”
And, Tom, I mean, we could talk about anti-Semitism, we’ve talked about it—the United Nations has condemned Israel more than 375 times. For what? Defending itself! Never once have they condemned the Arabs for attacking…wars of extermination…for public statements: “We are going to exterminate them!” The world sits by? The United Nations says, “That’s fine!” You have 189 nations that are members of the United Nations today, as I recall—you correct me if I am wrong. One hundred and eighty-eight can take their rotating turn as members of the Security Council, There are permanent members: United States, Russia, China, and so forth, but all the others can take their turn rotating—rotating members on the Security Council, except one nation. One nation is not allowed—Israel!
They are the only democracy in the Middle East! You’ve got terrorist nations, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria—they can all take their turn. Israel cannot! But anyway, anti-Semitism is alive, and one day they are going to try and destroy the whole world, and God is going to punish them for that. And He is also going to plead with His people Israel. He’s going to bring Israel to the point where they will know—with all their military power and their ingenuity—they cannot survive, and at that point, they are going to cry out. Two-thirds of the Jews will have been killed at that point on the face of this earth—two-thirds of them, and at that point, all the Jews alive will cry out to the Messiah, “Please, come and rescue us!” And that is when He will intervene, stop the destruction; well, He will destroy the armies of Antichrist, rescue Israel, and set up His kingdom.
Tom:Dave, earlier you mentioned Arab nations, and it’s an aside, but I think this is worth mentioning. How many Arab nations are there? There’s only, what? One?
Tom:Saudi Arabia, that’s it! All the other nations that are promoting this idea of destroying Israel are Islamic nations. This is a religious battle that we’re dealing with.
Dave:Exactly, but they talk about the great Arab nation. Well, the Moroccans, the Algerians, the Tunisians, are Berbers.
Tom:Egyptians are Egyptians, the Turks …
Dave:They’re Turks. That’s right. Assyrians are Syrians.
Tom:Iran, they’re Persians. Let’s go to Indonesia—they’re certainly not Arabs, and probably, percentage-wise, there are more Muslims in Indonesia than there are in, well certainly, in Saudi Arabia.
Dave:Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation on the earth, but we are talking about the Middle East now, because they keep complaining: “Israel is a festering sore in the midst of this great Arab nation. They are denying us the unity that we should have over this….” Wait a minute! What Arab nation? No, this is not an Arab nation—they are Arab speaking. Why do they speak Arabic? Because it was imposed upon them. Islam was imposed upon them, and the saying is, that you cannot understand the Qur’an except in its original Arabic.
So, these are Arabic-speaking nations. These are not Arabs, but they call this “the great Arab nation.” This is imperialism to the max— and they call Israel an imperialist nation! Israel is not threatening anybody; they want to be left in peace. In fact, they have offered the Palestinians their country, their Palestinian nation, if they will just admit the right, acknowledge the right of Israel to exist. They will not acknowledge the right of Israel to exist because they say that denies the unity of the great Arab nation!
Well, anyway, the nations will be punished; Israel will be punished; Israel will be brought to the point of crying out for the Messiah to return—and then…what will happen? That unbelieving, perverse, faithless generation will have passed away because they will all, Romans chapter 11, Paul says, “All Israel will be saved.” In this very chapter, Jesus says, “He that endures to the end shall be saved.” That’s not hanging on to your salvation. That’s every Jew that is still alive when Christ intervenes will look upon Him, will recognize Him as the Messiah, will repent, and will be saved. And only then will that generation of unbelief and rebellion have passed away.
Tom:Mm-hmm. Dave, this question—it’s related to prophecy, and we can’t say enough about prophecy. This is what proves that God’s Word is exactly that—it’s God’s Word! It’s absolutely tremendous. So, even opportunities—the tough questions that deal with prophecy, I think are important, and I believe that Christians—this is such a powerful tool for witnessing, for demonstrating that God has spoken, and it is God who has spoken. And this is where we need to—this is our resource for answers. “The entirety of thy word is truth,” Jesus said, and that’s where we have to go.
Dave:Amen. And God says it in Isaiah 46, verses 9 and 10: “I’m God, and I’ll tell you what’s going to happen before it happens. I will prove that I am God and that this is my word by telling you what will happen before it happens.” And he says to Israel, Isaiah:43:10: “You are my witnesses, to yourselves and to the world, that I am God.” Because He has laid out their whole history. It’s there in black and white from the prophets. No one can deny it! You can’t be an atheist; you can’t be an agnostic—He has said it, and it has come to pass and it is in the process of being fulfilled before our eyes. A powerful tool for demonstrating that God exists and the Bible is His Word.