Tom: Thanks, Gary, and thanks to all of you for joining us for this segment of Search the Scriptures Daily. Our title, by the way, comes from the Bible itself, the book of Acts:17:11. The apostle Paul had just entered the city of Berea in the country of Greece, and he was preaching among the Jews there who were commended for listening to the apostle’s teaching, and more specifically for searching the Scriptures daily to find out whether or not what he had to say was true. That’s our exhortation and encouragement to our listeners. There seems to be no end to the religious ideas one can hear these days, whether in the name of Christianity or otherwise, and it’s to everyone’s welfare, both temporal and eternal, to check things out for themselves.
Which brings us to our topic today: chapter 5 of Dave Hunt’s book, An Urgent Call to a Serious Faith, is entitled, “Shortcut to Truth.” Dave, a critical concern of your book is that most people don’t put much time, thought, or preparation into where they will spend eternity. Their faith is more like wishful thinking than something based upon reason or evidence. As a matter of fact, you have a pretty stunning quote in the chapter. You say, “The beliefs of many religious people are little more than sanctified superstitions.”
Dave: Well, a superstition is something for which you have no evidence. It’s been passed along. “They say” – and I don’t know who “they” are, but “they” are always saying an awful lot, and people bank their hope for eternity on nothing, really. And I often challenge them: “What is the evidence that you have for that?” So, this is basically how this book begins in the first five chapters.
Tom: One of the reasons I think people are confused or just kind of lightly look at certain things is that there are a multitude of religious ideas and many possibilities, and the task of checking them all out is really too much for anyone.
Dave: Yeah. Tom, I often say that to people. You couldn’t live long enough to become an expert on all the world’s religions – even just to study them all, much less become an expert. So if you think you’ve got to examine all the options and then decide which one is right, how would you decide that, anyway?
Tom: But you have a shortcut for them.
Dave: Right, I tell them, “You can save a lot of time. Go to the Bible first. The Bible claims all of them are wrong. Now, if we can prove the Bible is right, is true, then we’ve saved a lot of time! When you find the truth, you don’t have to check out all the lies anymore.”
Tom: Dave, tell us why you’re confident that the Bible is a shortcut to truth – that it is truth.
Dave: Well, this is the claim that it makes, of course, and we can verify it! Prophecy – and we don’t go into great detail about that; I’ve written other books where we deal with prophecy – but I can absolutely prove the Bible is God’s Word. In Isaiah:46:9 and 10, God says He is the God of prophecy. He will tell us what’s going to happen before it happens, and when it does happen, we will have to acknowledge that He is God. And the book that told us these things is His Word!
We could begin with Israel – and, again, in this book we don’t go into the details, but God explained it. He foretold everything that would happen to the Jewish people, and it has come to pass! Their scattering from their land, the anti-Semitism, the hatred that they have endured – but, nevertheless, their preservation. Just the hatred against Jews is astonishing! There is no race, there is no people, that have suffered like this. But He would preserve them, He would bring them back into their land in the last days, and that has occurred, in spite of opposition. It’s amazing!
In June 22, 1943 – maybe we’ve quoted it before, I don’t have that good of a memory – but you remember Pope Pius XII wrote a letter to Roosevelt: “If a home is desired for the Jewish people, it would be a whole lot better to find some place other than Palestine, because if you bring them back there, that will create great problems for the world.”
In 1904, Theodor Herzl records in his diary, when he asked Pope Pius X for some support for the Zionist movement, the pope said, “We cannot prevent the Jewish people from returning to Jerusalem, but we could never condone it.”
In 1919, the Secretary of the State of the Vatican said, “The thing that frightens us the most is the return, the possibility of the return, of the Jewish people to Palestine.” Amazing! The pope, the Vatican, claims to represent God, and yet they are absolutely opposed to, and frightened by, the possibility of the fulfillment of God’s promises. There are hundreds of promises that God said He would bring the nation of these people back to Israel. A nation would be born in a day. It happened! And then He said He would make Jerusalem a cup of trembling, you know; we wrote a whole book with that title.
Tom: Right, Dave. The thing I find fascinating about what you are saying here is that . . . you started off with prophecy, and people say, “Well, prophecy – that’s just some ideas that, you know, these men way-back-when had – kind of spiritual ideas.” But then you are giving me history. So you are talking about prophecy, and then you are talking about fulfillment, with regard to the truthfulness – why we can trust this Book. That’s a testament in itself.
Dave: Well, this is history written in advance; nobody can explain it away. These are events that have shaped history – that have shaped this world – foretold centuries, even thousands of years, before they happened. The whole world has witnessed their fulfillment. You can’t explain it away! That Jerusalem today is a burdensome stone: it is the number-one problem around the necks of the nations of this world. The United Nations has spent one-third – amazing! – one-third of its time in deliberation and pronouncements about Jerusalem and Israel. This is a nation that has one one-thousandth of the earth’s population. They spend one–third of their time on that!
Everybody knows, if you don’t solve the problem of Jerusalem, you’ve got a nuclear holocaust on your hands. The Jews have got the bomb; they even have submarines, now, from which they can launch these missiles. The Arabs are armed to the teeth all around them; Syria has tripled its armament since the Yom Kippur War in 1973. I just wrote a letter to the Knesset, to the Jerusalem Post, and so forth, and I began it like this: “The Syrians have no more right to the return of Golan than a mass murderer has to the return of his weapons and freedom. They have only used the Golan for destruction.” That’s why the Israelis finally took it from them and put a radar sensor up on top – they’ve got a little buffer zone, and they would get some warning, now, if the Syrians attack.
And they are planning – in fact, secretly negotiating, as far as I know – now in Oslo to give this whole thing back. I talked to one of the leading Orthodox rabbis in the country (and you know – you’ve met him), the other day. And I sent him a copy of my letter to the Knesset. I never heard him so down, so low. He said, “Dave, I know the people who are involved in the negotiations. They are going to give it back. There’s nothing we can do.”
I said, “It doesn’t make sense! These people have sworn to exterminate you, and you’re going to give it . . .”
“Well,” he said, “I don’t want that done. Any rational person wouldn’t want it done, but there is so much pressure from the United Nations, from the United Europe, from the United States, and so forth, that they are going to do it.”
Well, again, this is exactly what the Bible foretold: a false peace that would lead to, finally, the attack of the whole . . . I guess the people that have been (Ezekiel 38), a people that have been restored from being scattered around this . . .
Dave: . . . around this world, and now they are living in safety – they think. They think they’re secure! I was reading The Jerusalem Post. Almost every edition has a large real estate section – beautiful marinas, high-rise apartments, and condominiums, and so forth. One of them, I can’t remember, I think it was The Jerusalem Penthouses—the caption on the advertisement said, “As Close to Heaven as You Will Ever Get.” It’s like they’re in a dream, dreaming of peace. And the young people in Israel who didn’t fight in the wars . . . Israel has changed – their whole mentality – they want peace at any price, and they are willing to believe the lies of people who pride themselves in lying! In fact, this is a means to an end. It’s astonishing! If you wrote a script like that, Tom, nobody would believe it, but the Bible wrote the script. The Bible said it would happen, and it’s happening, exactly as the Bible said. Well, you can’t explain it away, so we have to believe that God is the God of the Bible, He’s the God of prophecy, and then when you come to the prophecies about the Messiah . . .
Tom: Well, Dave, before we get to that, I just want to make a comparison here. How does this stack up, in a sense, with other sacred books?
Dave: Well, it’s absolutely unique. There are no prophecies in the Qur’an, no prophecies in the Hindu Vedas, the Bhagavad-Gita, Ramayana Mahabharata; you name them—sayings of Buddha, Confucius, and The Book of Mormon. Or if you wanted to go to some of these people like Ellen G. White – all kinds of false prophecies; the Jehovah’s Witnesses – all kinds of false prophecies. If they try to prophesy, if they don’t work out, they’re false. But the Bible is absolutely unique. There are no prophecies for Muhammad, Buddha, and so forth, but only for the Messiah that would come through Israel to the world, and, of course, that is the only explanation for anti-Semitism. It is so horrible that these people should be hated and persecuted and killed consistently down through the centuries. Why? Because the Messiah was promised to come, and if Satan could destroy them, no Messiah!
Tom: Dave, one of the reasons I want to really take some time, not just today but in the weeks to come, to address this – after all, our program is titled, Search the Scriptures Daily, and our heart in this is to encourage people to go to God’s Word for truth. Don’t trust men, don’t trust religious organizations, and so on – not that men can’t be trustworthy and denominations can’t have a sense of trustworthiness, but they cannot be the bottom line. We’re each accountable to God for what we believe and why we believe it, and He has given us His Word. And what we’re trying to do here, for those who may have just joined us, is to talk about the Bible, God’s Word – it’s just that. How many times throughout the Scriptures – is it something like 3,500? – does it say “thus saith the Lord,” or a variation on that? It claims to be God’s Word.
Dave: Well, Tom, if it isn’t, then let’s close shop, shut down all the churches – forget it! Because if God has not spoken to us, and we can’t know that He has spoken to us, and He hasn’t done it in an understandable way to ordinary people, then we have nothing. It’s just your idea, my idea, somebody else’s idea. I don’t care what fancy robes they wear, how big the church is, how long they have been . . . why should I believe a Joseph Smith, who claims that he got a vision and so forth; or why should I believe a Mary Baker Eddy, who claims that she alone can interpret the Bible? Why should I believe Muhammad, who claims that he got some revelations? Why should I believe anybody? Look, I want proof! And I’m not going to take a leap into eternity without absolute proof. Now the Bible is the only one that gives proof, and we need it, and if God hasn’t spoken to us, we’ve got nothing!
Tom: Dave, I remember after becoming a believer – I don’t know when it hit me. You know, the Lord brings you along, and He doesn’t give you everything at once. He just gives you understanding as you grow and as you walk in faith and trust Him. But I remember one day saying, “Wait a minute!” (I’m holding the Bible, and I’d been reading it and reading it, and I just had a new hunger for it, a new thirst for it), but it hit me one day: “Hey! This is God speaking to me!” I’d been through college, I’ve got some degrees and read lots of books, but I don’t ever remember ever reading a book that said, “Thus saith the Lord.” This was indeed God’s communication, His revelation, to me! Not just me, but to anyone else who was willing to pick it up and search it out.
Dave: And that can back it up, can be proved.
Tom: Right, but just the fact that it is . . . that we do have God’s revelation to us, to me! It’s just an awesome thought, and since that time, it’s been a great encouragement. You know, even when I’m thinking, Aw, do I really want to? I mean, it’s a thick book, there’s a lot to do. The Scripture encourages us to do diligence in it, to study it, and so on. But that’s the thing, I think, that motivates me more than anything is that this is God speaking to me – the Creator of the universe! This is what He wants me to know. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” And His commandments – He wasn’t particularly talking about the Ten Commandments. He was talking about everything that He said. Everything that was uttered. I mean, He is the Word, He is the truth. Everything that He uttered, that’s what I want to know, because He’s laid it out for me.
Dave: The truth doesn’t seem to matter anymore, Tom. So the Catholics are dialoguing with the Buddhists; the Southern Baptists are dialoguing with the Catholics; everybody is dialoguing with one another.
Tom: Well, there are seminars; they’re getting together; they’re trying to figure out – create a new image of God for these days and these times, and so on. Yeah, it is, but on the other hand, God still has His Word for everyone who’s willing to come to Him, to seek out truth.
Dave: Tom, the point is you don’t dialogue with God; you don’t negotiate with God. Paul disputed. He disputed on the basis of the Scriptures, and if we have God’s Word, and He has spoken, we’d better pay attention to it! This is what this program is all about: Search the Scriptures Daily.
Tom: Right. Dave, I want to keep going with the uniqueness – underscore that word – the Bible is incredibly unique! First of all (you’ve said this before; we’ve mentioned it before), it’s been written over a period of about 1,600 years by 40 different individuals – everything from a king to a farmer to a fisherman, and over different cultures throughout that time.
Dave: They lived in different cultures, right, and different periods of time.
Tom: Right. Yet it is amazingly coherent, miraculously coherent!
Dave: Absolutely coherent, consistent, from beginning to end.
Tom: And that’s part of its miraculous quality. That’s how we know it was inspired of God – this is His Word.
Dave: One of the ways. And you do not find this superstitious nonsense from the various cultures. People try to say, “Oh, well, the Bible simply reflects the culture and the time in which these various writers wrote.” No! Anybody who says that is speaking from ignorance! They’ve apparently never read the Bible, because one of the great evidences that the Bible is God’s Word is that it does not reflect the culture and the time in which it was written.
Tom: Now that’s amazing. Dave, Moses is a great example what you are saying. Here it is, he is trained, educated, in the court of the Pharaoh. He’s getting the secular science, the ideas of the time, the superstitions, the religions. I mean it had to be integrated within the education he was given.
Dave: Those were the studies that he was given, I’m sure.
Tom: Right. So here it is, a man trained in these things. Why don’t we have any of that in the first five books of the Bible?
Dave: We don’t, because he’s not giving the opinion of the Egyptians; he’s giving what God has said to him. And you have, of course, the hygienic laws that were absolutely unique. Now you’re talking about 1600 BC, and it took the science of this world, medical science, several thousand years to catch up to Moses. And back in those days, let’s say the Middle Ages, open sewage running in the gutters in France, in Paris, in the Seine River. No wonder they had disease! Not in the Israeli communities, the little ghettos where they were! They didn’t get the Bubonic Plague. They didn’t get these diseases that swept through Europe and wiped out people, because they followed the hygienic laws! And you remember – I can’t remember the name of the doctor, but this is in the late 1800s in Vienna, and he gets people to start washing their hands.
Tom: There’s an amazing thought! (Laughing)
Dave: Yeah, they didn’t know anything about microbes and so forth. And . . .
Tom: They objected to it at the time, didn’t they?
Dave: Well, the first thing they would do, the doctors would cut into the cadavers to find out why they died. Then they would go right from there to deliver babies or to perform operations with these unwashed instruments, unwashed hands. And when he got them to – in his department, in his wing of the hospital – to begin to wash instruments and wash hands, the mortality rate just took a nosedive!
Well, they hounded him out of that hospital! I think, as I recall, the man went insane. You would go insane when you know that you’re right. You can’t prove why you’re right . . .
Tom: . . . and you have something so beneficial for mankind, and they reject it straight out!
Dave: Yes, and when they got rid of him, they went back to not washing things again and up went the mortality once more. But the Jews were told to wash. They were given hygienic laws that were way ahead of their time – certainly it was not part of the wisdom of Egypt that Moses was taught. You can go right through the Bible and see this down through history.
Tom: Circumcision, for example. People would identify that with the Jews. Amazing – science has discovered that, well, what was the law – that on the eighth day, the male babies were to be circumcised. And science has since found out that it’s at that point in time, eight days, that the coagulation of the blood is at its highest.
Dave: Higher than it will ever be again.
Tom: Now was that by chance?
Dave: Well, hardly, but then when you consider the meaning of this—it is only God who made it. It wasn’t because somebody discovered it and decided to do it on the eighth day, but God had a meaning for that. Christ was resurrected on the eighth day; this is symbolic of a new beginning, a new creation, the end of the flesh, and a new life in the Spirit through the redemption that’s in Christ Jesus, the very day that He was resurrected from the dead! So it has a powerful meaning. It wasn’t that it just happened that on the eighth day the coagulating ability of the blood was the highest.
Tom: Dave, we’ve mentioned in other programs how people who started out to really undermine, to destroy, to discredit, in effect, the Bible—attorneys, people of great, brilliant minds—just went after it big time, and many if not most of those individuals were converted because of the uniqueness . . . because of what God’s Word had to say. They recognized it. Now here’s my question: Can you do that with other scriptures, with the sacred scriptures of others? Has anybody done that, do you know?
Dave: No, you can’t do it. Anyone who has an honest heart, who is willing to face the facts, and who examines the Bible, they must come to the conclusion this is God’s Word. There’s no way around it. The problem is the Bible is neglected; people just go by what somebody says, some religious leader. You ask a Mormon for example, “Give me proof.” I was just talking with a couple of Mormon missionaries, and I said, “Look, I can prove the Bible is God’s Word. Give me some proof that the Book of Mormon is God’s Word. Give me one! I want to know some proof.”
“Well,” they said, “we prayed about it, and we got a feeling, a burning in the bosom. I mean, we just feel, we just know inside.”
I said, “Wait a minute! A Hindu could say that, a Buddhist, a Muslim! Let me have some proof.”
They couldn’t give me any proof, but I can give them proof for the Bible.
Tom: Dave, in the programs ahead, we will be comparing the Bible with other books, for example, the Book of Mormon, maybe the Bhagavad-Gita, the Qur’an certainly, because this is critical—absolutely critical—that people have information that they find, because it’s their purpose of wanting to know the truth; that they can explore and come to a conviction of faith. Not just wishful thinking, not just some idea that somebody else has that they think sounds good, but they can come to a personal conviction. And going through God’s Word, addressing some of the aspects of God’s Word, is what we want to do in the weeks ahead.