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. If you’re a new listener to our program, we’re concluding our discussions of Dave Hunt’s book, When Will Jesus Come? Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ.
Now, Dave, you titled the last chapter, “How Close Are We?” But before we get to that, I want to read some verses that you begin the chapter with.
This is Matthew:24:48-50: “But and if that servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming…. The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him.”
And then, Matthew:25:5,6,13: “When the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him…. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
Now, Dave, we’ve talked about this before, but I think it would be helpful, especially to our new listeners, that you might summarize the information you have in the book regarding how close we are to the Lord’s return. Now, I’ll go through a couple of these and maybe you can just comment on them.
Seeming contradictions: He comes at a time of peace, He comes in the midst of war.
Dave: Well, it says, “When they shall say peace and safety,” that’s 1 Thessalonians 5… You didn’t read from Luke 12, or you didn’t read it because I hadn’t quoted it at the beginning of the chapter, but it says, “What and if that evil servant shall say, My Lord delayeth his coming….” But anyway, in other words, to think that there would be a delay to the Rapture, which we believe is imminent, you’re counting on a delay—that will lead you into evil. Because you don’t have to straighten out your life right now…you know, “I’ve got time.” Or if you believe in a post-Trib Rapture, that gives you even more time—seven years.
But anyway, in Luke 17—Matthew 24 also, but we didn’t read those verses—but Luke 17, it says, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the appearing of the Son of man. They were eating and drinking and buying and selling and building and planting and marrying,” you know—it sounds like a time of peace and prosperity. But it also tells us He’s coming in the midst of Armageddon to rescue Israel, so there has to be two different comings. He’s coming at a time, Matthew 24, that says, “When you see all these signs fulfilled,” what is that, verse 33-34, “then you know He’s at the door.”
But verse 44 says, which you quoted there, “At such an hour as you think not the Son of man cometh.”
Now, He’s coming at a time when—as the Bridegroom tarried, Matthew 25, “they all slumbered and slept.” Some people forget there were ten virgins—five wise, five foolish—but this says even the wise virgins are slumbering and sleeping as the Bridegroom is tarrying. And I often say to people, “Well, if we had somehow survived the Great Tribulation, and we hadn’t been killed by the Antichrist for not bowing down and worshipping his image, and we had been able to eat out of enough garbage pails to keep ourselves alive (because we didn’t take the mark of the beast and we’re not allowed to buy or sell anywhere), but somehow we survived to the very end, I don’t think we would all be slumbering and sleeping and not expecting the Lord to come. What else could you look forward to? So these considerations indicate there’s a difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming.
So now the question before us…
Tom: Well, Dave, before we get to that, let me add one more. You talked about—"He comes when no one expects Him,” as opposed to “He comes when everyone is aware He’s coming” (certainly at Armageddon), but He [also] comes when judgment is the farthest thing one expects. And He comes when judgment is in process! Again, two (seemingly) contradictions.
Dave: Yeah, so we have two different comings. It’s very apparent that the last thing they’re expecting…well, it’s as He says—it’s like the flood, and nobody expected the flood.
You get another idea there, Tom, because I can remember—you know, we talked about it in the past—the bumper stickers: “Ride at your own risk: I’m leaving in the Rapture!” Those have been laughed right off the bumpers; they’re worn out.
He said in 2 Peter 3, “In the last days scoffers shall arise saying, Where is the sign of his coming?” I would say we are in that day. Hardly anyone…Tom, if you could somehow just get a quick view of every church service Sunday morning in the United States, I don’t think you would find one in a thousand that’s talking about the Rapture. A lot of them would be ridiculing it, like the Presbyterians—like we’ve had Gary North call it a “helicopter escape to heaven.” And let’s see, how much longer do we have? We got six more years…what did Gary North say—2012? I’m not sure why he used that date, but he would really have the last laugh. I don’t know what that means.
But anyway, so many people today who not only don’t expect the Second Coming, they laugh! They laugh it off, they ridicule it as the “helicopter escape”: “You guys want to get out of here! You’re not willing to take care of the earth, face your responsibility, help the poor,” and so forth. Well, no, that’s not the case, but we want to be with our Lord, because this is a wedding coming up, as we mentioned, and we’re the bride! And if the bride is not eager for the wedding, you better call it off. We are eager to be with our Lord Jesus Christ!
Tom: Dave, as you point out, though, the Rapture is the antithesis of what these people who claim it’s an escape theory…it’s really the antithesis. It’s to get us ready to be expectant with regard to His coming—on the one hand.
On the other hand, Dave, why did Jesus say, or why did He—and you point out in your book, He issued two solemn warnings. He declared that His coming was very soon and should be expected at any moment, yet we have all this time that’s passed since He gave that declaration, made that declaration.
Dave: Now, see, I don’t know that we could say He declared it was very soon. He said, “Behold, I come quickly.”
Tom: Well, here’s what you say: “First of all, He repeatedly and earnestly declared that He was coming very soon and should be expected at any moment.”
Dave: Okay. All right. Actually, when He says, “Behold, I come quickly,” that’s in Revelation, and the word there is like tachéos…
Tom: “Rapidly,” when it begins.
Dave: Right. But, no, we were…the church has always been called upon to expect His coming at any moment. He didn’t say that it would happen then, but we were supposed to expect Him. And of course He gives the example, “What and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming….” So the Lord anticipated that there would be a delay and that people would be…well, they would be tempted to put it off or think that it wasn’t going to happen.
Then of course, He says in Luke:18:8, “When the Son of man cometh will He find the faith on this earth?” Now, Tom, we don’t know sometimes whether He’s talking about the Second Coming or the Rapture. I think that would apply to both, because certainly at the Second Coming “the faith” has been wiped out, they have all been martyred but even at the Rapture it indicates not many people are really going to be true to Christ. There’ll be a great apostasy.
Tom: Right! The apostate church is in development because as soon as we’re raptured out of here, that takes over. And as we have said time and time again, many who are professing Christians, who think they’re doing something for the Lord, are actually contributing to the apostasy.
Dave: Okay, so now, how close are we?
Tom: Well, Dave, before you go there, I want to go back to a point that I think I’ve missed, I know, but you laid it out pretty clearly: expectation! That may be what the Lord had in mind other than the fact…His coming is important, and we look forward to that! But the looking forward to it, the expectation of it, that has a purifying effect in my life and in my heart.
Tom: Hey, let me quote you from the book, because this is really good. You say, “One’s expectation of Christ’s return should be greater than one’s expectation of remaining here on earth.”
Dave: That’s not true for most people. I mean, even pastors, Tom, they very proudly show me the plans for the new building, talk about their five-year plan, ten-year plan. Well, that’s fine, but I almost never hear anyone, even pastors, preachers say, “If the Lord tarries, if the Lord wills.” I never say anything without saying that: “God willing!” “Well, if we are still here!”
Tom: But that’s a reflection of your expectancy of the blessed hope that you’re looking forward to, and it has an effect in your life and the life of others who have this on their heart and mind continually.
Dave: Well, 1 John 3, says, “Everyone that has this hope in him purifies himself even as he is pure.”
It says, “When he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” And in the end of chapter 2, he says, “Little children, you don’t want to be ashamed at his coming.” So don’t be in the midst of something that you shouldn’t be doing or thinking, and then suddenly, here He comes! You’re going to be ashamed. Well, we would be ashamed anyway, because we will all be brought up with the Judgment Seat of Christ. So “everyone that has this hope in him purifies himself even as he is pure.” I think it means, “purifies right now,” because it also is a warning about death. I may not be here tomorrow. What is your life? It’s a “vapor that appears for a while,” James tells us. “Don’t boast about we’re going to the city tomorrow and we’ll buy and sell and get gain.” He says, “You don’t know what the day will bring forth. What you ought to say: If the Lord wills, we will do this or that.”
So we could die, we could be stricken in any number of ways, but our expectation, if we think, if we really believe that the Rapture could occur at any moment—not next week or next year or ten years from now—if I really think it could occur today, that’s going to impact my life, how I live my life.
Now, there are certain things you’ve got to do. I’ve got to go to the grocery store when I leave here, buy a few things because I’ve been gone for a while—have to have my green salad for lunch and so forth, but with tomatoes and avocado, and all that!
Tom: Dave, you do eat nutritiously, I have to say that. Even when we were in Russia for a week, some of the things that you brought…I mean, it wasn’t lavish by any means, but it was just good stuff that you can’t get anywhere, so you bring it with you—it was amazing!
Dave: Well, Tom, when you get as old as I am you have to become more and more careful.
Tom: Well, the Lord willing, He’ll keep you around for a long time.
Dave: But, Tom, while we’re on that subject (I think this fits within our realm here): I just came back from a conferences you know, and when I see what some of these preachers and evangelists and prophecy—because this is what it was; I won’t say where it was, what they had for breakfast…oh, my gracious! Bacon with all that fat, and they just down it! And sausage on top of that with eggs and French toast, and…I mean, some of it piled high! I don’t think I’d last very long if I ate that way.
Tom: You might have a few arteries that would need to be roto-rooted, I would say.
Dave: But anyway, Tom, look, it’s the grace of God—it’s not my diet, it’s the grace of God. A friend of mine that you know well (and I won’t mention his name), his mother, he told me, is 97, and she thinks if you don’t have a lot of fat on that meat she doesn’t want it! And she eats bacon and eggs and ham every morning for breakfast, and she is still driving her own car at 97 and going strong! So part of it is in the genes, but much of it is the grace of God. That’s what I always say: it’s only God’s grace.
You know, one of our verses, Tom, that we take for our ministry here: “Unto me who am less than the least of all saints is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
So it’s the mercy of the Lord.
Tom: Right, it is, but nevertheless we need to do what’s right. You know, our seven days in Russia with numerous fellowships that came together for our meetings, and many of them young people—Dave, I never saw one overweight person in that group. There must have been 200 people there. Oh, there were some ladies with babushkas, and so on, but basically, the young people…
Dave: Very thin.
Tom: Very thin. Of course, they eat about a third of what we do!
Dave: Right. Their diet is really sad, and there’s not much protein in it and there certainly isn’t any fat in it, and not much nutrition. That did concern me—not much green stuff because they can’t afford it. And furthermore, even the pastors where we were didn’t have cars; they walk. They walk a lot, so…
Tom: But talk about love for the Lord, and a desire for His Word—wow! What an experience. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.
Dave: Yeah. Well, Tom, back to our question that you asked me here: How close are we? When is this going to happen? The sub-title of the book is Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ. One of the things we…the last evening at this conference where I was, it was for leaders, and pretty scary stuff! And again, I won’t say who the speakers were, but about the Iranians, they are practicing now in the Caspian Sea or in the Gulf somewhere, launching missiles from container ships out of the hold so you can’t see it from satellites. And you send one of them over the middle of the US and set this atomic explosion, it will—EMP, electromagnetic pulse—knock out all of the electrical installations permanently. You have to rebuild them. I don’t think it’s going to happen, but…
Tom: Why? Just a wild guess, or related to the Scriptures?
Dave: Well, no, not a wild guess. I talked to other people, Tom, military people also, who say it’s not likely, because to launch the latest missiles that the Iranians have, they get them from the Chinese, and to get them to go—well, they don’t have to go very far because they can get very close in the container ship. You can’t be examining every container ship out there.
Tom: Although they’ll be examining more than they have, I can tell you that.
Dave: It’s more involved than that. It’s not so easy to launch things out of a container, out of the hold. So I don’t know, but I get the impression from the military people that they’re not that concerned at the moment. What we can do about it, I don’t know.
But then you have—Iran is getting very close. They say that the Israelis believe by February. They’ve got this atomic missile, atomic bomb and atomic missile, and Israel is going to have to do something about that. What they can do, I don’t know. These are underground, deeply underground, and they’re in widely scattered locations. Israel will have to go in on the ground. I don’t know what that means, but they have to, because they are aimed at Israel.
Then we get into the financial area. One of the speakers just gave it to us on a graph: the US is bankrupt. Our debt to the Chinese is…they practically own us! I may be exaggerating a little bit, but how do we finance the deficit, the trade deficit? Well, we have to float new treasury bills. Who buys them? The Chinese. I mean, they’re in a big surplus, and what happens if they pull the rug out from under us? I’m not worried about the Chinese nuking us, because they would lose their biggest customer. So I think they have to kind of keep financing us too for us to keep buying their stuff, which is why you don’t want to press them too hard on the trade equality, you know. But how long…
See, the prosperity that we have now—and Jesus said it’d be a time of prosperity for the Rapture. They are buying and selling and building and planting, but it’s all based on debt. How much longer can this go on? Now, Tom, this is not very spiritual, but just from a logical standpoint, I think we’re skating on thin ice as far as how much longer this can go on. How much longer are we going to keep peace in this world?
And then we talked about Iraq—that situation is very, very serious. The Antichrist is the one who will bring peace. It will be a false peace; it will be for his purposes. He will have the temple rebuilt so that he can put his image in it.
So how close are we? Now, Armageddon is seven years after the Rapture, in my opinion, and it looks like we’re getting closer and closer to Armageddon with all the Muslim nations arming themselves, and the Antichrist is going to turn against Israel.
Again, Tom, I don’t think that is the basis on which I should expect and long for the coming of the Lord. It should be my love for Him, but I think we’re getting very close, and if we had—I don’t know if we’ve got time enough.
Tom: Well, we’ve got about a minute, so we’re going to come back and really complete this chapter next week.
But let’s raise some issues, Dave. Certainly you’re talking about Armageddon, but we know…we’ve been establishing a dichotomy here. There’s the Rapture…
Dave: Right. At a time of peace.
Tom: …at a time of peace. But there is all of these signs that you’ve articulated related to the Second Coming. You point out in the book that—you want a day and a date? Well, we know it’s going to be 1,260 days from the midpoint in the Tribulation, so that’s a given. But with regard to the Rapture, any time! It could happen before I finish this sentence.
You know, I always say that, Dave, and I’m always slightly disappointed when it hasn’t happened yet, because I’m looking forward to it!
Dave: Yeah, well, I long for His return. But on the other hand, you know, we’re torn because we have unsaved loved ones, unsaved friends and neighbors. We want them to be saved. So why does He delay His coming? He’s not willing that any should perish.