Tom and Randall Price continue their discussion on biblical archaelogy and its importance, with a special explanation by Dr. Price of his many expeditions in search of Noah's ark.
Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call with T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us. In today’s program, Tom continues his discussion with special guest Randall Price, founder and president of World of the Bible Ministries. Now, along with his guest, here’s TBC executive director Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Well, welcome to part 2 of my interview with Dr. Randall Price. Last week, I went through a list of all of Randy’s credits, which are just amazing, and actually terrific. We offer a number of his books [and] videos by him, and we’ve been talking about archaeology. We’ve been talking about the value--the apologetic value--of archaeology, which is huge, and certainly needed within the church, just as the church has responded through many organizations and institutions to creation, the legitimacy of biblical creation, but this is an area that--yes, there are some evangelicals involved, but not enough, and Randy certainly handles it in just a wonderful way.
Last week, we talked about his excavation at the Qumran Plateau, which is where they found the--actually, in the cave there, which is where they found the Dead Sea Scrolls. But, Randy, I want to start off with…pick up on some of that, but compare your work at Qumran with what you’re doing now, your involvement with the excavations on Mount Ararat searching for Noah’s Ark.
Randy: Well, someone has called me an extremist, and they did that because at Qumran, [which is] the lowest and one of the hottest places on earth, and on Mount Ararat [which is] one of the highest and coldest places on earth. So, that’s pretty extreme, but…
Tom: Yeah! Now, you had to get in shape for that. I remember, you know, when you were first going off, you said, “Tom, I don’t think I’m in shape for this.” But you did--and share some of your experiences looking for Noah’s Ark.
Randy: Well, let me just say first that the reason we’re doing such a crazy thing is because we believe the Bible, and belief is sufficient. There are those out there who say, “Look, I would like to believe, but I don’t trust that Book. It’s scientifically inaccurate. It has things about a great flood and about a huge boat that carried all these animals, and, you know, that’s certainly got to be some kind of a fairy story from the past.”
Randy: And I think that because the book of Genesis is so maligned and so attacked in almost every area, and it is the theological foundation for the rest of the Bible…
Tom: Amen, amen!
Randy: …I mean, if we don’t have that…and Jesus Himself said, “As in the days of Noah, so shall be days of the coming of the Son of Man.” Jesus believed it, and He based His facts of His Second Coming on the facts of the flood. There’s a judgment to come, there’s a judgment that has come, and if one is fiction, well, what can we say about the other? So it’s incredibly important, and as an archaeologist, I was asked to join in an expedition that had done more than others in the past--simply running up on a mountain looking for shadows in the snow. They actually had used satellites, ground-penetrating radar, other things, and they had some very solid evidence for anomalies beneath the glacier at the top of Mount Ararat. This is the mountain where historically eyewitnesses have claimed to see remains of Noah’s Ark, and while there are other competing sites, only this site has those kind of eyewitness claims, and that’s why people did continually attract to there.
It’s the highest mountain in Turkey, almost 17,000 feet high, has a permanent ice cap or glacier on it year-round, and there’s only one month of the year that you can actually climb safely to this particular place where we’re working, because even then we have 20 below zero, we have 100-mile-an-hour winds, we have all kinds of problems with everything from avalanches to crevasses that open up unexpectedly. If snow bridges disappear, you could drop 100 feet in just a moment, and many other things like this. And yet we’re excavating up there for anomalies, cutting with chainsaws and doing some very difficult work, cutting down into the glacier 40-50 feet down and try to locate remains that we believe are there. So it’s incredibly difficult work. I mean, just climbing the mountain itself is a feat. And you’ve said that I had to get in shape, and I’m 61--going to be 62--and I’m in good shape for that age, I suppose, but it’s still a challenge.
Tom: How many times, Randy? How many times?
Randy: Well, this is going to be seven times climbing the mountain and this is the fifth year of the expedition. So it’s nothing I look forward to. We call it “the miserable rock pile.” It’s a volcanic mountain with this huge accumulation of volcanic boulders covered with ice and snow, and the higher you go, the more difficult, of course. You have to acclimate to get to that place or you could have serious problems with altitude sickness. We do have problems sometimes, but there’s been a Turkish-Kurdish war for the last years I’ve been there, which has also been an extreme difficulty. This year, there’s a truce between the Kurds and the Turks, which we hope are going to help things a bit. But, again, the reason for doing this type of thing is because we feel there’s some evidence [that] needs to be followed up on, and if we don’t go, people won’t know, and that’s…someone has to do it, and we feel called of God to do it.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Which brings the question: whatever you might find, there are always going to be the skeptics out there, those that, even if it was irrefutable, undeniable…how do you deal with that?
Randy: Well, I don’t deal with that. I leave that to the Spirit of God, because we’ve found this many times, particularly in the area of evolution where you have evidence that, as you say, it’s incontrovertible, and you ask someone like this, “What kind of evidence would it take to convince you?” And they say, “There is no evidence. I mean, you know, I have a dogmatic belief that this is so, my whole career has been built on it, the whole field in which I’m a part supports it. If I concede in this one point, the whole things collapses,” and people recognize that. They understand the moral dilemma they have, not just intellectual. They realize that this would then open things up for a Creator that has a claim on their life, and that’s too frightening for people.
Tom: Well, because it brings accountability. That’s one of the chief reasons that evolutionists will tell you pointblank, yeah, they don’t have they evidence, but they cannot accept the other view which makes them, forces them, to recognize a Creator God who’s also their judge.
Randy: Yes. Well, in apologetics, one of the things that I believe it does--it sort of removes the stones from the paths so the chariot of the Holy Spirit can take the message through, and there are those who will always reject, and yet there are those, shall I say, in the middle. There are those…and I met a medical doctor one time. I spoke at a conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls. It was a university; they told me I couldn’t talk about the Bible or spiritual things, but of course, the Dead Sea Scrolls are our oldest copy of the Bible, so I could talk about how reliably the text has been transmitted over the ages. And he wrote me after this meeting--I didn’t know he was there--but he wrote me and said, “I came to faith in Christ because of what you said.”
And I wrote him back and I said, “You know, I didn’t even give the gospel. How did you come to faith in Christ?”
And he said, “Well, I’ve had friends who have been giving me the gospel for years, but I didn’t believe them, and I couldn’t trust Christ because I didn’t trust the Bible.” He said, “What you said showed me I could trust the Bible, therefore I could trust Christ.”
Now, that’s why I think some of the things we’re doing are important, and they remove those intellectual obstacles for faith in the Scriptures. The rest then, of course, is the work of the Holy Spirit in a human heart, and someone just understanding the facts, and being willing to submit to them, because once they do that, they have to submit to the One who’s behind those facts, which is the Lord Himself.
Tom: See, that--Randy, you just brought up a really important point, because certainly at every opportunity, we want to present and explain the gospel. But there are times when the Holy Spirit uses us--that that’s already been laid out for an individual. You know, I think of-- maybe it was A.W. Tozer that said, “There are trees that people hide behind, and we need to cut down those trees.” And that, to me…you just gave an illustration of an individual who had that tree that was keeping him from Christ cut down.
Randy: Yeah. I think the common--my children all work in child evangelism fellowship, and they see children at young ages come to the Lord, and because they don’t know any of the facts of things, they just know that they are sinners and they need a Savior. But as they grow and they go through the universities today, they challenge every single area of faith. They do need that greater evidence and greater witness as they come and confront these things, and I think that many people just to simply believe don’t need all of this, but there are those who have been through that process, and because they know so much that isn’t so, that they need some of that corrected in order to get the truth, and that’s the kinds of things these things will do.
Tom: Yeah, you know, the other thing I like about what you just said, Randall, because there are people who say, “Wow! If we could just find the ark, if we could just find this, man, that would settle it!” But it doesn’t necessarily. It’s for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, those people who the Holy Spirit has been working on, but what you’re presenting is, as you said, incontrovertible.
Randy: Well, I mean, I think the resurrection of Christ is incontrovertible. I think that we come to Bible prophecy, there are things there that are incontrovertible. God has given us those two great witnesses, and that should be sufficient for anyone to trust God’s Word as God’s Word. But they just don’t know, and in many cases, we can bring this kind of ancillary evidence to bear. But I don’t tell people, “You’re not believing because of these things, you’re believing because the Word of God is true, and these things have removed your doubts and allowed you to accept the clear testimony of Scripture.”
Tom: Amen. Randy, tell us…you go to Israel every year, you take tours over there, as you said in last week’s program--you needed to be there so that you were not just an academician, that you were just not talking about the stuff theoretically. You’re there, you’ve been there--tell us what’s going on there now with regard to biblical prophecy.
Randy: Well, of course, this is the stage of prophecy. This is where it started, this is where it will end up. I believe that in the providence of God, the state of Israel was created at a crucial point in history to move us forward for the fulfillment of prophecy. I think that much of what we see happening now is setting the stage for those events to come.
One thing we know, and we read in the Scriptures that God made a covenant with the Jewish people, and that covenant has been broken, and that covenant laid out terms of discipline, one of which they would be overrun by their enemies, once they--even in the land, they would not enjoy the fruits of the land or peace in the land because of this disobedience, and we can see that happening today. We see Israel back in the land, but we’ve seen also “oppressed on every side”; we see, I mean, we can see an unbelieving state, even when we talk about the religious element there, it’s still unbelieving Jewish people. We see, you know, homosexuality, the gay marriage agenda, and we see white slave trade, we see all kinds--abortion, we see all these things within Israeli society, and we realize that God is not finished, that He has them there for a purpose, but to bring them ultimately to repentance.
And so all the things that are happening in the world today, again, confirm the reality of the Scriptures. Now, even in recent events, we have the European Union that has now said they are not going to basically be co-lenders or approve any type of loans or grants or anything to people in Israeli that live in what they consider the disputed territories, which are everything beyond the 1967 day boundaries. That means the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, which includes East Jerusalem--all of these areas--it’s a penalty being placed on Israel for even holding onto these areas, which are, of course, biblical Judea and Samaria.
You know, the world wants to hold Israel hostage; they want to constantly conform them to their agenda, which is a godless agenda, which doesn’t recognize the Scriptures and the purpose and plan of God. Israelis try to hold out against this, but they are being pressured to concede, and right now, even Kerry, our Secretary of State, wants to renew a peace process, and they want to go back to the old Saudi Initiative from 2002, where you had the Arab League say that, “If you will withdraw and go back to those pre-1967 day boundaries, then we’ll make peace.” That would be 22 Arab states and something like 35 Islamic states would all make peace. There’s no evidence of that. They didn’t--when Israel wanted in those areas, they made war, not peace, so it shows the lie to that kind of statement. But Israel’s being pressured to do this.
Well, can you imagine with the conflict in Syria going on, where over a hundred thousand people have died under Assad’s regime, and with no buffer from the Golan Heights? It was Assad’s father who said he wanted to--he would not make peace with Israel because he wanted to dip his foot into the Sea of Galilee as he did when he was a boy, so there are no boundaries. He wants to be right where the Israelis are. If you remove that, Israel has no chance for survival.
Same thing, of course, is true with the West Bank, or with the Gaza Strip. How could you create a Palestine state within a Jewish state and expect it to survive with all of the clear statements by the Arab League and Islamic world against Israel? That has nothing to do even with the Iranians who are the major problem now. So when you come to Israel, it’s amazing that you see a peaceful people. People who go there are always afraid. Their relatives are afraid for them. And then they get there, they say, “You know I had a wonderful time. We didn’t have any conflict, we didn’t see any conflict, we just saw people living and building.” In fact, the technology in Israel and the building is quite astounding. You know, high-developed culture, and even the tourist sites are beautiful.
And yet in the midst of all this, we have a people who want to wipe them off the face of the earth. And that’s what biblical prophecy said would happen. As we move toward the tribulation period, this would escalate. We see it escalating. We see that in the end, Israel is left alone. There’s no one to side with them. Ultimately, their only defense is going to be a man who rises whom we identify as the Antichrist who will make a covenant with them, protect them for three and a half years from the war that engulfs the rest of the world, and then, of course, deceive them and turn on them and usurp even the very place of God in the holy site, which would be the temple, and then move in the next three and a half years to persecute Israel. All these things we can see reliably now, because of what is happening today. So we can again trust the Scriptures, because you couldn’t have orchestrated this in any human way. It has to be the hand of God bringing these things to pass.
Tom: You know, I believe it’s Jeremiah--maybe you can repeat it for us, or at least we can talk about it--where God says in terms of the concern for Israel that if the sun doesn’t shine, if the moon doesn’t come out, what is it…
Randy: That’s Jeremiah 33. There’s one in 33, there should be one in 31, the last part of it, too. It’s the promise of the new covenant.
Tom: Right. The point being that yes, Israel is in there in unbelief, and all the things that you articulated and much more, you could say they’re no different from any other nation, any other race of people and so on. Nevertheless, this falls upon God, upon His promise, that He will protect and preserve Israel. Yeah, they’re not going to get off scot-free in terms of the harassments. We see a rise in anti-Semitism throughout the world that’s--it’s stunning that it would not only be so overt today, but some of it is even coming into the professing Christian church.
Randy: Well, we have today many denominations that side against Israel, boycott Israel--they want to take what they consider the side of the underdog, and they feel it’s more Christian to support the Palestinians, even though they want to create a sharia law, Islamic state, because they are the oppressed, or so they view it, and they consider justice of reconciliation the gospel. And this is, of course, kind of a social gospel. It’s also a liberation theology; it’s all kinds of things blended together that is not scriptural at all. And the fact is, when we go to the Scripture, God has not changed His Word. He hasn’t changed His people; He hasn’t changed His plan; He hasn’t changed His purpose. All of this is to say that for biblical prophecy to be fulfilled literally, it means there can’t be changes. The same people, the same places have to, of course, be there. And it’s just amazing to me to see what’s happening in the church, even in good evangelical churches, because we’ve moved away from the solid teaching of the Scriptures. We’re taking Bible passages, we’re taking Bible principles, we’re doing all kinds of things, but we’re not seriously studying the Scriptures, and therefore these kinds of issues can be bypassed because we don’t do a systematic study, or we don’t do an expository study, and it’s just not the fashion of today. The result is that if people aren’t doing this on their own in a disciplined way, then they don’t know these things. They simply don’t know it, and they fall into sentimentality, and these kind of social arguments that social engineers present.
Tom: You know, much of what we’ve been talking about, discussing, you have available in your books, your videos, articles that you’ve written--but I want to get to your ministry. We’ve got about five minutes left. World of the Bible Ministries--this is a way that our listeners can access what we’ve been talking about. Tell us about that.
Randy: Well, very much like The Berean Call, we want to bring the vital issues of today to people’s attention and show them what the Word of God has to say, and how it can be applied to their life. But unlike The Berean Call, we have a particular focus dealing with the world of the Bible, the past, present, and prophetic world, so that’s where archaeology comes in. We want to bring the findings from archaeology and show how it helps us not only understand the Bible better, but interpret the Bible, because these things happened in the past. The better we understand the past context, the better we can take the content of Scripture and apply it today. With the kind of present concept of the world of the Bible, it’s that conflicted stage in the Middle East conflict, and my training is in this area--I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to spend a lot of time in Israel. We’ve now made 93 trips there--but I’ve got to know different leaders, actually, on both sides, Palestinian side and Israeli side, although my contacts are more the Israeli side. But I’ve been able to interview them and bring information. We’ve put out books critiquing this; one book is called Fast Facts on the Middle East Conflict, so it’s a helpful resource to people. And then we deal with Bible prophecy, because that’s the world of the Bible that is coming, and it’s very important to understand prophecy in these other contexts which we present. So when you come to our website or look at our ministry, you’ll find that we have resources, a lot of resources people can download for free. We, of course, like many ministries put daily news items up for people each day to get a summary of important issues in these areas that are a concern to us, and then we have a catalogue of our resources and materials that we are constantly developing to help people understand these things, and our annual tours to Israel, which bring people into contact with these things and allow myself to instruct and bring these truths out in the context of the land of Israel.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Yeah, there’s nothing like taking a tour to Israel with somebody who’s been there 93 times. [laughs] And certainly it’s a unique part--well, everything that we’ve been talking about would play a part of getting involved with your ministry, perhaps even signing up for a tour with you guys, and Gary will, at the end of the program, he’ll give information about how you can contact Randall, how we can not only contact him but maybe go to his website, sign up for his newsletter which would be incredibly edifying, a real blessing to whoever would choose to do that.
So, again, thank you, Randy, for being a part of this. I know it’s going to bless our listeners. So God bless you, brother.
Randy: Well, Tom, Berean Call has been a blessing in our life and in fact I probably would not have much of a ministry if it were not for support that Dave and Ruth gave us in the past, and that you continue to give us in the present, so we’re grateful for you, too, brother.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of materials to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, OR, 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at the bereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in, and we hope you can join us again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.