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. We’re currently discussing Dave Hunt’s book When Will Jesus Come? Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ, and some of our listeners may know the book by its former title How Close Are We?
Dave, last week we ended this segment of our program by saying that an explanation needs to be made regarding the soon return of our Lord, particularly why He is coming and who He’s coming for. But before we get to that, could you go over some basics about prophecy? You know, last week we touched upon the value of prophecy to the Christian. But what about prophecy related to proving the existence of God for those who have doubts that there is a God or are confused by the different gods that are worshipped by the various religions? Now, you pose a question in your book—and I want to quote this—“How could God make Himself known in such a way that a finite man would be absolutely certain that God was revealing Himself? Furthermore, how could an infinite God unveil Himself personally to finite beings?”
Dave: I think that is the question we have to begin with, obviously. Somebody says, “Well, but if God, you know, came and did miracles or thundered with an audible voice from heaven…” Or, “Couldn’t God reveal Himself?” I don’t think so. Think about it: you’ve got all kinds of ideas about God, “gods.” You’ve got extraterrestrials…. The Romans and the Greeks had many gods; Zeus was one of them. The temple of Zeus—I visited that on a Peloponnesian peninsula. Which gods, and how would you know?
Well, it’s very interesting that God gives you a way that you cannot deny who He is. For example, in Isaiah:46:9-10, He says, “I am the Lord, which made heaven and earth; beside me there is no God.” Okay? Well, that’s the claim. That’s what we would like to know: that there is only one God, that He is the one that’s above all. Well, how does He identify himself? He says, “I will tell you what will happen before it happens, and after it happens you will have to acknowledge that I am God. Nobody else!” Where does He tell us this? In His Word, the Bible, okay? So He’s going to prove his existence. He’s going to prove who He is. He’s going to identify himself very clearly and tell us His characteristics, and He’s going to do it in a book called the Bible, which He claims He inspired about 40 different men over a period of 1,600 years to write. You’ve got a lot of evidence for that, because they don’t contradict one another.
Tom: Right. And, Dave, more than 4,000 times, I think, in the Old Testament alone we have, “Thus saith the Lord…”; “The Word of the Lord came to me….” So that’s repeated throughout the Scripture.
Dave: Right, that’s quite a claim! The Qur’an, for example—well, Muhammad says that Gabriel gave him these revelations from Allah. Allah doesn’t speak directly to him, he speaks through Gabriel. The Bible says, “No, God is speaking.” He is speaking through His prophets, but you get the words that He speaks directly to His prophets—and not just one man like Muhammad, but for every author of the Bible. They didn’t make it up; they were inspired of God. This is their claim, the claim of every one. You have 39 other witnesses, okay, who all corroborate what the one man is saying, and it all hangs together.
So the Bible then is absolutely unique. Now, it would have to be! If you got a bunch of other gods out there and they can all prophesy and tell you what’s going to happen in the future, it’s not going to work.
Tom: Dave, even though there are individuals calling themselves psychics, mediums, fortune tellers, and so on, what would you say to that?
Dave: Well, one of the best known ones, I guess, was Jeane Dixon. You can go back and read her prophesies. I think the National Enquirer (I haven’t looked at it in many years; I used to just out of curiosity once in a while), every year they—at least, they used to—on January 1, they would give the predictions of the psychics, and so forth. And go back and check them out year after year—they’re wrong! You would think that you might get some right just by chance, and they do once in a while. The Bible says if you are not 100 percent accurate, you are not a prophet of God. And they don’t just dream it up on their own in the Bible, but it is, as you said, “Thus saith the Lord,” okay?
Now, God says that He is the only one who can declare the end from the beginning. He says, “The former things that I have told you would come to pass, they have come to pass. And I’m telling you about further things in the future, and they will come to pass as well.” You can count on that because of His track record.
So, Tom, there’s no way you can get around that. When God tells you what is going to happen… And just a quick summation—I mean, you could never summarize it because there are hundreds, hundreds of prophecies given centuries—even thousands of years before they came to pass, and they have been fulfilled exactly as God said. For example (I think we mentioned it last week), the very day that Jesus would ride into Jerusalem, and that He would ride in on a donkey, and a meek and humble Man bringing salvation—not the kind of a Messiah deliverer that they wanted, that the Jews were expecting, but that He would be crucified before crucifixion was ever known, and that they would gamble for His clothes. Now, some of them you can say—as we mentioned last week—some of them you could say, “Well, you know, Jesus knew what was said so He fulfilled it.” But I don’t think you are going to get yourself crucified to fulfill prophecies; and how are you going to rise from the dead?
Tom: Well, how are you going to predict where you are going to be born?
Tom: So, His birth, the situation regarding His birth—it’s just too many things, Dave.
Dave: How did He get the soldiers who were on duty that day to give Him vinegar mingled with gall?
Tom: To gamble for His clothes?
Dave: Right, it couldn’t happen. But these are only a few; there are literally hundreds.
Now, when you come to Israel, the whole history of Israel is laid out. God gave them a land. When He brought them into the land, He warned them, “You disobey me, I’ll cast you out. I will scatter you to every nation on the face of this earth.” It happened! We called them the “Wandering Jew.”
“I will make you a proverb, a laughing stock. They will make jokes about you. You will be hated and persecuted and killed like no other people, but I will not let you be destroyed. I will preserve a remnant of you, many, and in the last days I will bring you back into your own land, and the nations of the world are going to divide that land,” which they did! “I will make Jerusalem a terror to the nations all around when they are in the siege against Jerusalem and Judea.” Never were the nations united around Israel, but today they are through Islam and so forth. Tom, we could go on and on.
Tom: Let me add one more, Dave. You mentioned this: the Jews, the religious Jews, were fulfilling prophecy in their very rejection of Christ, so even that is a fulfillment of prophecy. Again, these are not Christian prophets, per se. You know, it all pointed to Christ, but these were the prophets of the Jews.
Dave: Well, Isaiah was a Jew. “He is despised, rejected of men…there is no beauty that we should desire…we hid our faces from him…we said, He’s smitten and stricken of God, you know, He’s got a curse on him.” Exactly what they said. Now, I don’t know how you’re going to get the Jews in Jerusalem to fulfill these prophecies if you’re not really the Messiah.
Anyway, as we said last week, how many candidates do you have for a Messiah? Nobody fulfilled all of these prophecies except Jesus Christ on the very day, okay? He also rose from the dead, and we can prove that, but we don’t have time to go into that. And you’re running the show here, Tom; I don’t think you wanted to get into that.
Tom: Well, Dave, in this segment we’re going to be talking about this for a number of weeks. I just want to lay the foundation for prophecy, what it’s about, why it’s so important. And again, answering the question, “How could an infinite God unveil Himself personally to finite beings?”
Dave: Well, we’ve got to keep going on that. But first of all, I want to challenge any listener out there: Deny what I’ve been saying. Deny that the Bible foretold hundreds of prophecies that have been fulfilled.
Tom: More than a third of the Bible is prophecy.
Dave: Without fail in any of them—not just from one person, but from many different prophets who didn’t even know one another, lived in a different culture and different times in history, and they did not partake of the culture or the nonsense that people believed in—even their science that was all wrong of their day, okay? Now, deny that these prophecies have come to pass. I can give you many prophecies, and I challenge anybody—we have given you a few—deny that Israel was hated and persecuted, deny that anti-Semitism is just a…I mean, it’s something you couldn’t explain. You cannot explain it why one group…
Dave: Yes, it’s a paradox why one group would be hated. And as we mentioned, there have been groups of people like the Armenians—over a million of them were killed by the Turks. A lot of blacks died on their way to America on slave ships. Don’t forget that blacks killed blacks, tortured and enslaved them before they ever sold any of them to the whites. And by the way, the Arabs were the slave traders, okay? These are the Muslims. So there have been many peoples who have suffered; no people ever suffered in the attempt to exterminate them! That’s what makes Israel unique. And we can give you many quotes, and we have given you many quotes of Muhammad, for example. “Every Jew on this earth must be wiped out.” They must exterminate them; they must exterminate Israel. We just had the president of Iran say, “Israel must be wiped from the map!” Well, there is not even an Arab map that shows Israel’s existence, so they’ve already done that in theory, and they intend to do it practically.
Okay, so why this people are hated to such an extent that they want to exterminate them, and it wasn’t just Hitler, okay?
Now, what’s wrong with these people? Well, you could say, “Well, some of it is jealousy.” I don’t know what percentage of the world the Jews comprise. It would be one tenth of one percent—I am just calculating that in my brain here at the moment. You’ve got about 15 million Jews in the world today, and that’s 165th, or something like that, of the world’s population. Just go to Google, and let Google tell you how many Nobel prize winners there are in medicine, in physics, in chemistry—I mean, it is way, way out of proportion, okay? These are very special people—but anyway, hated, persecuted, killed like nobody else. You can’t deny it; that’s what the Bible said. So the Jews are the proof, or one of the many proofs that God exists, okay?
So now, God comes to this earth. Suppose He came to this earth as a man?
Sometimes you might look down, you might look at some birds…I have a special feeling for quail. We live in an area here in Bend—an awful lot of quail. I mean, they are everywhere—or deer. Wow! Those deer are a plague. I was out throwing some bird seed for my quail, and they come by the dozens—by the hundreds almost—and the doves, and here comes a deer running right up to me. He wants to get that bird seed right out of my hand, and they lick it off the ground, and that gets me angry. I don’t mind feeding the birds in the neighborhood, but I can’t afford to feed all the deer with bird seed! My goodness, and they will slurp it right out of a bird feeder, you know. So anyway, you think, If I could just become a deer for a minute, and I could explain things to them…. But why would the deer pay any attention to this particular deer? That they have nothing tells you that you couldn’t do miracles; they wouldn’t know what a miracle was anyway. That human beings—oh, we could recognize a miracle. So here comes a Man who claims to be God, and He does miracles.
Now, of course, the Jews deny that the Messiah would be God, although their prophet said (Isaiah:9:6-7), “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder [so he has to be the Messiah]; his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father [“I and my Father are one”]….” You can’t deny that. But anyway, they deny it. In fact, Jews says Jesus never claimed to be God. Indeed He did! We give you many scriptures for that, and that, in fact, is why the Jews crucified him. In John 10—I think it’s around verse 34—Jesus says, “I have done many good works. Why are you going to stone me?” And they lifted up stones to stone Him, which they could not do because He had to be crucified. They said, “For good works we stone thee not, but because thou being a man makest thyself out to be God.” Okay? So that was the ultimate blasphemy. Okay, but anyway, God comes, comes as a man. He does miracles. Oh no, come on—miracles? We don’t believe in miracles today. Scientists would say, “Well, that’s not a miracle, you just don’t understand the laws that govern that situation.” You see, it’s like if I flew in in a Piper Cub on a desert island and landed on…Tom, I’m sorry. Just interrupt me. I’m just going nonstop.
Tom: No, keep on. Dave, you’ve got me fascinated! Keep rolling!
Dave: I fly in in a Piper Cub and land on a beach. They have never seen anybody before, and certainly not a white man, and I step off. And we’re sitting around a campfire at night, and I pull a little gunpowder out of my pocket. I throw it in the fire—whoomph, you know—or I pull out a small explosive and throw it in, and it blows up and scares everybody to death. And they bow down and worship; they think I am a god. I say, “No, no, no, let me explain: it’s a scientific thing. See, you just don’t understand.”
So no matter what God come as a man would do, even raising the dead, the scientists would say, “Well, you know, we’re working on it in the laboratory. One of these days we’ll be able to do it.” So it’s got to be something beyond miracles. Prophecy is beyond miracles. It is something that science cannot duplicate! Nobody can duplicate it; nobody ever has. There are no prophecies in the Hindu Vedas, Bhagavad-Gita, Ramayana, you name them, Mahabharata, the sayings of Buddha or Confucius…anywhere, okay? So, this is how God reveals himself.
Now, so that Jesus comes as a man, as the prophets foretold—the very manner, the very city, as you said—the very day He rides into Jerusalem, he’s despised. Exactly…I mean, all of these things that we could go into, dozens of prophecies just about Jesus, the very timing in which He came. If you went to Luke 3, it’s in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar, you know, that certain things are happening pertaining to Jesus. You couldn’t have foretold that. And not only that, He tells you who would be the governor, who would be the high priest, who would have various offices, and what cities all around! This is not a prophecy, this is a declaration, a historical declaration at that time that verifies. How do we know…for example, I mentioned Daniel 9 where the date, the very date that Jesus would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey—and we’ve explained that in the past from Daniel 9, Nehemiah 2, and so forth. How do we know that Jesus was here at that time? Luke 3 tells you—it gives you the details of who held the offices in these various cities, and who was the Caesar, and so forth.
Tom: Dave, let me add one more thing to it, again regarding his birth: Mary and Joseph, they are living in Nazareth, but the Messiah has to be born in Bethlehem. Now, what would send them to Bethlehem? Caesar Augustus has a decree that they have to go and register in the city of their family.
Dave: Exactly. Amazing, and how it all gets fulfilled! So, Tom, I don’t think you can explain it away. It wouldn’t be enough for God—thunders of the voice? He manifests Himself on Mount Sinai, of course. Thunder and lightning and earthquakes, and with an audible voice He spoke to the people of Israel. Did that convince them? Only momentarily! Before Moses even got down from the mount they have made a golden calf. It’s the very first thing God said: “You will have no other gods before me.”
And by the way, the Qur’an says that the golden calf was built by a Samaritan. That’s 700 years before Samaritans even existed! So if you want to, check out the accuracy of the Qur’an in comparison with the accuracy of the Bible. So archeologically, historically, scientifically, but mainly prophetically, it is 100 percent true.
Now, therefore, Tom, we have a solid foundation. In other words, we are not whistling “Dixie.” We’re not saying, “Oh, come on now, follow what we believe, or join our church.” No, we want you to know the true God, and we want you to know the one and only Savior of sinners, who He is, why He came the first time, and what He accomplished, and it has everything to do with your eternal destiny.
Tom: Right. So this is objective evidence, Dave. This isn’t just a leap of faith: “Hey, we’ve got a really good story here and we’re going to persuade people to believe it!”
Dave: Absolutely not!
Tom: We don’t believe in cynicism, okay? That’s somebody who’s already made up his mind; you couldn’t convince them otherwise. But there is nothing wrong with a healthy skepticism. This is for the skeptics—this is why God has presented objective evidence.
Tom: But it brings you to a moral dilemma, doesn’t it?
Dave: Well, God must be a holy God. He certainly isn’t causing all the evil on this earth. He would be a monster. Or if He didn’t want it and tried to stop it, [but] who couldn’t, He would be too weak to be God. No, He must be above all of this. Then why does it happen? He loves us. He can’t just forgive us; He can’t just whitewash it. Somehow the penalty has to be paid, and that is why Jesus came, and He did pay the penalty. Buddha didn’t, Confucius didn’t—nobody did, only Jesus Christ! But I guess we have to come back and get to that later.