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.
Our topic is and has been Dave Hunt’s book When Will Jesus Come? subtitled: Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ. And if you have a copy and want to follow along with our discussion, we’re beginning chapter 14, titled, “An Incredible Growing Delusion.”
Now, Dave, you open this chapter by quoting scriptures from Luke that indicate the condition on earth at the time of the Rapture. Let me read those—we’ll begin with Luke:17:26-30: “And as it was in the days of [Noah], so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”
Luke:21:34-36: “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting [that is excessiveness] and drunkenness and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”
Now, Dave, in these verses you say we have a powerful case for a pre-tribulation Rapture. How so?
Dave: Well, obviously, these verses are taken from two different chapters, and there’s quite a contrast. You’re reading from what I quoted at the beginning of the chapter. And in the first one—“Thus shall it be in the day that the Son of Man is revealed.” Revealed to whom? Not to the whole world; revealed to His own. How do we know this is the Rapture, in contrast to the other one? The other one is talking about horrible conditions—trials, tribulation, destruction, great destruction coming upon the earth. And so they’re hoping that they will be delivered, counted of worthy and not to partake of that, and this will come like a snare on the whole earth.
But the first one, it says they are buying and selling and building and planting and partying and marrying and eating and drinking, and you cannot imagine that at the end of the Great Tribulation; the world is practically destroyed. Yet this is a time when the Son of Man will be revealed. Revealed how? And to whom? Obviously to His own. He said He would come and take them to His Father’s house of many mansions. So this has to be the Rapture.
For example, it says that the day that Lot departed from Sodom, fire and brimstone came upon them. That’s a picture of the Rapture: we leave—Christ takes His bride out of this earth, and then God’s judgment begins to come. And He said He would spare us from His wrath.
Tom: Dave, so this can’t be talking about the Second Coming. All we have to do is look to Revelation 19 and even verses before that. But life is not normal at the Second Coming. Right? There’s famine; there’s no eating and drinking and partying, right? A third of the trees are burned up, a third of the ocean turns to blood, a third of the waters are poisonous.
Dave: That’s way back in chapter 6 of…
Tom: Well, buying and selling, planting, building, not…normal. I mean, that’s not going to take place. And as you said, over a billion people die, and in chapter 6 in Revelation it talks about everyone on earth attempting to hide from God!
Dave: Right. So I don’t know what these people can say about this, post-Tribbers.
Now, the reason I quoted Luke 17 is because, if you go to Matthew 24, it gives you pretty much the same words, except it says, “…and the flood came and took them all away.” So they say, “See, they’re not being taken away to Heaven, they’re being taken away to judgment.”
“Two will be sleeping in a bed. One is taken, the other left. Two grinding in the mill, one taken, the other left. Two working the field,” etc.
(By the way, that’s an indication that the world was round. You wouldn’t have people sleeping and also working in the field and grinding in the mill at the same time. So these are different time zones that the Lord is referring to.)
But how are you going to explain that? Well, they say, “Well they’re taken away to judgment.” What judgment is this? I don’t know what judgment that would be. The only judgment I read of is He gathers the nations together (that’s in Matthew 25) before Him, and He separates the sheep from the goats. Nothing about snatching people out of beds and out of fields and others are left. You can’t correlate that. So I go to Luke, because there it doesn’t say the flood came and took them away. It says Lot was taken out and the judgment came.
Now, it says, “…thus will it be in the day that the Son of Man appears.” Well, there’s nothing about judgment. And, furthermore, as you said, Tom, the only way you can make it a judgment, you have to put it at the end of the Great Tribulation. But that does not fit with the conditions.
You know, it’s interesting that when it says, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be as it was in the days of Lot,” etc. We know if you asked someone, “What about the days of Noah? What about the days of Lot?” the first thing that would come to their mind is the wickedness, the evil, violence, and so forth. This is what the Scripture tells us back in Genesis 6, and everyone is talking about the days of Noah. But that’s not what Jesus mentions. He’s not commenting about the evil at all. He’s talking about the prosperity. The last thing they had in mind was judgment—never had judgment from God, and that’s what Jesus is emphasizing. They’re eating and drinking, and buying and selling, they’re partying and planting and building. No judgment is expected. Tom, you could not possibly put that at the end of the Great Tribulation, as you have pointed out. I mean, what else would there be? They’ve had nothing but God’s wrath poured out upon this earth, and all the plagues and so forth, and the world is terrified. And this is the condition upon this earth? No, couldn’t possibly be! There are two appearings, therefore, of Christ. The one is in 1 John 3: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God. It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone that hath this hope in Him purifies himself.”
So this is at an appearing that He is going to transform the believers. He will appear to His own, and when we see Him we will be transformed into His likeness. Now, we know it happens at the resurrection; it’s the only time it could. And along with the resurrection is the Rapture, but there is another appearing, and we read of it in other places.
Revelation:1:7: “Every eye shall see Him, and they also who pierced Him, and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him.”
That doesn’t make sense. The whole world sees Him? Well, that’s the first time that we see Him; it’s the first time that the saints who died in faith in Christ, they’re resurrected, and we’re caught up. No, He’s on His way down. You get that in Matthew 24, beginning at verse 29 and 30: “Like lightening across the sky, so shall be the coming of the Son of Man at that day.”
He’s coming for judgment; He’s coming in power and glory. But there is a secret appearing. Oh, they mock that! “Oh, secret Rapture!” Why not? When Joseph revealed himself—remember?—to his brethren, he put all the Egyptians out, and they shut the doors, and there he was alone with his brethren, and he revealed himself to them. And that’s the way it will be. Christ will reveal Himself to His own, to His bride, catch us up, and there’s going to be a wedding in heaven. But that’s not the appearing that you get in Revelation:1:7.
We talked about it last week, I think. Paul said—I think we kind of ended this way—Paul said, “I fought a good fight, I finished my course, I’ve kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me in that day [2 Timothy 4], and not to me only, but unto them also who love His appearing.”
I think we commented that I don’t see why you get a special reward for loving His appearing if we have been going through the Tribulation. What else would you look for? Everybody…I mean, all of His own would love His appearing, not everybody. But certainly, the Christians would love His appearing at that point. They have been longing for His appearing! I don’t think you get a special reward for that. But if we love His appearing now when… “Oh, man, we just got married, Lord. Let us at least have our honeymoon! We’re going to Hawaii, never been there before. We’ve got that camper now. We’ve got a boat up on top and bicycles on the back, and we’re going to travel around the country…Lord, couldn’t you wait? We don’t want to go to heaven just yet.”
You remember the story of the little boy in the front row—remember?—and the preacher said, “Everybody that wants to go to heaven, raise your hand.” You remember that one? And everybody raised their hand except this little boy. And after his sermon the preacher sat down beside him there—he was sitting on the front row—and he said, “Sonny, don’t you want to go to heaven?”
“Oh yes, sir, I do.”
“But I asked for everyone who wanted to go to heaven to raise their hand. You didn’t raise your hand.”
“Oh, sir, I thought you meant right now!”
So heaven is a place everybody…well, I guess even the unsaved want to go there, but they don’t want to go there on God’s terms. But heaven is a place we’d like to go to, but not now. So if we love His appearing now, there’s a special reward, Paul said.
Tom: Dave, this is a tremendous teaching, a tremendous doctrine. We’ve been going over it for weeks and weeks now. Yet you write, “As clear as the Scriptures are, the truth of the Rapture was largely lost for centuries.” Why is that? How did that happen?
Dave: Well, it was known to a few, the persecuted ones. But you know, Tom, you were raised a Catholic; you know about the Catholic Church. And even to evangelicals today, if you talk about apostasy they will say, “Well, you’re saying that the whole church was in apostasy. You say the Catholic Church was in apostasy. Well then, I guess Christ’s promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church must have failed!”
Wait a minute, guys! The Catholic Church is not the whole church. There were the Albigenses, and the Waldensiens, and the Bogomils, and the Cathars, and all these people who have been maligned as heretics, and so forth. The true church never gave—they were not Protestants, by the way—they never gave their allegiance to the pope. They were evangelical, Bible-believing Christians, and they were hated and persecuted by the Catholic Church. I’m sure they believed in the Rapture, but not the Catholic Church, because the Catholic Church was building an empire.
Christ said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, but they don’t fight.” The popes fought with armies and navies to build the…well, only the Muslim kingdom exceeded it. They controlled the known world at that time, as you know, the wealth and the power. So they’re building a kingdom on this earth. Their hope was not to go to heaven. Their hope was to build more power, and eventually they were going to take over the whole thing. And, Tom, as you alluded, we have the same idea among evangelicals today.
Tom: Well, Dave, let’s go back to the Reformation. Many of the Reformers, most if not all were former Catholics. They brought much—too much of the teaching, although they cried out, “Sola Scriptura,” the Scriptures alone. So they were influenced greatly by Augustine, and Augustine dismissed the millennial reign of Christ, and many other teachings. That’s part of the problem.
Dave: In his book The City of God, it’s all about a kingdom that he builds on this earth. So the Rapture, if it was misunderstood… Look, the church was not the first to make this mistake, because John the Baptist didn’t understand it; the disciples didn’t understand it. When Jesus said, “I am going to go away and prepare a place for you….”
“Lord, where are you going? We thought….” What are they arguing about?
You know, Tom, we joke about this a little bit. The disciples had such low self-esteem, you know. That’s the big problem: everybody has low self-esteem back there with the disciples.
Tom: They were elbowing over one another to find out where they were going to fit in this kingdom.
Dave: Even after Christ said, “One of you will betray Me,” a little flurry of concern, and then the next thing you know, as you said, they’re arguing, “Who will be the greatest in the kingdom? Who is going to be on the right hand? Who is going to be on the left?”
No, that’s the way we are saved is by His death upon the cross. Okay?
So the church carried on in this way while the Church—not the true church but the whole Church—was in apostasy. I mean the visible Church. The underground church, the true church, they were walking with the Lord and understood His Word. How did it come about? A gentleman by the name of Constantine, who had enough sense to say, “Why are we killing these Christians? We shouldn’t be persecuting them. They don’t get drunk, they don’t cause riots, they don’t start revolutions. Maybe they could be an example to society.” And he made—well, not officially, it was some years later, a few decades later that Roman Catholicism became the official religion of the empire. To get ahead in the government, to get ahead in the army and politics and so forth, in business, you had to be a Christian.
Tom: Dave, some decades later? I thought it was more like centuries in terms of Roman Catholic doctrine and so on—dogmas.
Dave: Well, Tom, I used the term Roman Catholicism, but it certainly wasn’t Christianity. It wasn’t officially known as Roman Catholicism, and they still had the bishop of Jerusalem, and the bishop of Antioch, and the bishop of here and there as well as the bishop of Rome. Although the bishop of Rome was trying his best to become the papa, but they were all called papa, you know, everywhere. And he was…
Tom: Papa meaning “pope.”
Dave: Right. And he was pushing for it because this is the center, I mean, this is the capitol of the empire, so the bishop there ought to be the head bishop. And it wasn’t even accepted in the 11th century when the pope excommunicated Michael Cerularius, the patriarch of Constantinople. It hadn’t yet been accepted by all of them. Nevertheless, Tom, it wasn’t a slip of the tongue, it was Catholicism, way back then. It was a false religion. They had turned the…Remus and Romulus, the guardians of Rome, were Paul and Peter now, and the statues of Isis became Mary.
I was just in the Vatican, St. Peter’s, and—oh, Tom, you’ve been there. It’s pitiful. You remember the statue, bronze statue, supposedly of Peter—actually that was Jupiter in the Roman Empire; they just turned it to Peter.
Tom: With a foot that vanished because of people rubbing it as they walked by, kissing it!
Dave: They’re lined up to touch that or kiss that toe. Those toes have been worn off, solid bronze.
So it was Catholicism, okay? It was made the official revision of the empire about 370, I think, somewhere around there.
Tom: And totally rejected the Rapture.
Now, Dave, you also mentioned C. S. Lewis. Let’s bring it up to contemporary times.
Dave: Well, in his book The World’s Last Night, C. S. Lewis talks about the closing events of this earth. He doesn’t mention the Rapture. It was—Tom, it was…let me get back to, “not to thee only, but unto all them that love His appearing.” It’s not normal for a worldly Christian, or a Christian who isn’t really, fully in love with the Lord, who longs to be with Him—it’s not normal for anyone on this earth to want to leave this earth unless you’re in terrible poverty or persecution. But when things are going well, no, we don’t want to leave this earth.
Tom, look at today: megachurches. And I’m not opposed to a megachurch. Praise God if you’ve got thousands and thousands of people who are really Christians! But I can tell you, when I travel around and a pastor shows me the plans for the new building project—they talk about their five-year plan, ten-year plan—that’s okay; let’s plan for the future. But never…Tom, I can’t remember when I ever heard a pastor say, “If God wills. If the Lord has not come.” I wouldn’t talk about tomorrow without saying, “If the Lord hasn’t come.” So it was lost to the church, this hope. And Paul well-said, “There is a special reward for those who love His appearing.
Tom: Dave, next week—we’re just about out of time, but I want to pick up on, you know, an important event that took place that sort of set the church on a path of restoration, of not looking to Christ’s coming, our blessed hope, but wanting to set up the kingdom on earth. We’re going to go back to Manifest Sons of God, talk a little bit about that, and Earl Paulk, and other teachings right up to today. We have Rick Warren’s Global Peace Plan. These things are of great concern to us.
Dave: Yes. I know personally that Rick believes in the Rapture, but he doesn’t talk about it; that’s a problem, because that would kind of undermine these other programs. How can you get people excited? I believe we ought to take care of the sick, and try to get rid of AIDS and poverty and so forth, but how can you get people excited about that when their main hope is going to heaven? We should be able to do both! But you can’t just be exclusive or make your main emphasis turning this world back into a paradise, and also at the same time keep alive the hope of the Rapture.
Tom: We’re going to talk about that next week.