Tom: Thanks, Gary. 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.
Dave Hunt and I are discussing his book When Will Jesus Come?, which some of our listeners, Dave, may know by its former title How Close Are We? But by either title, it would seem apparent that the subject matter of the book is the return of Jesus Christ.
Dave, when Jesus ascended into heaven, the angels spoke to those who were gathered…there were a couple of angels there, I think—weren’t there two?
Dave: Two. “Two men in white raiment stood by them and said…” That’s what the Book of Acts said.
Tom: What did they say?
Dave: “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus that you have seen taken up will so come in like manner as you have seen him go.”
Tom: Right. So when the church is formed at that time, the day of Pentecost, they were always to look forward to His return. The angels announced it. Certainly all that the prophets had told were not fulfilled at that point. There was more to come, as it were, and Jesus is going to return.
Dave: Yeah, He had not taken the kingdom, which they all expected that He would. He didn’t come as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, He came as the Lamb to die for our sins. They couldn’t understand that.
But anyway, now He has come and He hasn’t taken the throne, and now He’s gone.
Tom: Right. Dave, the first promise of the Messiah to come was right after the fall of man. With regard to the Bible, we go back to the Old Testament…
Tom: Right, and we went over that last week. So, with this promise of the Messiah to come (Genesis:3:15) through Abraham, through Isaac, through Jacob—all through the Old Testament, the prophets said…and set a criteria, and this is what I really want to get to. There have been many who have come along with Messianic complexes or whatever, but, Dave, there was a criteria set in the Old Testament with regard to the first coming of the Messiah, and that criteria was very specific. There were details that had to be fulfilled.
Dave: Sure, otherwise how would you know who the Messiah was? Lots of people coming along saying they’re the Messiah. So the criteria, of course, given in Genesis:3:15 was only that the Messiah would be born of a virgin—“the seed of the woman will bruise the serpent’s head.” And then of course, in Genesis:12:3 God said to Abraham, “In thee and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” So then we knew he would be a Jew descended from the seed of Abraham. And then, of course, he had to be of the seed of David, because in 2 Samuel 7—sometimes I don’t always remember the exact place, Tom.
Tom: Yeah, but your memory is amazing!
Dave: But anyway…
Tom: I’m reading it, so anybody thinks, “Oh, well, Tom got it…” No, Tom’s reading it! It’s here in your book. I’m looking at it, Dave; that’s how I know.
Dave: Okay. God promised David that he would never lack to have a son on his throne. So we knew that He had to be of the seed of David, descended from David, because it’s called the “Throne of David.” Then of course, Daniel 9 told us when He would come. Well, there are a lot of them, Tom. The Messiah doesn’t just…suddenly He arrives and says, “Here I am,” and everybody must bow down and worship Him. As you said, there are conditions that He must meet. How many candidates are there (I love to talk about that) for a Messiah? How many people came, rode into Jerusalem on a donkey? Of course, that was another one of them…
Tom: Well, born in Bethlehem!
Dave: Yeah, and at the right time, and of the seed of David. And that He would, you know, He would be crucified 500 years before crucifixion was ever known. We could go on and on, Tom. But the Messiah—there are prophecies concerning the Messiah that are so specific and so numerous that you cannot escape them, and yet most Jews today refuse to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Well, it would be shattering to your self-esteem to think that you and your ancestors have rejected the Messiah. How could that be?
Tom: Right. And Jesus told them (quoting from Matthew:24:44)—it says, “All things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me.” And as you just said, detail after detail, so incredible! Right down to an item that took place in a few seconds in time. You can create the whole scenario of the crucifixion of our Lord who was there, how they were going to respond, and so on, right down to the last detail.
Dave: Well, earlier in Luke 24, when He’s talking with the two on the road to Emmaus, and they’re all upset, you know. Jesus couldn’t possibly—they thought He was the Messiah! They said, “We thought He was the Messiah, He would redeem Israel. But look, they crucified Him, so He couldn’t possibly have been the Messiah, because the Messiah is supposed to get on the throne of David.” You’re going to have all kinds of misunderstandings if you do not follow the scriptures carefully. And Jesus is rather harsh with them; He says, “You fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” That’s the key: don’t just take one prophecy—all that the prophets have spoken, and you’re going to have to put them all together and make sure that there are no contradictions, and then you will have the true picture. He says, “…all that the prophets have spoken.” And then it says, “Beginning at Moses and all the prophet,” and, of course, later on the verse you quoted, Psalms, “he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”
So if you went to John 5, Jesus is, you know, having a little discussion with the rabbis, and he says, “You search the scriptures because in them you think you have eternal life, but these are they that testify of me, and you will not come to me.” So it’s very clear: Jesus is declaring that all of the Scriptures testified about Him, and you will find prophecies of the Messiah in every part of the Bible, one of the amazing things about the Bible! Because, Tom, as we have often said, it was written by 40 different men over a period of 1500-1600 years. Most of them never knew one another. They came from different times in history, different cultures, and it’s just all through there, without contradiction, prophecy after prophecy building on one another, and this is how we know that Jesus is the Messiah.
Tom: It’s how we know that God’s Word is just that: His Word.
Dave: Amen. So Paul, in Romans 1—I love to go over these scriptures, Tom—Romans 1, he says, “I am an apostle separated unto the gospel of God….” Well, that’s easy to say. What do you mean, “gospel of God?” Who says you’ve got the gospel of God? He says, “…which he promised before by his prophets in the holy scriptures concerning his Son Jesus, made of the seed of David, and so forth, and declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.” And then, Tom, bring in another verse here…
Tom: And then I’m going to give you a verse after that.
Dave: When you go to 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul lays out the gospel, he says, “This is the gospel I preached, that you believe, by which you are saved, wherein you stand.” And then I like to do this to audiences, Tom, just to see how sharp they are, and I’m amazed—most churches, maybe one or two people get it. You could have a thousand people in the audience, and I say, “Well, this is what Paul said was the gospel: How that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again the third day.” People nod, and then I say, “That is not the gospel.” Then they look shocked! What is this guy, a heretic? And somebody says, “According to the scriptures!” Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures! He was buried and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures! If it was not according to the Scriptures, and if this Jesus of Nazareth did not fulfill everything that the prophets foretold, He is not the Messiah, okay? And that’s how certain we can be. You cannot escape it; there is no way to get around it.
Tom: Dave, the verse I wanted to add is Luke, who we believe wrote the Book of Acts, and a historian like no historian. I mean, he was not just a sharp guy, but under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so his history is impeccable. And he writes, “But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets…”
Dave: All his prophets!
Tom: Right! “…that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.” That’s Acts:3:18.
Dave: See, that’s exactly what Jesus said to the two on the road to Emmaus: “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?”
Or if you went to Acts 17, Paul goes into the synagogue on a Sabbath day, and it says he reasoned with them for three Sabbaths out of the Scriptures, and then he focuses on this again: “…opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered these things to enter into his glory.”
Well, see, this is what stumbles a lot of people today. Many Jewish people say, “Well, Jesus could not have been the Messiah because He didn’t bring peace. The Messiah is supposed to establish international peace. He’s supposed to rule on the throne of His father David. Jesus didn’t do that.” Well, if He had taken the throne at that time, He was not the Messiah, because the prophets foretold He would be despised. Isaiah 53: “He is despised, rejected of men, a man of sorrows acquainted with grief. We hid, as it were, our faces from him. We esteemed him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted…when we see him, there’s no beauty that we should desire him.” So He had to be rejected by Israel.
Furthermore, He had to be crucified, foretold in Psalm 22, 500 years before crucifixion was even known on this earth. So He had to suffer, He had to die, otherwise no redemption for mankind.
And, Tom, I was just thinking, lying there in bed this morning before I got up, talking to the Lord—I find it one of the best times to talk with the Lord. He says a lot of things. You know, you just come to some deeper understandings. And I was thinking of Abraham and Isaac walking up that mountain, Mount Moriah. God says, “I want you to take your son, your only son Isaac, and offer him on a mountain that I will show you.”
And, Tom, I was inspired to write a few articles about this, or give a few talks about it, because as he leaves his servants at the base, they can’t go up; this is something between the father and the son. Nobody can view it. And it is the father who takes the son there on that mountain to be crucified, but he says to the servants, “The lad and I will go yonder and we will return again to you.”
And of course, Hebrews 11 says, “He received him back from the dead.” He knew, because God had promised—all of the promises of God are tied up in Isaac. Abraham is reasoning logically, “If I’m going to kill him, God is going to raise him, because otherwise God is a liar, and I know He is not a liar.”
And I love it—it says, “So they went both the two of them together.” This is a joint action on Mount Moriah, which is where the cross was, and Isaac says, “Father, here’s the wood and the fire for the offering. Where is the lamb?” And Abraham says, “God will provide himself a lamb.”
Tom: Dave, can I just add to that—you don’t get any sense, you don’t read in that there was struggle. And Isaac, he’s got to be a strapping young man; he’s carrying the wood for this sacrifice, so it’s not like a, you know, he’s an eleven- or twelve-year-old, or something like that. But there’s a peace about it; there’s a confidence that you read in those words.
Dave: And of course, John the Baptist, I don’t think he understood what he said when in John:1:29, he sees Jesus walking, he says, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” That’s the Lamb that Abraham said God would provide. Tom, I mean, the Bible is so thrilling, and this is written by different people centuries apart! I mean, the themes that run through there: redemption, the Passover Lamb…
Tom: Dave, can I add one more thing to that? It isn’t just what’s written there, it’s what’s not there. And we’ve mentioned this before: Moses writes the first five books of the Bible, and he is trained for 40 years in the house of Pharaoh, all right, and he has secular knowledge; he has an understanding of the culture that’s just…you know, I mean, here is a man raised in Pharaoh’s household. He’s got to understand the Egyptian culture…
Dave: The science, the medicine.
Tom: The religions. Hey, you don’t find one jot or tittle! And for folks that don’t know that phrase, you know, it’s like the smallest markings within the Hebrew language. You don’t find anything regarding that culture.
Dave: Absolutely, Tom, and yet the skeptics often say, “Well, the Bible now, you know, it just reflects the culture and the time in which it was written.” Absolutely not! That’s one of the proofs that does not reflect that.
So here comes the Lamb of God in fulfillment of prophecy. How many candidates do you have for Messiah riding into Jerusalem on that donkey, on that day, hailed by that crowd? Tom, I probably have said this a dozen times on this program but it bears repeating: How many candidates do you have? And in spite of hailing Him as the Messiah—and you remember the rabbis say, “Rebuke them!” And Jesus says, “Wait a minute, if they don’t say it, the stones will cry out, ‘Today is the day….’” Wow!
And so, in Luke 12, I think it is, Jesus rebukes the rabbis. He says, “You can tell what the weather is going to be by looking at the sky,” red sky in the morning, you know, and red sky at night, “how is it that you don’t know the time in which you live?” If they had read the prophecy in Daniel 9, they would have known—Wow! The Messiah is about to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey! And when He did, they rebuked the disciples for hailing Him, exactly as Zechariah had foretold that they would. So they did not know the Scriptures, and no wonder Jesus said to the two on the road to Emmaus, “Fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.”
And, Tom, let me add—we are probably not much better today, although we’ve got more scriptures and more insight. We need to beware that we take heed to what all the prophets have said also.
Tom: Dave, we may have Bibles. We’ve got Bibles on computers, and we can do things with regard to searching out God’s Word so quickly, as opposed to years ago. But at the same time, we see a frightening (I think frightening) [trend] among evangelicals, those who claim to believe the Word of God is inerrant and certainly their authority (sufficiency is another problem)—but nevertheless, among those who claim to be Bible-believing Christians, Dave, we’ve been kind of tracking the church, at least me working with you for about 30 years, and you before that, but I recognize a biblical illiteracy out there. It’s like they know how to read, but nobody is doing… And this issue of prophecy is being pushed aside to the grief, I believe, of the church.
Dave: And yet prophecy is the heart of the Bible, and it’s how we know that the Bible is true. And God has foretold everything that would happen, and we’d better take heed to it.
Tom: Well, let me read two verses. Your book, When Will Jesus Come?, chapter 2 is titled, “The God of Prophecy.” Now, these are two verses that should be not just written on every man’s heart, every Bible-believer’s heart, but maybe on their wall so they can keep seeing it. This is Isaiah:46:9-10: “…I am God and there is none else; I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from the ancient times, the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.”
Isaiah:48:5: “I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I showed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image…hath commanded them.”
Dave: God is not going to let you give any credence to false gods, to idols. They cannot tell the future; He’s going to tell you what’s going to happen.
Tom: He’s the only one.
Dave: And when it happens, the whole world has to acknowledge the true God is the one who tells us what will happen before it happens, okay? This is what he said. And just go back to Isaiah:42:8, pretty much the same that we had in Isaiah:46:9-10: “I am the Lord; that is my name: and my glory will not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.”
And, Tom, there’s no way to escape it. Repeatedly throughout the Scriptures God says, “Look, here’s how I will prove my existence, and I will prove which Book represents my Word where I have spoken. I will tell you what’s going to happen before it happens: and when it does you will have to acknowledge that I am the true God and this is my Word.”
And, Tom, I love to go to that, because this is the great proof. And yet, as you were mentioning earlier, Tom, the tragedy—well, there are many tragedies in the church today—one of them is prophecy is neglected.
Tom: Well, I think it’s worse than just being neglected. I think there are people in the church who, for whatever reasons—maybe their own agenda and so on—are putting aside prophecy. And the critical thing about that is God has given us prophecy so that we would know how to prepare for what’s coming with regard to discernment, with regard to apostasy in the church, and so on—to be on our guard. We’re not to be unaware of Satan’s devices, it says. The Lord lays these things out in His Word, and if we avoid those, we’re in trouble.
Dave: Absolutely. We’ve got to go to all the Scriptures, and this is what tells us that the Lord is coming back as well, and there are prophecies throughout Scripture concerning that. When we talk about the Lord returning and coming back, we’ve got to distinguish between the Rapture and the Second Coming. What’s He going to do when He comes? Who is He coming for? And I guess we can come back to that next week.