TWelcome to The Berean Call podcast. I’m T. A. McMahon, TBC’s Executive Director. We’re currently re-airing a discussion I had with Dave Hunt in 2003 featuring his book Countdown to the Second Coming.
In this segment, Dave mentions that his biblical understanding of the Battle of Armageddon differs from many of the popular prophecy teachers today. He gives his perspective and touches upon the error of Replacement Theology and the disconcerting fact of the Jews being back in their land in unbelief.
He also addresses the Millennial Reign of Jesus as he rules over the entire world from Jerusalem, in addition to believers ruling with Him, and how the heart of the humans born during the 1,000 years of Christ’s rule refuse to turn to Him for salvation. Those topics and more are just ahead.
Tom: In this segment of our program, we’ve been going through Dave Hunt’s book Countdown to the Second Coming, or, perhaps more accurately, we’ve been alluding to it, because we’ve digressed a bit, Dave. And why? To present an overview of key biblical events from Genesis through Revelation with you, Dave, adding commentary on each event.
Dave: That takes time!
Tom: It does take time, but we thought it would be helpful for those who are not familiar with Bible prophecy. So last week, we left off with the Battle of Armageddon, where the nations of the world are gathered to destroy Israel and Jerusalem. And, Dave, they come close to doing it, but close is all God allows.
Dave: Yeah, Tom, I don’t know how much—we don’t want to go back over very much. On the other hand, this is a very important topic, and I mentioned that there are two purposes for Armageddon. One of them, God is going to destroy the nations that have been mistreating Israel, and that is the kind of a world in which we live. He says that very clearly, and I mentioned that I am in the minority, and I happen to believe that Ezekiel 38 and 39 refer to Armageddon. They can’t refer to anything else.
But in Ezekiel:38:16, God says, “I will bring thee against my land that the heathen may know me.” He says He’s going to destroy the nations that He brings against Israel.
Tom: Well, He did it with Babylon. He does it with every country that He uses to discipline—to bring correction—to Israel, but then they don’t get off, do they?
Dave: And this is the whole world, this time—the whole world. In fact, you have an interesting prophecy there, and I don’t think we referred to it: Zechariah 12. We’ve talked about that. “Jerusalem will be a cup of trembling,” and so forth.
But Zechariah:12:2: “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling…” Notice God says, “I will make….” This is His doing. “I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone….” Then He says, “…unto all the people roundabout when they shall be in the siege, both against Judah and against Jerusalem.”
Israel has had many enemies. We’ve mentioned some of them: Babylon, Egypt, and Assyria, and so forth. Never in history have all of them been joined together against Israel. Every nation around Israel is against them, and that means it is very remarkable that they have survived. And they have—they’ve won every war, because God said in verse 6 He would make Israel like fire that would devour the nations around them.
And we have quoted, and let’s quote it again, Joel:3:2, where—it’s very apropos for today—where God says, “I will also gather all nations [that’s the whole world, the United States included, I’m sorry—the Rapture will change everything about America. No longer a Christian influence within] and I will bring them down into the Valley of Jehoshaphat and will plead with them [that means “I will discipline them”] for my people; for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations and parted my land.”
And that ought to make President Bush tremble. That ought to make President Putin tremble. And the United Nations and the European Union, because they are doing what God said they were not to do, and He will punish them for it.
As you know, the whole purpose of the Roadmap to Peace is we’re going to divide the land. But anyway, Ezekiel 38—we didn’t have time to get into it. Let me just call attention to the last part of that chapter. God says, “My fury will come up in my face,” verse 18—that’s frightening. “In my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken. In that day there will be a great shaking in the land of Israel [now notice this] so that the fishes of the sea, the fowls of the heaven…” I mean, it’s going to be centered in the land of Israel, but the whole world is going to shake. “…the beasts of the field, all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth shall shake at my presence.”
God is speaking, and He’s coming back to this earth. That’s what He says very clearly. The mountains will be thrown down, the steep places will fall. Every wall shall fall to the ground. There’ll be an overflowing rain, great hailstones, fire and brimstone. “I will be known in the eyes of many nations. And they shall know that I am the Lord, Yahweh.”
So that’s an incredible day that’s coming—everything on the face of this earth is going to shake at God’s presence. But then, why do we know that this is Armageddon? Because Ezekiel:39:7: “So will I make…” Well, that is the shaking of the nations. Two purposes for Armageddon: To destroy the nations, to punish (discipline) the nations for what they’ve done to Israel; number 2, to discipline Israel and break their hard hearts. And they are going to be in such a desperate strait (Zechariah 12) they will cry out for their Messiah to rescue them. Two-thirds of all Jews on the face of this earth will be killed—that’s Zechariah 13—and those who survive will believe in Christ.
So notice what He says: “I will make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more.”
Now, that couldn’t be anything preliminary to the Second Coming, which is what we’re supposed to get to today, I guess. Israel is saved now! Notice verse 22: “So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward.”
Now, that has to be Zechariah:12:10, where Yahweh, God, says, “They will look on me whom they have pierced. They will know who I am.” They will recognize that Jesus is God, who died for their sins, came as a man, was resurrected, and it couldn’t be anything else. “The house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward.”
You couldn’t have that some preliminary battle before the Rapture in the midst of Armageddon, and so forth.
Verse 29 is conclusive: “Neither will I hide my face any more from them, for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord.”
Well, that’s Zechariah 12: “I will pour upon them the Spirit of supplication,” and so forth, “and they will look on me, whom they have pierced.”
And then verse 28 says, “I’m going to gather every Jew from the face of this earth back to the land of Israel.” There won’t be one left outside of Israel, and that has to be what Jesus mentions in Matthew:24:29-30: “He is going to send his angels, and they will gather his elect [that’s “Israel, mine elect,” He calls them] from the four winds back to Israel.”
Tom: Dave, I began by saying that the armies of the nations come close to destroying Israel, Jerusalem—but close. Then Jesus intervenes.
So the things that you’re talking about—do they happen just after His feet touch down on the Mount of Olives? We know there’s going to be a great earthquake. There’s going to be a splitting open of the land…
Dave: Well, Israel is the best military in the world, the Israeli Defense Forces. We mentioned, you know, they’ve got weapons, tremendous weapons. In fact, they’ve been working with the US on some lasers that will knock an artillery shell out before it can get to you, and they can take care of missiles and so forth. They can deliver multiple warheads, nuclear missiles from submarines—yes, Israel has submarines. They even have satellites up in space to spy upon their neighbors, and so forth. But they are no match for the whole world, and the whole world is coming against them. And you said they’re going to be on the brink of destruction. God has to, sadly, bring them to that point without intervening, so that they will be desperate, and they will cry out.
And Jesus said, “This generation will not pass away….” We talked about that, but it’s been a week and people forget. That’s Matthew:24:34: “This generation will not pass till all is fulfilled.” Well, what does He mean, “this generation”? He called them a wicked generation, a rebellious generation, unbelieving generation, perverse and faithless.
Israel as a whole—not every Israeli, not every Jew—but Israel as a whole would remain in unbelief and rejection of her Messiah until everything is fulfilled. Then, that generation of unbelief and rebellion against God will have passed, and all Israel will be saved.
Tom: Dave, it’s interesting that those who object to Israel being held up as the people of God—the replacement theologians—that’s one of the very arguments that they use, because, hey, how can that be? They’re there in unbelief. But you just described from the Scriptures why that has to be! That’s a fulfillment of Scripture.
Dave: They have to come back to their land in unbelief because it’s in their land that they come to belief—they come to faith in Christ.
The replacement theologians you talk about—this is a Calvinist belief; it is also a Catholic belief, as you know. They want the blessings that God promised Israel, but they don’t want the curses. And you say people complain, “Why should they get to be the chosen people?”
But Topol, in Fiddler on the Roof, he had another complaint: “Chosen people? Why don’t you choose somebody else? What has it gotten us?” Discipline, problems, and, well, Jesus says it in Revelation: “As many as I love, I chasten.”
Tom: But that’s right at the doorstep, as bad as it is, of the greatest time for Israel.
Dave: Yes, exactly.
Tom: Christ returns, and He sets up the thousand-year reign, in which He himself rules from Jerusalem.
Dave: Over the house of David, amen. And over the whole world.
Yeah, so that really is the Second Coming. The Second Coming cannot occur until Antichrist has set up his kingdom, because a major purpose of the Second Coming is to destroy Antichrist and his kingdom. The Second Coming cannot occur until Israel is about to go under, about to be destroyed, because a major purpose of the Second Coming is to rescue Israel. And Jesus said—I mean, it’s an amazing prophecy, Matthew:24:22: “Except those days are shortened, no flesh would survive.” And you don’t wipe out all flesh with bows and arrows and swords and spears. That was a prophecy concerning the weapons we have today that can indeed wipe out all flesh—turn this earth into a sterile bit of dust, I guess, without even a mosquito or a microbe left on it.
So that’s what lies ahead. But that is not the Rapture. We will have been taken out of here.
Tom: And we also move this up to the Second Coming. We return with Him!
Dave: Exactly! It tells us, Zechariah 14, “When His feet touch the Mount of Olives,” that does not happen at the Rapture. The Rapture, very clearly Paul says, “The dead in Christ will rise first, and we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air.” So He does not come to this earth at the Rapture. We are caught up to meet Him in the air.
But at the Second Coming, Zechariah 14 says when His feet touch the Mount of Olives, He brings “all the saints from heaven with him.”
Tom: But, Dave, in that verse, it doesn’t go beyond that. It doesn’t say what we do. We’re not going to be involved…or, how are we going to be involved? Do you have any idea?
Dave: Well, yes, we are going to rule and reign with Him.
Tom: Now, this is during the 1000-year reign, the Millennial Kingdom…
Dave: Thousand-year reign. That’s another interesting statement, Tom, that is made by, well, some really solid biblical prophecy teachers, and yet they can lay out for you all the campaign that this…. Armageddon apparently is a long campaign, and Christ fights here, and He fights there, and then He comes from Bozrah with His garments of blood, and… I don’t think so! One word from Christ destroys Antichrist. So there may have been various phases to Armageddon as far as the world is concerned, but we don’t have to fight with him. We’re not coming down there with our fighting equipment on…
Tom: Our battle gear…
Dave: No. Jesus speaks the word, and that is the end. But apparently there have been some exchanges of very horrible weapons, because Christ says, “Unless those days are shortened, no flesh would survive.” So at the Second Coming, He establishes His kingdom. He is known to His people, Israel. They are all converted. All Israel shall be saved. “He that endures to the end shall be saved.” In other words, all those who are alive at that time will be saved.
Then we have the thousand-year Millennial Reign. Is that next on your schedule?
Tom: That’s next! Let’s begin with the…there’s a splitting of the Mount of Olives. There’s water. I don’t think this is just figurative or symbolic. Water goes forth to the Dead Sea and to the West, to the Mediterranean. The scripture where it talks about “the earth cries out” in Romans—groans! I think that’s going to fulfill that.
Dave: There will be a time of cleansing, and that is one reason why some people say, “Well, Ezekiel 38-39 couldn’t be Armageddon,” because it says, for example, verse 12, “And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them that they may cleanse the land.” Well, I think it’s going to take some time. In other words, it just isn’t miraculous. What God does is miraculous, but then men have work to do.
You know, He miraculously created this earth, and He miraculously made Adam and Eve, put them in this Garden. But it says—it’s a strange expression—it says, “Adam tilled the soil.” Now, why would he do that? Well, he’s not just sitting around. And you said, “Well, we have something to do. We have a task to fulfill.” And I believe that we will be in charge of this earth, ruling over various cities, and so forth. You might be mayor of Bend, Tom! Or maybe of Oxnard, where you used to live, or…who knows?
Tom: Could be!
Dave: But He will rule in righteousness, and then that brings us to a strange…well, it’s very strange, you would say. Because here Christ is in His resurrected, glorified body. Everybody has to behave. You don’t get away with anything. The earth blossoms. “The desert blossoms like a rose,” it says. This is better than the Garden of Eden. There Satan could enter, and he did. He cannot enter this earth. Now, it’s not the new heavens and the new earth. It’s a renewed earth. It’s been cleansed and blessed and—wow! I mean, the produce—wow! We’ll have glorified bodies. We won’t need to eat, but apparently we can eat. Yet men’s hearts are not changed. Remember the whole idea behind, or a major idea behind communism was—and a lot of sociologists believe this, and psychologists—the problem with man is not in his heart, it’s that the environment is bad. He doesn’t have enough to eat. He doesn’t have a nice enough house, and so forth. And communism is going to put a new suit of clothes on every man.
Tom: Put a chicken in every pot.
Dave: Right. Put everybody in a new house, and so forth.
Tom: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We’ll start with that.
Dave: And Jesus says, “Big deal. You still have the same rascals living in those suits. Now I’ll put a new man in every suit where they’re willing to open their hearts to Me, confess their sins, turn to Me for salvation.” It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new suit, or an old suit—it’s immaterial. So it’s what is in the heart. Now what is in the heart of man will be revealed in the Millennium. I think it is the final proof of the incorrigible evil in the human heart.
People say, “Well, I wasn’t in the Garden. I wouldn’t have believed the serpent’s lie. I wouldn’t have eaten the forbidden fruit.” Okay, it’s going to be even better than that. And for 1,000 years, Satan is locked up. This is Paradise on earth. But when he’s loosed, Revelation 20 says, he deceives the nations.
How could he deceive them when they’ve seen Christ there in His resurrected, glorified body, and we in our resurrected bodies—how could anyone believe a lie? But they do, and they come after Christ to destroy Him in Jerusalem.
And so, unless we are born again of the Spirit of God (and Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again”)—born again by the Spirit of God through believing in Christ as the one who paid the penalty for our sins—there is no hope! You can’t reform. It’s not a psychological thing, a sociological thing. You’re not going to get people to behave and turn over a new leaf, and so forth. There must be a transformation in the heart. They must be born again by the Spirit of God.
And, by the way, after the Millennium, of course, comes the new heavens and the new earth. The whole thing is going to be destroyed…
Tom: Right. But before we get to that, those born on earth during the time of the Millennium—as you say, Dave, they have to receive Christ. They have to put their faith and trust in Him. He will be ruling from Jerusalem with a…
Dave: Rod of iron.
Tom: …rod of iron. Righteousness will prevail, but you still have to come to Him in order to…
Dave: You still have to admit you’re a sinner, that you need a savior, and that He is the one who is the Savior, who died for our sins. And only those who have been made new creatures in Christ Jesus through the new birth will be able to inhabit the new universe that God is going to make.