What does one say to a professed atheist when he demands proof that God exists? One could, of course, challenge him to prove that God doesn't exist—and to prove the preposterous scenario that the universe and even the human brain just happened by chance. In fact, since God is infinite, finite beings could never arrive at an indisputable proof either for or against His existence. Furthermore, "proofs" are really beside the point.
It is impossible to "prove" philosophically one's own existence—but who doubts it? Then why is a philosophical "proof" of God's existence demanded? Who needs "proof" that one's husband or wife or parent or child exists? If God really is, then He should be able to make Himself known. And if He can't do that, then whether He exists or not would be irrelevant to practical concerns.
Of course, the problem may not be that God isn't making Himself known, but that mankind fails to recognize Him when He does so. Even the natural world suggests such a probability. For example, although the entire universe is composed of energy, mankind was for thousands of years unaware of its existence—not because energy didn't manifest itself and its power, but in spite of that fact.
Could it not be the same way with the God who created energy? Surely He would be far more mysterious than anything He made—and thus even more difficult to comprehend. God is not an impersonal force like energy. He must be a personal Being with emotion, intellect and will, or He could not have created us.
The intricately organized universe God made adequately reveals His infinite intelligence and power. But it is something else for God to manifest His love and His will for mankind. To do so, He would have to make Himself known personally in such a way that a finite man would realize beyond a shadow of doubt that the infinite God was revealing Himself. How could He do so?
Suppose God thundered from the sky with an audible voice. How could one be certain that it was God who had spoken? Suppose He made some supernatural display of power. How could it be known that God had done it and that it was not a natural phenomenon? If He came as a man, who would believe that He was God? Yet how could He reveal Himself to mankind without becoming one of us? Suppose God manifested Himself in some transcendent form. How could anyone know that it was God and not some highly evolved extraterrestrial visiting earth? How, indeed! Miracles would not suffice, for skeptics could argue that highly advanced technology seems miraculous to those who don't know how it works.
Of course, each religion claims to offer the revelations of the true god or gods. Yet even in their basic concepts of deity there are sharp contradictions, which can't all be right. Hinduism, for example, embraces multitudes of gods and worships idols that supposedly represent them, since everything is god. By contrast, Islam denounces idol worship and pantheism/polytheism and it claims that its Allah is the only true god. Buddhism, on the other hand, needs no god.
Allah was, in fact, the name of the chief god in the Kaabah, the pagan temple that Muhammad "purged" by destroying the more than 300 idols it contained. Muhammad likely kept the name of this ancient, pagan moon god because it would help to convert idolaters to his new religion if they could be offered something familiar. Yet today's Muslims see no contradiction in this strategy.
The God of the Bible states unequivocally, "[B]efore me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour" (Isa:43:10-11 ). Nor does He simply ignore the gods of other religions. He denounces them all, including Allah, as imposters who actually represent Satan or his demons: "they sacrificed unto devils, not to God" (Deut 32:17); "the things which the Gentiles [non-Jews] sacrifice [to their gods], they sacrifice to devils" (1 Cor:10:20 ).
It is not kindness, but cynicism and a denial of the meaning of language, to suggest that all religions are the same. It is an affront to Muslims to suggest that Allah is the equivalent of the many gods in Hinduism; or to tell a Christian that his God, who gave His Son to die for our sins, is the same as Allah, of whom it is specifically stated that he has no son. In fact, Christianity stands on one side of a theological chasm, with all other religions on the other side—a chasm that renders any ecumenical union impossible without destroying Christianity itself.
One cannot deny, for example, the irreconcilable conflict between the belief that Christ died for our sins and was resurrected (which is the very heart of Christianity), and the Muslim claim that someone else died in Christ's place. To sweep such differences under an ecumenical rug (as Roman Catholicism is attempting to do) is not kindness but madness. Nor is it possible to reconcile the claim of all non-Christian religions that sin is countered by good works with the Bible's declaration that works can't save, but that only Christ, because He was sinless, could pay the penalty for sin by dying in our place. And of course Christ's claim, "I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father except by me" (Jn:14:6 ), is the strongest possible rejection of all other religions as counterfeits.
Jesus Christ stands absolutely alone, without rival, in His perfect, sinless life, His death for our sins, His resurrection. The promise of His second coming is also unique to Christianity and separates it from all of the world's religions by a chasm that cannot be bridged by any ecumenical sleight-of-hand. Muhammad never promised to return, nor did Buddha. Only Christ dared to make this promise. Nor would such a claim by anyone except Christ be given any credence, for the decayed remains of all of the others occupy graves. It is Christ alone who left behind an empty tomb. That undeniable fact is reason enough to accept His claim to Deity and to take seriously His assertion that He would return to this earth in power and glory to execute judgment upon His enemies.
That the Bible, which provides the historical account of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is unique for this and many other reasons becomes obvious from even a superficial comparison with all other sacred scriptures. The Hindu scriptures, for example, are obviously mythological. There is no historical evidence that the characters ever existed or that the fantastic tales refer to real events that actually occurred.
The same is true of much that is recorded in other sacred writings, including the Book of Mormon. Not one pin or coin or tiniest shred of evidence of any kind has ever been found to verify that the peoples, much less the events, to which the Book of Mormon refers were real. Not a mountain, river or any piece of topography or geography described in the Book of Mormon has ever been located. In contrast, the world's museums contain vast stores of evidence of all kinds confirming the accuracy of the Bible.
The Bible does not waste its time, as philosophers so foolishly have for centuries, in any attempt to provide some philosophical "proof" for the existence of God. The God to which the Bible bears testimony is capable of communicating with mankind and promises to reveal Himself to all who sincerely desire and seek to know Him. "Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (Jer:29:13 ), says the Old Testament; and the New echoes the same promise: "He [God] is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb:11:6 ).
In communicating Himself and His will, God provides both subjective and objective evidence. The Bible is full of accounts of God having given tangible "signs" to those who wanted to know Him and His will. To "put out a fleece" is a common expression that is understood worldwide. It comes from Gideon's use of a sheep's fleece as a sign: asking God for dew on the fleece and not on the ground one morning, then dew on the ground but not on the fleece the next (Judg 6:36-40).
God has, in fact, given a "sign" to the entire world for all generations. That sign is the land and people of Israel. God refers to "Israel my glory" (Isa:46:13 ) and says of her, "in whom I will be glorified" (Isa:49:3 ). How would this come about? By God's specific dealings with Israel before a watching world, after having prophesied precisely what would happen (2 Chr:7:20 ). Referring to the rescue of Israel at Armageddon, the subject of many Old Testament prophecies, Ezekiel:38:23 declares, "Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord."
The Bible declares that the prophecies it provides concerning Israel supply the irrefutable evidence for God's existence—and for the fact that He has a purpose for mankind. History is not merely happenstance. It is going somewhere. There is a plan. Biblical prophecies declare it irrefutably.
Prophecy, which reveals God's plan in advance, is the missing element in all sacred scriptures of the world's religions, because false gods cannot provide it. Prophecy is not to be found in the Koran, the Hindu Vedas, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Book of Mormon, the sayings of Buddha, the writings of Mary Baker Eddy. In contrast, prophecy comprises about 30 percent of the Bible.
Significantly, the God of the Bible identifies Himself as the One who accurately foretells the future and makes certain that it happens as He said it would. In fact, God points to prophecy as the irrefutable evidence of His existence and the authenticity of His Word: "For I am God, and there is none else. ...Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, my counsel shall stand..." (Isa:46:9-10 ).
There are two major topics of prophecy, both of which must be studied if one is to have any understanding of the Bible: 1) Israel; and 2) the Messiah, who would come to Israel and through her to the world. These two major topics involve specific fulfillments of prophecy that cannot be denied and which prove God's existence.
Exactly as His prophets foretold, because of their sin God scattered His people, Israel, throughout the entire world (Lev:26:33 ; Deut 4:27; 32:26; 1 Kgs 14:15; Neh:1:8 ; Jer:9:16 ; 49:32, etc.). Yet, amazingly, they remained an identifiable ethnic and national entity. That is miraculous. Moreover, for 2,500 years since the Babylonian captivity, and for 1,900 years since the Diaspora at the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d.70, in fulfillment of other prophecies, the scattered Jews have been hated and persecuted as Satan has sought to destroy them. Yet they survived—another miracle.
Furthermore, and just as the Bible declared (Jer:30:3 ,10-11; 31:8-10; Eze:11:17 ; 28:25, etc., etc.), the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have been brought back to their own land after all these centuries. Such an incredible event has never happened to any other people and certainly has no natural explanation. The Bible prophecies are so specific and numerous that no one can deny Israel's rebirth as a miracle of God. But that is not all!
The prophets also declared that in the last days Jerusalem would have a special importance for all nations. Not only would this occur during the Millennium when Christ was reigning there on David's throne, but just prior to His return. Zechariah:12:2-3 declares, "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about....I [will] make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people...." God was saying that the eyes of the entire world would be upon Jerusalem for fear of what would occur there.
At the time of this prophecy, about 2,500 years ago, Jerusalem was in ruins and surrounded by desolate desert and swamp. Nothing could have been more ludicrous than to suggest that one day the concerned attention of a modern world of more than 5 billion people would be focused upon this unlikely place. Yet that has been fulfilled precisely as foretold!
Whether atheist or believer, Hindu, Muslim or Jew, all mankind knows that the next world war, when it occurs, will break out over Jerusalem! Israel comprises only one-sixth of 1 percent of the land occupied by the Arabs. Why the great concern today over this tiny piece of arid real estate that lay abandoned for centuries? Yes, Jerusalem is sacred to Catholics, Muslims and Jews. But that doesn't explain why the whole world is concerned with establishing peace in the Middle East. Moreover, neither Catholics nor Muslims existed when these prophecies were made.
The Bible's prophecies concerning the Jews, Jerusalem and Israel are specific, preposterous, and impossible—yet fulfilled. There is no other explanation than that God is the author of the Bible, the Jews are His chosen people, and Israel is their land—and Jesus is the Christ.
In view of this great "sign" that God has given to the world, can anyone honestly be an atheist? Or can anyone deny that Jesus Christ is the only Savior? His advent was prophesied, as well, by the same prophets and is intimately connected to Israel. All that the prophets foretold concerning the coming Messiah was fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth—and the early church used that fact in proclaiming the gospel (Acts:2:22-36 ). So should we.
Study the biblical prophecies concerning Israel and her Messiah. I give many of them in Whatever Happened to Heaven? and Global Peace and the Rise of Antichrist. We need to get back to prophecy and use it in persuading others to turn to Christ as Paul did (Acts:17:2-3 ; Rom:1:1-5 ). Yet prophecy is the most neglected biblical topic in the church today. Not so for Bereans!
We will return to this important topic from time to time if the Lord tarries and spares us to do so.
Part 2 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.
In this first segment of our program, we’re going through Dave Hunt’s book When Will Jesus Come? Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ.
Now, Dave, you titled chapter 6 of your book, “Victory in Defeat.” For some people out there, they’re thinking, Oh, yeah, well, that sounds like you’re putting a positive spin on something that really didn’t turn out as one would expect or hope. But right after that title you quote John:12:24 —this is Jesus speaking: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit.”
Dave: Well, Tom, God pronounced judgment upon man for sin. “The soul that sinneth, it must die.” He told Adam and Eve, “On the day you eat thereof you will surely die.” And God himself cannot just wave a magic wand, He can’t just pat us on the head and say, “Well, try again. Do better next time,” or, “I’ll forgive you this time.” He can’t do it. He cannot violate His own Word. So death was pronounced upon mankind, and the human race has to die. It’s not a matter of the Messiah’s going to come and rescue the Jews from the Roman armies. That’s what they wanted, and they thought. But He’s going to have to pay the penalty for our sins.
Tom: And only He could, Dave, because it’s an infinite penalty, right?
Dave: Exactly, exactly. The wages of sin is death, but we’re already dead in trespasses and sins. There is no human being who could pay that penalty except through the second death, the Lake of Fire, for eternity. But they will never pay it off. But Jesus Christ, who alone had life, He had life to give—nobody else had any life to give—and He gave His life for us. That’s the simple story of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures. Was buried, rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.
So I often think, Tom, of Satan. He was confused. He probably still is confused. He’s brilliant beyond our imagination, but he doesn’t understand. For example, when it says, “the angels are kept in chains of darkness,” I don’t think it means they’re chained up somewhere. I think it means they cannot understand, and Ephesians 4 talks about their followers having their minds darkened. They cannot understand the gospel because they don’t want to.
So Satan, first of all, he inspires Peter to tell Jesus not to go to the cross. “Be positive, Lord! I know you’re discouraged, but take a positive outlook on it, Lord. You can do it.” When Jesus said, “I’m going to Jerusalem and they will crucify Me,” “Oh,” Peter said, “far be it from you, Lord. You can’t let that happen.” Well, without that there would be no salvation.
Tom: And he’s thinking defeat here. “No, no, let’s not take a defeatist’s attitude! Let’s get after this and be positive!”
Dave: That’s right. Good, positive mental attitude—positive confession, as some people would say in the Christian world. And Jesus said, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” So, it was Satan who inspired Peter like that. He said, “You don’t know the things of God; you’re talking like a man.” We have a lot of that in the church today, borrowing from the church.
And, Tom, you just finished a terrific video on psychology—so-called Christian psychology—and this is what they’ve done. They’ve taken from the world and they’ve tried to integrate godless psychology, atheistic psychology, with the Bible.
But anyway, it’s very clear he was inspired of Satan. But then, Satan later on inspires Judas to get Him crucified. So that tells me Satan doesn’t know. And 1 Corinthians 2, Paul says, “If the princes of this world had known they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” And I don’t think that’s talking just about the leaders, human leaders, but the powers of darkness as well. So they thought it was defeat. The Pharisees, they’re laughing; they think that they have defeated Christ. “What are you doing on that cross?” they say. “I mean, if you’re the Messiah, come down! Prove it by coming down.” And the thieves say the same. It says, “They cast it in His teeth.”
“If you’re the Christ, if you’re the Messiah, save yourself and us,” and then they mocked Him, the crowd. “He saved others, Himself He cannot save.”
And I probably quoted that poem last week maybe, Tom: “In weakness like defeat….” Did I? I don’t remember, but it would bear quoting again:
“In weakness like defeat,
He won the victor’s crown,
Tread all our foes beneath His feet,
By being trodden down.
He, Satan’s power laid low,
Made sin, He sin ‘oerthrew,
Bowed to the grave, destroyed it so,
And death by dying slew.”
Now, that’s victory in defeat!
Tom: Dave, and it’s so contrary to the way we think. Now, I’m putting myself out here. You know, we want victory, we want the team that we love to win. That’s our mentality, yet what’s amazing about this is, and you point out in your book When Will Jesus Come?, the prophets had laid all of this out. It was there. They should have been able to see this except they were blinded by self, by their own ambitions, and so on.
Tom: We’ll get into this religious establishment in a little bit.
Dave: Well, you have a lamb all through—the lamb that Abel offered. It was accepted by God, the lamb. And we’ve talked a lot about this, but you can meditate on it forever. The lamb that God provided in the place of Isaac when they went up that hill together, and Isaac said, “Well, here is the wood and the fire, but where is the lamb?”
And Abraham said, “God will provide Himself a lamb.” I think Jesus must have been referring to that statement when in John 8 he said, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.”
So all the way through you’ve got the Passover lamb, you’ve got the sacrificial lamb, and you’ve got Isaiah 53: “He is led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.” Now, who would that be referring to? See, the Jews try to say, “Oh, well, that’s about Israel.” No, Israel was not…didn’t die to redeem themselves. But it talks about, “led as a lamb to the slaughter…as a sheep before its shearers is dumb, he opened not his mouth.” That was one of the things that the Rabbis marveled at: “Aren’t you going to give a defense? Don’t you have anything to say in your defense?”
And Jesus “answered not a word,” it says, because He was taking our place, and we had no answer. We are guilty. So, defeat—it seemed like defeat. The two on the road to Emmaus, Christ comes alongside and says, “What’s your problem? Why are you so discouraged?”
“Well, are you a stranger? You don’t know what’s been going on? Why, you know, Jesus of Nazareth, He did miracles, and we were sure He was the Messiah, but I guess He wasn’t. He couldn’t have been, because they killed Him.” So what seemed like defeat was really victory. The victory is Christ willingly giving Himself for us. Wow! Letting men hate Him, mock Him, and crucify Him.
And, Tom, I don’t think Satan understands that to this day. I think Satan is still trying to bait the hook with success, with popularity. And, you know, Tom, this is very important in our own lives. Because Jesus said in John 5 (He’s talking to the Rabbis), “How can you be men of faith, you who receive honor one of another and seek not the honor that comes from God alone?”
So I must be willing to have my colleagues or the people around me think, Well, the guy’s in defeat. I’m not seeking their acclaim. I’m not seeking to please them or to have them applaud me for being victorious, or whatever. We must seek the honor that comes from God, and the keyword there is alone.
“Oh, I would like the honor that comes from God, but I like the honor from men, too.” Jesus said, “You’ve had your reward. If you get honor from men, you have had your reward.” And Jesus said, “I receive not honor from men.”
And, Tom, that’s one of the things that really troubles me in the church. We could begin to name them, and I won’t—I don’t want to embarrass these people—how many of them out there have phony doctorates? When did these guys ever do the probably six years…my oldest son, you know him, he has a PHD in philosophy. He’s a very bright guy, Phi Beta Kappa and very brilliant. I think it took him six years to get that with the dissertation and so forth. And these guys, they are nobody last week, and next week they’re “doctor!” “Doctor this and that….” And, Tom, they want to be—they even demand to be called “doctor.” Jesus said, “Don’t be called Rabbi, Rabbi, Rabbi.”
Tom: Dave, along that line—the antithesis of what you’ve just stated, you know—you mentioned Satan earlier: his whole deal was to, even to the Lord of glory, to have Him bow down and worship him. So…
You also talked about, Does Satan really understand this? and so on.
Dave: I don’t think so.
Tom: When Self is so elevated…you could start with Nebuchadnezzar, for example, exalting himself. And you just…on a radio program the other day, a person who called and asked me about how self-love began, and I started with Friedrich Nietzsche—remember?—chiding Christians for not loving themselves enough, and he went insane!
Dave: Of course, it began with Eve; began with Satan.
Tom: But the point is that pride was there, a self, and blindness is going to follow that so quickly. It’s amazing.
Dave: Well, Tom, let me make it clear to our listening audience: I have nothing to be proud of and everything to be ashamed of. We have nothing but God’s grace that brought us where we are today and allows us to do anything for Him. I love that old hymn:
“Not have I gotten but what I’ve received,
Grace has bestowed it since I have believed.
Boasting excluded, pride I abase,
I’m only a sinner saved by grace.”
And, Tom, there are people, the “positive confession” people—many of them in the charismatic movement—you can hear them on TBN or elsewhere; you can read their books in the Christian book stores: “Oh, to say, ‘I’m a sinner saved by grace…’ No, no, no, you’re not a sinner now! Well, you’ve been cleansed!”
Well, we have been cleansed, but if we’re not sinners saved by grace, if we will not always for all eternity be sinners saved by grace, why does the last chapter in the Bible tell us that God’s throne is also called the Throne of the Lamb? Why will Jesus always appear as the crucified One, a Lamb freshly slain throughout eternity? If that’s not a reminder of who we really are and what it cost Him to redeem us…so we will always be sinners saved by grace. And so it takes a certain amount of “defeatism” (if you want to call it that) to admit I am a sinner, I’m hopeless. There is nothing I can do to earn my salvation—nothing I could do even to please God. The Bible talks about pleasing God, but how do I please Him? By allowing Him to be my life, and not trying to be something for Him.
I love, again, what David said: “What shall I render to God for all his benefits?” What am I going to do, some great thing? “I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.” I’’ll acknowledge that He is everything that I need and He has done everything that I need, and I will just rest in His victory.
Tom: Dave, this brings us to, in your chapter 6 of When Will Jesus Come?, the religious establishment. Now, there is pride for you! There’s self-righteousness, there’s blindness, because of what they were going to lose—jealousy of Christ and so on.
Dave: You’re speaking of the rabbis, of course, at that time. Wow! And, Tom, it’s pretty much the same today in many places.
Tom: Well, let me quote so our listeners will get an idea of what we’re talking about here. This is in John 11, and I’ll just read verse 47: “Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.”
Dave: So, Tom, there you have it. They acknowledged that He did miracles, just as Nicodemus did in John 3: “Rabbi, we know that you’re a teacher come from God: for nobody can do the miracles that you do, except God be with him.” So they acknowledge Jesus did miracles. They even acknowledged that He had raised Lazarus from the dead. He had been dead four days. Jesus raised him from the dead, and they said, “We will kill Lazarus along with Jesus.” So maybe it’s beyond blindness. As you’re pointing out, it’s selfishness, it’s pride. Defending…it says, “The Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” So they are defending themselves. All they want is—and, Tom, you know, that is so foolish, because…
Now, I’m a few years older than you are, Tom. You’re getting there.
Tom: I know. I’m a little gray here, Dave. I still have my hair though. [Laughs]
Dave: Yeah, you’ve got your hair. I lost mine long ago, I think in my late twenties. But anyway, this life is very short. I’m not going to defend myself, defend my territory, defend my reputation, whatever, for this brief time! All that matters is: What is God going to say? You know, it’s eternity. So you could be very easily deceived into thinking you’ve got to defend yourself now, I’ve got to make my way now, I’ve got to get what I’m going to get now. Well, that’s “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” But don’t forget that what counts is eternity, and we better live for eternity, not for time.
So Jesus, it says of Him in Hebrews 12, “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” Okay? Horrible to bear, horrible to bear.
Tom, I have a little saying, and even when I’m in the dentist’s chair—and I don’t take Novocain unless it’s going to be really, really bad…
Tom: No root canal?
Dave: No, I take Novocain for a root canal, but you get out of the dentist’s office and you’ve got a fat cheek, you know, and you can’t talk straight. I’d rather get it over with. So it’s horrible what Jesus endured, but it was for the joy set before Him, and I’ll say to myself when the pain is becoming overwhelming in the dentist’s chair, “This too shall pass. This too shall pass.” And you can say that about all of life: “This too shall pass.” No matter how horrible it is, or how wonderful it is! And, you know, the greatest athlete, the guy with all the gold medals who outdid everybody, finally he’s dying and all he has left are faded newspaper clippings. A lot of people don’t even remember him anymore. It’s the new gang now, the new athletes, and so forth, or whatever it is, Tom—the president, past president. So let’s please the Lord.
So it may seem like defeat now. Paul said, “When I am weak, then am I strong,” because Jesus said, “I want you to be weak. My strength is your sufficiency.” And Paul said, “In my weakness, that’s when I’m strong, because then I am not trusting myself but I am trusting the Lord.”
Tom: And again, Dave, that is so contrary to the way we think. You know, this is prophetically—I believe we are in the last days, and I can prove it from 2 Timothy:3:1-2 , you know: “Mark my words, in the last days perilous shall come. Men will be lovers of themselves.” This is the “me” generation, and everything that you said is so contrary to our thinking, to the world’s thinking, and so on. It makes it difficult.
Dave: Tom, when I was a boy in school, even from grammar school on up, I was a fighter. I’ve been in more fights than you could count. And the thing that you hate—well, you were on the Judo team—what do you hate? You don’t want to lose! You just do not want to lose. I don’t want somebody to be better than I am in anything, you know. And that’s why we pay these athletes—immoral, most of them. The lives they lead is pitiful. The illegitimate children here and there, and the tragedies that eventually come out of it, drug abuse, and so forth. We’re paying their egos, and they don’t want to lose, and we don’t want our team to lose. Jesus didn’t lose, but from the world’s standpoint it looks like He lost, because the rabbis think they had done away with Him. But He came back three days later, rose from the grave, and if He had not died, if He had not accepted what seemed to be defeat…
Tom: And fulfilled every prophecy that was directed to the Messiah throughout the scriptures.
Dave: God’s judgment. So He submitted to His Father. It says in Philippians 2 that He humbled Himself. Just think of the Lord of glory, and He lets these punks (what are they?) hit Him, mock Him, these Roman soldiers. He could wipe them out with a word. And “He humbled Himself, became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Tom, I’ve been falsely accused quite a number of times, and I can tell you—of this and that—and I can tell you one of the most difficult things: Sit in a room with men who are telling lies about me, and people are believing it. And okay, it’s not going to do any good for me to try to talk back because they are not going to believe a word that I say. So…“Okay, guys…” That’s what you want to say.
I think that’s one of the things I mentioned in Judgment Day!, Tom: Why hasn’t Israel talked back? Why haven’t they done a better job of propaganda? The Palestinians tell such lies. I don’t think it’s because the Jews are so humble. I think it’s they’ve come to the point where, “What is the use? The world is so against us. They will not believe. We tell them the truth; they will not believe us.” The UN does nothing but condemn Israel. Israel could never get a point across at the UN.
So, Tom, we’re going to wait for God’s judgment. And this is what Jesus did, but He took the penalty for us that looked like defeat, and this was the victory that won our salvation.
Tom: Dave, when we come back to this next week, I want to talk about what the rabbis, the religious establishment, used and thought, “Oh, well, now we’ve got Him!” And that is Jesus’ claim to be God.
Part 1 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. If you’re new to our program, in this, our feature segment, we’re going through Dave Hunt’s book When Will Jesus Come? subtitled Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ.
Dave, in chapters 5 and 6 of your book you discuss what you call an “unlikely prophetic scenario” and “victory in defeat.” You open with what’s been referred to as The Last Supper, which came only a few days after Jesus being joyously acclaimed as the son of David, the Messiah. But in the next few hours, the emotions of the Lord’s disciples were going to go from elation to utter disbelief and grief. Take us through the scenario as the scriptures present it.
Dave: Well, Tom, the chapter is titled “An Unlikely Prophetic Scenario,” and that’s so amazing. You know, if this were fiction and the Messiah has come, and He’s just been hailed by the crowd—I don’t know how many hundreds, or maybe thousands, of disciples there were, followers, because He had been healing people and feeding multitudes and raising the dead. Even…He had just raised Lazarus from the dead, and you would think, Wow, they are about to name Him king!
Tom: Terrific beginning and heading for even a better ending, right?
Dave: Right! But that’s not what the prophets said. The prophets said that He would be rejected and despised by His own people. That they would hail him—it foretold that; Zechariah foretold that. Of course it was…
Tom: Let me read that verse, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy king cometh unto thee…”
Dave: Stop it there, Tom.
Dave: “Behold thy king cometh unto thee.” Well, you’d think they would really be rejoicing, and they are claiming him as the Messiah.
Tom: Right. “O Son of David,” they cried out.
Dave: But then go ahead and read how He comes, Tom. That set them back a bit. They still didn’t seem to be wondering. They’re still acclaiming Him.
Dave: Because the prophets said they would.
Tom: But, Dave, it also points out how when we read the scriptures, having the benefit of looking back in history and all that the scripture has presented, we just kind of float by this. “Oh yeah, He’s just kind of meek and humble and so on,” but it says “…he [is] just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon a colt, the foal of an ass,” again, Zechariah:9:9 .
Dave: Not exactly the way you would envision a triumphant entry of a new king.
Tom: Yeah, not something that a Caesar or a Pharaoh might put together.
Dave: You can imagine Caesar coming into Jerusalem, having just conquered it, and presenting himself on a wobbly-legged colt that could hardly hold up his weight, never been ridden before. And he’s meek and lowly, “bringing salvation,” it says. Not the salvation they were looking for. The salvation they were looking for was, well, they wanted to have their Messiah come riding in on a white horse with a flashing sword and leading an army. He’s going to conquer the Romans and set them free.
But He came to set them free from sin and from themselves, and they were not up to that. But, at the moment, they fulfilled the prophecy, as the Bible said. And then, the scriptures also foretold that He would be betrayed by one of His own.
Tom: Well, before you get to that, Dave, what about the Last Supper? I mean, Dave, I’m really impressed with the way you lay this out, because it brings some understanding to this—or even some thoughts about it—that most people wouldn’t have.
Here you have the Last Supper. The disciples have got to be over the top with excitement. You know, they’re kind of getting together; they’re in the inner group, Jesus now having been acclaimed as the son of David. I mean, how much better can it get? But what did He have to say to them at the Last Supper?
Dave: Tom, they had such low self-esteem that they’re all arguing among themselves as to who will be the greatest! They’ve already argued about who would be on His right hand and who would be on His left, and Jesus said, “Hey, guys that’s not for Me to give. That’s for my Father.” He shocks them. They are disputing among themselves who will be the greatest and who will have the top jobs in the kingdom, which, now, they’ve just hailed him as the King, as the Messiah.
And He drops a shocker on them. He says, “I’m going to go away.”
“Wait a minute, Lord! Where are you going?”
John 14 of course—“Well, I’m going to my Father’s house. I’m going to prepare a place for you. We’ve got a lot of mansions up there, and then I’m going to come back and take you up there.”
Well, they’ve never heard of anything like that. “Wait a minute! Isn’t there a kingdom down here on this earth? Aren’t you supposed to rule on David’s throne?”
It’s one of the problems today, Tom. We have Kingdom Now people, Dominion people, and they think that Christ has commissioned us to take over this world.
Tom: Right, Global Peace Plan, Dave.
Dave: Right. And when we have taken over the media and the government; we’ve voted in our good Christian guys everywhere….
Tom: Yes, solved all the problems of the world.
Dave: Right. We’ve taken over the schools, we’ve been voted into the school boards, and we’ve turned this country into a Christian nation, and the rest of the world will follow suit—then Jesus will come to rule over the kingdom we’ve established for Him.
Now, it’s pretty clear that when He comes, He does not come to this earth. Not at that time. He comes to take His own out of here, and we meet Him in the air. It is very clear.
Tom: But, Dave, the confusion—it’s amazing, almost ironic. We can look back and see how the disciples blew it because of their ambition and so on—what they wanted to do. But with regard to a second coming, particularly the Rapture, we have another confusion: “Oh no, no! We’re going to set up the kingdom.” I mean, it’s a “kingdom” mentality then—and now—which is sad.
Dave: Yes! I remember Paul Crouch—I heard it live. And I don’t really tune in there, but it seems every time I just happen to be going by to find some news, he’s at it with something. I’ll never forget the time he said he would shoot the heresy hunters—and I knew he was talking about me. But anyway…
Tom: Yes, this is TBN, Trinity Broadcasting Network.
Dave: Right, Paul Crouch in charge. Anyway, I’ll never forget him saying, “We are going to take over the networks. We’re going to take over TV and radio. And we will do it byforce, if we have to!” They had just had—or were just about to have—a conference with that title in Phoenix, Arizona. The title of the conference was “Take It by Force!” They used a scripture from Joshua: “Go in and possess the land.” Christians are supposedly (at least, this was the teaching), to take over and do it by force if necessary. No wonder there are the ACLU or the skeptics, or whoever—“Look, these Christians really intend to take over the world!”
Tom: Yeah. But, Dave, not trying to defend that, because it’s totally wrong, but it’s not exactly the same as Islam, is it?
Dave: No, it’s not the same as Islam, and we don’t do it by the sword. They haven’t tried to do that yet. And yet they use that word “force”: “Take It by Force” was the title of the conference. These guys have been hyping this for a long time, but they haven’t been able to do it.
I remember when—and I’m sure, Tom, you would remember, we used to live not too far from there when Jack Hayford had Church on the Way. They had a number of conferences one after the other: “How to Take Your City for God.” And YWAM (Youth With A Mission) was talking about this. “We’re going to take over!”
I remember they had maybe 12-1300 pastors met—how often? About once a month, I think, at the Hollywood Presbyterian Church, about binding the territorial spirits that were holding sway over Los Angeles, and so forth. And “We’re going to set this free, and millions will be saved,” and so forth and so on. It’s not biblical Tom.
Tom: No, but it’s interesting also, Dave, that this was called “strategic spiritual warfare,” so the warfare, as opposed to what we see in Islam, is another kind of warfare. But on the other hand, these people are, in a sense, no less militant about it.
Dave: Well, they were very optimistic, and it kind of fizzled.
Tom: Well, it didn’t work.
Dave: They—who was it? Larry Lea went with his people up to San Francisco. They were going to bind the spirits of homosexuality and so forth. It only got worse. They had a huge gathering in Miami in a stadium where they “bound the spirit of violence, drug addiction,” and so forth. It has only gotten worse. It’s not biblical.
But anyway, Jesus said He was going to go away, and He would come again and receive them to his Father’s house of many mansions. That wasn’t good news to them! It’s good news to us! It wasn’t good news to them because, as you say, they had this “kingdom mentality.”
And then, He dropped another shocker on them. He said, “One of you will betray me.” And Tom, they couldn’t fathom this. Kingdom dominion mentality then and now is you take it over. You’re going to take over this world. You’re going to rule over everything. How do you do that? I think I may have quoted it before on this program, but I love that hymn—some of the old hymns Tom, we’ve got to get back to them. And I don’t want to hammer on this too much, but I don’t know why they have thrown out the old hymns for some of the modern stuff. Some of it may be good, but most of it is rather shallow and repetitive.
But anyway, it went like this: “In weakness like defeat, He won the victor’s crown. Tread all our foes beneath His feet by being trodden down. He Satan’s power laid low; made sin, He sin o’erthrew. Bowed to the grave, destroyed it so, and death, by dying, slew.” Now, that’s the way it happens, but that’s not what they imagined it would be like.
Anyway, it was a shock that one of them would betray Him, and yet, Tom, as you read it, they didn’t get it! They’re so concerned about who was going to sit on His right hand and on His left—they should have locked the door. They should not have let anyone out of there, out of that room, until they found out Who is it that’s going to betray our Lord? Who could that possibly be? They should have grilled one another and demanded the truth. Instead they said, “Is it I Lord?” and another one said, “Is it I Lord?” and then they went back to their quarreling about who would be the greatest. Tom, is it possible that we could be so blind today too? I mean, I am sure that I miss so much that’s in the Word of God. I don’t understand it, but I’m trying.
Tom: But it is amazing, Dave, when you look at the heart of man. I’ve been going through 1 Kings, and we have Solomon. Dave, not only (outside of our Lord) is he the wisest man who ever walked the face of the earth, but the Lord appears to him twice. You’d think that—wait a minute, the Lord himself has appeared to me, bringing insight and correction about certain things, yet it doesn’t seem to connect. In other words, even with that kind of experience—and how many people say today, “Well, look if I just got an insight from the Lord...If I just, you know, if the Lord would do something, I would know—speak to my heart; speak to me.
Dave: Well, “If He would speak to me with an audible voice…”
Tom: Right, whatever. And here the Lord appears to Solomon twice and gives him wisdom and gives him all that anyone could ask for. Here’s the wealthiest man on the face of the earth, all of these things, and he disobeys the Lord! He turns from the Lord. Unbelievable! But that’s our heart, isn’t it?
Dave: I’m afraid so, Tom, and we have it demonstrated over and over. We’ve talked about it before—at the base of Mount Sinai, after God has thundered with an audible voice, given them audibly the Ten Commandments, and they promised that they would keep them—Moses hasn’t even come down from the mountain till they’ve broken the first commandment not to have other gods. You know, “Worship the Lord alone”—and now they’ve made a golden calf.
Nobody saw miracles like the Jews. They walked through the Red Sea on dry land, got water out of a rock and the rock is…everywhere they go, there’s this rock, and water comes out of the rock in a wilderness. Their clothes down wear out, their sandals don’t wear out, they are led by a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night that shows them where to camp, they are fed. Tom, nobody could ask for more miracles than that, and the Bible says (this is not me, this is not anti-Semitism), the Hebrew prophets themselves say these are the most rebellious people—gainsaying, disobedient people that the world has ever seen!
And is it not the same today? Of Jesus, it says, “Though He had done so many miracles, yet they believed not on Him.” What more could you do than raise the dead? The guy’s been dead four days, and that was one of the reasons why—a major reason why this crowd lined the street as He went in from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem. Talk about hard heartedness! The rabbis, who have already determined to kill Jesus, now they say, “We’ll kill Lazarus also, the man he raised from the dead.” They know He raised him from the dead—in the grave four days. Tom, wow! “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked…” and this is why in Psalm:139:23 David cries out, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Tom, I cry out to the Lord like that all the time.
Tom: Right—there were in David’s life—there was wickedness, evidence of wickedness, and so on. But the scripture says, “but he was a man after God’s own heart,” because he repented when he was confronted by this. This is the best we’ve got, Dave. We will sin, we do sin, but do we have a heart to repent of that, or are we going to continue to go our own way?
Dave: Right—try to excuse it, whatever. So, where are we, Tom?
Tom: Well, again, the disciples, they’re listening to Jesus. He’s talking about going away. He’s talking about what He’s going to have to suffer, but this wasn’t new for them. I mean, earlier He quoted, “Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.” He’s quoting from Zechariah, but he gives it to them directly, but they don’t understand these things.
Dave: Tom, I’ve gone through the Bible and counted how many times, I don’t remember at the moment, but a number of times He has told them, “They are going to kill me. They are going to crucify me. I am going to be rejected.” They don’t get it. How many times has He told them He would rise from the dead? And they don’t get it!
It must have been such a shock to them when, in the Garden, here come these Roman soldiers, and the rabbis, and Judas, and Jesus is led away meekly like a lamb to the slaughter exactly as the prophets foretold. But they don’t make any connection with that. This is the one who stood up in the boat and, pshew! stills the storm with a word? This is the one who raised the dead? This is the one who could cast demons out of the demon-possessed man that nobody could control, and he sits there at Jesus’s feet?
And suddenly, they bind Him, and He seems helpless, and they lead Him off to be crucified. And all of the disciples, it says, “…forsook him and fled.” And they could not believe how they must have been mistaken, how they must have been deceived. What kind of tricks did he pull? He couldn’t have been the Messiah, because now He got nailed to a cross. And then when they go to the tomb—it’s empty! Oh, somebody stole His body!
He has told them so many times: He would rise from the dead on the third day. Even the rabbis remembered that, and they sent Roman guards to keep Him inside so the disciples won’t steal His body. The disciples aren’t up to that. They’ve even forgotten—well, Tom, oh my gracious, what God must think of us! It’s pretty hopeless isn’t it?
Tom: Dave, I just love the scriptures—the people that God chose to use. We mentioned David earlier. Peter is absolutely fascinating to me. Jesus said to the disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” And Peter gives him a terrific answer. And then just a little bit later…
Dave: Well, but Jesus says, “Flesh and blood didn’t reveal it to you; my Father did.”
Tom: Right. So, we have Peter, even at the Last Supper, where Peter says, “No, no! I’m going to hang in there with You. I’m going to do what You desire.”
Dave: “If they all forsake You, yet will not I. I’ll go to death for You.”
Tom: Yeah, that’s what He says: “I will lay down my life for thy sake.” But they don’t. But on the other hand, Dave, we have 1 and 2 Peter; we have the things in Acts that Peter said. When he’s led of the Spirit, wow!
Dave: I tell you, Tom, it speaks to my heart right now. “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.” Paul said, “When I am weak, then am I strong. Though I have this thorn in the flesh…” whatever it was, we don’t know. Some people say he had eye problems so that he could hardly see. I don’t know what it was, but he says, “God sent it so that I would not be exalted above measure, but that I would recognize that I am so weak,” and he called himself the least of all the saints. Paul said, “Brethren, pray for me.” So, we need prayer, you who are listening out there, please pray for us. Pray for The Berean Call, pray for this program, pray for the ministry the Lord has given us that He will keep us faithful to Him and to this ministry, and please back us with your prayers. We appreciate it very much, and we need this very much.