July 17, 2024

In this episode Kurt interviews Gary DeMar (The American Vision) on eschatology (the study of the last things). They talk about the different approaches to interpreting the Bible on the End Times and Gary presents his view that passages about the End Times are actually about the destruction of Israel.

Listen to “Episode 29: Last Days Madness” on Spreaker.

Kurt: Well, good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of Veracity Hill, where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. It’s a pleasure to be with you here on this high 20’s in Chicagoland. Chris is loving it. He’s nodding his head. Unlike, was that last week or two weeks ago?

Chris: It was definitely last week. It was 50 degrees outside.

Kurt: Last week was that very nice warm day which disappointed you, but yeah, we’re here in the Western suburbs of Chicago, every week coming to you live at roughly 1 PM. We try our best but sometimes we have technical difficulties and unfortunately we won’t be able to do the livestream or at least Chris is working on that right now because the program we use called Mevo, we use that Mevo livestream camera, the app has not been cooperating the past few weeks and that started once they released that update I recall so they’ve got some bugs they’re still working on so we’ll try to get the video livestream on Facebook back to you shortly but otherwise I hope you’re listening to us on our web site or maybe you’re one of the many people that listen to this after the fact, not live, but we do have it live for those that are interested to tune in and to ask some questions. Today we are talking about eschatology. Eschatology is a word that refers to the study of the last things. We’re talking about the end times, but before we get into that, just got a few announcements. If you do want to get in on the discussion at any point of the show, you can give us a call, the number is 505-2STRIVE, that’s 505-278-7483 and if you can’t tell, I do have a cold this week. I’m pretty sure I got it from my three year-old at home, that tends to happen when they go out and play with their friends and such. We’ve got the germs that come in the house and what not so I think I’ve caught that and actually the whole family is starting to get a little sick so, that’s just life I guess. There are other ways you can get in touch with us as well. You can follow us on social media on Facebook, just search Veracity Hill, and on Twitter our tagline is @VeracityHill and lastly you can shoot us a text message. Just shoot the word VERACITY to 555-888 and you can participate in our texting plan where, I’m looking at the system right now, you can text me right now and I can see what you want to say. If you’ve got a question for our guest or a recommendation I’ll be able to view that as well.
We’re running a giveaway to get more people signed up to our text messaging plan and last week we announced the giveaway. We’re giving away Reasons To Believe by Dennis Moles and Ryan Whitson, Thoughtful Responses to Life’s Tough Questions. We’re giving away a DVD called Origins Today: Genesis Through Ancient Eyes which is Dr. John Walton who has this DVD that he’s published, and we’re also adding to the giveaway this week Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons and that is a signed copy. So the way you enter is this, it’s really simple. Just text the word VERACITY to the number 555-888 and you’ll be entered so those that are already signed up on the list, please just text the word VERACITY again and then you’ll be submitted into the automatic system there and we’ll select a winner next week so we’ll run this giveaway for one more week. Thanks to those that have already signed up. We appreciate your participation.
Okay. So one more announcement here. Next week we’re going to be starting our worldview series. We have a number of suggestions and recommendations from our listeners to do some shows on worldviews broadly speaking so next week I’ve got a pre-recorded interview to play for you, panel discussion and announcements and all of that will still be live, but pre-recorded interview with the host of Secular Stories. We’re going to be talking about atheism and so interviews with Johnathan Tindell, we’ll be playing that for you, so I’d love to get your questions and if you have questions for Jonathan as well I can relay those to him and he can get back to us so there still is that availability. I believe that’s it. One other announcement actually. There will be a Defenders Media seminar in March so stay tuned for those events. We’re going to be doing a one-day event on a Saturday in March on the reliability of the Bible so if you want to stay interested in that text the word DEFENDERS to 555-888 and we’ll keep you posted on updates about that as soon as we know more. With that….
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Kurt: It’s the end of the world and I feel fine. Isn’t that an interesting thing? For many people, if it’s the end of the world, they’re not feeling fine, but here to reassure us we’re bring on the show Gary DeMar. For those of you who do not know who Gary is, he has been the long-time president and now senior fellow of the American Vision which is a worldview ministry which is great, they do some good things, talking about the importance of worldview and how that relates to the American scene in terms of our understanding of the political realm and how important it is that we integrate our Christian faith into that. He’s written numerous books, 27 various different books, and so one of those is called Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church so at this point now I’d like to welcome Gary onto the show. Gary. Thanks for being with us today.

Gary: Thank you.

Kurt: Great. Gary. So tell me a little bit about yourself and about the book that you have here. I know it’s been out for awhile, but it’s still very much important to talk about this in the American milleu if you will, about the importance about how we view the end times, but before we get into that tell us a little bit more about yourself and the history of American Vision and what you’re up to these days.

Gary: I’m originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and a graduate of Western Michigan University and I became a Christian in 1973 while I was a student at Western Michigan and in 1974 I went off to seminary at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi and got married in ’77, graduated from Reformed Seminary in ’79, moved to the Atlanta area, taught school for a couple of years and then started working as a researcher and writer for American Vision in 1980 and have been with American Vision since 1980 even though I’m no longer president of American Vision I still pretty much do what I did before and that is to write on a fairly regular basis. I do a couple of books a year and articles and so forth and American Vision is a Christian worldview ministry where we work to try to apply the Bible to every area of life and the issue of eschatology came up because any time I would go out and speak on some sort of topic like economics or government or education there’d inevitably be somebody in the crowd who would say we’re living in the last days, Jesus is coming soon, this is the terminal generation, and why should we bother with these things? That’s why I got into the issue of eschatology.

Kurt: And that’s something I’ve certainly encountered myself, the concept of, well the world’s going to hell in a handbasket so there’s not much I can do about it, so let’s just let it take its course which of course seems to go against some of the teachings of Jesus at the very least, but that sort of mentality that America’s just headed downhill is certainly one I’ve experienced in my relatively short time here on Earth, so well I’m glad that we can bring you on the show today to talk about it. Before we get into your perspective though, for our listeners, this is the first time we’ve covered eschatology and as I mentioned at the beginning of the show eschatology just refers to the study of the last things. There are a number of perspectives in terms of how we should interpret what the Bible says about the end times and there’s of course a lot of focus on the book of Revelation, but it’s not exclusive to that. There are some passages in Daniel and how we interpret some of Jesus’s statements, even some things in the epistles that might tell us or might not tell us what will happen whenever the triumphant return is, so Gary, I know there are different ways to categorize the debate. How would you talk about the different perspectives in eschatology?

Gary: Probably the most popular of course is that everything is here. We’re still waiting for wars, rumors of wars, and famines in various places and pestilences and signs in the heavens, rising of the antichrist, maybe a rebuilt temple, the reinstitution of sacrifices, Armageddon, all the things that you find in say the Olivet Discourse which you’ll find in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21. The book of Revelation, most of people want to go to the book of Revelation for things and I’ve always found that rather humorous because some of the finest Bible commentators of the past, last 500 years, it was the book that they didn’t write a commentary on because you can’t really do a commentary on the book of Revelation until you’ve really studied the rest of the Bible and it’s obvious that the book of Revelation is a book of symbols and signs and people say you have to interpret it literally and I don’t know a single person in the entire world who has ever written a commentary on the book of Revelation who interprets it literally, if literally means there’s a dragon, there’s going to be a giant woman who’s big enough to stand on the moon and have a crown of twelve stars on her head and be shrouded with the sun. I try to stick with those passages which are a lot easier to understand and so I begin with the Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21. They’re basically two views on that and it really comes down to how you approach those passages. The futurist view is that Jesus is talking about sometime in the future and so far it’s been nearly 2,000 years in the future so when Jesus talks about wars and rumors of wars and persecutions and the Gospel being preached in the whole world, the abomination of desolation and sun, moon, and stars and all that sort of thing, that that’s still yet to take place, that’s the futurist view and there are various variations of interpretations related to that so you’ve got the futurist view which has been made popular throughout the centuries. When I became a Christian in 1973, the big blockbuster book at that particular period of time was Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth. For probably a lot of young people today it’s the Left Behind series. Hal Lindsey came out with The Late Great Planet Earth in 1970 and he made some startling predictions in that book and that was the key to the timing of all this according to Lindsey and Dave Hunt and Chuck Smith and a lot of other people was that Israel becoming a nation again in 1948 was prophetically significant and then they said they went to Matthew 24:34, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place, and they said that a generation was 40 years so you add 40 to 1948 and you get 1988 and in 1988 there was a book that came out by Edgar Whisenant called 88 Reasons Why The Rapture’s in 88. That was a huge huge thing. Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth sold literally tens of millions of copies and people were really primed for 1988 and if it wasn’t 1988 it was surely going to be before the millennium passed away, but here we are in 2017, far from the 40 year generation and we’re still here facing the same issues and again one of the reasons I got involved is because people saw this futuristic perspective on eschatology as an attempt to explain why we’re in the mess we’re in and because t and we’rsoon so that’s essentially the futuristic view.

Kurt: Just a question on that. So you’ve mentioned a number of people there that sort of made futuristic predictions and of course, we’re no stranger to those, the blood moons and I think there was Harold Camping, people that try to make all these predictions, why do some people make those predictions? What is it that they’re looking at in Revelation that thinks, oh, hey, Jesus is coming back in two weeks. You know?

Gary: Most of it comes down really to the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24. That was the big thing that Chuck Smith and Hal Lindsey did. They looked at verse 34 when it says this generation will not pass away until l these things take place and then they will say generation in the Bible is 40 years, and then they would say that the fig tree, the fig tree blossoming, that was the word they would use, the fig tree blossoming was Israel becoming a nation again because Israel is identified with the fig tree. Well, actually, Israel is identified with the olive tree in Romans 11. If you say that Israel is identified as a fig tree you’ve got a problem with Matthew 21 because Jesus curses the fig tree and says there will never be any fruit on it again, so they put all this together and said, “Hey. Israel became a nation again in 1948, a generation is 40 years, you add 40 to 1948, and then if you go through Matthew 24, they put this together and said there are wars and rumors of wars happening today. Yeah. There are. There’s persecution taking place. Matthew 24 talks about that. The Gospel has to be preached in all the world. That hasn’t happened yet and we’re on the verge of doing that. The Jesus film goes out everywhere and so forth. We’re entering a period of tribulation. There are famines in certain parts of the world and signs in the heavens and so forth and so it was very easy to get people to superficially see this in Matthew 24 and the Olivet Discourse because I can point out the various things too and make the same sort of case. The problem with that argument of course is that wars and rumors of wars and famines and pestilences and persecution and so forth has always been. There hasn’t been a time in history where there hasn’t been. So it comes down to how the phrase, this generation, when Jesus said this generation will not pass away until all these things take place, did He have a future generation in mind or did He have that generation in mind and I contend, and what I’m telling your audience, you and your audience, when I’m going to talk about what I have talked about, there’s nothing new in what I’ve said or what I’m going to say, there has always been the interpretation that Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, are not referring to distant future events, but were referring to events that were to take place before that particular generation passed away. The reason for that is because every time Jesus uses the phrase this generation in the Gospels, it always refers to the generation to whom He is speaking. It never refers to a future generation.

Kurt: Interesting. So let’s bring it back and look at the big picture a little bit here. We’ve got, and correct me if I’m mistaken since I’m not as well studied on this issue, really maybe we could call them the three camps. One is the futurist perspective. One’s called the historicist perspective, which is the idea that maybe somethings, maybe some of the prophecies were fulfilled and things did happen back then, but it’s sort of a continuing cycle, and then there’s also what’s called the Preterist camp which says that the things happened in that time period in the first century. Now let me clarify. There are two subcamps within Preterism. There’s full Preterism which says everything talked about in the Bible already happened and then there’s what’s called Partial Preterism which is the idea that some or most of the things happened, but some of the things have yet to happen and chiefly say the resurrection of the dead for instance. Are those three camps, is that a good breakdown perhaps?

Gary: Yes. That’s pretty good. Even when you look at the futurist camp, there are varieties of futurism just as there are varieties of historicism and varieties of preterism. We try to keep things as simple as possible. When you’re dealing with kind of a new audience and they’re new to this, to get into all the nuances of everything it can become pretty overwhelming, but let’s look at that a second. If in verse 34 Jesus says, “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” And if it’s determined that every time Jesus uses the phrase “this generation” it always refers to the generation to whom He is speaking, then it can be neither the historicist view, that is these things happen over and over and over again over periods of time. Nor can it refer to a futurist perspective because the fact that Jesus uses the phrase “This generation”, this generation is a near demonstrative. It tells you that something is near. If Jesus wanted to mention a future generation, He would have said “that generation will not pass away.” Then you have the issue that throughout Matthew 24, I’m sticking with Matthew 24 because it’s the one that’s normally to assume that this refers to something in the distant future where many commentators will look at Luke’s version and say Luke’s version refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 so when we look at Matthew’s Gospel, notice how many times Jesus uses the second person plural. When you see these things, when they take you, so the second person plural is used throughout Matthew 24 and you couple with this generation will not pass away, so you have audience relevance, second person plural you, yes a particular audience in mind, then you have a specific identification with what generation is Jesus talking about and it’s that particular generation because that’s the way this generation is always used. In fact, I had a debate, I debated Tommy Ice numerous times on this topic, probably nine times over numerous years and I’ve debated Dave Hunt and other people and I remember a radio interview that I had with Tommy Ice and Tommy Ice still writes, I think he’s at Liberty University. I think he’s with the Pre-Trib Research Center. He’s co-author of a number of books with Tim LaHaye and Mark Hitchcock and I remember in the debate he says, “Gary’s right. Every time “This generation” is used in the Gospels it always refers to the generation to whom Jesus is speaking except in the Olivet Discourse and that’s just not the way you do exegesis. You can’t say twenty times it refers to that particular generation and I’ve looked at, you look at the word this in Scripture and you look at Greek grammars and so forth and they’ll tell you it means something that’s near. If I’m in a room and I’ve got my phone in my hand and my wife’s phone across the room I would say this phone and then I would point, I would say that phone. It’s very very clear in Scripture. You can look at every single example of the use of “this generation” and it refers to the generation to whom Jesus is speaking. The Scofield Reference Bible, everybody has seen this problem. When I first became a Christian and I read Matthew’s Gospel and I came across it I said it sounds like Jesus is referring to that particular generation and everybody who reads it for the first time says that and so there are a couple of ways people try to get around it. Well, really it means this race. This race will not pass away until all these things take place. Of course, what they mean by that is the Jewish race, but the problem is, there’s two problems. First problem is the Greek word that’s used there is not ever translated as race. It’s translated as generation. The very first time it’s used in Matthew’s Gospel, it talks about the generations leading up to the coming of Christ and it’s the Greek word genea, not the Greek word genos, and then there’s the logic of it all. This race will not pass away until all these things take place, therefore when all these things take place, the Jewish race will pass away. That makes no sense at all.

Kurt: So there are some translation issues then involved in the debate and it seems that some are not being consistent there. I’m curious how someone like yourself would handle a couple other passages. In Revelation talks about how He will return quickly. It’s been 2,000 years and I know even some atheists have posed this objection against the reliability of the Scriptures. How is it going to be the case that Jesus said He’s going to return quickly, but it’s been 2,000 years and where is He?

Gary: In fact, there was a debate, I was one of the producers on the film Collision. It was a debate between Doug Wilson and Christopher Hitchens and it’s available on Amazon. It’s called Collision. It was directed by Darren Doane and I was involved in that project and there’s a particular point in the debate which by the way takes place in numerous places in the United States with Christopher Hitchens and Doug Wilson and this particular one was at Westminster Theological Seminary out in Philadelphia and Christopher Hitchens brought up the very question that you’ve brought up on Matthew 24. He said, look Jesus says He’s going to come back before that generation passed away and obviously He didn’t, and Doug Wilson said yes He did, in terms of the way the Bible uses the phrase this generation and in terms of the way that the Bible uses certain types of language, yes He returned before that particular generation passed away. Christopher Hitchens had never heard that before and if you watch the video Christopher Hitchens didn’t have an answer for it because it is a good question. It was the same question that C.S. Lewis had. In fact, he called it the most embarrassing verse in the Bible was Matthew 24:34 because Jesus said He was going to come back before that generation. People get confused when they see the word coming in Scripture and every time when they see the word coming they see it as referring to the second coming, but that’s not the way the word is used, and you can find places in the Old Testament, a number of times that God came to Egypt, Isaiah 19. A number of times that God came in judgment, I think it’s Isaiah 34, Ezekiel 34, and other places. You find in Revelation 2 and 3, the number of times that Jesus threatens to come in judgment, I think it’s three different times He promises to come in judgment. This is the same language that Jesus uses in Matthew 24 and yet Bible commentators, most all of them on Revelation 2 and 3, they’ll tell you that these do not refer to the second coming. They refer to local judgments similar to the way there were local judgments under the Old Covenant and there are, Matthew 24 is about a local judgment coming because how do you escape the judgment of Matthew 24? All you have to do is go to the hills outside of Judea. That’s it. That’s how you escape it. If this were something worldwide, there would be no place to go to escape it so the judgment is local. Now you get to the book of Revelation, again, we get too much in the book of Revelation, there’s tons and tons of things to answer, but you’re absolutely right. The book of Revelation begins with, I want to make sure I get it just right, these things must shortly come to pass, yeah, the Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave Him to show to His bondservants the things that must shortly take place and He communicated by His angel to His bondservant John, verse 3, blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy and heed the things which are written for the time is near and then you get to Revelation 22:10 and it says, and he said to me, do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book for the time is near. What’s interesting about that, if you go to Daniel 12:4, Daniel is told to seal up that prophecy for the time of the end, not the end of everything, but I believe it talks about the end of the age because that’s what Jesus predict is going to take place before that generation takes place, so Daniel’s told to seal up. Revelation more or less opens the book and you don’t seal it up for the time is near, so I believe, and many commentators do as well, the book of Revelation was written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, probably during the reign of Nero, and the book of Revelation is about the coming destruction of Jerusalem which is New Testament symbolic Babylon which in fact is Jerusalem, because it is the place where Jesus was crucified. Revelation, I think it was Revelation 11, the place where they were, verse 8, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which is obviously Jerusalem which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt where also the Lord was crucified so all those contexts are extremely important because it tells you that these prophetic events were to take place within a generation, 1 Peter 4:7 says the end of all things is at hand.

Kurt: So the coming refers to a local judgment of sorts.

Gary: Yeah. Go ahead.

Kurt: I was going to say we’ve got to take a short break, but afterward I’m going to pick your brain a little bit about whether we can have assurance that Jesus is coming back, but we’ll take a short break here from our sponsors and then we’ll catch you back on the other side.
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Kurt: Thanks for sticking with us through that short break from our sponsors. I’m here with Gary Demar and today we’re talking about Last Days Madness or the end times and different perspectives on that and how we should understand those things and so, Gary, I’m wondering, before the break I sort of gave you a heads up, the next thing that I’m curious to talk about, and we do have a caller here who’s been patiently waiting so before we get to that, let me ask you this, if the use of Jesus’s return or coming refers to localized judgments how can we then be assured that Jesus will return in the future?

Gary: I think part of this big issue is the timing indicators. Jesus says, you find a verse that says this things must shortly take place and the time is near, and you look up and see, well okay, how does the New Testament use those words in other contexts and you find out, well near and shortly mean near and shortly. When you see a coming that is specific to a particular place, a particular time, and judgment is involved, that’s typically a judgment coming, to give you a good example, in the book of James, James 5:7, be patient therefore brethren until the coming of the Lord. Behold the farmer waits for the precious produce of soil being patient about it until it gets the early late rains. You too be patient. Strengthen your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Verse 9. Do not complain brethren against one another that you yourselves might not be judged. Behold the judge is standing right at the door. That’s not a second coming passage. That is a judgment coming passage. It might refer to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. It may refer to a judgment on a local body of believers like it does in Revelation 2 or 3. By keeping the time indicators in mind, for example Matthew 24, truly I say to you this generation will not pass away until all these things take place, and then you look at the time indicator earlier talks about the end of the age, and it talks about the audience, and it talks about the locale, it says let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Okay. This is Judea. Why doesn’t it say, “Let them who are in all the world flee to the mountains.” But it doesn’t say that. It says Judea. Let everyone on his housetop not go down. When was the last time you were on your housetop? This was geographically specific for that period of time, getting things out that are in the house. Let him that is in the field not turn back to get his cloak, but woe to those who are with child and who nurse with babes for those days. Pray that your flight may not be in the winter or on the Sabbath. This is obviously, Matthew 24 is obviously a localized judgment. It’s a judgment that’s going to take place to that generation and that generation alone, and of the ones, I can’t go through all this, verse 14. Now people say how can you say that when verse 14 says and this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations and then the end shall come. Now the question is what end is it talking about? Verse 3 says it’s the end of the age, not the end of the world. It also says that the word translated as whole world, I’m using the New American Standard, and almost all Bible translations translates that as whole world and yet the same exact word is used in Luke 2:1 where it talks about a tax was during the reign of Caesar Augustus, a tax was going to be on the whole world and almost all modern translations today translate that as inhabited Earth because the Greek word that’s used there is oikoumene. It’s not a cosmos like for God so loved the cosmos, God so loved the world. It’s oikoumene. It’s the same word that’s used in Acts 11 when it talks about the famine, oikoumene.

Kurt: Very well could just be regional.

Gary: Yes. Oikoumene is translated as inhabited Earth, Roman Empire, political boundaries, something to that effect, so was the Gospel preached throughout the entire known world, the world at that particular time, throughout the Roman Empire in the same way that Rome taxed the oikumene. Rome couldn’t tax any landmass further than it actually possessed and so all the Gospel had to do was to go throughout the inhabited Earth at that particular period of time and did that happen? Just compare Scripture with Scripture. Verse 8, Romans 1:8, “For I thank God through Jesus Christ for you all because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.” Even there the word that’s used there is cosmos, it’s not even, even if Jesus had used the word cosmos in Matthew 24:14.

Kurt: That doesn’t necessarily mean that the Gospel.

Gary: The whole wide world.

Kurt: That’s right. It’s obvious that the Gospel at that time wasn’t being proclaimed in North America. Just hadn’t reached there yet.

Gary: Yeah. Colossians 1:5 talks about the Gospel which has come to you just as in all the world. Look at verse 23. If indeed you continue in the faith firmly established in steadfast and not moved away from the hope of the Gospel that you have heard which was proclaimed, and listen to this, in all creation under heaven, so when you compare Scripture with Scripture, and that’s what I do in Last Days Madness. Look. Let’s look at this passage. Let’s see what the Bible says about it in that context. Let’s compare it to other places and you come to the conclusion that what Jesus was describing in Matthew 24 are events leading up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem which took place in A.D. 70 which was the end of the old covenant age. Go ahead.

Kurt: I was going to say there are a lot of factors at play in how we interpret some passages and sometimes a word might not mean exactly what we think it means and so we’ve got to take a step back and look at other Scriptural passages and even again look at reality. Sometimes like you mentioned, that word world doesn’t necessarily mean the exhaustive world because of just what we know about history, the Gospel not yet to….

Gary: Think about sports. Every year we have a World Series, but only two countries are involved. Fortunately for you guys in Chicago, this is the first time you’ve won a World Series…

Kurt: In a long time. That’s right. Amen.

Gary: In decades!

Kurt: Amen!

Gary: Yeah. But it’s called a World Series. Italy has a better World Series…

Kurt: Because they take teams from all over the world.

Gary: Exactly. You’re right about it. We say this happened in Thomas Jefferson’s world, and that doesn’t even refer to the Earth. It just means his particular period of time. Go ahead.

Kurt: We’ve got a caller who’s been patiently waiting here. Nate has a question about Revelation and maybe how it pertains to the Roman Empire so Nate, go ahead, thanks for patiently waiting and ask your question to Gary.

Nate: Yeah. Hi Gary. My name’s Nate. I’m a seminary student at Northern Seminary and I got to take a class on Revelation recently and we were talking about how Revelation is really a huge critique on the Roman Empire and how a lot of the context you’ve already been talking about, that Rome was dominating the world and Christians were facing pressure to worship the empire and give allegiance to the empire and some of the emperor worship so my question is how do you see Revelation critiquing empire in Revelation itself and is there any way that we can bridge that, like how can we critique the empire that we face in our modern context?

Gary: Let me take your second question first because it’s very important when you deal with the issue or prophecy, it’s a very important question you asked. Just because a prophecy is fulfilled, and I don’t care what the prophecy is, doesn’t mean there isn’t application to it today. Jesus died 2,000 years ago on the cross. We don’t say He keeps dying on the cross everyday and we take the historicist position that this keeps on going or the idea that there are multiple fulfillments of prophecy. Well all those prophecies related to the death of Jesus and His resurrection and so forth. We don’t say they could happen again, but every time you preach the Gospel to somebody, you bring somebody to Christ, you’re going back to a fulfilled prophecy. When Matthew 24 talks about false prophets and 1 John 4:1, John says false prophets have already gone out in the world. 1 John 4:1 fulfills what Jesus says in Matthew 24. It doesn’t mean, “Well there just aren’t any false prophets today.” And we have to evaluate them just like we would have done back in those days. So my point is just because a prophecy is fulfilled doesn’t mean it still doesn’t have any modern day application. All of Scripture is applicable as Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16 and is profitable, so that’s important. I always get this. “Well if all these things have taken place then what relevance is the Bible to me?”, and I say, Jesus died on the cross and all those prophecies about the first coming of Christ took place and there’s great relevance for it all today, the fact that they’ve been fulfilled, this is extremely relevant so now to your first question about the book of Revelation, I’m a Preterist on the book of Revelation. I believe the book of Revelation was written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. That’s not a popular position today, but it is a position that has a great deal of defense behind it. A good friend of mine, Ken Gentry, wrote a book called Before Jerusalem Fell, which deals specifically with the dating of the book of Revelation. I believe that the book of Revelation isn’t so much about Rome, but it’s about Jerusalem. It’s about the end of the age related to Israel. To give you a good example of this, if you look at Revelation 13, there are two beasts, not just one beast, there are two beasts. There’s the first beast that comes up out of the sea which I believe is Rome and then there’s a beast that comes up out of the land which is Israel, it’s probably the lamb with two horns which is probably the apostate Judaizing religious leaders during that particular period of time. If you look at Revelation 2 and 3 it talks about the synagogue of satan and probably the Herods. The red dragon is probably related to Herod. You look at the book of Acts or even in the Gospels, the Herods have a huge place or role to play in the New Testament with Herod killing the children during the time of Jesus’s birth. You have Herod that’s involved in the crucifixion of Jesus, the trial, and you have the Herod in the book of Acts who has James put to death and he did this because it pleased the Jews. What you have in Revelation 13 is the collusion between Rome and Israel and if you look at the book of Acts, the real bad guys in the book of Acts is not Rome. The bad guys in the book of Acts were actually apostate Israel. Read it and you go all the way up to chapters 20, I don’t know if it’s 20, 21, or 22, there’s this plot among the Jews who took an oath that they would succeed in killing Paul and it was the Romans defending Paul. Paul is defended all the way up to Acts 28. Later Peter and Paul as tradition says were executed under Nero, but for the longest time Rome was protecting believers. You read the book of Acts, you notice how often the Jews were involved, not all Jews, obviously the first Christians were in fact Jews. So I believe the book of Revelation is more about Israel, old covenant Israel that this age was passing away, rather than Rome. Rome is the peel on the orange, but the real fruit here is what is going to happen to Israel with the destruction of the temple, Josephus says there were about 1,000,000 Jews that were slaughtered. You had 50,000 Jews that were taken into captivity. The Arch of Titus in Rome, if you look at it, it’s a depiction of Jews being taken to Israel, that is the great tribulation that was taking place. You had a woman killed and cooked and ate her own child. You read Josephus and the Wars of the Jews. My position is it’s more about Israel than it is about Rome.

Kurt: Nate. How does that square a little bit with your question? Does that maybe give you some more stuff you gotta go back and read on are you got a follow up for Gary?

Nate: Yeah. That’s interesting. I had not heard that position very frequently, but I do need to go back and look at some things.

Gary: Here’s what I would suggest you do on this. I have a very good friend, Ken Gentry. Ken wrote Before Jerusalem Fell. You can get it online. It was his doctoral dissertation on the dating of the book of Revelation. He’s writing a two-volume commentary. It is finished. It’s going through the typesetting and proofreading stage now. It’ll be two volumes on that preterist position on the book of Revelation, but he has a couple of other books. The Reader’s Guide to Revelation. He has two or three of them. He has a book on just the beast of Revelation. It’s Ken Gentry. His books are readily available online and it’ll give you a perspective and there’s another book out, it’s Four Views of Revelation by Steve Gregg. It’s published by Thomas Nelson and the great thing about this book is it gives the four different views of the book of Revelation in parallel columns.

Kurt: Yeah. Zondervan also does sort of that four views or three views different dialogue.
Gary: That’s a little different. What Steven Gregg does, he picks the amil view, the post-mil view, the historicist view, and the futurist view, and he puts them in parallel columns and he lets the advocates for those four positions to present their case so he goes to their commentaries and he picks the best defense of each of the verse. It’s a great book. Thomas Nelson publishes it and it’ll give you kind of a good background of the preterist view. I don’t care what position you go to. There are differences of interpretation, but the preterist view is very very popular today. There’s a lot of solid scholarship behind it, both old and new, and I personally believe it makes much better sense than Rome being the bad guy when the great persecutor of the church throughout the book of Acts is not Rome. It is actually apostate Judaism.

Kurt: That’s interesting.

Gary: And it makes more sense.

Kurt: Nate. I think I’ve been sympathetic to your position that a lot of stuff strikes me as about being Rome, but I know Gary here has given us some food for thought and we’ll have to go back and so some thinking and reading so, Nate. Thanks for calling in with your question today.

Nate: Absolutely. Thanks Kurt and thank you Gary for your answer. Appreciate it.

Gary: You’re welcome.

Kurt: Thanks Nate. Take care.

Kurt: Alright Gary. If Revelation is sort of about things that have already that have come to past and there are still some future promises, what is our mandate and duty as Christians today in the time that we live? It seems like there’s more hope because for the folks that think the world’s going to hell in a handbasket, there’s not as much hope, there’s nothing they can do, but maybe our perspective should be a little bit different about how we should live here on out.

Gary: This is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and you look at the world in 1492 and there’s a book, it’s a biography of Christopher Columbus called Admiral of the Ocean Sea and he has little excerpts on there and he describes 1492. I often quote this to people. I leave the date off and I ask can you guess the date and everything you’re hearing about is how bad things are were going on in 1492, even the advance of Islam, but 25 years later one monk in the midst of a corrupt church did one thing hammering the 95 theses on the chapel door of Wittenburg Chapel and changed, I mean changed everything.

Kurt: Unknowingly.

Gary: We wouldn’t be here as a nation today. Now think about that. How many evangelical churches were there in 1517? None. Absolutely none. How many evangelical Bible believing churches are there in the world today? Probably tens of thousands and Christianity, my wife and I were in China a few years ago, and we met Christians in China that are, they put us to shame, the same thing is happening in India now. Remember what I said before. Just because the great tribulation that Jesus is speaking of in Matthew 24 refers to that particular generation, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t tribulation today and it shouldn’t sidetrack us from what we should be doing with the Gospel and making disciples of all the nations. If we’ve got Christians out there and all they’re concerned about is Jesus is coming back soon and just getting people saved, the job isn’t to get them saved, but, for example, my 9th grandchild was born today and, being born again, today is that child’s first, not even a full day yet. The hard work is ahead for his parents and for us and so forth. When someone becomes a Christian, that’s not the end of the process. That’s the beginning of the process.

Kurt: Right. Yeah.

Gary: And we as Christians have go to start showing other Christians how the Bible applies to every facet of life, economics and politics and education and journalism and medicine and art and music. That’s what we should be about and that’s why eschatology is so important and that’s why I wrote Last Days Madness. By the way, if you’re interested again, it’s online. You can also go to Americanvision.org and order it there. I have a shorter book just on Matthew 24 called Is Jesus Coming Soon? All my stuff is available if anybody, and if you ever have any questions you can get me on Facebook and I’ll answer any question, any question related to the topic.

Kurt: Great. Awesome. Well Gary thanks so much for joining us today and for clueing us in to your perspective on how we should interpret a number of different passages in the Bible about the end times. Thanks so much Gary and we’ll have to bring you on again in the future.

Gary: Any time. I really appreciate it. Thanks.

Kurt: Take care. Bye bye.

Kurt: Alright. I hope this episode has been a blessing to you in providing a different perspective on how we should interpret the Bible. If you want to learn more about Gary Demar and see and check out his various books you can go to Americanvision.org. Let me just quickly address one question we have on Facebook. David asks, are we living in the end times? And surprisingly I answered him yes, but it might not be as you imagine and there’s a reason to that. I don’t think the end times because the tribulation is going to occur in two years and there’s going to be so many years of great trial, but rather here’s why I think we are living in the end times. Because in the book of Acts, Peter gave a sermon at Pentecost and he quotes from the prophet Joel. He says “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I shall pour out my own spirit on all flesh and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams. Even on my male servants and female servants, in those days I will pour out my spirit and they shall prophecy and I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the Earth below. Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day, and it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” What does Peter say here? He says, “Men of Israel. Hear these words. Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through Him in your midst as you know yourselves. This Jesus delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised Him up loosening the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.” Basically he says here, this is it guys. We’re in the last days. We’re here. So the reason why I think we are in the end times is because we’ve been here for 2,000 years and so that’s the way I interpret and understand what Peter’s talking about there. I don’t think it’s referring to a time sometime in the future. I don’t hold to that futurist perspective. I’m sympathetic to Gary’s understanding. I’m not sure I would fully agree with him about that. Chris. I’m not sure. Maybe this is the first time you’ve heard his perspective on this. What do you think? What were your thoughts?

Chris: Obviously, there’s a lot of facts behind a lot of the things he’s saying. I’m not really sure what I think about it quite yet, because over my discourse of study I’ve….

Kurt: Not come across it.

Chris: I’ve not come….well not necessarily not come across. I’ve known its existed, but I’ve not taken the pains to in-depth studied Revelation. I’ve always assumed, I don’t know if it’s a futurist because once again I’m not super-learned.

Kurt: Well there’s also the historicist one which is also that some things were fulfilled, but there is the continuing sort of like cycles.

Chris: Right. There’s a lot in the back half of Revelation that makes me think a lot of things are yet to come according to the book, but it was a very interesting perspective and I look forward to learning more about it.

Kurt: At the very least for those of us that might not agree with Gary’s view, it’s an encouragement. It’s a kick in the butt for us to maybe start reading a little bit more about what we think and maybe if you are futurist, maybe it’s not quite how Christians have interpreted this passage. One of the things that I like to teach people, and I guess I’ll close with this thought because we’re running short on time, is that we need to place ourselves in that first century. If we were the first audience for this letter or for the book of Revelation, how would we understand it? How would the author want us to understand it? When we do that, I think we begin to divest ourselves of our biases, of our 21st century lens, and then we can appreciate the text more and I think come to a more reliable and accurate understanding of it.

Chris: Yep.

Kurt: Alright. That does it for our show today. I am grateful for the continued support of our patrons, those are folks that just chip in a few bucks a month and also for the partnerships that we have with our sponsors. Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, The Illinois Family Institute, Evolution 2.0, and recently we just got another one, Traffic Buffet, here for at least a few weeks. Thank you to the tech team. Chris is a solo man today.

Chris: Hello.

Kurt: Thank you to our guest Gary Demar for his perspective, helping us to learn more about the different views that there are on on the eschaton or the last things, and then lastly I want to thank you for listening in and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.

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Kurt Jaros

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