David Jeremiah - Signs (A Prophecy Interview)
Join esteemed Bible teacher, pastor, and author, Dr. David Jeremiah as he discusses the importance of Bible prophecy with your host, Sheila Walsh.
Sheila Walsh: Let me ask you, first of all, where did your interest and your passion to understand prophecy begin?
David Jeremiah: Sheila, I grew up in a pastor's home. And my dad, who loved the Word of God, every year when I was growing up, we would have what they called evangelistic campaigns, and sometimes they called them revivals, but they would bring people in from the outside. And almost every one of these people who came would have one night devoted to prophecy. I remember a man by the name of John Carrera, who used to come to our church every year. And every time he came on Friday night, it was prophecy night, and he would spellbind us with what God had planned for us in the future. Jack Van Impe was another one who came and he would do the same thing. And then, of course, God allowed me to go to Dallas Theological Seminary, where I sat under the teaching of Dwight Pentecost and John Walvoord and the people who really have championed that cause. And I realized, "This is something I want to learn more about". And one of the first books I taught when I came to San Diego was Daniel. And when I got done with Daniel, I taught Revelation.
Sheila: Wow, that's quiet an undertaking.
David: And they changed my life, both of those books, because they set the tone for what's happening and what's going to happen.
Sheila: One of the things I love most about the way you teach is you can take the most complicated subject and break it open in such a way that we all get it. But I wonder, with the study you've done, how has it impacted your own personal life and spiritual journey?
David: Well, the Bible promises, believe it or not, in fact, the book of Revelation is the only book in the Bible where we are told twice, "Blessed are those who read this book". If you want to be blessed, you should read and study the book of Revelation because the Bible promises that if you do, you will be blessed, and I surely have. I've learned so much about God's sovereignty and his wonderful promise to us that he's still in charge even though everything else looks like it's going south on us. The wonderful truth about prophecy is that it guarantees the integrity of the rest of the Bible. For instance, in the Old Testament, there are over 300 prophecies about the first coming of Christ, where he would be born, what would happen to him as a child and all of this. Now we have the perspective of history to go back, look at the prophecies, and see where they were fulfilled in exactness, without any mistake whatsoever. Now, we have more than twice that many prophecies about the Second Coming of Christ. So, here's the deal. If he was accurate in the first coming, will he not be so accurate in the Second Coming? So, when you study prophecy, you get God's blueprint of what's going to happen in the future, and you begin to see things like the reemergence of Israel as a nation, and the collection of nations in Europe, and all of these things. And it's like you have a head's up on what's going on. The news is catching up with prophecy, and that's what happens when you study that.
Sheila: Does the Bible say that we should study prophecy?
David: Yeah, the Bible actually, as I mentioned in the book of Revelation, it tells us to read it and to study it. And the Bible isn't something we can cut and slice and say, "Oh, I like the narrative sections, or I like the Old Testament". The Bible is all, and when you see it that way in the book of Revelation, you have the fulfillment of everything that's wrong in the book of Genesis. You know, and I could go through, there's like 30 or 40 of these things. The book of Revelation is the ultimate fulfillment of God's plan for this world and for his people. And once you kind of get the end in Revelation and you got the beginning in Genesis, the rest of it just starts to make sense.
Sheila: In all the years you've had as a faithful, devoted pastor, is there one question on prophecy that comes up more than any other, or maybe one misconception about prophecy?
David: I think maybe one of the misunderstandings that I deal with more than anything else is the difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming because the two events are totally different and they have totally different contexts. When Jesus comes back in the Rapture, it's to take every Christian who's still on this earth to heaven and resurrect all those who have died ahead of time, and we all go to heaven. And then 7 years tribulation is on this earth. I happen to be one of those people who does not believe the church will be in the tribulation, for the Bible says, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus". I don't know how that promise could ever be fulfilled if we're going to be in condemnation for 7 years. At the end of the 7 years, the Bible says Jesus comes back, and those of us who went up come back. In the book of Revelation, the door to heaven is opened twice, once we go up and once when we come back. And so, if we understand that the Rapture is when he comes for us and the second advent is when we come back with him to settle the events on this earth, then we can keep those two things straight.
Sheila: That makes it pretty clear. Often you'll hear people predicting, "This is going to be the day," and all sorts of people try and get their affairs in order, or they run their credit cards up 'cause they think, "I'm going to be out of here". Have you ever tempted to name a day? And if not, why not?
David: I suppose I've been tempted along the way to run a credit card up, but never for that reason, you know? I just, you know, here's the thing. If there's any question about which there is an absolute definite answer, you just asked it. Because the Bible says the Lord Jesus said no one knows the time of our Lord's return except the Father. And when Jesus was on the earth, he did not know. He was the Son of God. The angels don't know. The Bible does not tell us when he's going to come back. The Bible does give us some indications of when we're getting close. And one of the verses I love is this one that says, "For now is your redemption nearer than when you believed". What we do know for sure is from the time you became a Christian and the time I became a Christian, the coming of Christ is nearer than it was then.
Sheila: That's good news.
David: And what we aren't supposed to do is try to determine the time, but to be ready whatever time it is.
Sheila: I want to give you a list. I have formed a list of different prophetic terms that I've been questioned about, and I'm sure people watching this want to know, so I'm just going to throw these at you and see what you have to say. You already touched on this a little bit, the Rapture. Why do some people believe that there's not going to be a Rapture, that Christ is just going to come back again?
David: The Rapture is in the book of Thessalonians and in 1 Corinthians 15, and you cannot read those passages with any kind of sense of, "Is this the truth"? without coming away with this. It's in the Bible, it is absolutely clear. Paul said it was a new revelation that was not given to us in the Old Testament. It's one of those mysteries that God has unfolded for us.
Sheila: Wow. Okay, let's go for the tribulation. That's going to be a period of how long, and what's going to happen during the tribulation?
David: Well, the tribulation is 7 years divided into 2 sections. The first is kind of what the Bible refers to as the beginning of sorrows. It's kind of the heating up of the cauldron of pressure. And what happens in the tribulation is, at the beginning of the tribulation, the antichrist, who's the incarnation of Satan, makes a covenant with Israel for 7 years that they will be able to worship in their temple and all of that. And at the end of three and a half years, he breaks that covenant. And when that happens, all hell breaks loose on this earth. And you know, all I can say is when I read that, I'm so grateful that I'm not going to be here. It will be worse than anything you can imagine. The stories of what happens during that time and the cruelty, the absolute, you see what happens in some of the regimes that are in our world today where there's no regard for human life. They are like child's play to what happens during that period of time. And it's sometimes referred to as the time of Jacob's trouble, the time of Israel's trouble.
Sheila: Okay, what about the antichrist? What do we know about the antichrist?
David: Well, one thing for sure is we don't know who he is, even though a lot of Christians play pin the tail on the antichrist, you know? And they try to figure out who he is. We do not know. Anybody that says they know, they can't know. But we know a lot about him. He is the incarnation of Satan. He is a man who has the oratorical ability of Adolf Hitler, but all of the cruelty that goes along with it. He's the great deceiver. He mimics everything that Jesus does. Anti doesn't mean just against, but it means instead of. So, he will present himself instead of Christ. His whole regime is one of counterfeiting everything that Christ does. If you can go through the career of the antichrist, he doesn't have an original thought. All he does is try to counterfeit what the Lord does.
Sheila: Okay, the mark of the beast, what is that?
David: Well, in the book of Revelation, we're told that during the tribulation period, you have to take the mark of the beast in order to be able to survive. This is the economic control program of the antichrist. In other words, the mark of the beast is 666, and if you won't bow down to the beast, if you won't bow down to the antichrist and give him your worship and take the mark, the Bible says you will not be able to buy or sell. People who don't take the mark will literally be starved out of existence. They won't be able to buy groceries, they won't be able to do business, and the mark of the beast is the way the antichrist identifies his followers.
Sheila: I've heard believers concerned and looking out for the mark of the beast, but clearly if it's in that time, then we're no longer here?
David: That's right. No, we won't be here. The mark of the beast does not affect believers because again, in my opinion, we won't be here.
Sheila: Scripture talks about a one world government. What can you tell us about that?
David: Well, globalism has been a big deal, especially of late. It seems like we're swinging back a little bit to nationalism probably because of our current leadership, but in the end, there will be an attempt to unite the whole world so that this ruler will have, he'll have control of it all. I want to tell you what I know Sheila, God is not a globalist, he's a nationalist. The Bible says he's made nations. According to the book of Acts, the nations were created so that we would trust God, so that we wouldn't get caught up in the, and the globalism issue goes all the way back to the Tower of Babel, when they had a language that was all the same. And because they defied God, the language was confused, and ever since they've been trying to put this back together. And ultimately, in the end when the church is gone, the world will be kind of under one leader. And that will be globalism, but it's certainly not anything we want to promote in this day and age.
Sheila: No. What about the battle of Armageddon? Where in the line of things, where does that take place?
David: It's clear at the end of the tribulation, it's kind of the final scene in the tribulation. The forces of evil and the forces of good will have one final encounter, and the Lord Jesus Christ will be victorious. And you know, all of the details of how the nations come together, and first of all they come after Israel, and then all of a sudden the Lord Jesus comes back, and then all of them turn and come after the Lord. And the Bible says he defeats them with the word of his mouth. You know, I tell people he goes and it's over. And because of his power. And the Bible says we come back with him as believers. And some people say, "Well, we're dressed in white. Those are not robes of warfare". That's true 'cause we don't do anything. We're just spectators. We come back with the Lord Jesus, we watch his victory over all of the forces against him, and I think we cheer.
Sheila: I'll be cheering.
David: But we don't do anything. He doesn't need us, you know?
Sheila: The millennium. We've talked a lot when we turned to the new millennium, that was a big deal, but what is the period of the millennium in biblical prophecy?
David: Well, actually, the word "mille" means 1.000. So, the millennium is 1.000 years. And in the book of Revelation, that is actually mentioned four or five times in one chapter. The millennium is a 1.000-year reign of peace, and the Lord Jesus Christ will be king. Surprising to a lot of folks, David will be his vice president, so to speak, and will sit on the throne with him, and they will rule the world in righteousness and in godliness. And there will still be sin in the millennium, but it will be short-lived, it will be dealt with immediately. And when you read about the millennium, and how lifetime will be extended, and the lion will lay down with the lamb, and all of the hostilities that have been a part of our world, they'll be gone. The millennium is an incredible state. And you know what? Dwight Pentecost, one of my teachers, told me there is more information in the Bible on the millennium than any other period in all of Scripture. And it's all tucked away in the Old Testament prophets, where you wouldn't necessarily go for it. But then you start to think about it, every time you turn around, there's something in the Bible about that period of time.
Sheila: The Second Coming of Christ, you said that sometimes people get confused about the Rapture and the Second Coming being the same. Tell us what we know about the Second Coming of Christ.
David: Well, it's the climax of the battle of Armageddon, when the Lord Jesus comes back from heaven. The Bible presents him as riding upon a white horse, leading the holy angels and the saints, and they come and they do war against the evil that has been accumulated on this earth.
Sheila: So, this leads to the battle of Armageddon.
David: It is the end of the battle of Armageddon. All of this leads up to the return of Christ. And when he comes back, he puts an end to it pretty quickly. Here comes the Lord Jesus from heaven, and people think they can fight against him. And it's totally one-sided.
Sheila: Okay, a new heaven and a new earth. A lot of people want to know, "Okay, if I live in Fargo now, will I be living in Fargo in the new heaven and the new earth"?
David: Well, the Bible tells us that the earth as we know it now is going to be cleansed. In the New Testament, we're told it's going to burn up. The earth as we know it is not going to be destroyed, but it is going to be purged and cleansed.
Sheila: Some of the things, as you've said, we're not certain about. But one thing is very specific and that's this number, 144.000.
Sheila: Tell us about that number.
David: Well, that represents, there's 12 tribes of Israel, so what is 12 times 12?
Sheila: A hundred forty-four.
David: There you go. And so, these will be Jewish evangelists. I often tell people, you know, I have so many friends who are Jewish people, and I love these people and their aggressiveness and how they go after whatever they think they should go after. Can you imagine turning 144.000 Jewish evangelists loose on this earth? And the Bible tells us that it will be the greatest revival ever in history. People will come to Christ right and left. And then added to that, of course, the two witnesses.
Sheila: Who are the two witnesses?
Sheila: What do we know?
David: I believe it's Moses and Elijah. Moses was the great former of the law, Elijah was the great reformer of the law. They represent the Old Testament, and I believe that they will be the two witnesses on this earth, two most beloved personages by the Jewish people. And then, of course, some very miraculous things are going to happen to these guys that will literally grab hold of the hearts of people on this earth.
Sheila: Can you see things already happening around us that are indications of the time we're living in?
David: The greatest sign of the fact that we're moving into this period of history is the return of Israel because none of the prophecies of the book of Revelation, or very few of them, could happen if Israel's not in the land. One of the things that's interesting about prophecy is while people say it's not relevant, almost every major prophetic passage in the Bible, if you stay within the context, like within two or three verses, you will find a practical application from that. And let me just give you a couple of examples. You know, one of the great passages pastors like to preach on is in Hebrews about going to church, where it says, "And forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is". But then it says, "As the day is approaching, become more committed to your church". So, here's this passage of Scripture that talks about the coming of the Lord. And in the midst of it, it says one of the things that you need to be aware of when you become aware of the coming of the Lord is the church is more important than you thought. Here's another illustration, this is a great passage. This is one of my favorite passages, John 14:1 to 6. Jesus is communicating to his disciples that he's about to go back to heaven, and they don't know what this is all about. And Jesus said, "Let not your hearts be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would've told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and bring you to heaven with me so that where I am, there you might be also". So, what did Jesus say? He said, "I know you're worried about where I'm going, but don't be troubled". If you know what you know, you don't have to be troubled. You can live in this world and study prophecy, and wherever you go in the prophetic passage, you will find what God wants you to know about that. For instance, in the 1 John passage, it says, "Therefore, what manner of men should we be because of this"?
Sheila: Wow. I imagine so many people who think, "Oh gosh, what I would give to sit down with Dr. Jeremiah". So, just let's imagine we allowed that to happen. If somebody was sitting down with you right now, in light of everything that we've discussed, what would you say to them?
David: Well, I'd ask them questions. I would ask them, "If the Lord Jesus Christ should come tonight, if the trumpet should sound and the Lord should come and catch up all those who put their trust in him, would you be in that group"? In other words, are you ready to see Jesus Christ if he comes back? Because if you're not, this is a great time to do that, to get ready, to receive him as your Lord and Savior. The Bible says that Almighty God loved this world so much that he sent his own Son to this earth, who went to the cross and paid the penalty for our sin, the penalty we deserve. The Bible says the wages of sin is death. Somebody had to die, and Almighty God sent his Son here. He was God living in a body. And as the Son of God, he went to the cross. And because his life was infinite, his death is infinite, and his death was equal to the death of everyone who would ever be on this earth who would put their trust in him. And what that means is one day, in my life, I came to God in prayer, and I said, "God, I know if Jesus were to come today, I wouldn't be ready. I want to receive Jesus Christ as my Savior and accept what he did on the cross so that I can become a part of your forever family". I became a Christian that day and everything in my life changed. And I've watched and witnessed that happening to thousands of people. I get letters from all over the world from people who say, "I now believe in Jesus Christ, and I'm ready if Jesus comes today". So, more than anything else, I'm praying that this series will open the eyes of people to the reality of who Jesus is, that he has a wonderful plan for our lives that includes eternity with the Father. I've been so impressed recently of the many verses in the Bible where Jesus says that he wants us to be with him. Over and over, and I never saw that before, Almighty God wants us to be with him. I read somebody said, "If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it". You know, and I believe that with all my heart, God loves us and God is for us. And he wants more than anything else, Sheila, for us to be with him forever. And he's laid out the plan so that nobody needs to be left out. No matter what we've done or how far we may feel like we are away from God, Almighty God loves us so much that he's made the way for us so that we can go to heaven and spend eternity with him. I hope that's the message that comes through.
Sheila: Dr. Jeremiah, everywhere I travel around the country, I hear people tell me how much your life, the work that you have poured yourself into, has touched and changed the lives. So, I just want to be one voice to say thank you.
David: You're welcome, Sheila. I am more convinced than ever before of the great joy that is mine. I couldn't ask for anything that's more of a privilege than I have to be a voice for God in this world, and I hope I get to do it for a long time.