How does one go about critiquing a book like Gary DeMar’s, “10 Popular Prophecy Myths Exposed; the last days might not be as near as you think”?
Perhaps the best place to start would be the subtitle; “ The last days might not be as near as you think”. It is clear that Gary DeMar thinks that the amount of time the earth has left, is indefinite. This is actually something he does have in common with Dispensationalists! They have been teaching that the rapture could happen at any moment, and could have been so since the Lord’s ascension, some 2,000 years ago. In other words Dispensationalists also believe that the earth’s time is indefinite!
The bible actually make some definite statements about the length of time the Lord will give fleshly humanity on this planet! No, it doesn’t give us a day, nor an hour, but it does give us a general time-frame for the total history of the world, and it just might be shorter than you, or Mr. De Mar, want to think.
Peter, in the context of the Lord’s return, tells us that this event is related to the fact that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8)
Hosea speaking for the Lord, told us that the Lord would leave for two days, and would return IN the third day;
5:15 I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early. 6:1Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. 2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. (Hosea 5:15-6:2)
When did the Lord return to His place? Was it not at His ascension, some 40 days after He rose from the dead? We are not yet past two thousand years since that date.
This means that the rapture could not have happened at any time before the end of the second thousand-year “day”. If Jesus had returned at any time before this date, he would have contradicted Hosea! Not only this but the “affliction” spoken of here is the Tribulation period. In other words the time when Israel will return to the Lord is the Tribulation, and not before!
So Mr. DeMar is correct that the date-setters are in error, at the same time he is incorrect that the earth’s future length is indefinite. Interestingly, DeMar avoided this passage from Hosea, in his entire book!
So, where are we now? We are very close to the end of the second thousand years since the Lord returned to His place, but no one knows exactly. The earth’s sixth thousandth year of existence is rapidly approaching, but we can’t know to the exact day. We are probably within one to three decades from that date.
The author of Hebrews tells us that the seventh day is the sabbath rest for the saints. This is the millennial reign of Christ;
4 For he spake in a certain place of theseventh day on this wise, And God did rest theseventh day from all his works. 5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8 For if Jesus (Joshua) had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. (Hebrews 4:4-5, 7-9)
The Sabbath rest for the people of God is not some vague time, way off in the future, but a specific time; the earth’s seventh millennium of existence! If this passage is not about the millennial reign, then it has to be about the Sabbath day, and how many Christians set aside the Sabbath (Saturday) as a day of worship? No! This is about the millennial reign; that seventh day!
As I have gone through the preface and introduction I have found that DeMar points out some real errors that some Dispensationalists have made, and then paints everyone with a broad brush! I believe this is called a “straw-man argument”. Well, how do I prove that that is not what I believe? At other times he selects verses that seem to support his position, while ignoring nearby verses that do not.
In the Preface, DeMars goes through a litany of Dispensational teachers’ failed prophecies. While the list is long, it does not represent every pre-millennial, pre-tribulationist. Here is one example;
”John F. Walvoord, described as “the world’s foremost interpreter of biblical prophecy … [expected] the Rapture to occur in his own lifetime.’” It didn’t. Walvoord died in 2002 at the age of 92. Consider these statements of prophetic certainty:
• “Never in the history of the Church has there been a time during which more evidence existed that the Rapture is near.”
• “Never before in the history of the Church has there been more evidence that the end of the age is at hand.”’
Walvoord wrote these nearly identical predictive statements in books that were published 36 years apart. Notice his use of “near” and “at hand.” In a 1952 book, Walvoord stated, “The twentieth century has witnessed the most significant array of prophecy being fulfilled in any century since the time of Christ.” As Francis Gumerlock has pointed out in his 2000 years of prophetic predictions, Walvoord was in similar company. ” (Gary DeMar, 10 Popular Prophecy Myths Exposed page viii, ix)
DeMar is correct that Walvoord made significant errors in his prognostications, but does this mean that he was wrong about everything? Should we throw out the baby with the bath water? Shouldn’t the Scriptures be the judge? It has to be the Scriptures, because I have yet to meet a Christian who is 100% correct about everything!
Dispensationalists are prone to the same errors that the rest of humanity is prone to; It is easy to hang on to one statement, while ignoring others. They should have realized that the bible is all true, and every passage must be harmonized with the whole book. I’m afraid, however, that DeMar makes the same kind of error.
Mr. DeMar accuses Dispensationalists and Pre-Tribbers of having malicious intent towards Israel;
“Claiming that a debate over “Replacement Theology” is comparable to abortion is absurd, especially when my critic’s own prophetic system envisions “the worst bloodbath in Jewish history.”3 Then again, maybe the topic is similar to abortion since dispensationalists teach that after the “rapture” “two-thirds of the Jewish people [living in Israel during the Great Tribulation] will be exterminated.” (DeMar page 2)
Mr. DeMar is implying that Dispensationalists want 2/3 of Israel to perish, in the same way that a pregnant woman has an abortion because she wants to be rid of an unwanted child! This is slanderous, and is not borne out by the facts.
What is the truth on this subject? What does the bible say?
And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It ismy people: and they shall say, The LORDismy God. (Zechariah 13:8-9)
The land here is a reference to physical Israel, not the Church.
Dispensationalists, and other pre-Tribbers, love Israel more than any other Christian group. This is why there are so many missions focused on Jews, like Jews for Jesus, or Chosen People Ministries. Every saved Jew will be raptured with the Church, and will miss this coming slaughter!
The slaughter of Zechariah 8, however, is the judgment of God against an unbelieving nation. This is not something that we want, as DeMar implies, but something that the Lord has decreed!
At the day of the rapture of the Church, 100% of Israel will be lost, people who have rejected the gospel, yet from this nation one third will be saved! The 144,000 witnesses that God will call for a special, world-wide, mission will come from Israel (Revelation 7)! These Jews will turn the world upside-down!
God has a special plan for Israel, which is something that DeMar seems unaware of.
As I noted in The Spirit of Prophecy, the Tribulation death toll in the rest of the world will actually be higher than in Israel, both in numbers and in percentage! We are not proclaiming something we “like”, we are proclaiming the truth of God’s judgment, like-it-or-not!
The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment. (Psalm 37:30)
The idea that the earth will be taken over by the Church, and will avoid judgment, reminds me of the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day who proclaim peace, when judgment is coming!
“They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14, 8:11)
That would put DeMar, and the post-tribulationists, in the camp of the false prophets!
“The idea of an Israel-Church distinction, which is a fundamental doctrine of dispensationalism, is built on an interpretive fiction. There is continuity between the covenants. There were Israelite believers prior to, during, and after Jesus’ earthly ministry.”
There is some subtle twisting going on here; Yes indeed there were true believers before Christ came, in Israel, and even a few gentiles, but there is a distinction between Old Testament believers, and New. Hear the word of the Lord;
11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:11)
Wasn’t John a believer? Of course he was, and he is in heaven today, but there is a distinction between the type of believer John was, and the new type of believer in the Church. John was only born of a woman, but today true believers are born-again, of the Spirit! True believers today are permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, but in the Old Testament the Holy Spirit came and went. John was not indwelt by the Holy Spirit on a permanent basis.
This is why it is wrong (a sin and a lie) to teach tithing to the church. We are not tenants on the land, but children of God, and joint heirs with Christ!
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.(Matthew 17:24-26)
The reason that Jesus had Simon catch a fish, with a coin in its mouth, and give that coin to pay the temple tax, was because Peter had already given his word that Jesus would pay it. Had he asked Jesus first, he would have had a different answer!
This special relationship the believer has with the Holy Spirit will end at the rapture of the Church. The Church is a “Limited Time Offer” from God to you and me! If you are left behind at the day of the rapture, you will never know the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, though you still may be saved! At that point in time, the world will revert to the age of Israel, which was interrupted by the cross and the church age.
DeMar’s statement that the idea of a distinction between Israel and the Church is “interpretive fiction” is also slanderous. The bible teaches that God has a plan for national Israel, and this can be seen throughout the bible, even in the last book! Read through Revelation 7, and you will see that the tribes of Israel are represented by the 144,000, and there is not one gentile among them!
On page 3 DeMar states, “there is no new body of believers called the Church. ” and yet we have already seen that the greatest of the Old Testament prophets has a lower status than the lowest member of the Church.
He goes on to say “Since its inception, dispensationalism has been considered biblically aberrant by a number of theological traditions. ” (DeMar page 3) So, I have to ask, do we interpret the bible by our traditions, or do we simply read what is there, and allow the Holy Spirit to do the interpreting? Jesus spent a lot of time debunking traditions while He was here with us. Why would we revert to traditions rather than listen to the Master?
On page 9, under a heading entitled “There’s Only One Tree” he says;
“Two additional points need to be discussed. First, contrary to J. W. Brooks, Gentiles are grafted into Israel; “Jews or Israelites” are not absorbed “into the Gentile Church.” The believing Jews and believing Gentiles make up a single body of believers (Eph. 2:11–22) that draws its sustenance (blessings) from the original Israelite Olive tree. This means that Israelites and Gentiles alike partake of what the original tree represents.” (DeMar page 9)
Who was cut-off from what, and who was grafted-in to whom? Is the Church the true Israel? Has Israel been cut-off from Israel? His statement that “Gentiles are grafted into Israel” does not have biblical support. We are grafted-in to the source of life, Jesus Christ.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5
And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. Romans 15:12
I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. Revelation 22:16
Look at the horticultural references here, in fact there are places where Jesus Himself is called the “branch”, because He submits to the Father. In relation to the Church, and Israel, however, He is the source of life, the vine or the root. Israel has been cut-off from the root, Christ, and the Gentiles have been grafted-in, to Christ. Both Jewish and Gentile believers are grafted into Christ, not Israel.
There is no place in Scripture that says that the Church is now Israel. The “Israel of God” mentioned in Galatians 6:16, is a reference to the believing Jews, a part of the Church, and not to the Church as a whole.
DeMar’s statement that the Church “draws its sustenance (blessings) from the original Israelite Olive tree”, is incorrect. The Church draws its sustenance from the Lord Jesus Christ, not from Israel.
“The tree does not stop dispensing covenant blessings to Israelites now that Gentiles are grafted in, and neither are these blessings withheld from Gentiles because they were first promised to Israelites. ” (DeMar page 9)
Of course, God always wanted to reach Gentiles. There were several Gentile believers during the Old Testament including people like Noah and his family, Melchizedek, Rahab, Ruth, and king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He wanted Israel to be His missionary nation to the world. After the rapture they will take on that role.
DeMar’s statement that “There is one tree, not two. There is one people of God, not two. ” is misleading. At any one time there is only one people of God. Today the Church is that people, made of both Jewish and Gentile believers. Nevertheless, there are two distinct classes of people, among the people of God; there are the pre, and post-Christian believers, and then there is the Church.
When the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, it was a new thing! This never happened before… to anybody! His relationship with the Church began on that day, and will end at the rapture. Well, His relationship with the Church will never end, and His role of convicting people of sin on the earth will continue, but his indwelling of people on the earth will end. His relationship with the Church will be translated to Heaven, hence the Rapture.
DeMar takes a lot of time attacking Dispensationalism, and he is correct that they have made many errors, but his system is also fraught with error. There is room for only one system of eschatology to be true, although it is possible that all systems are in error. As I have studied the Scriptures I have found that the Dispensational system, of a pre-Tribulation rapture, a seven year Tribulation period, and a thousand-year reign of Christ on earth, is exactly what the bible teaches.
Dispensationalists are correct that there are distinct ages in earth’s history, but they are incorrect that salvation was by anything other than grace, through faith, during any age.