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The Times of The Gentiles
The Biblical perspective on the times of the Gentiles
There is a lot of confusion today among Bible prophecy teachers and students of the Scriptures regarding what Christ called the "times of the Gentiles." If we stick with what Scripture reveals regarding this expression we will gain a true Biblical explanation of the term. But if, like some prophecy teachers have done, we couple the term with today's news events we will gain nothing in learning the correct meaning of the Biblical phrase, "the times of the Gentiles."
Woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land, and wrath to this people, and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (Luke 21:23-24).
The Jews in Jesus' day were looking for a triumphant Messiah to deliver Israel from the power of Rome, but Jesus in Luke 21:24 set them straight regarding Jerusalem in respect to what the prophet Daniel revealed regarding the "times of the Gentiles." It is an important bit of information given to us by Christ because it tells us that ultimate peace will not occur in Jerusalem until a specific "times" has been fulfilled.
What the Times of the Gentiles is
Based on Scriptural revelation the "times of the Gentiles" began when national Israel, because of her relentless idolatry and disobedience, was sent into exile, by God, to Babylon, causing Israel to no longer be the "head" but the "tail," as Moses worded it in Deu. 28:1,10,13-15 (cf. vss. 43-44).
Now it shall be, if you will diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth (Deu. 28:1).
So all the people of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord and they shall be afraid of you (Deu. 28:10).
And the Lord shall make you the head and not the tail, and you only shall be above, and you shall not be underneath, if you will listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I charge you today, to observe them carefully, and do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you today, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them (Deu. 28:13-14).
But God also warned Israel that if she failed to obey the Lord and go after other gods:
The alien who is among you shall rise above you higher and higher, but you shall go down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; HE SHALL BE THE HEAD, AND YOU SHALL BE THE TAIL (Deu. 28:43-44).
Starting with Israel's exile into Babylon Gentile political dominion was divinely ordained. These dominions were revealed and described to the prophet Daniel as a statue of various metals in chapter two and the four beasts in chapter seven of his prophetic Book.
Scofield defines the time limits of the times of the Gentiles:
The Times of the Gentiles is that long period beginning with the Babylonian captivity of Judah, under Nebuchadnezzar, and to be brought to an end by the destruction of Gentile worldpower by the "stone cut out without hands" (Dan 2:34, 35, 44), i.e. the coming of the Lord in glory (Rev 19:11, 21), until which time Jerusalem is politically subject to Gentile rule (Luke 21:24) (C. I. Scofield, Reference Bible, p. 1345).
When Jesus said that Jerusalem would be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the "times of the Gentiles be fulfilled," He did not at all mean until the Jews would again take control of the ancient city of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount from Gentile hands. But instead He was specifically referring to those successive Gentile, political powers revealed by the prophet Daniel, which would have dominion over national Israel starting with Babylon and ending with the revived Roman Empire under Antichrist.
These successive Gentile powers are historically seen to be Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. During the time of ancient Rome Jerusalem and its Temple were destroyed, causing the Jews to be dispersed into the Roman Empire. Today Israel is again back as nation and, according to the prophet Daniel, the last phase of Gentile dominance over her will soon develop as well. This last Gentile dominion is described as the ten toes on the statue in chapter two, and the ten horns on the fourth beast (along with the little horn, Antichrist) in chapter seven.
Gentile oppression over Jerusalem culminates with the Antichrist exalting himself as he takes his seat in the Temple of God, proclaiming himself as being God (2Thes 2:4). When Christ returns, the gentile nations are judged on the basis of their treatment of God's covenant people Israel, during the time of the Tribulation period (Matthew 25:31-46). Then Christ rules the nations "with a rod of iron" for 1000 years and Satan and his evil angels are bound and removed to the abyss (Revelation 20). The earth is restored from the destruction of the tribulation, repopulated and God's saints serve him. Great prosperity and blessing is in store for Israel as the head of the nations with its world capital Jerusalem, and with Christ reigning on the throne of His father David.
Even if the nation of Israel gains sovereign control over the city, as we see today, there will still be Gentile world dominion and oppression for Jerusalem. For instance, there is the ongoing Islamic control over Israel's most sacred site - the Temple Mount. Just look at what the nations have suggested, that Jerusalem might be made an International city or that it should be the capital of a Palestinian Arab state. Recently the United Nations Security Counsel voted unanimously for the creation of a Palestinian State to be carved out of the land of Israel, the land that God promised to Israel by His everlasting covenant. For the first time ever the United States voted in favor of this resolution! The United States has joined with the Arab nations, the European Union, and the United Nations in calling for a division of Israel and Jerusalem to create a Muslim Palestinian nation in the midst of the land of Israel. Zechariah declared that the day would come when all the nations would come against Jerusalem and Judah!
Behold, I will make Jerusalem a goblet of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples. Then they will lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And in that day I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who try to lift it will be severely injured. All nations of the earth will gather for war because of it [Literal translation from the original Hebrew] (Zechariah 12:2-3).
What the Times of the Gentiles is not
Some Bible teachers have made the mistake in thinking that since Israel is back as a Jewish nation and that they now sovereignly control Jerusalem that the times of the Gentiles must be in the process of completion. Some say they were the period between the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and Israel's retaking of the Old City in 1967. These view are erroneous since they don't fit the Biblical definition of the times of the Gentiles found in the book of Daniel. Possession of Jerusalem by Israel may be significant prophetically, but it has nothing to do with making the times of the Gentiles wind down, as one prophecy teacher put it.
Hal Lindsey says the times of the Gentiles began to be phased out after June of 1967:
Jesus Christ predicted, "And they [Israelites] shall fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations [AD70]. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles UNTIL the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). The 'times of the Gentiles' began to be phased out after June of 1967. The time of God's special favor to the Gentiles is rapidly drawing to a close (Internet Article, Jerusalem's Mystical Appeal).
But the idea that the "times of the Gentiles" began to be "phased out" after June of 1967 does not seem to fit what the "times of the Gentiles" is according to Scripture. Many today are teaching that these Gentile "times" ended, or will end, when Israel once again takes total control of Jerusalem, especially the Temple Mount. Some prophecy teachers even contend that these "times" already ended in 1967 when Israel drove its tanks into east Jerusalem and took control of the old city which was once controlled by the so-called Palestinians.
Others, like Dave Hunt, seem to believe that these "times" will end when the Jews again take control of the Temple Mount. He writes:
We are seeing the continuing fulfillment of Christ's remarkable prophecy that Jerusalem would be "trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Lk 21:24). The capture by Israelis of East Jerusalem in 1967 seemed to mark the end of the "times of the Gentiles." But in a surprising move, Israel turned the Temple Mount back to the custodial care of King Hussein of Jordan,leaving the very heart of Jerusalem in Gentile hands. In 1994, Yasser Arafat and his PLO took control (Internet Newsletter).
Also, the "Times of the Gentiles" in Luke 21:24 should not be confused with "the fulness of the Gentiles" revealed in Rom. 11:25, which has to do with Gentiles being graciously grafted into the olive tree (the "blessings of Abraham" through faith) during this Church age.
So we see that in respect to the "times of the Gentiles", it does not matter if the Jews have control over Jerusalem, or even if they build their temple on the Temple Mount, Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot until Daniel's prophecies regarding Gentile political dominion is completely fulfilled. Jerusalem was trampled underfoot by Babylon, Persia, Greece and ancient Rome; she will again be trampled underfoot by Antichrist when he comes to power in the final phase of the Roman Empire.
Written by Alan Torres