Jerusalem — End of the Line
Vol: 20 Issue: 5 Saturday, March 5, 2016
By every measurable historical standard, the city of Jerusalem should have fallen into oblivion centuries ago. The city was destroyed in AD 70 by the Romans and its founders and traditional inhabitants were killed or fled into exile in foreign lands.
It has no natural wealth. It has no coastline. It sits inconveniently upon a mountain. It overlooks nothing of strategic military value.
It is on no ancient trade route. The King’s Highway of David’s time ran north and south through modern Jordan. Jerusalem was well off the beaten path — folks didn’t pass through Jerusalem on their way to somewhere else — Jerusalem was the end of the line.
Like other historical ‘end of the line’ cities, once its reason to exist was extinguished by the destruction of its native population, so should its history.
The once-great city of Babylon is a perfect example. Once capital of the world’s greatest empire, it is today little more than a living museum, devoid of influence or even much interest outside scholarly circles.
Over the centuries, it has been fought over by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Ptolemies, Seleucids, Romans, Byzantines, Persians, Arabs, Seljuks, Crusaders, Mongols, Mamelukes, by the Turks, the British, Jordan and most recently, by those Jordanians who became ‘Palestinians’ after Jordan’s defeat in the 1967 War.
Jerusalem remains one of the most contested cities on earth to this day. That list doesn’t include the approximately two hundred million Islamic fundamentalists or Islamic states like Iran or Saudi Arabia who have conducted a decades-long shadow war to ‘liberate’ the city from Jewish control.
Despite two thousand years of war aimed at destroying the Jews and seizing their city, in this generation, the Jews again inhabit an undivided Jerusalem.
“And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:24)
Jesus’ sweeping prophecy concerning the future of the city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants was fulfilled to the letter throughout history, including its restoration to Jewish hands.
Note that its restoration signals the fulfillment of the ‘times of the Gentiles’.
The Apostle Paul called himself the ‘apostle of the Gentiles’ (Romans 11:13) but Paul had formerly been known as Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee (lawyer) and Jewish religious leader. Paul explains that the Church is a ‘graft’ from the original tree (Judaism), saying,
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” Romans 11:25)
Here we find the same phraseology that was employed by Jesus concerning the ‘times of the Gentiles’. Jesus referred to the times of the Gentiles as being ‘fulfilled’. Paul speaks of the ‘fulness of the Gentiles’.
Paul says that, following the ‘fulness of the Gentiles’,
“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” (Romans 11:27)
Paul notes that, during the Church Age,
“As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes,” but Paul cautions; “but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes.”
Then Paul wraps it all together by saying,
“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Romans 11:29)
This is one of the great mysteries of Scripture. The Jews are enemies of the Gospel for ‘our sakes’. What does that mean?
Jesus taught that His mission was to come first to the Jews. When approached by the Samaritan woman begging Him to help her daughter, Jesus told her, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)
To the Jews He prophesied,
“I am come in My Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” (John 5:43)
If the Jews had accepted their Messiah at His First Advent, there would have been no Church Age and the Lord would have set up the Millennial Kingdom right then and there. Salvation was only opened to the Gentiles after the Gospel was rejected by the Jews.
Jesus prophesied that because of their rejection of Him, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”
This prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem. And thus begins the ‘Times of the Gentiles.’
The usurper, who comes in his own name and is received by the Jews as their Messiah, is not revealed until after the ‘fulness of the Gentiles’ is come in.
Jeremiah calls it the ‘Time of Jacob’s Trouble’ (Jeremiah 30:7). Jesus calls it the ‘Tribulation’ (Matthew 24:29). The prophet Daniel outlines the Tribulation’s six-fold purpose, from the perspective of Israel;
“(1) to finish the transgression, and (2) to make an end of sins, and (3) to make reconciliation for iniquity, and (4) to bring in everlasting righteousness, and (5) to seal up the vision and prophecy, and (6) to anoint the most Holy.” (Daniel 9:24)
Let’s connect the dots and see how the Big Picture develops here. Jesus said that the restoration of Jerusalem to Jewish control would signal that the ‘fulness of the Gentiles be come in’.
Jesus said of the generation on earth at that time,
“This generation shall not pass away, till ALL be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:32)
Paul says that the Jews, as an institution, rejected Jesus so that the Gentiles would have a chance at salvation. He said that God would not return His attention to Israel until ‘the fulness of the Gentiles be come in’.
The ‘fulness of the Gentiles’ indicates a finite number — a ‘quota’, so to speak — of Gentiles who will come to know Christ during the Church Age.
Once that quota — the Church Age ‘elect’ have been gathered, God returns His attention to the Jews, “And so all Israel shall be saved” — because “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”
That Jesus offered salvation first to Israel is confirmed by His own Words as recorded by John.
The ‘Time of Jacob’s Trouble’ is so-called because of its purpose as outlined by Daniel — the six-fold purpose that culminates with the ‘anointment of the most Holy’ as Messiah and the beginning of the Millennial Reign from Jerusalem.
Note how clearly the two Dispensations are divided. Until the Crucifixion, God’s attention was focused on Israel. Until the ‘fulness of the Gentiles be come in’ God’s attention is focused on the Church.
The Church, as the ‘Bride of Christ’ serves no role in Daniel’s six-point outline for the Tribulation Period. Take another look at Daniel 9:24 before we go on.
The transgression was finished at the Cross. The Blood of Christ takes away all sin. (1st John 1:7) His death and resurrection reconciled the Church to God.
“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation. To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” (2nd Corinthians 5:18-19)
To the saved believer reconciled to God by the Blood of Christ, ‘everlasting righteousness’ is a gift of grace through faith, ‘sealing’ the vision and prophecy of the Old Covenant and introducing the New Covenant with the Church.
The believer knows that Jesus is ALREADY anointed King of King and Lord of Lords and is awaiting His return at the end of the Church Age.
There is no role for the Church Age during the Time of Jacob’s Trouble — it doesn’t begin until after the ‘fulness of the Gentiles’ is come in. And this is the generation in which Jerusalem was recovered from Gentile control, signaling the approach of the fullness of the Gentiles’.
The Tribulation serves two main purposes; the first is the judgment of God on a Christ-rejecting world. The second is the national redemption of Israel. By definition, Church-Age believers have NOT rejected Christ, and need no further redemption.
The Bible says that, before the unfolding of the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, there will come an ingathering of Church Age believers:
“Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Revelation 3:10)
Jerusalem is the signal that this is the generation that will see the ‘fulness of the Gentiles be come in’. It was to that generation that Paul promised:
“For this we say unto you BY THE WORD OF THE LORD, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall . . . be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1st Thessalonians 4:15,17b)
The time is short. Don’t let anybody steal your victory. Jesus is coming soon for His Church:
“And THEN shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:8)
Get excited! The time is short, the fulness of the Gentiles is at hand; the Lord IS coming soon!
“Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (2nd Thessalonians 4:18)