The Times of the Gentiles
Vol: 20 Issue: 23 Tuesday, January 23, 2018
The Scriptures speak of three classes of people on the earth, the Jews, the Gentile, and the Church. The Church is made up of both Jew and Gentile. Outside of the Church all who are not Jews are Gentiles.
Up to the call of Abraham all people were Gentiles. Abraham was the first Hebrew. His grandson Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel (Genesis 32:24-28) had twelve sons. They became the heads of twelve tribes; the Twelve of Israel.
Under King David, the Unified Kingdom of Israel was a world power; under King Solomon it became the world power, with unparalleled wealth and prosperity.
After King Solomon died, the Tribes split into two kingdoms; the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah. The Kingdoms were both independent sovereign powers until they fell into idolatry and were supplanted by the Gentiles.
In 702 BC the ten tribes of the northern kingdom were conquered and assimilated by the Assyrian Empire.
In 606 BC the southern kingdom of Judah was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar and taken captive to Babylon. When the captivity ended, all that remained of the twelve tribes of Israel was the Kingdom of Judah. Henceforth, the remnant of Israel were known as Jews.
Although the Jews had returned to their own land, they returned as citizens of a foreign (Gentile) occupying power, beginning what the Lord described as the Times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24)
First, let me clarify something in advance. The Times of Gentiles is different than the “fullness of the Gentiles”. (Romans 11:25) The Times of the Gentiles refers to the period of human government from Nebuchadnezzar to the antichrist.
The fullness of the Gentiles refers to the called out ones (ecclesia) that make up the Body of Christ. When the last one gets saved, then the fullness of the called out ones are caught up (harpazo) at the Rapture.
The period of the fullness of the Gentiles begins at Pentecost and ends at the Rapture.
The fullness of the Gentiles is all about the Church. The times of the Gentiles is all about those who are neither Jew nor Christian. The times of the Gentiles ends at the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the Tribulation.
In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign he had a dream, but when he awoke it had gone from him. He demanded of his magicians and astrologers that they should not only reproduce the dream, but that they should interpret it. This they were unable to do and their destruction was ordered.
The astrologers recognized that Daniel’s God was able to do what they only pretended to do, so they went to Daniel to implore him to ask God for the answers.
“Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.” (Daniel 2:19)
(The Babylonian astrologers were called the “Magi.” Such was the respect the Magi had for Daniel that, more than five hundred years later, they mounted a caravan headed for Bethlehem to worship Daniel’s God come in the flesh.)
In any case, Daniel’s interpretation is not one that any mortal human being would have dared to deliver to the king, if he wanted to live. But Daniel’s interpretation did not come from a mortal human being but from God Himself, so Daniel was unafraid to announce to the king the end of Gentile supremacy.
The king saw an image of a man with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, with two legs of iron and ten toes of iron mixed with miry clay.
“And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.” (Daniel 2:43)
Daniel interpreted the dream image as a succession of four world empires that would succeed each other encompassing the period from Nebuchadnezzar to the Second Coming of Christ. The four kingdoms; Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome were not only numbered, but named in the order of succession.
The first kingdom, Daniel said, was Babylon, the head of gold (Daniel 2:38). The second was Medo-Persian, (Daniel 5:30-31) followed by the Greeks (Daniel 8:20-21) and finally, the Romans. (Daniel 9:26)
The image is one of deteriorating metals representing each kingdom’s waning power. Babylon’s Nebuchadnezzar’s power was absolute.
“And for the majesty that He gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.” (Daniel 5:19)
Daniel forecast that the second kingdom would be “inferior” to the first. King Darius was not an absolute monarch, but ruled by the consent of the hereditary aristocracy. Darius could not save Daniel from the lion’s den, for example.
King Ahasuerus could only prevent Haman’s slaughter of the Jews by issuing a counter-decree authorizing the Jews to defend themselves.
“Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey. . .” (Esther 8:11)
The Greek government under Alexander the Great was a monarchy supported by a military aristocracy, which was so weak that when Alexander died, it was divided among his four generals.
The iron power of the fourth kingdom, (Rome) depreciated even further. Initially, the Ceasars were elected by the people as “First Magistrate of the State”. For centuries, they wore no crown apart from the laurel wreath of a successful commander.
The Roman Senate was created as a check on Ceasar’s power, but as the power of Ceasar grew, the power of the Republic waned. Ultimately, the Empire split into two legs; one leg ruled from Rome, the other from Constantinople.
When political Rome collapsed in the fourth century, it was replaced by religious Rome for the next eighteen hundred years. In 1948, political Rome began its revival with the signing of the Benelux Treaty which began the process of European unification.
The 1957 Treaty of Rome codified the six Benelux nations and established the European Economic Community. In 1981 Greece became the tenth member, at which time, full membership was closed. Although there are 27 member states today, the EU still has but ten full members with the rest holding either “associate member” or “observer” status.
The ten toes are composed of “iron mixed with miry clay” – partly strong and partly weak, a textbook description of European democracy.
But as Daniel considered the ten horns, he was amazed to see another horn, a LITTLE one, come up among them, and before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots, that is destroyed; and as he examined the little horn more closely he noticed that it had eyes like the eyes of a man, and the mouth of a man speaking great things. (Daniel 7:7-8)
Daniel’s image is ultimately destroyed by being smitten on the feet by a stone “cut without hands” that crushes it to dust in a single blow.
“Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” (Daniel 2:35)
Thus concludes the times of the Gentiles.
Note the difference, once again, between the times of the Gentiles and the fullness of the Gentiles. There are a number of prominent teachers that are of the opinion that the times of the Gentiles ended with the 1967 capture of Jerusalem, based on their understanding of our Lord’s prophecy in Luke 21:24:
“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.”
But that was 1967, 50 years ago, and it takes a really desperate effort to conclude that Jerusalem is not now still “trodden down of the Gentiles.” Jerusalem is not sovereign as much as the Israelis would like to claim that it is.
According to the Prophet Zechariah, Jerusalem will remain a burdensome stone and a cup that causes reeling until the Lord appears in the air over the city and the Jews look upon “Him, Whom they have pierced.”
Here is what I want you to see this morning. Nothing taking place in our world is taking place by accident; everything is proceeding according to a carefully-laid plan. Nothing will happen out of order – the Bible lays things out chronologically.
Just as Persia followed Babylon and Greece followed Persia and Rome followed Greece, so too will the events of the last days play out in the chronological order outlined in Scripture. The Bible says that the times of the Gentiles will conclude with the destruction of the antichrist at the Second Coming.
But the fullness of the Gentiles takes place when the last Gentile to come to Christ by faith does so. There is no reference to any Gentiles being saved during the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble.”
The Apostle Paul says that after the Restrainer is taken out of the way, that Wicked will be revealed, and ALL that rejected the truth of the Gospel will be damned.
Revelation Chapters 1 through 3 outlines the future history of the Church on earth from the first century all the way to the apostate Church of Laodicea. After that, the Apostle John is ‘raptured’ into heaven in Revelation 4:1 — where the perspective remains for the remainder of the Book.
The Book of Revelation continues in chronological order; first the Seven Churches, then the translation into Heaven, then the judgments against a Christ-rejecting world, beginning with the first judgment, the revelation of the antichrist in Revelation 6:2.
There are Tribulation Saints, but they are not Gentiles. They are those Jews saved through the efforts of the 144,000 Jewish male evangelists of Revelation 7, together with the evangelists themselves.
By Revelation 14, there are no more evangelists, no more Tribulation saints and the Gospel is being carried by an angel.
In the first half of today’s brief, we looked over the outline of future history with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, and saw how specifically and carefully the outline of prophecy was fulfilled from the time of Daniel until the restoration of Israel and the birth of the EU in 1948.
From that point forward, it isn’t our 20/20 hindsight that we are relying on, but God’s 20/20 foresight.
Although God’s 20/20 foresight is proved even more reliable than our hindsight, there is the temptation to assume that now, after all this time, maybe the last few hours of human history will play out a bit differently than it has since Nebuchadnezzar kicked off the times of the Gentiles in 606 BC.
They won’t. We can rely on the Scriptures to be as accurate looking forward as they are looking backwards. Following the Bible’s chronology, this is where we are at this particular moment:
The fullness of the Gentiles is upon us. The evidence is that we can now see the time of Jacob’s Trouble approaching. Because we can see it so clearly, there is a temptation to rearrange God’s chronology to make it fit current events.
That ignores the fact that, to this point, the entire outline of Bible prophecy follows a system of progressive revelation from God, separated according to Dispensation.
Without a system, the best one can offer is an opinion — and there are no shortage of those. A systematic view of theology provides a God-given context in which to understand Bible prophecy — and against which to measure opinions.
I don’t defend Dispensationalism because I want everybody to become a Dispensationalist. It is because without that framework as a guide, Bible prophecy means whatever the most convincing speaker says it means.
Paul told Timothy:
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
If there is another way to “rightly divide the word of truth” nobody has yet demonstrated it to me. Many have demonstrated that they believe they have rightly divided the word of truth, but can’t coherently explain why they divided it where they did.
But if the Word is ‘rightly divided’ then where to divide it should be reasonably obvious — it shouldn’t need a lot of explaining. Drawing that line between the periods of Grace and Judgment is both obvious and in keeping with the whole counsel of Scripture.
That is what makes our job so urgent. That is why the Lord gave us the signs. So we could give the warning.
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:9)
He is holding off for as long as possible, waiting for that last Gentile who will accept His offer of pardon, bringing in the fullness of the Gentiles. Our job is to carry the message that the offer is still valid, but subject to cancellation without notice.
There’s no second chance after the Rapture.
Featured Commentary: The Threat From Within ~Steve Schmutzer