Saturday, August 13, 2011

Part 7:
The Time of the Gentiles

Shortly before the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which began the Christian Era at 32-33 AD, He gave His disciples what has become known as the “Olivet Discourse,” which is recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. Although the same sermon, each account adds a little more information for our understanding.

1) Matt. 24:31 states that the elect are gathered at the sound of a “great trumpet.”
2) Mark 13:14 declares that the “abomination of desolation” is an “it,” and not a “him.”
3) Luke 21:24 defines the “time of the Gentiles.”

Focusing on Luke for a moment, let’s read verses 21-24:

21. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
22. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
23. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
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. (Luke 21:21-24.)

Jesus prophesied that Jerusalem would be trodden down by the Gentiles. But for how long? Until the times of the Gentiles are “fulfilled.”

Now we have two more questions to ask: 1) what is this “time of the Gentiles” all about, and 2) what is meant by the times of the Gentiles being fulfilled?

When Jesus gave His prophecy (32 or 33 AD), Jerusalem had already been under the control of various Gentile governments for about 638 years. The word “shall” is a word designating future events, so the words used by Jesus in this prophecy, “shall fall” and “shall be,” indicate future events. Over those many years of Gentile domination, the Jews revolted against their foreign rulers time-and-time again. So in 70 AD, the Roman general, Titus, destroyed Jerusalem, burned the 2nd temple to the ground, and dispersed the Jews among the nations.

After the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 AD, and the dispersal of the Jews, they never again had a country of their own until 1948, and never had control of their beloved city, Jerusalem, until 1967. Throughout the whole Christian Era, the Gentiles have always ruled Jerusalem as prophesied by the Savior: “and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until...”

Until When? “until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”

As of the 6th day of June, 1967, at the end of the Six-day War, no one knew exactly what was meant by the term, “time of the Gentiles.” But with hindsight, we now know that the Gentiles’ domination of Jerusalem was that period of time, the “time of the Gentiles.”

But what comes after the “time of the Gentiles”? For that answer, let’s consider Daniel 12 verses 4 and 9:

4. But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
9. And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

Until 1967 the vision of Daniel was “shut up” and sealed, meaning that nobody would be able to understand it. But after that time it is no longer shut up or sealed. Prophetic understanding is now open as indicated by the words in verse four: “knowledge shall be increased.” What does this mean? It means that knowledge and understanding of many other scriptural prophecies are open, besides those of Daniel.

Here is an important point: Most end-time views held by people in all churches, today, were theorized from studies made in Daniel many years before 1967. But if God sealed Daniel until the “time of the end,” and the time of the end didn’t begin until 1967, perhaps those end-time views have to either be wrong, or incomplete at best.

In Part 1 of our study the question was asked, When is the “time of the end”? The answer to that question is:

During the time after 1967 when Daniel’s prophecies were no longer sealed.

The implication of this is that many in this generation will be living witnesses of the total end time events and the coming of our Messiah in Glory. If previous views are incorrect, as they might be, then we could be basing the last few decisions we will ever make on events that are never going to take place.

Daniel was a Jew, and he was concerned and prayed about his people, their religion, and his and their homeland. God answered his prayers, so the visions he received were about his people in the future, and no other.