The Times of the Gentiles

Luke 21: 24

    Understanding prophecy means understanding the times of the Gentiles. A definition of the times of the Gentiles can be gleaned from Luke 21:24 that says: They will fall by the sword and be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. The times of the Gentiles can best be described as that long period of time from the Babylonian captivity in 586 BC to the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the Great Tribulation, during which time the Gentiles will dominate the City of Jerusalem and the Jews. This does not rule out temporary Jewish control of the city, but all such Jewish control will be temporary until the Second Coming. Such temporary control was exercised during the Maccabean Period (164-163 BC), the First Jewish Revolt against Rome (AD 66-70), the Second Jewish Revolt (the Bar Cochba Revolt) against Rome (AD 132-135), and since 1967 as a result of the Six Day War. This, too, is temporary, as Gentiles will continue to trample Jerusalem down for at least another three-and-a-half years during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 11:1-2). As a result, any Jewish takeover of the City of Jerusalem before Messiah returns must be viewed as temporary and does not mean that the times of the Gentiles have ended. There is no phasing out, but a sudden end once and for all. As a result, the times of the Gentiles can only end with the climatic Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

    To understand the course of the times of the Gentiles there are four passages in the book of Dani'el and two passages in the book of Revelation that need to be studied. In this section we will study Dani'el 2:31-45, 7:1-28, 8:1-25, and 11:3-45. But later, while we study the book of Revelation itself, we will look more closely at Revelation 13:1-10 and 17:7-14. There are several visions in Dani'el, but four visions specifically pertain to the times of the Gentiles. Each one builds and elaborates on the previous ones.

    First, in Dani'el 2:31-35, King Nebuchadnezzar had a vision that Daniel successfully interpreted. Daniel saw an awesome statue having a head made of pure gold (Babylonian Empire), the chest and arms of silver (Medo-Persian Empire), the belly and thighs of bronze (the Greek Empire), legs of iron (the Imperialists), culminating with the feet and toes of part iron and part baked  clay (the Ten Kingdoms Stage). This passage provides a timeline of all that will follow.

    Secondly, in Chapter 7, Dani'el elaborated on the four Gentile kingdoms that were seen in the statue of Chapter 2. We can compare these chapters in three ways. First, they are visionary. In Chapter 2 the visionary was a pagan king, Nebuchadnezzar, but in Chapter 7 the visionary was Dani'el himself. Secondly, we can compare the interpreters. Dani'el was the interpreter in Chapter 2, but an angel was the interpreter in Chapter 7. Thirdly, we can compare the two perspectives. Dani'el 2 gives us the perspective of the times of the Gentiles from a human viewpoint as something majestic, but Dani'el 7 gives us the perspective from God’s viewpoint as something dreadful. There were four kingdoms, pictured as four beasts.

    Thirdly, in Chapter 8, Dani'el describes the second vision ADONAI gave him. The vision concerns a portion of the overall period of time symbolized in the first vision; namely, regarding Medo-Persia and Greece. Reference is made also to the antichrist of future time in the interpretation of the vision in this chapter. Once more, animals are used for symbolism, but in place of the bear and leopard that were used in the first vision for those two kingdoms, a two-horned ram and a one horned goat are used. In this vision also, a little horn appears. He would be a foreshadowing of the antichrist that will follow his pattern in the Great Tribulation of the future.36

    Lastly, in his third vision, Dani'el first describes the near historical future of the ensuing battle between the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Seleucids of Syria after Alexander’s death (Dani'el 11:5-35). Then he turns to the far eschatological future to give us a more detailed look at the antichrist (Daniel 11:36-39). Dani'el prophesies about the Ten Kingdoms that the antichrist will conquer to establish his absolute imperialism (Dani'el 11:40-44), and then Daniel even goes on to describe his eventual death (Dani'el 11:45).

    Therefore, four Gentile kingdoms will control the times of the Gentiles before it is succeeded by a Jewish kingdom (Dani'el 7:17-18). The first kingdom would be the Babylonians, the second would be the Medo-Persians, the third would be the Greeks, and the fourth kingdom would be the Imperialists. But, the last kingdom will crush all those kingdoms, and that kingdom will be the messianic Kingdom.

   The summary of the four beasts of Dani'el: the Roman Empire Stage (As), the Balance of Power Stage (At), the One World Government Stage (Au), the Ten Kingdom Stage (Av) and the Antichrist Stage (Aw) are all taken from Arnold Fruchtenbaum's classic book The Footsteps of the Messiah, pages 33-37.

 

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