When speaking of the Jews, Jesus told his disciples that “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).
Notice that this prophecy is not speaking of a period of peace, but of war. It is a time when the Gentiles are conquering and destroying, when they are ruling themselves contrary to the way of God who is Creator and Ruler.
Remember that one of the keys to understanding this prophecy and all prophecy is duality. There is always a forerunner which is a type of another final great fulfillment. Christ was speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. by the Roman legions as a type of terrible world war prophesied to surge through our United States. Even Palestine and Jerusalem will again be trodden down by Gentile armies until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
It is the common assumption that the times of the Gentiles are a period of blessing on the nations. It is argued that since God took away the blessing of being great and dominant from Israel and Judah and since the Gentiles for centuries have been dominant nations, that human rule is a blessing bestowed upon the Gentiles.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
Then again, many claim that the times of the Gentiles are synonymous with the times of Judah’s punishment, that the Gentiles times have already ended, some say in 1914, others say in 1917 or 1936. But all these supposed dates for the ending of the times of the Gentiles are mere guesses!
The truth is that almost no one really knows what the times of the Gentiles are. And yet without an understanding of the meaning of this prophetic period you cannot grasp the real significance of present day world-shaking events or understand what’s going to happen in the next several years. Let’s not assume, let’s study the Bible itself to see what these times really are.
Israel was promised great national blessings, including national greatness if they would obey God. But God also promised that if they obstinately refused to obey Him, if they refused to follow His laws and let Him rule their lives, then He would punish them for a period called seven times (Lev 26).
The Bible itself defines this period of seven times for us. If you turn to Revelation the 12th chapter, and compare vs. 6 and 14 you will see that the word time in prophecy simply means a year, hence seven times would be seven years or 2520 days.
Now let’s notice another key. In Numbers 14:34, God said Israel would bear their iniquities in the wilderness after the number of days they searched the land of Canaan, forty days, each day for a year.
Then seven times or 2520 prophetic days would equal 2520 literal years! This period of seven times or 2520 years punishment did come upon Israel because they went their own way and would not submit to the rule of God. Israel went into captivity about 721 B.C. and did not become a great people again until their times of punishment ceased about 1800 A.D. At that time the descendants of the ancient House of Israel – America and Britain -- and the democratic peoples of the world, began to rise to such wealth and power as the world has never seen before – all because of the promises made to Abraham.
Also Palestine, after a punishment against the House of Judah, that began about 604 B.C., was brought back from the Gentile Turks in 1917 – exactly 2520 years later, when it came under the control of Great Britain, and finally the Jews.
The seven times of Israel’s punishment was a period of great privation and suffering, of slavery and war, because they would not submit their wills and their ways to God, because they would not allow Him to rule their lives by His perfect laws, which could have brought them peace and prosperity and dominion.
Now that we understand the seven times punishment on Israel, let’s understand the meaning of the times of the Gentiles.
The original prophecy to which Jesus had reference is found in the 4th chapter of Daniel. Christ understood that this prophetic vision of the great tree had reference to the times of the Gentiles as well as to Nebuchadnezzar’s literal punishment.
Notice Daniel 4:17. This striking vision was not only to teach Nebuchadnezzar that God rules, but it is also “to the intent that the living may know that the most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the basest of men.”
So the Bible itself interprets this prophecy to have reference not only to the king of Babylon in that day, but also to teach the living – yes, all of the nations today that God is Supreme Ruler. Notice verses 20 and 22 of Daniel 4. The great tree represented the king. And what was to happen to him? “Let his heart be changed from man’s and let a beast’s heart be given him; and let seven times pass over him” (v. 16).
The king was to lose his understanding, to be cursed with insanity, he was to act and think like a wild ravenous beast, until he learned that the Creator rules over the affairs of men, till he learned that the only way to peace and security is through submission to the rule and laws of God instead of yielding to lust and human pride.
But the world and its leaders have not yet learned this needed lesson. The nations today still devour one another in war like wild beasts as they struggle to gain world conquest.
Most of the misunderstanding about this important prophecy results from not realizing that the seven literal times or years that passed over King Nebuchadnezzar were a type of the seven prophetic times of punishment upon the Gentiles.
Now turn to Daniel 2:38-39 where this is clearly explained. The king saw a great image composed of different metals and clay. The head of this image represents the kingdom of Babylon. Daniel tells King Nebuchadnezzar, “Thou are this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom.”
The divisions of the great image represented various kingdoms of the Babylonish system. Yet Daniel designated the first kingdom by its supreme dictatorial king Nebuchadnezzar. The king, then, was a type of the kingdom of Babylon, because he had absolute power. Also by comparing Daniel 7:17,23 you will see that king and kingdom are used synonymously.
Remember that one of the punishments on the king was that his heart should be changed “from man’s, and let a wild animal’s heart be given him.”
Have you ever noticed that Babylon, after it ceased conquering and when God began to deal with its leaders, was also given the heart of a man? Read Daniel 7:4. It stood “upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.”
Now let’s notice what happened. King Nebuchadnezzar had the heart of a man but because of his sins he was afterward punished seven literal years. The ancient Chaldean kingdom had the heart of a man – it ceased to attack, conquer and destroy other nations, but because Babylon continued to sin and live contrary to God’s ways it was punished for seven prophetic years or 2520 years.
Notice how the type is being fulfilled in the antitype. King Nebuchadnezzar because of his stubborn refusal to submit to the rule of God, the only way that would have brought him peace of mind and satisfaction was punished seven years by having his mind changed to that of a wild animal, until he learned that God ruled. He was dethroned and lived among the wild beasts.
In like manner, the Chaldean Empire of which he was a type was defeated and its dominion was taken from it. But just as Nebuchadnezzar continued to live like a wild beast, so the Babylonish system has continued with leaders having the minds of wild beasts. The Persians, Greeks, Romans – Europeans even to the days of Hitler and Mussolini have all been cursed with leaders who think and act like wild animals, leaders who glory in war and conquest. (Today, for the first time in the history of Israel (United States of America) a Gentile will sit on the throne of Israel.
Not one of the beasts, which followed the Chaldean Empire as described in Daniel 7, was given a man’s heart. They all were like ferocious wild animals, conquering, pillaging, and destroying one another by intrigue, and alliances and war.
Nebuchadnezzar was forced to live among the wild beasts just as the successor nations of the Babylonish system have had to fight and struggle constantly against other Gentiles nations who are also cursed with the same mind, the same desires to conquer and rule the world. That is why the Babylonish system under Hitler and Mussolini struggled against Russia. The leaders of Russia think and act like cunning wild beasts.
The ancient Chaldean Empire would not submit to God’s rule and ways but wanted to rule its own way, the greatest curse that could happen to any nation. As a punishment God has allowed even to this very day the Gentile nations to rule themselves until they learn that only His ways are right and that He rules in the kingdoms of men. Just as Nebuchadnezzar finally regained his right mind and acknowledged God’s authority, so the Gentile nations when their punishment is over, will come up to the kingdom of God and ask to learn of his way (Micah 4:1-3) so that they also may become begotten and finally born into His kingdom as members of the ruling Family of God.
Notice how present day events are explained by this prophecy. “All nations have been made drunk with the false teachings of the Babylonish system that has gripped this world for thousands of years until this world has become so confused and divided that people don’t know which way to turn “(Rev. 18:3).
The return of Jesus Christ is getting closer all the time, but many catastrophic world events are going to happen between now and the time that this punishment upon the Gentiles is finished! These terrifying world-shaking events could possibly take place in our life time, this very last generation that may live in two worlds!
Remember what Jesus said in Luke 21:24? That Jerusalem would be trodden down of the Gentiles until the very completion of the times of the Gentiles! Since Zech. 14:1-3 shows that Jesus Christ will return in order to deliver Jerusalem from the Gentiles, it is plain that the 2nd coming of Christ will occur shortly before the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled! (Isa. 27:13; I Corth. 15:52.
As Christ said, of the second coming, “But of that day, and hour, knows no man!” But today’s world-occurrences warn us that even now, it is near! Yes, it’s later than you think!