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 (Lk. 21:24).
The term, "times of the Gentiles," is only found once in the Word of God, and that is in Luke 21 where our Lord Jesus Christ Himself so designates the entire period during which the children of Israel are wanderers among the nations, and Jerusalem and the land of Palestine are trodden town by Gentile feet. This expression "times of the Gentiles" covers a period of time that has now reached to something like 2500 years. It is symbolized in the great metal image as seen by Nebuchadnezzar in his dream, related in Daniel 2, and in another form by the prophet in his vision, related in chapter 7. It embraces all the ages since God permitted Nebuchadnezzar to assume world-wide dominion, and delivered His people into his hands as a punishment for their persistent idolatry. From that day to the present Jerusalem has been dominated by Gentile powers.
Already everything is being prepared for the solemn events of the time of the end, the brief period of judgment which is to follow the rapture of the Church, the period in which the judgments predicted in the third part of the book of Revelation will be poured out upon this earth. In order to lead up to this it will be necessary to carry your minds back to the previous acts of this great drama.
The beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold (Dan. 2:38).
When the curtain is rung up, we find Nebuchadnezzar, the "head of gold," and his Babylonian army overrunning the land of Palestine, and finally battering at the gates of Jerusalem. Thousands of the wretched people of Judah are carried in chains to the very land from Abraham, at God’s command, separated himself, and went forth "not knowing whither." For seventy years the captive Israelites were embittered by hard bondage.
And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee....(Dan. 2:39). When the curtain rises again, the Medes and Persians are in the ascendancy. This is the silver part of the image. Babylon has fallen and under the milder rule of the Persians, a remnant of the Jews were permitted to return to the land of Palestine. There they rebuilt the temple and the city of Jerusalem was restored, but never on the same scale of magnificence as in the days of old. For almost a century and a half a measure of liberty is enjoyed.
And another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth (Dan. 2:39).
When the curtain rises again, we see Alexander the Great, after having united the states of Greece, crossing over from Europe, intent upon avenging the Hellenic states. Alexander is clearly the "he-goat" from the west who rushes with choler upon the Medo-Persian ram with two horns, and overthrows completely the authority of the Persians. After his death his great empire is divided into four parts, and for about two hundred years the descendants of four of his generals partition the world among them. During the long period Palestine is almost continually a scene of war and conflict.
And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron; forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things; and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise (Dan. 2:40).
As we open our New Testaments, we see the curtain rising on the Roman empire. In Luke 2:1 we read that "there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed". Every country in the known world was under the sway of the great iron kingdom. The Roman empire was in the ascendancy when our Lord Jesus Christ was born. This fourth act ended when the Lord Jesus died on the cross. For these past 1900 years people have been living as it were between the acts.
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever (Dan. 2:44).
The fifth act will begin when the Lord Jesus descends from heaven with a shout to receive His church. When this act begins, you find the city of Jerusalem in the center of the stage once more, and the Jews are gathered back to the land of Palestine. I think we may say that God is preparing all this at the present moment. The curtain is still down, but the stage is set. It is surely God who has brought Jerusalem to the front. Recent events, in connection with Palestine and the Jews, tell us with unerring certainty that the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. At the time of the end, Jerusalem is not only to be the center of the stage, but the land of Palestine is to be a battleground for the greatest conflict the world has ever known.
In the West there will arise a ten-kingdomed confederation in the territory of the old Roman empire, thus reviving it in a new form and acknowledging the ruler of one of these kingdoms as sovereign of the western world. This head of the western confederation will make a league with the head of the Jewish nation guaranteeing to protect them in their land if any enemies come against them. Then the enemies of the Jews will make an effort to conquer the land of Palestine for themselves.
The stage is being set. The curtain may go up at any time. Every Christian may be taken away from the world before tomorrow’s sun arises, and everything would be in readiness for the last act of the times of the Gentiles. The darkest days that this world has ever had are just before us.
I would commend to my fellow-Christians the serious words of
the apostle Paul, found in 1 Cor. 7:29-31: But this I say, brethren, the time
is short; it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had
none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as
though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and
they that use this world, as not abusing it; for the fashion of this world