Just hold on to the above scripture and timeline for a moment. We’re going to now look at the other scripture which concerns the end of the times of the gentiles which you find in Luke chapter 21 where Jesus speaks about these things:
We find here the phrase the times of the gentiles. It goes on in the next verse to say:
Let’s do a brief run through that passage. It begins with the siege of Jerusalem, speaking of desolation coming which corresponds to the event of AD70 when the Jews rebelled against the Romans. The Romans then sent the armies in, besieged and destroyed Jerusalem taking down the Temple and the city, leaving not one stone standing upon another in the holy place.
The fall of the Temple in AD70 was a great catastrophe for Israel, for the Jewish people, and it led to the beginning of the dispersion of the Jewish people to the nations which Jesus also speaks about in this passage.
And He says that Jerusalem is going to be trodden down of the gentiles until the times of the gentiles are fulfilled, trodden down or trampled upon, or ruled by the gentiles. In other words, Jerusalem is now going to be ruled by different gentile powers until this event that is going to come which will change the situation.
One of the things you notice when you look at the prophecies in the New Testament is that the little word until comes several times at significant places.
So, this situation is going to continue until something happens to change it.
History tells us that the Romans destroyed the Temple. The Romans actually gave way eventually to the Byzantine Empire, to the Parthians, to different Muslim powers, crusaders in the 11th century, followed by another Muslim power, followed then by the Turks which took over from the 1517 to 1917, followed by the British who took over from 1917 through to 1948.
There have been different gentile powers ruling over Jerusalem until the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 which itself led to the partition of Jerusalem: the Western part of Israel and in the Eastern part, including the old city of Jerusalem, where all the holy places are, and part of Jordan which ruled over it from 1948 to 1967.
Jerusalem trodden down of the gentiles.
In 1967, something significant happened which we’ll talk about a bit more later: the Six Day War in which Jerusalem returned to Jewish control. This is not a permanent situation as I shall show you in a moment.
Going on, Jesus says that, at this time, you’re going to see the distress of nations in perplexity. That means that there’s going to be a global crisis with no way out. In other words, there’s going to be something happening in the world which will cause the world to be in some kind of distress. A time of shaking if you like; in the sun and the moon and the stars. Therefore, the cosmic effect of this also and, on the earth, distress of nations with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring.
So, in this time of the end, you’re going to see something taking place on the earth which is going to cause people to be afraid of what’s coming on the earth because they see this crisis coming for which there is actually no human solution.
And I think we can actually see that we’re living in a time when there are many crises coming on the earth which none of our governments have a real lasting solution for.
This will lead to the conditions of the Great Tribulation which is specifically given in the Bible for the last seven years before Jesus returns.
That will reach its climax with the Second Coming of Jesus to the earth, coming this time in power and glory coming to the earth after the Great Tribulation period.
When these things begin to happen, Jesus says: look up and lift up your heads because your redemption draws near. Therefor, when you see these beginning to happen, they are a sign that Jesus is going to come back.
And I would say that we do see these things beginning to happen, so we should be actually looking for the Second Coming of Jesus the Messiah.
Hopefully, you’re following me so far.
Going back to the ‘fulness of the gentiles, the full number of the gentiles‘ what does it mean? Where do they come into it? It says the fulness of the gentiles will come in.
If you read through the Book of Acts, you see that there is a progression. Jesus says the Gospel is going to be preached in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
In the first nine chapters of Acts all the action is with Jewish people. From chapter 10 onwards, gentiles begin to come in with the conversion of Cornelius. Then, you the have apostle Paul coming to faith, going out to preach the Gospel and bringing more and more gentiles into the Christian faith.
Chapter 15 of the Book of Acts they have a discussion about what to do with the gentiles?Do they have to convert to Judaism or do they just repent and believe the Gospel? Do they take on certain laws from the Jewish law but don’t have to keep all of the commandments of Moses?
They decide that the gentiles do not have to keep all the commandments of Moses, but that they have to repent believe the Gospel.
And James makes this statement that God has visited the gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. Therefore, this was actually something unexpected, that God was going to move amongst the gentiles to bring a people to His name into what became the Christian church.
Romans chapter 9 to 11, which Trevor Stewart-Sweet has been looking at over the last few weeks, speaks about Paul taking salvation, through Jesus, and making it available to all who repent and believe the Gospel. Whether they’re Jewish or gentile, all can come into faith in Jesus.
The church is going to be made up of Jews and gentiles who believe in Jesus the Messiah.
Paul goes on to show in Romans 11 that the majority of Jewish people have not come into it although some have, himself included. Because there are more gentiles than Jews, and because large numbers of Jews are not accepting Jesus, inevitably, what’s going to happen is that the church will become more gentile than Jewish. This is a logical conclusion, isn’t it?
As the church spreads throughout the world, you’ll have far more gentiles who come to faith than Jewish people. Today, we could say that the church is majority gentile with a small remnant of Jews who believe in Jesus. And we praise God for those Jews who do believe in Jesus, and we want all Jewish people to believe in Jesus.
But we see that it is not the majority of Jewish people who believe in Jesus, it’s also not the majority of gentiles believe in Jesus, but, by sheer strength of numbers, there are more gentiles than Jews in the church now.
The implication of this scripture is that, after the fulness of the gentiles has come in, then God is going to do something amongst the Jews. There’ll be a significant number of Jews who will come in.
In other words, God is going to turn then to the Jews and bring in a large numbers of Jews. And the end will actually be what Jewish people were expecting the first time when Messiah came, that is, the national salvation of Israel.
So, is there any event in the end time scenario which shows that the full number of gentiles has come in? This is an interesting question.
Nobody knows how many gentiles or indeed how many Jews there are who believe in Jesus.
If you take it from the beginning of the church age, it’s impossible for us to know. Nobody knows apart from God, and it seems that God considers a certain time when He sees enough gentiles have come in, when He’s going to change the situation and bring about something which will be ‘a new thing’. God will do something new to show this has happened, and then, He will turn to the Jewish people.
Now here’s where it gets a bit controversial because I know some people don’t believe that there is a pre-Tribulation Rapture. But I believe there is. And I believe that what actually happens to change this situation is the pre-Tribulation Rapture of the church.
So that, when God moves and says there are enough gentiles, when there are enough Jews who believe in Jesus, ‘I’m going to take these people supernaturally out of the world’. Then, the time of the great Tribulation will come in which I’ll begin to deal in a specific way with the Jewish people. A famous scripture in 1 Thessalonians says:
That scripture is what’s called the Rapture of the church. It says that, at some point in time, God is going to supernaturally take all those who have repented and believe the Gospel, who have the holy Spirit in them, to be taken out of this world to meet the Lord as He comes in the air.
It’s an entirely supernatural event. We can’t make it happen but God can make it happen because God’s able to do everything. And, at this point, all those who believe in Jesus will be taken supernaturally to be with the Lord.
It says that we don’t know the day or the hour, so we can’t tell when this is going to happen.
Therefore, one of the implications is that we should be ready for it to happen at any time: be ready for the coming of the Lord.
Now, the controversial bit is that if believers are taken out of the world before the Tribulation, then there is a time of seven years which is the Tribulation during which time God is dealing with those who remain and which will bring God to move in a new way amongst Israel, His Jewish people.
They will be saved in large numbers, and they will also bring numbers of gentiles to believe who will be saved during the Tribulation period. God will deal with the remaining Jewish population on the earth, reveal to a significant number of them that Yeshua is the Messiah which will climax in the national salvation of Israel.