The Times Of The Gentiles

Jerusalem is a long way from her glory days when the Temple stood erect and the priests attended the daily services. Centuries have passed and none consider her. The beauty of Jerusalem has fallen, and none remember her. Her glory has gone; she has been left desolate and foreigners trample her underfoot.

In 586 BCE the invading Babylonian armies destroyed the city of Jerusalem, and laid bare the Temple, the House of God. This was the beginning of the period known as "the times of the Gentiles" . More than 500 years later, when the Messiah came, during the days of His rejection, He foretold that the times of the Gentiles had not yet concluded, and more specifically that, "Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (Luke 21:24)

The prophet Daniel, who was taken captive to Babylon, revealed that the People and Land of Israel would be subject to a series of consecutive Gentile empires and governments for an extended period of time, until the arrival of the Messiah who would establish the Kingdom of God.

In an amazing twist of events, similar to Joseph's rise in Egypt, the prophet Daniel, also rose to prominence, after correctly revealing and giving the interpretion of a dream which troubled King Nebuchadnezzar. (see Daniel chapters 1 and 2) In the same way that only Joseph could interpret Pharaoh's dream, so too, of all the people in the vast Babylonian empire, only Daniel and his three friends could reveal the king's dream, and give its interpretation.

Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of a statue with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, waist of bronze, legs of iron and feet of iron and clay. According to the interpretation given by Daniel, the head of gold represented the Babylonian kingdom. King Nebuchadnezzar was the beginning of a period of Gentile rule and domination. The various types of metals and substances corresponded to the different, consecutive empires subsequent to the Babylonian empire.

History records that the Medo-Perisan empire, which immediately followed the Babylonian empire, was represented by the silver arms and chest. The Greek empire was represented by the waist of bronze. The Roman empire was represented by the legs of iron. And the final Gentile empire was represented by the mixture of iron and clay in the feet and toes. Each of these empires would rule over the People and Land of Israel.

However, Nebuchadnezzar also saw in the dream a huge stone which struck the statue crushing it, "and the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth." (Daniel 2:35) Daniel revealed that the stone represented the everlasting Kingdom of God, which will destroy all the former Gentile kingdoms, bringing an end to the period of Gentile rule and domination. Also significant, is that the kingdom will not be given to others, but will be returned to His people, Israel. " . . . the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these (former) kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." (Daniel 2:44)

The significance of these Gentile kingdoms is that they constititute the period of time known as "the times of the Gentiles" . Therefore, the time of the Gentiles, began with the Gentile-Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, who was the head of gold, and will continue to the final Gentile empire, depicted by the ten toes of iron and clay. These Gentile governments, however, will be destroyed by the King Messiah who will establish the Kingdom of God on earth, depicted by the stone crushing the image and filling the whole earth. His is a Kingdom of righteousness which shall never be destroyed, and for which the Jewish people await with eager anticipation.

The Jewish people, the Land, and Jerusalem, therefore, have been under Gentile domination for more than 2,500 years, yet the end is near. History has recorded the rise and passing of the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman empires. According to the image we are in the days of the final Gentile empire, depicted by the two feet and ten toes of iron and clay. This final Gentile regime will end when the King Messiah comes to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.

Significantly, in the June 1967 Six Day War, the city of Jerusalem was released from the grip of the Gentiles and miraculously returned to Jewish hands and administration. Sadly, the Temple Mount, which also returned to the Jewish people in the Six Day War, continues to be under direct Gentile rule, since it was handed back to the Muslims in an effort to appease international demands.

Whilst the restoration to her people was miraculous, Jerusalem is still greatly influenced by Gentile laws and culture. Observe today, a freer Jerusalem, a thriving modern city maintaining the past with the present, a city welcoming her children home, the old and young dancing in the streets. Hear the songs of praise to God, the prayers of thanksgiving for His goodness and faithfulness. This is marvellous in our eyes and to our ears. Observe too, how the government of Israel concedes to international policies and demands. The modern State of Israel has been developed with laws and a form of government that are Gentile in nature, as opposed to God's law and His commandments, which are a by-product of 25 centuries of exile living among the Gentiles.

From a contemporary, global viewpoint, the State of Israel is a free, democratic society. It is a nation whose standards and laws are 'approved and accepted' by the international community. But this is not where Israel belongs. The nation of Israel blossoms much more and is abundantly more fruitful under God's kingship.

Significant to this issue is God's warning to Israel, that they will desire to be like the Gentiles. While in exile, the Jewish people will want to assimilate, and be like the citizens of their host nation. The danger is that while striving to live at peace among the Gentiles, they are turned away from the Lord their God. Their way of life, and how they conduct themselves in the community is determined by Gentile ways and culture. Yet, God will not allow it. His people will return to His standards, His laws, and He will rule over them with love.

"What you have in your mind shall never be, when you say, 'We will be like the Gentiles, like the families in other countries, serving wood and stone.'

'As I live' says the Lord GOD, 'surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you.

'And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead my case with you face to face. Just as I pleaded my case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead my case with you,'" says the Lord GOD.

'I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'" (Ezekiel 20:32-38)

In view of the modern State of Israel wanting to be like the nations, it is not surprising that Jerusalem, in recent times, has become cloaked in controversy. Despite having experienced a transformation that is unparalleled in any other city in the world– it is once again functioning as the nation's capital city, after more than 2,500 years– yet, Jerusalem's status is hotly debated and an issue of international contention.

The Jewish prophets foretell of troubling times ahead, as the last days of Gentile domination to draw to a close.

"Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.

"And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.'" (Zechariah 12:2-3)

Reminiscent of the stone in Nebuchadnezzar's dream which struck the image ending Gentile domination, so too, here Jerusalem is referred to as "a very heavy stone" . Jerusalem will become an imposing, immovable, and unavoidable obstacle for all peoples. Therefore, it is not coincidence that Jerusalem, today, has become the scorn of surrounding nations, as well as attracting abuse and disdain of other nations. The path to peace is not through international agreements; they will not succeed where Jerusalem is concerned.

Be not mistaken, the peace for Jerusalem is not an irreconciliable dispute between opposing ideologies. This is the last-days cauldron, a boiling pot in which all who lift themselves against Jerusalem and God's purposes are thrown in.

"'In that day,' says the LORD, 'I will strike every horse with confusion, and its rider with madness; I will open my eyes on the house of Judah, and will strike every horse of the peoples with blindness.

'And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, "The inhabitants of Jerusalem are my strength in the LORD of hosts, their God,"

'In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited in her own place–Jerusalem.'" (Zechariah 12:4-6)

Although, world leaders appear to work for peace, some are even hailed as "peace-makers" and are awarded for their efforts, yet the peace that these international "peace-makers" are working toward is not the same as what God has planned for Jerusalem. Peace at any price is not true peace. Buying peace at the expense of justice is not a peace that will last.

King David, a prominent world leader of the past, perceived Jerusalem to be a city in which peace was found, and a city from which peace would go forth to the nations.

"I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go into the house of the LORD.' Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!

"Jerusalem is built as a city that is compact together, where the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, to the Testimony of Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD. For thrones are set there for judgement, the thrones of the house of David.

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: 'May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces.' For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, 'Peace be within you.' Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek your good." (Psalm 122:1-9 A Song of Ascents of David.)

Few world leaders, today, would agree with King David's expression of deep gratitude for simply being in Jerusalem's environs. Indeed, who among them would have said to David, "Let us go into the house of the LORD." Yet it is here, in Jerusalem, where peace is found. "Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces."

Praying for the peace of Jerusalem is like praying for the peace of every city, because peace begins in Jerusalem, and then peace goes forth to every nation–peace to all peoples. Contrast this to international leaders imposing a negotiated peace upon Jerusalem. Surely, these agreements are cloaked in controversy, and will only lead to more suffering.

Oh, for a Jerusalem in which the righteousness of God shines forth, and His salvation to the ends of the earth. "For Zion's sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns." (Isaiah 62)

May it come quickly, and may we be blessed to see it in our day. "May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your palaces."