“And when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you will know that the time of its destruction has arrived. Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. Those in Jerusalem must get out, and those out in the country should not return to the city. For those wi ll be days of God’s vengeance, and the prophetic words of the Scriptures will be fulfilled. How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. For there will be disaster in the land and great anger against this people. They will be killed by the sword or sent away as captives to all the nations of the world. And Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles comes to an end.
“And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory. So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!”Luke 21:20-28
As I have indicated already this passage contains some difficulties of interpretation. They centre around:
- The debate as to whether Jesus is referring to the fall of Jerusalem or the End Times and His 2nd Coming.
- The meaning of “Fullness of the Time of the Gentiles” or the “End of the Time of the Gentiles”.
- The question as to why the passage suddenly changes from the Fall of Jerusalem to the End Times.
There are some who think this whole passage is related to the Fall of Jerusalem, others feel it is related to End Times. I have already told you when I included Michael’s comments that I believe the initial section from 21:20-24 refers to the Fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 and the subsequents events which took place. I have also made it clear that the sense of Jerusalem being trampled, trodden down or under the feet of the Gentiles until the Time of the Gentiles comes to an end infers ongoing trampling.
What does the Time of the Gentiles mean?
- a) the time when Gentile nations will occupy or rule over Jerusalem.
- b) the time when the Gentiles come to prominence in God’s plan – Political or Soteriological (God’s Salvation plan).
- c) the time when God offers grace to the Gentile nations.
I believe a careful reading of Romans 9-11 leads us to conclude that God has hit the button on the “Chess clock” and put on hold Israel’s privilege for inheriting the blessings of God’s salvation plan. During the time the Jewish clock has stopped, the Gentile clock is running. God’s salvation is now available to Gentiles to be grafted into the family of God. The blessings and favour of God for Israel have temporarily been put on hold. This will happen until the time of the Gentiles comes to an end and the blessings and grace of God will flow again to the Jews. That is not to say that no Jew can be saved during the time of Gentiles. Certainly God’s blessing is available to individual Jews but seemingly one by one against the tide. But there will come a time again as Paul describes in Romans 11 which God’s blessings will once again flow to Israel as a nation. When that time comes Israelis will find repentance for their hardness of heart and come back to find their God again. As Paul describes it, it will be like life from the dead, for a nation dead spiritually to their Messiah. There are many who disagree with that and follow Replacement Theology – I.e. The Church has replaced Israel in God’s grand scheme and the opportunity for the Jews is over and done. I strongly disagree with that. A clear reading of Scripture makes nonsense of that theory.
Before the end of the “Time of the Gentiles” comes, this Gospel will go out to all nations as a witness – and then the End shall come. When the nations have been reached then the end of the Times of (grace to) the Gentiles will come and the nation of Israel’s [chess] clock will be turned on again. At that time or shortly after the End Times will be upon us.
This then leads us to ponder why Jesus statement above flows immediately from a focus on the fall of Jerusalem in the near future at the time Jesus uttered these words (Luke 20:20-24) to the End Times and His Second Coming (Luke 21:25-28). Isn’t it this arrangement of these two elements in juxtaposition which confuses us all? It makes some of us conclude this is about the Fall of Jerusalem and others of us conclude it is about the End Times. When in reality both are linked. Why does Jesus do that?
I believe quite simply, it’s because these two events will follow one another quickly. When the Gentile [chess] clock is stopped, the Jewish [chess] clock will start. One will follow the other. We are currently in the time of the Gentiles. But when the Time of Gentiles ends the Time of the Jew begins again. One will follow the other as night follows day, and just as suddenly. It is natural for Jesus to switch from the Fall of Jerusalem to the End Times events because that is what will happen. Add to that the perspective that God stands outside of time. He sees the end from the beginning. He doesn’t have regard for the seeming interminably long Time of the Gentiles. Rather to Him it is but the blink of an eye. Therefore Jesus makes these comments as though the times are juxtaposed but in reality there are millennia between them. It is that fact which makes it possible for the disciples of Jesus day to be convinced that this would happen in their life time. It is the same for us in this day and age when we feel we are in the End Times and the Time of the Gentiles will come to an end soon. This reality has each generation feeling that they are approaching End Times.
How might we hasten the day of His appearing (2 Pet 3:12)? Get this Gospel of d Kingdom to a dying world. For when we do the End will come and we will indeed see the Son of Man coming in the clouds. “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.” (Mat 24:14)
I am, what about you?
When God permits His children to go through the furnace, He keeps His eye on the clock & His hand on the thermostat. His loving heart knows how much & how long.Warren Wiersbe
I cannot imagine how the clockwork of the universe can exist without a clockmaker.Voltaire
Ignatius, when he heard the clock strike, would say, “Now I have another hour to answer for.”Anon
My alarm clock wakes me up, but my goals get me out of bed.A R Bernard
Soon the Jewish clock will start again; make the most of the Times of the Gentiles while you still can, if you are a Gentile. Remember you are only a grafted branch.Ian Vail