The Times of the Gentile Nations (Part 2)

TEXT: Luke 21:20-24

20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.

21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.

22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.

24 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.

The Times of the Gentile Nations (Part 2)

In our last message, we began looking at the times of the Gentile nations. Under God’s original plan, the Israelites were meant to be a shining light and witness to the heathen nations around them. However, they rebelled against God and did not follow His commandments consistently. So, instead of being blessed and being a blessing to the Gentile nations, they ended up being punished by God through the Gentile nations. The Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, conquered Judah, carrying the people of Israel from their land, thus beginning the times of the Gentile nations — the period in Earth’s history when Gentiles would have supremacy over the Jewish people.

Beginning with the Babylonians, a succession of Gentile empires rose and fell. After the Babylonians came the Persians and then the Greeks followed by the Romans. Rome was in control when Jesus Christ was born. During their control of the region known as Palestine, they had to put down several Jewish rebellions and uprisings. In fact, part of the reason why the Roman ruler, Pilate, agreed to have Jesus crucified was because he did not want to give the Jews another cause for an uprising. It was a very tense time in the region: the Jews had hopes of a Messianic Savior who would overthrow the Romans, and the Romans wanted to quell any notion of such a deliverer.

It is in this context that we come to our passage for today in which Jesus uses the term “times of the Gentiles.” As Jesus and his disciples were in the Temple complex, Jesus noticed that the disciples were speaking of how beautiful the Temple structure was, how rich and imposing it looked. Jesus says to his disciples, “As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” It would have been almost anathema for a devout Jew to say such a thing. So you can understand the disciples; concern when they ask, “Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?”

Jesus takes this opportunity to deliver a prophetic sermon which speaks not only of the conditions surrounding His second coming, but also of the very near future of the Jewish people. He says, “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.” The “desolation” Jesus is speaking of is the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Warren Wiersbe comments, “Luke’s account refers not to a distant event to occur during the Tribulation but to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus and the Roman army in A.D. 70, just forty years from that time. This terrible event was in many respects a ‘dress rehearsal’ for what will happen when Satan vents his anger on Israel and the believing Gentiles during the last half of the Tribulation. The Jewish historian Josephus claimed that over a million people were killed by the Romans, and over 100,000 taken captive when Titus captured the city.”

David Guzik said, “Many Jews expected the Messiah to return in glory when hostile Gentile armies surrounded Jerusalem. However, Christians in Jerusalem knew what Jesus had said and they obeyed Him, fleeing across the Jordan River mostly to Pella. The ancient Christian historian Eusebius said Christians did this in response to ‘an oracle given by revelation.’ Few if any Christians perished in the fall of Jerusalem.” He goes on to say, “When the Romans were done with Jerusalem in AD 70 not a single Jew was left alive in the city. The Romans eventually renamed the city, and for many years would not allow a Jew to even enter what was formerly known as Jerusalem, except on one day a year — the anniversary of the fall of the city and the destruction of the temple, when Jews were invited to come and mourn bitterly. From the commencement of the history of the Jewish nation, God through His servants warned them clearly that if they behaved unfaithfully and wickedly they would reap disastrous retribution. There is almost no form of calamity that visited the Jews during the Roman-Jewish war, not mentioned Deuteronomy 28:15-68. Truly Jesus meant it when He said these are the days of vengeance. This is why He wept over Jerusalem, because He could see the massive devastation to come upon this city He loved — and why He warned all who would listen how they could flee from the coming destruction.”

Jesus’ prediction was literally fulfilled when Titus ordered the Temple and the entire city to be demolished except for a single wall which still stands in Jerusalem today, and is known as the Wailing Wall. Josephus, who acted as a mediary between the Romans and Jews, recorded that the city “was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe Jerusalem had ever been inhabited.” Interestingly, Titus refused to accept a wreath of victory for the destruction of the city stating, according to the Greek teacher Phil-o-strat-us, “that it was not himself that had accomplished this exploit, but that he had merely lent his arms to God, who had so manifested his wrath.”

Included in Jesus’ prediction of the future is a warning for those who will be in Jerusalem and the surrounding area during that time. Jesus basically tells them, ‘When you see armies approaching the city, you need to get out of town. There will be no use in staying because the city will not be delivered.’ The Jews went through much suffering during this attack — especially those who did not heed Christ’s warning to flee the city. Jesus says, “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.”

The Jews would never again be fully in control of their homeland until the “times of the Gentiles” be fulfilled. Right now we are living in these times. The conquering of Israel by the Babylonians marked its beginning. Ever since then, Jewish control of the Promised Land has been contested. You will recall that even under Persian rule, the Jews faced severe opposition as Nehemiah led them to rebuild Jerusalem. Jews did not have any control over their land until 1948 when the State of Israel was formed. They did not control Jerusalem again until 1967 after the Six Day War. Even now, they are embattled and encroached upon by hostile demands from their Arab neighbors and economic and political threats from Western nations.

Ever since Jerusalem fell to Babylon in 586 BC, Israel has indeed been “trodden down” and trampled on by the Gentiles. The Temple Mount, the former home of the Jewish Temple, is not even controlled by Israel, but by Muslims. Last weekend, Israeli police had to enter the Temple Mount to stop Arabs who were plotting to attack visiting Jews from inside the mosque that sits on the Temple Mount today. Truly, we see Biblical prophecy being borne out in our day.

However, the status of the Jews will not always remain the way it is today. The “times of the Gentile nations” will come to an end when Jesus returns and when the Jews embrace him as their Messiah and Savior.

It is easy for us to become saddened when we look at the world or at our country and see how that many of our fellow Gentiles are rejecting God’s plan for the world. A LifeWay survey released this week stated that only 19% of Americans believe the country is a “Christian nation.” We have certainly drifted far from where we once were. On top of that, anti-Semitic watchdog groups have expressed concern over the rise of hatred toward Jews not just in the Middle East, but in Europe as well.

Today’s Gentiles are no better than yesterday’s Jews. The Gentiles’ rejection of God will see its climax in the millions who will one day receive the mark of the beast and choose to worship the antichrist. The Gentiles’ hatred of the Jews will see its climax at Armageddon, when Gentile armies led by the antichrist and spurred on by Satan, will gather to destroy Jerusalem and attempt to prevent the return of the Jewish Messiah. But, just as Jesus predicted the times of the Gentiles, He also revealed in His Word that the times of the Gentiles would end. Those Gentiles who love and obey Him will enter into His rest and reward. Those who rebel against Him and side with Satan will receive their just punishment. May we as Gentile believers live worthy of the future rest and reward.

_________________

If you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you how you can trust Him for salvation so that you can be ready for His return.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.

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