An understanding of the "Times of the Gentiles" is vital and fundamental. It is the frame-work of the whole structure of Bible prophecy. It is a KEY to unlock the doors to understanding. Here is a fascinating subject without which the prophecies concerning the present wars, and the coming world war — in fact all prophecy, cannot be understood.
JUST WHAT do we mean by "The Times of the Gentiles"? Jesus said, in Luke 21:24: "And they (the Jews) 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 DID fall by the edge of the sword shortly after the Master uttered this very solemn prophecy — in the year 70 A.D. They WERE led, a captive people, into ALL nations — the miracle of history — the only time any nation was so dispersed and yet not destroyed or totally absorbed into the other nations. Jerusalem WAS trodden down of the Gentiles almost 1900 years — until the very DAY Jesus set for this Gentile occupation to end, as we shall see! Certainly, then, it is important that we understand the "Times of the Gentiles" — the date for their ending — what has been scheduled to occur at that exact time!
WHAT THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES ARE
To understand this absorbing question, we must hurriedly glance back, for the moment, into some interesting events of several centuries ago, and see how Almighty God gave over world dominion to the GENTILE governments, and marked out a definite period of time for their supremacy. But even before this, God had promised national dominance and world rulership to His own chosen people, Israel, — but on condition that they should obey Him and keep His commandment! At Mt. Sinai, God said to them: "Now, therefore, IF ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me ABOVE ALL PEOPLE, for all the earth is mine; and ye shall be unto me a Kingdom of priests, and an holy nation." (Exodus 19:5-6). This promise was repeated in more concrete form, and also the warning of the specific punishment, in Leviticus, the 26th chapter: "If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments and do them, then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit... And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight." (Lev. 26:3-4, 7-8). Notice the promise of wealth, and of national supremacy. Any nation, a hundred of whose soldiers can put ten thousand enemy soldiers to flight, soon will conquer and rule the world! But notice the punishment if Israel did not obey! "But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments...I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague,... and you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it,... they that hate you shall rule over you.... I will punish you SEVEN TIMES more for your sins." (Lev. 26:14-16). And it is repeated in the 21st, 24th, and 28th verses that Israel was to be punished SEVEN TIMES for their sins. If Israel obeyed, they should have become the mightiest, wealthiest power on earth, able to conquer all nations. If they did not obey God, they, HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE, were to be punished with sickness, fever, disease, and driven out as a slave people — their enemy Gentile nations ruling over them — punished in this manner SEVEN TIMES! That was the punishment God meted out to a WHOLE NATION, His own chosen race! And yet single, helpless individuals today seem to feel it makes no difference whether or not they obey God and keep His commandments!
"MEANING OF THE SEVEN TIMES"
This "seven times" does not refer to seven successive punishments. We find in such texts as I Chron. 12:32; 29:30, and Esther 1:13, that the meaning of those "times" was understood by the men of Israel. In the 12th chapter of Daniel after Daniel had inquired HOW LONG it would be until the end of a certain prophecy He was told (verse 7) it would be "for a time, times, and a half," or three and one-half times. Clearly, three and one...
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