THE TERM “The Times of the Gentiles” refers to that period of time during which God leased earth’s dominion to the non-Jewish nations. For a time God appointed the nation of Israel to be His typical Kingdom. He selected King David and his posterity to constitute the royal family. The last king of David’s line was Zedekiah, of whom we read: “And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end, Thus saith the Lord God; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown. . . . I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him” (Ezekiel 21: 25-27). The One whose right it is, is Messiah – Jesus the Head, and the Church His Body – on the spirit plane. Certain Scriptures indicate that the time during which God’s Kingdom would be removed would be seven prophetic Times.
Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of the Image
To illustrate this period of seven Times, God gave Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, a dream, and sent the dream’s interpretation through the Prophet Daniel. The dream showed a great image, whose head of gold represented Babylon; the breast and arms of silver represented the succeeding government of Medo-Persia; the belly of brass represented the Grecian Empire, which succeeded the Medes and Persians; and its legs of iron represented Rome, the government of the Caesars. Each of these governments has had universal sway (Daniel 2: 31-40).
The feet of the image were of iron mixed and smeared with clay and thus made to represent stone feet. The iron represented the civil part, and the clay represented the ecclesiastical part of the Roman Empire. The stone which struck the image in the feet, ground them to powder and utterly destroyed the entire image represents God’s Kingdom utterly annihilating Satan’s empire in the present Time of Trouble. This Kingdom will ultimately fill the whole earth. The clay mingled in and smeared on the feet, making them look like the stone, represents the present governments of Christendom claiming to be Christ’s Kingdom; but in reality they are Gentile kingdoms, the last representatives of Gentile power until God sets up His Kingdom (Daniel 2: 41-45).
Daniel’s Dream of Four Beasts
Daniel 7: 1-7 records Daniel’s dream of four beasts, which is a different symbolization of the four universal empires. Here the lion represents Babylon; the second beast, a bear, represents the Medo-Persian empire; the third beast, the leopard with four heads, represents the Grecian empire, which after Alexander the Great’s death was divided into four parts under four of his generals; and the fourth beast, with ten horns, represents the Roman empire. The ten horns represent the ten language nations of Europe that invaded Italy during the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.
The Seven Prophetic Times
In our text, Jesus connects “the times of the Gentiles” with Israel’s punishment for violation of the Law Covenant. In Leviticus 26: 18, 21, 24, 28, after indicating that lesser punishments would not reform them, God prophesies a final punishment of seven times upon Israel at the hands of the Gentiles, for their national sins against the Law Covenant. These punishments began when Nebuchadnezzar desolated Jerusalem and Palestine, taking Israel captive to Babylon, in October 607 B.C.
A time in the Scriptures represents a prophetic year of either literal or symbolic duration. A literal prophetic year would be an ordinary year. A symbolic prophetic year is based upon a year midway between the length of a lunar and a solar year (360 days) and counts each of these days a year (Numbers 14: 33, 34; Ezekiel 4: 1-8; Daniel 9: 24-27); therefore a symbolic prophetic year would be 360 literal years (Daniel 7: 25; 12: 7 [360 X 31/2 = 1260]; Revelation 12: 14; 13: 5; 12: 6). From the facts that: (1) Israel often suffered chastisement longer than seven literal years in various of their punishments from the neighboring nations before the final one of seven times came; (2) the one of seven times is represented as longer and severer than any of those earlier periods of punishment; and (3) Jesus connects the progress of these times with Jerusalem’s overthrow in 70 A.D. and their end with the end of the Age, we conclude that the seven times were symbolic times or years – 7 X 360 literal years, or 2520 years. Therefore, “the times of the Gentiles” expired 2520 years after its beginning in October 607 B.C., bringing us to 1914.
The World War which broke out in the Fall of 1914, is the visible evidence that their lease has ended. The power that the Gentile governments has used since that time is not legal before God. Therefore, at His direction, they began to suffer eviction proceedings in and by the World War, and these eviction proceedings have continued and will continue until the Gentile governments are entirely displaced by God’s Kingdom.
Another Picture of Gentile Times
Another view of Gentile Times is presented in Daniel 4. Nebuchadnezzar is given another dream, interpreted by Daniel and fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar. But in a larger sense it portrays man’s original dominion over the whole earth, its removal, and the certainty of its restitution, to begin after the end of the Gentile Times.
In his dream, Nebuchadnezzar saw a tree of great height, which grew strong and whose height reached unto heaven, and the sight to the end of the earth; the leaves were fair, and it had much fruit, which provided meat for all; the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in its boughs, and all flesh were fed by it. A watcher and a holy one came down from heaven who commanded that the tree be cut down, its branches cut off, the leaves shaken off and the fruit scattered; the beasts and fowls were not to dwell under it. Nevertheless, the stump of its roots was to be left, with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and was to be wet with the dew of heaven, and his portion to be with the beasts in the grass of the earth. (The figure now changes from the stump of a tree to a degraded man.) His heart was to be changed from that of a man to that of a beast; and seven times were to pass over him. This decree was made so that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men (Daniel 4: 10-17).
Daniel interpreted the dream, saying that the tree represented Nebuchadnezzar, who had grown strong and had become great; but that he would be driven out from men to live with the beasts of the field, and that he would remain in this degraded condition until seven times (seven literal years in his case) passed over him. His reason would then return to him and he would be restored to his kingdom after having learned valuable lessons, especially to reverence the Most High God (Daniel 4: 20-26). True to Daniel’s interpretation, all of these things came upon Nebuchadnezzar. He wandered among the beasts until seven years had passed, and then he was restored to his kingdom, with even more honor added to him.
The Greater Interpretation
In the larger sense, the tree represents the first dominion of earth given to the human race in its representative and head, Father Adam (Genesis 1: 28). But when sin entered, the command came to hew down the tree, and the glory, beauty and power of mankind were taken away; and the lower creation no more found shelter and blessing under his influence. From man’s standpoint all power to recover the lost dominion was hopelessly lost; but from God’s standpoint, the root – God’s purpose and plan of restitution – continued, though not until the appointed time.
Since 1914, when the Times of the Gentiles ended, reason has been returning to mankind: men are awakening to some sense of their degradation, and are seeking to improve their condition. They are thinking, planning and scheming for a better condition than that to which they had been submitting under beastly powers. But before they come to recognize God and His dominion over all, they will need to pass through the remaining phases of the great Time of Trouble. Though they will emerge thoroughly disheartened with their own ways, they will welcome and gladly submit to the righteous authority which then takes control. Then “the desire of all nations shall come” – the Kingdom of God, under the absolute control of God’s Anointed.