They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (NIV)
From the time of Adam to the flood of Noah more than 1500 years had passed. That is more than 50 generations of men. I don’t think that most people realize that. It goes by so quickly in the Bible. 1500 years.
At the end of that time, mankind had become thoroughly wicked. Only one man and his family were found to be righteous by faith in God’s sight. Noah, and his wife, and their three sons with their wives. Eight people in all. Eight out of perhaps millions. Not many.
The problem was that there wasn’t much in the way of information about God and what he wanted. People really had no way of knowing what the result of godless living was. There was no history.
God’s action plan for the salvation of man ultimately begins with Abraham. Abraham was a man that would listen to God and would obey whatever God told him to do. Abraham had faith in God. Abraham believed in God, that is, he knew that whatever God said was right and true and to be trusted as being absolute. Abraham was everything that you, my friend, should be.
God made a covenant with Abraham, that is, a binding agreement. God told Abraham that he would give to him the world, that is, to him and to his descendants. From that time God began forming a nation from that one man. A covenant nation, that is, a nation that was set apart from every other nation, for the purpose of teaching them and the other peoples of the world about God and his ways and his requirements. All of this was to be recorded in a book that would serve as a revelation of what is true in the world, that is, it would teach the world about the only true God and what that God requires of us all. The Bible is that book. Without the Bible, we wouldn’t have lasted any longer than those that were destroyed in Noah’s day.
Abraham had a son Isaac who had two sons, the younger of whom was Jacob. Though Jacob was the younger son he had faith in God whereas the older son did not, so the covenant was reestablished through Jacob who was later called Israel by God. Jacob had twelve sons who became the heads of twelve tribes of peoples that made up the whole of the people of Israel.
After many trials and events, the descendants of Abraham were eventually established into the Promised Land and were granted a king over the people of Israel. The first king proved to be unfaithful so the kingdom was taken from him and his descendants and given to the faithful king David who established his capital in the city of Jerusalem. God promised David that his kingdom would never disappear and that he would never fail to have a descendant sitting on the throne. The covenant was thus reestablished through the line of David. David was of the tribe of Judah and so the shortened name Jews is frequently used to include the people of the covenant after the manner that the people had been called Israelites after Jacob, even though the covenant ultimately came through Abraham.
The word Jerusalem has a special meaning in that it is the name of the capital of the nation of the Jews but is also used to describe the people themselves. When Jerusalem is destroyed the nation is destroyed too.
Because the descendants of Abraham sinned over and over and would not listen to correction, the city of Jerusalem was given over to the gentiles of Babylon. The Babylonians sacked the city and carried its people off into captivity and this event marks the beginning of the time called The Times of the Gentiles. From the time of the Babylonian domination of the covenant people to this very day, the descendants of Abraham, that is, Israel, have not had true sovereign control over their capital or their nation. The Gentile nations have had control over the nation and people of Israel from that day to this day, right up to the next reestablishment of the nation of Israel which will start the next age, that is, the thousand-year kingdom age of Israel – frequently called the Millennial Kingdom.
Using the world’s words we can say that during the Millennial Kingdom age Israel will be the world’s only superpower, though that term is misleading as Israel will be totally non-violent, having no military at all.
The prophet Daniel prophesied that four successive kingdoms would rule over Israel before the end. First the Babylonian kingdom, then the Media/Persian, then the Greek kingdom followed by the last “terrible” kingdom—the Roman Empire. It is an interesting aspect of the biblical prophecies that the Church Age is almost totally hidden in the prophecies. The Church was a mystery hidden in the Bible. It is also important to understand that when the covenant was sort of on hold regarding Israel, because of Israel’s unbelief, God established a temporary covenant with the gentiles through Jesus Christ which is known as the Church Age.
Later, in a separate article, I will be discussing these four kingdoms and the hidden Church, but for now, this article is about the times of the Gentiles–from the Babylonian kingdom to the establishment of the Millennial kingdom of Israel.