I personally believe that there has been so much misunderstanding in today’s church concerning the phrase “the times of the Gentiles.”
Some have taught that the times of the Gentiles refers to the historical period of Gentile control over Jerusalem beginning with the Babylonian captivity in 586 B.C. and ending in 1967, when Israel took East Jerusalem from the Arabs in the Six-Day War. At some time point in the past, some predictions were made that 40 years after that Jesus would return but it failed every other till date.
This was their scriptural stand
“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:32)
Very interesting but sadly out of time and irrelevant to the audience to whom it was spoken to.
The times of the Gentiles has to be seen in it’s proper historical context. When Jesus gave that prophecy in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 he said that “all”, including the times of the Gentiles, would be fulfilled within that generation had passed.
Dispensationalists take a trip outside the box of “this generation” in order to teach a futuristic view of Christ’s coming. To do that they have to redefine and reposition both “the times of the Gentiles” and “this generation”. Hence the reason some popular took reference with the “1948 generation” that the world would end in 1988. We don’t need to confirm anymore if they were.
This is how Jesus puts it in context.
“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea 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. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things written may be fulfilled. 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. 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.’ (Luke 21:20-24)
The times of the Gentiles referred to the treading down, or desolation, of the Old Jerusalem, in the time which Jesus called “the days of vengeance”. In other words, it was God’s mission for the Gentiles to bring judgment upon Jerusalem. This is consistent with past judgments upon Israel in the Old testament, when God brought Gentiles armies into their land to desolate it.
In the book of Revelation we see a connection with the trampling of the Holy city by the gentiles
“But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot (pateho) forty and two months.”
The times of the Gentiles, or treading down of Jerusalem, entailed no more than a forty two month period of time, the exact duration of the Jewish-Roman War. This is in perfect harmony with Daniel 12:7, where the defining characteristic of “the time of the end” is said to be “the scattering of the power of the holy people”, which we are told would be accomplished during “a time, times, and a half”, or forty two months.
The significance of the phrase “times of the Gentiles” is strongly connected to the nature of the Old covenant explaining why vengeance was poured out upon that generation. The law of Moses was structured with both blessings and curses; blessing for obedience, curses for disobedience. If Israel was obedient, God promised thou would “lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath.” (Deut. 28:12, 13)
But if they were disobedient the opposite would obtain:
“The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away…Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee. And the Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shall not understand; a nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young: and he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee.” (Deut. 28:25, 26; 48-51)
Leviticus also gives us background understanding about why Israel would be visited with plagues, vials and judgment as mentioned in the book of Revelation
“And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me; then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins. And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.” (Lev. 26:23-25; emphasis MINE, 21, 28)
The kingdom of God which all Israel was in expectation, and which Jesus himself preached, spoke of a time when the yoke of the Gentiles would be taken from the people of God and dominion would be returned to the house of David. They believed that Messiah would bring about a new age to establish this prophecy.
But they misunderstood the nature and the coming of the Messiah. The Jews were looking for a national liberator and Jesus didn’t fit the bill. They expected one that who would overthrow the Romans and bring in a time of world dominion reminiscent of the glory days of Solomon.
God’s plan was not clearly seen concerning the restoration of the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6), as He set up again the throne of David over His people and is bringing about the subjugation of their enemies through the victory of the gospel over the hearts and minds of men, encompassing every race and people, revolutionizing the world through the influence of the kingdom.
Luke’s account of the Olivet Discourse quotes the Lord, saying: “So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is now nigh at hand.” (Lk. 21:31)
The kingdom was fully established at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70. As Paul once said in Romans 8 that the “creature” that had groaned and travailed in pain from the fall of the race (Rom. 8:19-23) would find rest and refreshment in redemption and adoption of the sons of God at the consummation of the age.
The times of the Gentiles expired where the kingdom of Christ began and it will increase in fluence and without an end. Daniel tells us that;
“And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” (Dan. 7:27)