Luke 21 – “The Times of the Gentiles”

It’s not about AD 70.

Not completely, anyway. There are two questions the disciples ask, but they’re roughly the same. I’ve heard a wild theory that Jesus interprets the first question as AD 70 and the second as his second coming. Don’t buy it.

The disciples don’t realize that the “times of the Gentiles” (v.24) has to be thousands of years, mainly because they don’t realize how many Gentiles there are on the planet. With satellites and modern anthropology and the Joshua Project we’ve just in the last few decades been able to count the unreached people groups (a phrase which was coined by Ralph Winter at the Lausanne Conference in 1974). It’s a very recent development that we’ve been able to see the unfinished task in its entirety – now we only need missionaries!

The times of the Gentiles began in 586 BC with the last king of Judah, Zedekiah, whom Nebuchadnezzar deported to Babylon, “trampling” on Jerusalem. The kingdom was destroyed, and no king has ever been allowed to sit on David’s throne since, although the last king of Israel came to his city (Luke 19:28-44)  exactly 483 years after the return to Israel, as Daniel prophesied (Daniel 9:25).

But the times of the Gentiles are winding down. Although we can’t know the hour, day, month or year of Christ’s coming, we can know the season. Jesus rebukes the Jews in Luke 12:54-56 for being able to interpret signs in the earth and sky –  the coming of storms, droughts, etc. – and not being able to interpret the “present time.” And how would they interpret the present time? Through Scripture and especially through the signs preceding the first coming of Messiah – the coming of ‘Elijah,’ the prophecy of Daniel 9.

The prophecy of Daniel 9! Gabriel counted it out to the day, and they wouldn’t understand. How many prophecy scholars are mocked today for attempting to discern the season!

But they crucified their king, instead, because they would not understand. They couldn’t be bothered. Disinterest in Biblical eschatology is Satanic.

A few more scriptures regarding this “mystery”:

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.” Acts 3:19-21

The prophets testify to a time of restoration, and Peter testifies with Jesus that Jesus will remain in heaven until that time. AD 70 was not Christ “coming,” because he remained in heaven and he didn’t restore anything. Luke 21:28 uses the word “redemption” – this is the kingdom of God coming to earth to reign for 1000 years before the eternal state.

“I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.'” Romans 11:25-27

The last sentence evokes Daniel 9 – when Messiah comes, he will put an end to Israel’s sin and bring in eternal righteousness. Paul equates this spiritual event to the physical event – Israel will be spiritually softened (Zech. 12:10-13:6) when the time of the Gentiles is finished. Then their king will come to his city, they will look on the one they’ve pierced and mourn for him as for a firstborn son, and will say “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Then the government will be on his shoulders, and he will reign forever.


~ by bradybush on March 5, 2010.

One Response to “Luke 21 – “The Times of the Gentiles””

  1. A note on paragraph 3 – I didn’t mean to imply that the size of the unfinished task necessitates any length of time before Christ can return. The return of Christ is imminent, and the unfinished task of the Great Commission is actually unfinishable. I may do a post on this soon based on Matthew 10:23.

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