What does “The times of the Gentiles” in Luke 21:24 mean?
Luke 21:24 “Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled”
This appears to have great significance to the question of what will happen to Jerusalem in any future peace plan for the Middle East. It is essential in trying to discover the meaning of this phrase that we let the Bible interpret itself.
1. The word translated “times” is the Greek word “kairos” which describes kind or quality of time not extent of time. So the “times” denotes a period of time which is defined by being Gentile. In this context the Gentiles are trampling down Jerusalem, which means the Gentiles rule over or have power over some or all of Jerusalem.
2. We will find in the book of Daniel, two particular prophecies which are relevant to this situation.
Daniel 2: 31-45
Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, at the time of the exile of the Jews in Babylon had a dream which he could not remember but insisted that his sorcerers interpret the dream or die. They couldn’t but Daniel could.
Daniel describes the image that Nebuchadnezzar saw and interprets what each part represents. The head was of gold, which represented the Babylonian Empire, under Nebuchadnezzar. The breasts and arms were of silver, which represented the next great Empire, the Media-Persian Empire. Its belly was of brass, which represented the Greek Empire. The feet were part of iron and part of clay, which represented the Roman Empire. This image was struck by a rock and the wind carried them all away. The rock became a great mountain. The rock represents Jesus and the mountain the Kingdom of God. Note that in verse 41, it states that the feet (the Roman Empire) had 10 toes, meaning that this empire was divided into 10. This did not happen to the Roman Empire.
We need to study a further passage in Daniel to gain more information.
Daniel 7: 1 – 28
This time it is Daniel who has a dream. In his dream there are 4 beasts but an angel gives the interpretation in verses 17 – 28. These beasts represent the same four Gentile Empires. The Lion, with eagles wings, which becomes weak represents the Babylonian Empire. The bear represents The Media Persian Empire. It is said to be lopsided because the Media high of the Empire was more powerful than the Persian. The leopard represents the Greek empire. It has 4 heads because it was divided into 4 separate entities. The monster represents the Roman Empire. This time it has ‘huge iron teeth’, ‘devouring’ and ‘breaking in pieces’. Again we have the reference to the number 10, this time ‘it had 10 horns’, meaning divided into 10 kingdoms. Notice that the beasts, taken together, have a total of 7 heads and 10 horns. The dream continued with a little horn arising and plucking up 3 of the original 10. This horn was speaking ‘pompous words. In verses 11 and 12 it says that the all the beasts had their dominion taken away. More information of this kingdom is given in verses 23 – 27.
None of this is history. It is prophecy. The Roman Empire is coming back. The little horn is the Antichrist, who ‘shall speak pompous words’ and ‘persecutes the saints of the Most High’ He will have complete power for 3.1/2 years. He will ‘devour the whole world’ (v23) and divide it into 10 kingdoms under his control. He will immediately subdue 3 of the kings. Antichrist will be destroyed when Jesus comes back and Jesus will rule the world with the help of ‘the saints of the Most High.
3. Revelation 13: 1 – 2
The beast in this reference is a composite of the four beasts of Daniel’s dream. Notice that this beast has 7 heads and 10 horns. This is Antichrist. ‘The dragon (Satan) gave him his power, his throne and great authority. Antichrist’s empire will be the fullness of the evil of all those beasts which came before.
This is confirmed in Revelation 17: 1-13
4 Revelation 17: 1-13
Mystery Babylon represents the political system of the Great Tribulation, the Empire of Antichrist, described as ‘the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns’ (v7). These are explained in verses 10 – 12.
All the Empires, including the Revived Roman Empire are all Gentile empires. All these empires have affected Israel. In verse 10 it says that at the time of writing 5 empires had fallen. From the time of Jacob who was renamed Israel to 95 AD, the 5 Gentile empires affecting Israel were Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Media-Persia and Greece. ‘One is’ refers to the Roman Empire at the time. The one that has not yet come, the seventh, is the Revived Roman Empire in the Great Tribulation consisting of the 10 kingdoms, with Antichrist as one of the kings. Verse 11 says, ‘the beast that was and is not (the original Roman Empire) is himself also the eighth, and is one of the seven. The eighth is the one world government under Antichrist as sole Emperor.
5 God instituted 5 cycles of discipline for Israel in Deuteronomy 28 verse 15 onwards. Whenever Israel has been disobedient for long enough to enter the 4th or 5th cycles of discipline when they will be invaded and then exiled, God has always used Gentile nations as His instruments of judgement against Israel.
The Great Tribulation is the result of God’s judgement on Israel for their rejection of their Messiah. They went into the 5th cycle of discipline soon after the death and resurrection of Jesus. They were scattered all around the world in the diaspora. They are still in that same cycle, although the state of Israel has been restored. About half of those who know themselves to be from the tribes of Israel have returned but most of these are returning in unbelief. Israel as a nation will not accept their Messiah before He comes back at Second Advent.
6. Luke 21:24
This passage is referring to the Great Tribulation…………………………………….
During the worst acts of judgement ever of Israel, God will again use a Gentile Empire to attack Israel and ‘trample’ Jerusalem. Until the cries of believing Jews in Jerusalem, for their Messiah to come back, are finally answered by the arrival of Jesus at Second Advent, the nation of Israel will not repent but Jerusalem will be relieved by the Messiah arrival.
The times of the Gentiles trampling Jerusalem will not finish until Second Advent. It appears that Jerusalem will not be restored to the Jews as their capital city until Messiah comes back to claim it as the seat of His throne when He will rule all nations for 1000 years.