At this wondrous season, we rejoice once again to read the words of the Prophet Isaiah speaking prophetically of our Lord Jesus’ birth:

“Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder. … Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom to order it, and to establish it with Judgment and with Justice from henceforth even forever.”—Isaiah 9:6,7

We rejoice also in the knowledge that even in troublous times such as these in which this year of 1988 closes, we can have the assurance that we are experiencing the evidences that the Gentile Times have indeed ended and that the one “whose right it is” to sit upon David’s throne will soon exercise that right, and take unto himself his great power and begin his reign over the nations of the earth.

“He Whose Right It Is”

The Jewish nation “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 21:24

THESE words were part of a long answer Jesus gave to his disciples when they asked him, “When shall these things be, and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?” (Luke 21:7) Matthew’s account reads, “When these things shall be, and what the sign of thy presence and the conclusion of the age.” (Matt. 24:3, Rotherham) When God created Adam and Eve, he said to them, “Be fruitful, and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Gen. 1:28, New International Version) Man was originally constituted a ruler or king over the earth, but this dominion was forfeited because of sin. Since the time of Adam, various individuals, groups, dynasties, or royal families, have attempted with varying degrees of success to rule over at least a portion of their fellows, and their small segment of the earth.

This was true respecting the Jewish nation—the natural descendants of Abraham, the man to whom God promised that “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3) This promise was so important that it was confirmed by God’s oath. (Heb. 6:13,17) Part of his promise was, “Thy seed shall possess the gates of his enemies.” (Gen. 22:17) At the time these words were written, powerful cities were walled, and gates in the walls controlled access to the city. Those who controlled the gates controlled the city. So this expression was God’s way of telling Abraham that his seed would be in control of the affairs of the world. But God did not specify the time for the fulfillment for this great and wonderful prophecy.

The Lord first began to deal with Abraham’s descendants as a nation at the death of Jacob. At that time the Israelites were simply a collection of families without a government, laws, land, or ruler. They were bond slaves in the land of Egypt when Moses was sent by God to deliver them from their bondage. At the death of Moses, Joshua became responsible for the division of the Promised Land among the tribes, which they had entered under his leadership.

During the four hundred year stretch of time following the death of Joshua, Israel was without any king or ruler. This is known as the period of the judges. Describing this era, the Scriptures say, “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” (Judg. 17:6) Because of the wickedness of the people, God permitted them to come periodically under the control of their enemies—the Philistines, Amalekites, Midianites, Amorites, and other heathen nations. In each instance, after they had suffered enough, God would raise up a judge who would deliver them from oppression. Some of these included Gideon, Deborah, and finally, the last judge, Samuel. Near the close of his life, Samuel tried to appoint one of his sons to carry on as his successor. But the people rejected this idea for several reasons.

The main reason was that they wanted a king such as their heathen neighbors had. Kings at the head of kingdoms was the usual arrangement—Israel’s system of judges was an exception to the normal. God agreed to give the Israelites what they wanted, though he instructed Samuel to warn them of the difficulties they would encounter living under a king. But they were certain they wanted a king, so Samuel, under God’s direction, selected and anointed Saul to be their first king. Saul’s reign began well. He seemed to be a humble and good ruler. But before long he departed from the ways of God, and David was anointed to be his replacement.

God did not promise Saul that he would be the first in a royal line of kings. Saul was anointed to be a king, not the head of a royal house. But, just before his death, Jacob had spoken this wonderful prophecy: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” (Gen. 49:10) David was of the tribe of Judah. God here says that the sceptre, or right to rule, would remain with Judah [David’s line] even though some of those who exercised this authority would be extremely wicked kings. Yet God exercised mercy toward David, as expressed in the marvelous words, “the sure mercies of David.” See II Chronicles 6:42, Isaiah 55:3, and Acts 13:34.

The Davidic line of succession continued until 606 B.C., when King Zedekiah, one of the royal line of David, was overthrown by the Babylonish king, Nebuchadnezzar, and taken captive with the people into Babylon. Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel where the king was enthroned, was destroyed. In this connection, the Prophet Ezekiel, who had already been taken to Babylon, wrote this significant prophecy: “Thus saith the Lord God, Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be … until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.” (Ezek. 21:26,27) Even though David and many of his successors in his line were dead, and even though his current successor was defeated and going into captivity, God assured the prophet that the house of David was not dead. Kingship would be held in suspension until he came whose right it was, at which time God would surely give the crown to him.

Who was this person who had the right to David’s throne? The answer is given to us in the words of the angel, who told Mary, “Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luke 1:31-33) Jesus is the one “whose right it is.” The promise that Judah, David’s royal line, would be forever had nothing to do with David’s natural descendents, nor, for that matter, with David himself. It was a promise which saw its fulfillment in Jesus, the Son of God—the true heir to the throne of David.

Isaiah spoke prophetically of Jesus in these words: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this.” (Isa. 9:6,7) This will be the great work during the reign of Christ.

The Bible gives us many thrilling promises in connection with the reign of him, whose right it is. In Isaiah’s prophecy we read how there will be no end to the increase of his peace! Micah said, “They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid.” (Mic. 4:4) The fulfillment of these, and many other promises, are associated with the reestablishment of the throne of David, first in Israel, then over the entire earth.

When the disciples asked their Master for information which would enable them to be aware of the sign that it was the time for Jesus’ second presence, he told them, “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” If ‘Jerusalem’ is no longer ‘trodden down’ (controlled by) the Gentiles, then we know the times of the Gentiles are over. Note that Jesus did not say, ‘when the kingdom is established’, or ‘when every man will dwell under his own vine and fig tree’. He did not say, ‘after the resurrection of those who are to be the earthly representatives of the kingdom’ nor ‘when the blessings of peace and joy fill the earth’!

In 606 B.C., when Zedekiah was overthrown and taken captive to Babylon, the nation of Israel lost its independence. Although, seventy years later, King Cyrus allowed any who desired to return to their land, from a national perspective the nation never regained its independence. They continued to be subject to Babylon as long as it was a world power. Then they were subject to Medo-Persia, to Greece, and—in the days of Jesus when he uttered the prophecy in Luke—to Rome.

The use of the word ‘Jerusalem’ refers to the government of Israel. Even today we commonly refer to a government by naming its capital. If one asks what the thinking is in Paris, for instance, we expect to discover the thinking of the leaders of the French government. If we were to say that Paris is under the control of another government, it would generally mean that the entire nation of France was in subjection. This is the thought of our Lord’s prophecy. The whole Jewish political arrangement was trodden down. No one in Israel had any liberty. They all paid taxes to Rome. This was the treading down of Israel by a foreign nation. Jesus said it would continue until the times of the Gentiles were fulfilled.

Another picture of this is given to us in the Book of Daniel. The prophet interpreted a dream of Nebuchadnezzar in which that king is likened to a tree which had been cut down and banded about for “seven times.” (Dan. 4:10-16) A prophetic ‘time’ is a period of 360 days. One prophetic ‘day’ often equals one literal year. Daniel’s prophecy of seventy weeks, with Messiah cut off in the middle of the seventieth week (chapter 9, verses 25-27) illustrates a prophecy which can only be understood if a conversion is made between prophetic time (one prophetic week equals seven prophetic days) and literal time (seven prophetic days equal seven literal years). Thus “seven times” means seven times 360, or 2,520. The dream of Nebuchadnezzar actually became a reality. He was “cut down” for seven literal years. But in this experience he pictured what happened to Israel. As a nation they were “trodden down” for 7 [years] multiplied by 360 [years], equals 2,520 years.

This period began when Zedekiah and the Jews were carried off to Babylon in 606 B.C. Counting two thousand five hundred and twenty years from that time brings us to 1914 A.D. This prophecy does not describe when Gentile kingdoms would begin and continue to exist; for they existed and exercised their powers long before 606 B.C., and they still continue to exist even now. But the prophecy does refer to the time during which four specifically designated Gentile empires would keep Israel subject to their control. The year 1914 marks the time when things changed dramatically in the world. It was a time that changed Israel’s fortunes. Today Israel is not trodden down, or controlled, by anyone. She pays taxes to no foreign government, she selects and chooses her own governing body, makes her own laws, controls her own army, and is free to make her own decisions affecting her country internally, as well as on the world scene. This conclusively proves that “the times of the Gentiles” has ended!

Nebuchadnezzar was Babylon’s king in 606 B.C. when Israel was brought under their subjugation. In the second year of his reign he had a dream that troubled him. As revealed by God, through Daniel, he dreamed of a mighty image whose head was of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet part of iron and part of clay. Then a stone was cut out of a mountain without hands, smote the image on its feet, ground it to powder, and the wind carried it away. In his interpretation, Daniel said, “Thou, O king, art a king of kings; for the God of heaven hash given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. … Thou art this head of gold.”—Dan. 2:32-38

In what sense was Nebuchadnezzar this head of gold? Not that he was a ruler—for his father had ruled before him, and he was already in the second year of his own reign. The sense is that the God of heaven had given him dominion. It made no change in the Babylonian empire. It merely gave recognition to the fact that God was taking a hand in the affairs of Babylon beginning at that time, including control over the affairs of Israel.

This God-given dominion continued on, for “after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.” (vs. 39) When the stone smote the image and destroyed it, the gold, silver, brass, iron, and clay, all came down together. Clearly the elements did not represent these nations—for Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and even Rome had long since ceased to exist as world empires! But what was destroyed was this ideology, this God-given dominion to the Gentile nations. It all came tumbling down in 1914—in the First World War!

The kings of the earth had long claimed special authority for their right to rule others. This was known as the “divine right of kings.” The Apostle Paul acknowledged this when he said, “The powers that be are ordained of God.” (Rom. 13:1) But God did not give these ruling powers the right to exploit, torture, or burn their opposition at the stake. Prerogatives such as these were a corruption of their right to rule ordained by God.

In our time the last vestige of this ideology has been destroyed. No statesman today would be so foolish as to advocate the restoration of a church-state system to save the world from chaos. That which was represented by Nebuchadnezzar’s great chaos. That which was represented by Nebuchadnezzar’s great image is gone. The right to rule granted by God to four specific successive world empires is over. We do not understand this to mean that there must be no Gentile nations left in the world before we can say that the Gentile times are ended. As we stated before, and again reiterate, Gentile nations existed from the beginning of time, and they certainly continue to exist today. Notice particularly the closing words of Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream: “In the days of these kings [when the ideology of a God-given right to rule is in force] shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”—Dan. 2:44

So we see from our Lord’s prophecy, recorded in Luke, that the times of the Gentiles has surely ended because Israel is no longer subjugated by Gentile nations. Israel is not, however, at this time receiving the blessings of the kingdom. But of course Jesus did not say this would happen at the particular time he described. Certainly, from the viewpoint of the Gentile kingdoms, that which was represented by Nebuchadnezzar’s image was indeed doomed and destroyed when the 2,520-year period of God-given dominion came to an end in 1914!

Our conclusion is sure: we are in the period when the God of heaven is preparing to set up a kingdom. It is being set up in the sense that through Christ the world’s kingdoms and organizations are being weakened and destroyed. Soon earth’s dark night of weeping will close. Then the glorious sunlight of God’s blessings will shine through the Messianic kingdom with its healing beams on all the weary earth. (Mal. 4:2) Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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