Then let them which are in Judaea 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 which are 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 21:21-24)
One of the outcomes of the 1967 Six-Day war was that the modern state of Israel captured Jerusalem, including the holiest site to Jews, the Temple Mount. There was great excitement among those who study the prophecies, because the implications of this was that perhaps “the times of the Gentiles” were now fulfilled, and the set time had come for the LORD to restore Zion.
But when Moishe Dyan turned the custody of the sacred site into the hands of the Jordanian Muslim Wafq council, there was equally much puzzlement and confusion. To this day Muslims control Jerusalem’s holiest site, and often profane it by broadcasting from loudspeakers antisemitic and blasphemous sermons, and raining stones upon those Jews at the foot of the Mountain, praying at the “Wailing Wall”.
Evidently the “times of the Gentiles” is not yet terminated, for in spite of the gains of the Six Day War, Jerusalem at it’s most holy center, the temple mount, is still “Trodden under foot of the Gentiles.
As a matter of fact the Muslim custodians of the temple mount are feverishly working to destroy any trace of the former two Jewish Temples. Heavy construction equipment is constantly employed to hollow out the ground underneath the platform where the temple once stood. Priceless Bulldozer shovels brimming with Archeological treasure are being excavated without care for history or Theology, and hauled out of the area, and dumped unceremoniously outside of the city. The Wafq wants to make the entire Mountain which once held both Solomon’s and Herod’s temple into a giant Mosque.
Archeologists who comb through the rubble are finding countless relics of the temples, sacred shovels, rings pans, cups, and assorted other precious antiquities are being retrieved, but who knows how much has been destroyed?
Jesus is the only one in scripture to use the expression, “The times of the Gentiles”. What was He referring to? There are two possibilities that I know of;
He may be referring to the vision of King Nebuchadnezzar, which forecast the entire future of Israel as a nation till the end of time.Because of her sin, Israel lost the national sovereignty, and has come under either directly or indirectly under the rule of Gentile powers, until the set time of restoration should come.
Since around 600 BC Israel has been ruled by Babylonians, Persians,Greeks, and Romans. She lost her status as a nation entirely in 70 ad and regained it again in 1948, but has been something of a client state of western powers till today.
OR perhaps Jesus is referring to what Paul refered to in Romans 11 when he told us that God has temporarily blinded Israel, and has given them a Spirit of slumber for a season. He is working primarily with the Gentiles now, until the set number(fulness of the Gentiles) comes into faith.
What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy…
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: (Romans 11:7-26)
Personally I believe both of these are two aspects of the same thing. Politically, Israel is very much beholden to Gentile Powers, the latest being the United States. Spiritually we are at the closing days of a period of time in which God has been working primarily with the Gentiles, calling out for himself a people for His name, the “non People” that Moses and Hosea spoke of, have become the people of God.
Gentiles the world over have come to worship the God of israel, they listen to Jewish prophets and read the Jewish scripture, and worship the Jewish Messiah Jeshua! Other than among a tiny remnant, Israel is yet far from God in spirit and worship.
But very soon, all of that is going to be changed. As the Prophet Isaiah predicted,
Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord… Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more… For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. (Isaiah 54)
The Olive Tree, which is Israel, the people of God, has been pruned of unbelieving branches, and gentiles have been grafted into it. But in the end Jewish branches are again added to the tree and as Paul has told us, this will be resurrection from the dead for the whole world! Maranatha!