TIMES OF THE GENTILES’ ~
& ‘THE FULLNESS OF THE GENTILES’.
(Written using the Jewish N.T. by David H. Stern of Jerusalem.)
GENTILES AND JERUSALEM.
There are two interesting sets of Scriptures that specifically mention 'Gentiles' (i.e. non-Jews) in relation to the Jewish people, or the City of Jerusalem. These are also significant in relation to timing and the Return of Yeshua/ Jesus to Earth. One set is concerned with political events, the other with Spiritual.
A political event as given in Yeshua/Jesus’ words in Luke 21. (Speaking specifically to the Jewish Disciples). Yeshua/ Jesus said: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you are to understand that she is about to be destroyed. Those in Judah must escape to the hills, those inside the city must get out, and those in the country must not enter it. For these are the days of vengeance, when everything that has been written in the Tanakh/O.T. will come true… For there will be great distress in the Land, [Israel] and judgement on the people. Some will fall by the edge of the sword, others will be carried into all the countries, of the Gentiles, and Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles – UNTIL the age of the Gentiles has run its course.” (Verses 20 – 24)
Yeshua/ Jesus was describing the events that did happen in A.D. 66 –70 – 138.
This was when the Jewish people were dispersed from Israel, which He called, "the days of vengeance, when everything written in the Tanakh, (O.T.) will come true."
The Scriptures Jesus referred to, could well be the chapter of terrible warnings given by Moses in Deuteronomy 28, from verse 15, as a result of turning away from the Holy One of Israel to false gods, and deliberate disobedience.
It was also because of the rejection of the Nation as a whole to Yeshua/ Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. When Yeshua said this, it was in the future, by about 30 years. This National rejection by Israel was a very serious situation in God’s eyes, because they had been given so many prophecies right up to and including the preaching of John the Baptiser. In addition, they had the careful demonstration of God’s love and power in the life and death of Yeshua/ Jesus for 3 years right before their eyes. (See Paul’s agonising questions about this in Romans 9 – 11.)
But Yeshua/Jesus explained a time would come when Gentile domination would end!
[Please read the Scripture from Luke 21, given above, again.]
Sadly Yeshua’s prophecies were agonisingly true over many centuries, in fact the best part of 2000 years! Many did ‘fall by the edge of the sword’, and many ‘others were carried into all the countries of the Gentiles, and Jerusalem was trampled down by the Gentiles’. [Please see the historical record in our article ‘Jerusalem Dates'.]
Some people still project these Scriptures into the future – even Jewish Messianic teachers. But it is clear Yeshua/Jesus referred to them being taken from their Land, again and so it was for the second time. But this time that is referred to, - indicated not just an exile to Babylon but to many countries of ‘the Gentiles’. So that certainly did happen! But now (in the last century), it is clear they have not only gained a part of their Land of Israel, but they are returning there in increasing numbers. This is clearly the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, (in 11: 11.) “In that day, The LORD will reach out His hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of His People from Assyria…from Egypt, from Ethiopia, from Iran, from Iraq and from the Islands of the sea… He will assemble the scattered people of Judah, from the four quarters of the Earth.” [Incidentally, we believe that all today’s’ Jews ARE a ‘remnant’ if you compare the approximate number of Jews to be at the most 20 million, against the descendants of Ishmael, -the Arabs, who number around 350 million.]
But that one day, ‘the times’ of the Gentile domination would end!
The Jewish N.T. says, “until the age of the Gentiles has run its course."
N.I.V. says, "until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."
This ‘age’ or ‘time’ is generally agreed to be until the 'six day war' in 1967 when the Israeli forces over-ran the city of Jerusalem and reclaimed it totally from the Jordanians whom were ruling it on behalf of the Muslims. Israel had become a nation in their own Land in 1948, but did not have control of the City of Jerusalem until June of 1967, when it was finally united under Israeli Jewish control. Later in 1980, the Israeli Government passed a ruling that Jerusalem would always be the united, indivisible, eternal Capital of Israel. These dates are very important and a clear Scriptural fulfillment; but a literal, political event.
[Jerusalem will still be a focus of the world's attention for many years, as other Scriptures, (such as Zechariah 12:3-9 indicates) - but will not be seriously attacked until the very end before Yeshua/ Jesus returns, in the ‘Battle of Ha Megiddo’.]
The reality at present is, that although legally it is under Jewish control, it is not totally, (sadly), in actual fact, under their control, for a number of reasons. One is that where the Muslims destroyed 50 out of 52 Synagogues in Jerusalem in 1948, The Jews not only did not destroy any mosques in 1967, but they agreed to allow the Muslim Quaff jurisdiction over the Temple Mount! So now there is fear of an Islamic Jihad if the Jewish authorities press their rights. So Israel is being patient, to a degree, as the rest of the world offers their solutions to this big problem. (We offer some solutions in the article, ‘The Future of the Middle East and Israel.’)
There is an another, Spiritual event of completion.
Paul says, (From the Jewish N.T.) “ For, brothers, I want you to understand this truth which God formerly concealed but has now revealed… It is that stoniness, to a degree, has come upon Israel until the Gentile world enters its fullness; and it is in this way that all Israel will be saved.” The N.I.V translation says, “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.”
This seems to be a completely different time to the one above, and is both exciting and serious for true Bible Reading Believers. It is described in Romans chapter 11, which it should be noted carefully is all about the spiritual revival and restoration of the Jewish people. But it is being explained to Gentile Believers, who perhaps were feeling a little arrogant, (in Rome, to whom Paul wrote this letter), about their new-found relationship to God, through His Sovereign work of redemption which has been the main topic of the letter to this point. Paul was also giving himself and other Jewish readers, the answer to a very serious question. In verse 2 he states emphatically; "God has not repudiated His people, whom He chose in advance." Then after assuring the readers, that of course God had preserved a remnant that He had chosen by grace, he still goes on to solve the mystery of their over-all rejection of their own Messiah! Here it is clear that God has allowed that reaction, of His own Jewish people for a most amazing and humbling reason, which Paul outlines carefully in verses 11-24!
There is no room for conceit on the part of non-Jewish Believers!
Exactly the opposite! In verse 25 Paul summarises: "For, brothers, I want you to understand this truth which God formerly concealed but now has revealed, so that you won't imagine you know more than you actually do! “ Paul goes on to spell it out. “It is that stoniness, to a degree, [it was not total], has come upon Israel UNTIL the Gentile world enters its fullness”... You see, Paul was explaining that again, God allowed a set of circumstances, involving a separate plan for the Jewish people, and another, for the rest of the world. But in God’s good time, He would change things around, again. Later, Paul bursts out in praise of such a Plan!
The reason for the separation being allowed by God.
The amazing, and precious explanation of the ‘mystery’ of the rejection of Israel -as a Nation, (that Paul has been writing about), was that GOD HAD A VERY SPECIAL LOVING REASON FOR THE SITUATION! And it was and has been to give non-Jewish/ Gentile people the opportunity to come to God the Father for His full salvation! Isn’t that wonderful? This explains some other great Scriptures, like John 10: 16, where Yeshua says, “ I have other sheep… I must bring them also.” See, too, Isaiah 56:3 – 8. Paul’s argument was, that this was all allowed by God to give Gentile people the opportunity to become part of His Family too. So now we see that ‘the stoniness, to a degree’ was to benefit those who previously had no right, or desire because - of their ignorance often, to really “know God and Yeshua /Jesus Who He sent.” (John17: 2) It would bless the whole world of non-Jewish people!
Question: was there any blessing in it for Jewish people?
Answer: God allowed His People another test, but one day is going to turn it to even greater blessing for all! So now we look at the other significant phrase Paul uses I Romans 11: 25. It says, “ It is that ‘stoniness’, to a degree has come upon Israel, Until the Gentile world enters in its FULLNESS”. [Let us quickly recap, that this did not close the door for individual Jewish People to accept Yeshua as their Messiah and spiritual Saviour, which thousands have done in the last 2000 years! This is what it means ‘to a degree’ – not total ‘stoniness’.] But perhaps one of God’s FINAL acts is to create such a dramatic situation to happen that the result will be, “ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED!” Paul has already talked about what the effect will be, earlier in chapter 11 of Romans. He makes his argument this way, “If their casting Yeshua/Jesus aside means reconciliation for the world, what will their accepting Him means? It will be life from the dead!” That is just so specific, we just accept what it says!
But, one day, God who loves to turn tragedies into blessings will even use the Jews dispersion around the world to make the Jewish people a blessing!
Do you understand that the greatest, most unjust, cruel, wicked act in the whole of History, was the death of the Son of God, Yeshua/ Jesus the Messiah on an execution stake? After the most illegal trial at the hands of ignorant people having been betrayed by a friend and deserted byother close friends? Yet this was God's way of bringing the blessing of total salvation to the world!
So God will use the ‘punishment of dispersion’, we believe, when all Jewish people, wherever they are in the world, (as a result of a special scenario of events), will “call on the Name of the LORD ADONAI.” So then truly, ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED!”
Then, the very fact that they are scattered all around the world will be turned into a blessing, as Jewish people will tell everyone they know that Yeshua/ Jesus is the Saviour and Deliverer! This will fulfill the words of the Scriptures about being ‘ a blessing on the Earth’, as Isaiah says in chapter 19:23 –25, and in other places. It also explains Matthew 25:14 about “the Good News being made known in all the world, and then The End will come.” As I wrote in my book, ‘there are no better emissaries, than those who have just been appointed to royal service! No newly engaged Bride can keep the secret of her long unrecognised Lover’s marriage proposal!’ You can read more about this in our article about ‘Israel’s Glorious Future.’ Compare Acts 4:20!
So now we return to clarifying the reference to the Gentiles, in Romans 11: 25.
“UNTIL THE GENTILE WORLD ENTERS ITS FULLNESS…” (Jewish N.T.)
“UNTIL THE FULL NUMBER OF THE GENTILES HAS COME IN…” (N.I.V.)
This is a very important and often missed phrase, in several ways.
It is confused with the verse referred to in Luke.
This phrase does not refer to a political ending of domination over the city of Jerusalem or the Land of Israel. That is not the issue of these chapters 9-11 of the letter to the Romans. The Land and the city are not mentioned. The Jewish people are the subject of these chapters and their spiritual condition- for Paul an agonising issue which in fact he has been explaining throughout the whole of this, his longest letter. He is saying, “God has not finished with His Jewish people!” In other words, the ‘church’ has never replaced the Jewish nation called, ‘Israel’. This is a subject, which has been widely explained, in recent times. But even in the 1st century, Paul had to emphasise this truth. He has already strongly stated that God has not ‘cast them off’.
This is how he said it, “However to those of you who are Gentiles I say this: since I myself am an emissary (ambassador) sent to the Gentiles, I make known the importance of my work, in the hope that somehow I may provoke some of my people to jealousy and save some of them. For if their casting Yeshua/ Jesus aside means reconciliation [to God] for the world, what will their accepting Him mean? It will be life from the dead! “
Some Bible teachers maintain this verse is an indication of the 'pre-tribulation rapture' of the mainly Gentile church out of the world. According to these teachers, even Jewish Believers could be left behind to suffer the Tribulation period and to evangelise more people who are given a second chance to become Christians. To this writer for reasons outlined clearly elsewhere, this is not the explanation of this phrase. To give two reasons only. The 'pre-tribulation rapture theory' pre-supposes several resurrection days, and several parts of the Body of Redeemed Believers. Could God have one part of His Body in Heaven, with another part, (the Jews), on Earth? NO! This does not fit with the collective teaching of the Word of God. There will be only ONE future resurrection Day for Believers. (There is a second resurrection day for all unbelievers, Revelation 20: 11- 15.) and God has only ONE Body, Bride, Temple, and Family…
However, it could indicate a 'cut off point' after which no Gentile, who has chosen to take the mark and worship system of the False-messiah, can be saved spiritually.
This chapter makes it clear that "whoever calls on the Name of the LORD will be saved." The previous chapter, (10:9), "if you acknowledge publicly with your mouth that Yeshua/ Jesus is LORD and trust in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be delivered." (That is: 'saved to salvation'.) This is the solemn warning and message of the verse, and of many other Scriptures that speak of accepting God's salvation before it becomes too late. It seems there will be a final number of Gentile ‘saints’ who stay true to Jesus, and will not worship the false Messiah or take his ‘mark’ even if it means suffering for it. So there will be a complete or full number of Gentile Christians known to God.
[At this time all Jews who are now Believers in Yeshua, will be forced to return to Israel, where they will be kept safe. See our article on “Israel’s Glorious Future.”]
John 3:17-18 explains what ‘saved’ means: “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but rather so that through Him, the world might be saved. Those who trust in Him are not judged; but those who do not trust have been judged already, in that they have not trusted in the One who is God’s only and unique Son.”
SO THE QUESTIONS THESE VERSES RAISE ARE:
If you are Jewish, Have you trusted in Yeshua as God’s only and unique Son, and accepted Him as God’s sacrifice for your sins, so that your trust in Him makes you a more complete Jewish member of His People?
If you are non-Jewish, the question is almost the same. Have you trusted in Jesus as God’s only and unique Son, and accepted Him as God’s sacrifice for your sins, so that as you trust in Him you, also will be made a member of His family.
It is an awesome privilege. But an essential step in this life journey.
JEWISH (& some other people) ACCEPTING THE
SONSHIP OF YESHUA IS NOT EASY.
May we invite you to look at the article, ‘WHO IS THE FACE OF GOD?’
Our prayer is that it may bless and help you!