26. Does God have a specific plan for the Gentile nations which is found in Scripture?
Why take the time to study a question like this in a book that primarily deals with questions about what Jewish people believe. The reason is,it is helpful for us to have and understanding of these things as we try to reach our Jewish friends with the Gospel. Things have happened and are are happening in the world that need explaining. So with this in mind, we now turn our attention to the Gentile nations.
PROPHECIES OF THE GENTILE NATIONS
Much of the Old Testament is taken up with God’s dealings with the people of Israel. But, throughout the Word we also see God’s dealings with the Gentiles. As a result, we can trace the program that God has for the nations. A study of God’s plan for the Gentiles can be approached from one of two ways: specific or sweeping. In the Word we find prophecies about: Tyre, Sidon, Egypt, Nineveh, Babylon, Samaria, Moab, Ammon, Edom and many many others. These are examples of specific prophecies about the Gentiles. In our study we will not be looking at the specific prophecies, but, we will be examining the sweeping prophecies that God has for the Gentiles.
THE GENTILES IN THE PAST AND THE PRESENT
1. The Times of the Gentiles
Luke 21:24 – and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
The Times of the Gentiles is a sweeping prophecy that takes in hundreds of years and involves several Gentile kingdoms. The Times of the Gentiles began with Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian Empire and will end with the personal appearing of Jesus the Messiah at His second coming to set up His Kingdom. One of the key characteristics during this time is that the Gentiles will have dominance over the city of Jerusalem. This does not rule out times when the Jewish people have some control of the city, but all such control is both temporary and limited. What are some of the things that will happen during this time?
Different empires will rise to power during this time.
To get a clear picture of this, we need to take a look at a portion of scripture in Daniel. The best thing to do would be to read all of Daniel 2:31-45. For our present purpose, we will quote parts of it.
Daniel 2:31-45 – “You, O king, were looking and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary splendor, was standing in front of you and its appearance was awesome. The head of that statue was made of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay, and crushed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed all at the same time, and became like chaff… But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. This was the dream; now we shall tell its interpretation before the king.”
The text goes on and gives the interpretation of the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had. Notice that the Times of the Gentiles begins with the Babylonian empire and will come to an end when the stone that is cut without hands comes and crushes the gentile world powers that will be in existence at that time. We will now look at the interpretation? The interpretation is given in verses 37-45.
Each of the metals in the image represents a world empire:
- the Gold – Babylonian
- the Silver – Medo-Persian
- the Bronze – Greecian
- the Iron – Roman
- Iron & Clay – Revived Roman
- the Stone – God’s Kingdom.
During this entire period, the key characteristic is going to be, that the city of Jerusalem is going to be trampled under foot by the Gentiles. Ever since 605 B.C., when Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, to the present time, Jerusalem has been under the control of Gentiles. Though for brief times they seemed to have had temporary freedom, it was short lived, and the times of the Gentiles have continued to the present. A good verse to use that proves that the times of the Gentiles hasn’t come to an end is Rev. 11:1-2.
Rev. 11:1-2 – And there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and those who worship in it. “And leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.
These verses in Revelation are referring to the future tribulation period. Even then Jerusalem is going to be trampled under foot by the Gentiles. Some feel that the times of the Gentiles came to an end because Israel now has access to the Wailing Wall and parts of the city of Jerusalem. I do not believe this is true. This may be one of those times of temporary freedom, but as we saw from Revelation, hard times await Jerusalem in the future. There will not be a final deliverance for the city and her people until the Stone which is cut without hands comes and crushes the image. This of course is referring to the Lord Jesus, the Messiah of Israel who will return in the future to set up His kingdom. Then the times of the Gentiles will be put to an end.
2. The Fullness of the Gentiles – Rom. 11:25
Romans 11:25 – “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles come in.”
This time period known as the Fullness of the Gentiles began on the Day of Pentecost and will conclude at the rapture of the church. During this time period also known as the “Church Age,” God is primarily calling out a people for Himself from among the Gentile nations of the world. However, we do need to remember that even during this time when God is mainly working with the Gentiles, there is a present remnant from among the Jews that will be saved, (Rom. 11:6). As we know from Scripture, God began His program with the nation of Israel and it continued that way until the nation rejected Jesus as the Messiah. The Apostles began their ministry by going first to the Jews, then there was a shift.
God is primarily working with the Gentiles during the present.
Acts 13:46, 48 – “And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the Word of God should be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.” “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the Word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”
When Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch, they reported “all the things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles,” Acts 14:27. How did this door of opportunity open to the Gentiles? To answer this question, we need to quote some verses in Romans 11.
Romans 11:11-12, 17-18 – “I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression be riches for the world and their failure be riches for the gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!”
“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant, toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.”
As a result of the transgression of Israel, God opened the door of salvation to the Gentile world. This is all part of God’s wonderful plan. He desires that the message of salvation be open to the Gentiles, but don’t forget, it is still for the Jewish people as well. During this present time, God is calling out a people from among the Gentiles. When the full number comes in, the rapture of the Church will take place and God will again begin working with the Jewish nation. For now we need to occupy ourselves with witnessing to the Jewish people as well as Gentiles.
THE GENTILES IN THE FUTURE
1. The Gentiles In the Tribulation Period
During the tribulation period we see the last form of Gentile world power coming into play through the revived Roman Empire. In our earlier studies we read in Daniel of the fourth kingdom that was made up of ten toes which represent ten nations. During this period, a strong man will appear who will consolidate these ten nations into a one world government. A number will be required in order to buy or sell anything. All of this will be tied into the one world religion that will also form during this time.
2. The Ending of the Tribulation Period
How is this tribulation period going to come to an end? Again, we read of this in the book of Daniel before. Do you remember the stone that was cut without hands that smashes the image in Dan. 2:35? This is the return of Christ to the earth. When Jesus returns, He will put an end to the tribulation period by destroying Antichrist and the Gentile world powers.
2 Thess. 2:8 – And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;
3. The Gentiles After the Tribulation Period
Following the return of Christ to the earth, there is going to be a judgment upon all of the Gentiles. We find this in Matthew 25:31-46.
Matt. 25:31-46 – “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. “And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? ‘And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me. ‘ “Then they themselves also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ “Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
In these verses we read of the sheep and the goats, some who are left and some who are taken, and some who are blessed and some who are accursed. Those who are left will enter the millennium, vs. 34. Those taken will go away into eternal fire and punishment, vs. 41 and 46. Some have falsely concluded that these people seem to have been saved by their works. We know that can’t be. What we have here is a manifestation of salvation by the evidence of fruit. These works were nothing more than the out working of their salvation.
4. The Gentiles in the Millennium
At this time, the Gentiles will seek after God. They will be aided by the Jewish people in their worship of Jehovah.
Zech. 8:22-23 – ‘So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord.’ “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew saying,” Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you. ”
During the millennium, there will be different feast days that will be remembered. In Zech. 14:16-19, the Feast of Tabernacles will be remembered by the Gentile nations. At this time Jews and Gentiles will be worshiping together. What a glorious time it’s going to be.