My dad used to say, “Anything over our heads is under HIS feet!” I have thought of that saying many times through the years. Child of God, aren’t you glad that we have a God who has NOT surrendered His authority? This week as we study The Times of the Gentiles, I pray that you are comforted in knowing that no matter life’s mysteries, God is in control.
“Daniel said, ‘Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him” (Daniel 2:20-22 NASB1995).
“The Times of the Gentiles” is a phrase derived from Luke 21:24 which says, “and they [speaking of the Jewish people] 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 are fulfilled” (NASB1995).
Fruchtenbaum says, “The Times of the Gentiles can be defined as that long period of time from the Babylonian Empire to the Second Coming of the Messiah during which time the Gentiles have dominance over the City of Jerusalem. This does not rule out temporary Jewish control of the city, but all such Jewish control will be temporary until the Second Coming” (The Footsteps of the Messiah, p 21). Fruchtenbaum goes on to show four main Scriptures that help in our understanding of the Times of the Gentiles. Two of these passages are found in Revelation (chapters 13 & 17), and two are found in Daniel (chapters 2 & 7). For the sake of our study, we are going to focus on the Daniel passages in this post.
Mark Hitchcock says, “Daniel 2 and 7 have often been called the ABCs of Bible prophecy because they lay the foundation for all that follows. These two companion chapters describe four great world empires that would rule over Israel in succession. With the benefit of history, we now know that these four empires were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome” (The End, p 246).
In Daniel 2:31-45, we see these Four Gentile Empires depicted in a statue from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The head of gold represents the Babylonian Empire (612-539 BC). The Second Empire was depicted as the arms and breast of silver representing the Medo-Persian Empire (538-331 BC). The Third Empire is seen in the belly and thighs of brass which represent the Greek or Hellenistic Empire (330-63 BC). The Fourth Empire includes the statue’s legs of iron as well as the feet and toes of iron mixed with clay which represent Rome. The Fifth (and final) Empire is the Empire of the Stone, or the Messianic Kingdom which crushes the Fourth Empire and overcomes all other kingdoms, bringing an end to the Times of the Gentiles.
The Fourth Gentile Empire is important because it is out of this empire that the Antichrist will arise. Daniel 2 reveals that this empire is divided into stages. Daniel 7 adds to these stages, but for now, Fruchtenbaum (The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 25) defines them as follows:
- The United Stage “lasted from 63 BC to AD 364” (Fruchtenbaum, Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 34). The united Ancient Roman Empire is historically famous for its iron like dominion.
- The Two Division Stage began in AD 364 when “Emperor Valentinian divided the Roman Empire into east and west” (LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible, p. 900) and continues today.
- The Ten Division Stage is yet to come (a one world government split into 10 kingdoms).
The second passage pertinent to the Times of the Gentiles is found in Daniel 7:1-28. Hitchcock says, “in Daniel 7, these same empires are pictured as four great wild beasts that come up out of the Mediterranean Sea” (The End, p 247). Daniel is given 4 visions which are explained below.
- The first vision given to Daniel concerns the first 3 Gentile Empires mentioned above (Daniel 7:1-6).
- The second vision describes the Fourth Empire in much greater detail than in Daniel 2, and is referred to as a “Beast with 10 Horns” (Daniel 7:7).
- The third vision takes place in the throne room of God Almighty who is described as the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9-12). God, the Righteous Judge, judges the Fourth Empire, including the Little Horn, which is the Antichrist (Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 28).
- The fourth and last vision in this series of visions refers to the Millennial Kingdom and “describes the setting up of the Kingdom of God following the destruction of the Fourth Gentile Empire. The sequence is that of the Second Coming (v.13) followed by the Messianic Kingdom “(v. 14) (Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 28 ).
Fruchtenbaum notes that additional stages of the Fourth Gentile Empire are revealed in Daniel 7 (The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 31). The complete stages of the Fourth Gentile Empire are listed below.
- The United Stage (Daniel 2 & 7) – Iron Legs/The unified Ancient Roman Empire (63 BC to AD 364)
- The Two Division Stage (Daniel 2 & 7) Iron Legs/began in AD 364 when Rome was divided into east and west, and continues now
- The One World Government Stage (Daniel 7) Feet/Ten Toes (Iron & Clay) Future
- The Ten Division Stage (Daniel 2 & 7) Feet/Ten Toes (Iron & Clay) Future
- The Antichrist Stage (Daniel 7) Feet/Ten Toes (Iron & Clay) Future
Revelation 13 and 17 add more details and information specifically regarding the Antichrist (the Beast) and his Empire (the Beast system) which we will get to later. God revealed these prophecies to Daniel almost 700 years before the time of the Revelation! Fruchtenbaum concludes that the Times of the Gentiles refer to “a period of time when four Gentile empires will follow one another in sequence, with the Fourth Empire going through several different stages. But eventually this will give way to God’s setting up His own Kingdom. While the Gentile empires are of human origin, the Kingdom of the Stone is of divine origin. While the Gentile empires are all temporary, God’s Kingdom is eternal” (The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 25).
I am amazed at the detail in which God revealed the future thousands of years ago to Daniel. What’s even more amazing is that we are living towards the end of the second stage of the Fourth Gentile Kingdom. Ironside says, “Before the ten-kingdomed form of the Roman Empire is brought about, the church will have been caught away to Heaven. No believer of the present dispensation will be on the earth in the days of the feet of the image-the last solemn period of the times of the Gentiles. It will be awful to dwell in this world then and to participate in the judgment when the Stone falls from Heaven.”
Week Two: Homework Reflections
Day One: Overview of Daniel 2 & 7
- Since I was late posting the homework this week, for today I just want you to read through Daniel chapter 2 and Daniel chapter 7. Write in your journal any insights you may have. We are going to dig in more tomorrow!
Day Two: Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream
- Read Daniel 2:1-18. What was troubling Nebuchadnezzar?
- Why did the king become indignant with his “wise men”? What decree did the king make?
- How did Daniel respond to Arioch in verse 14?
- What did Daniel do after requesting extra time from the king? (v 17-18). How does Daniel’s response speak to you?
Day Three: Interpretation of the Dream
- Read Daniel 2:19-23. In your journal, record everything that Daniel says about God.
- Read Daniel 2:24-30. Who does Daniel give the credit to?
- According to verses 28-29, what did God make known to Nebuchadnezzar through his dream?
- Read Daniel 2: 31-45. Draw a statue in your journal and label it according to Daniel’s interpretation.
- Read Daniel 2:46-49. How was Daniel rewarded for interpreting the dream? What did Nebuchadnezzar say about God in verse 47?
Day Four: Daniel’s Visions
- Read Daniel 7:1-6. Record in your journal what Daniel saw in the first 3 visions.
- Read Daniel 7:7-8. List everything you learn about the beast. What did you learn about the little horn?
- Read Daniel 7:9-10. List everything you learn about how God is described as the Ancient of Days.
- Read Daniel 7:11-12. What was the horn speaking and what happened to him? What happened to the other beasts?
Day Five: The Ancient of Days
- Read Daniel 7:13-14. How is the Son of Man (Jesus) described? What was He given? Do you see a reference to the Second Coming?
- According to verse 14, what type of kingdom is His kingdom?
- Read Daniel 7:15-18. What do you learn about the 4 beasts?
- Read Daniel 7:19-28. List everything you learn about the 4th beast.
- As we close the week, how has God spoken to you through these two amazing chapters in Daniel? What is the most interesting thing you learned this week? Close by reading Daniel 2:20-21 as a prayer of thanksgiving to God.