A Question I Was Asked:
“What Are the 'Time of the Gentiles' ? Are They Past or Still in the Future?”
The 'Times of the Gentiles' are mentioned in Luke 21:24 and Romans 11:25. We are, apparently, currently living within these 'times'. The people of Israel rejected God so God determined to turn to the Gentiles 'to provoke Israel to jealousy' - this is why only a very few Jews have accepted Christ, it is because they are currently blinded – cut off from the revelation of Christ – during the times when God has primarily set His hand to call Gentiles.
Romans 11 is clear, however, that the Times of the Gentiles will finally end and a great work of salvation will be done among Jews. See Romans 11:25-27. Some, however, believe that the expression 'All Israel will be saved' refers to the spiritual Israel of the Church but the overall impression is that Paul is talking about national Israel here (to be consistent with his approach throughout this chapter).
The reference to these 'Times of the Gentiles' in Luke 21:24, however, is a little difficult and problematic. This is because the famous Mount Olivet prophecy covers two periods of time:
The terrible suffering when Rome surrounded and destroyed Jerusalem in AD70.
The events leading up to the Second Coming of Christ.
If we compare the three
prophecies as they are related in Matthew, Mark and Luke there is
little doubt that most of the verses cover the events of AD70
(for example: 'This generation shall not pass...' AD33-AD70=37
years), yet some verses – or even parts of verses - will not be
finally fulfilled until the Second Coming (for example: 'No one knows
about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven...').
Of course both of these cataclysmic periods of time were in the future when Jesus spoke to His disciples, but this undoubted interpretative difficulty makes it a little difficult to know exactly when the Times of the Gentiles will finish. However, the clear impression is that when Jerusalem is no longer trampled upon by the Gentiles (Luke 21:24) then this period will finish and a powerful work of evangelism – which will be amazingly successful – will then be done among the Jews.
Revelation 11:2 also refers to a period of time when the Gentiles are allowed to tread Jerusalem and the indication is that this is also the time period of the Two Witnesses (Revelation 11:3). The Two Witnesses clearly symbolize the age of the witnessing of the Church (who were to go forth 'two by two') See my article, Who Are The Two Witnesses? This appears to show us that during this age of the Church the Times of the Gentiles will not finish. But when the Church completes its mission there will be a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Jewish people.
Some say that the Times of the Gentiles finished in 1967 when the Jews again took control of part of Jerusalem, but that still leaves most of Jerusalem in Gentile hands. Also there has been – thus far – no outstandingly successful work of evangelism among the Jews with many thousands of them coming to Christ! So I believe that these events are yet in the future.
Robin A. Brace, 2005.