Monday, August 29, 2016

The Times of the Gentiles

In my previous article, Times and Epochs the Father has Determined, I mentioned an expression the Lord used, called "the times of the Gentiles," which I would like to explain. While speaking about the signs that would occur at the end of the age, the Lord spoke of this period saying, "...Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (Luk 21:24).

So what are the times of the Gentiles? The times of the Gentiles began with Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Jerusalem (588 B.C.). It is still in progress today, and will continue until the Gentiles finish trampling Jerusalem underfoot. This sign regarding Jerusalem being trampled upon by the Gentiles will continue to occur until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. All of this will happen before they "see the son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luk 21:27). Therefore, we know that this time period has not yet been fulfilled.

Statue of the Gentile Man
You may recall the dream that King Nebuchadnezzar had of the statue with a head of gold. Daniel told it like this:

"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 from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth." (Dan 2:31-35)

The statue had a head 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. Daniel gave the interpretation of the dream like this:

"You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory; and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all. You are the head of gold. After you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you, then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth. Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces. In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay. As the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of pottery, so some of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be brittle. And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery." (Dan 2:37-43)

As the image above illustrates, the Babylonian Empire of Nebuchadnezzar (606 B.C.) was represented by the head of gold. The Medio-Persian Empire (536 B.C.) was represented by the breast and its arms of silver. The Greek Empire (330 B.C.) was represented by the belly and thighs of bronze. The Roman Empire (27 B.C.) was represented by the legs of iron. And the empire that rules at the end of the age was represented by the feet partly of iron and partly of clay. This entire statue of a Gentile man represented the times of the Gentiles.

Up until the times of the Gentiles began, the Israelites had their own kingdom with their own king. But because they violated the covenant with God, doing evil, bowing down to other gods and prostituting themselves, the Lord gave them into the hands of the Babylonians. Although they were later allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple, after completing the time of captivity that God had determined for them, their kingdom was never restored to them. Hence, during the days of Christ, the Gentiles were still ruling over them in the form of the Roman Empire, which destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

The apostle Paul referred to the times of the Gentiles in his letter to the Romans, when he wrote, "For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery--so that you will not be wise in your own estimation--that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." (Rom 11:25).

Paul said a partial hardening has happened until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in or the complete number of Gentiles comes to God. Once this period ends, then so will the partial hardening that has happened to Israel as a nation.

The Iron-Clay Empire
Until then, we will see the domination of the empire represented by the feet and toes of iron and clay. Here is how Daniel defined this empire:

"In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay. As the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of pottery, so some of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be brittle. And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery." (Dan 2:41-43).

The feet and toes of iron and clay are an unlikely alloy. An alloy is a type of mixture, fusion, meld, blend, combination, union, or composite, if you will.

Global Unions
The United Nations (UN) is the most obvious fulfillment of these feet and toes at the governmental level. It is a global government or alliance with the toughness of iron, and the weakness of clay. It is partly strong and partly brittle. There are some strong nations and some that easily crumble, which are all united together as one.

As Daniel said, the iron and clay would combine with one another in the seed of men, but they will not adhere to one another. The strength of their unity is not as great as if they were entirely of iron. There is an aspect by which they sometimes break unity with each other, and do not adhere to each other, such as the veto power of certain nations like the United States, China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

Another union besides the UN that exists today is the Group of Ten, or G10, which is a union of eleven individual nations that consult and cooperate together on economic, monetary, and financial matters. They include Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

It is also interesting that the iron and clay represent the computer age, since computers are made of metal and silicon, which is found in sand and clay. They also contain a lot of plastic, which is a clay-like material before it hardens. In this age, computers play a prominent role in the government, and will likely have some part in the Mark of the Beast (666), as well as the coming cashless, global currency. In fact, through the use of credit cards, computers, online banking, trading, and purchasing, society has already become cashless to a large degree.

Weapon Systems
Consider also the role of iron and clay in the military defenses of the nations in the UN, whose combat weapon systems are an integration of metal, plastic, and computers. For example, tanks, fighter jets, attack helicopters, drones, military robots, missile launchers, rocket launchers, and ships are a few such weapon systems. The Roman Empire used iron to control its people, such as swords, spears, and the iron in the nails used for crucifixion. The iron-clay empire uses iron/clay technology, like in the examples I have given, to control its people.

Another role of computers is in the realm of cyborgs or bionic humans, which are no longer merely science fiction, but reality. There are now real-life cyborgs, as humans and technology are merging. Kevin Warwick, the professor who began the cyborg movement in the academic arena, described ‘cyborgs’ as entities formed by a “human, machine brain/nervous system coupling,” in other words “a human whose nervous system is linked to a computer.” Such a fusion of humans and computers also fulfills the prophecy of the iron and clay (computers) combining with one another in the seed of men, but not adhering to one another, because it occurs in humans, which are the seed of men.

Brain implants are already in use, and amputees are now able to use their minds to control robotic limbs connected to their nervous systems. One man who was accidentally struck blind in both eyes now has an artificial vision system, whereby his electronic eye is connected directly to his visual cortex through brain implants. There are already people who have magnets (iron) and microchips (clay) implanted in their bodies that interact with external devices, and even communicate over the internet. A UK cardiologist has implanted a wireless heart monitor into a patient that transmits data to doctors over the web. 

There is also a subculture of the cyborg movement, known as transhumanism, which believes technological advances will enable us to transcend ourselves with increased or superhuman capabilities and possibly extend life. Some people within this movement view it as human enhancement, or a way to upgrade the human brain and body. They are very passionate about it, viewing it as something quite positive. For example, one belief is that it has the potential to make humans more ethical by controlling selfish impulses and making people more empathetic toward others. They believe that humans with chips in their brains will be intellectually superior. They have even formed an organization to help humans become cyborgs.

Artificial Intelligence 
Consider, too, how the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) could play a role in the iron-clay empire. AI is the use of computer systems to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. Will scientists one day combine AI with cyborgs? It seems quite possible the way things are advancing. They have already envisioned cyborgs that have a direct neural interface with the internet to augment their intelligence, and "synthetic telepathy," in which cyborgs would be able to interpret the complex brain waves of others with the aid of implanted technology. And of course, AI is already being used in robots. In fact, Anthony Levandowski has started a new religion called the Way of the Future, whose members are building a robot called "the godhead," which he says will be "a billion times smarter" than humans. 

Just to give you an idea of how that could be possible, take for example the Hanson-built robots that already exist today. They are connected to the internet via Wifi, and when one robot through interaction in the world learns something new, such as how a certain person behaves, that information is uploaded to the AI "cloud" in cyberspace. Then that knowledge immediately becomes available to all other robots who are connected to the "mind cloud." Those robots can then access and download that information for their own use, thereby enhancing their intelligence and continually becoming smarter and smarter. By this process of information sharing, robotic engineers like Ben Goertzel believe they can achieve artificial general intelligence capability that ultimately equals and exceeds human intelligence. Once you begin to understand that, it's easy to see how AI could "take off on its own," as Stephen Hawking warns, "and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate."

According to an October 2017 Reuters article, US author Dan Brown predicts that humanity will use AI to develop a new form of global, collective consciousness that replaces God. In fact, in his book called Origin, he questions whether God will survive science. He states, “Our need for that exterior god, that sits up there and judges us ... will diminish and eventually disappear.” By making such an audacious statement, he is forecasting a new form of idolatry that will soon arise, which is an abomination in the sight of God. This collective consciousness and the "godhead" robot may be portents of the image of the first beast described in Revelation 13:15, which could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.

"The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed." (Rev 13:15, NIV)

We should be very careful about artificial intelligence, because of its potentially dangerous use for evil purposes. Bill Gates, Stephan Hawking, and many others have publicly expressed their fears. Yet perhaps the most well-known and often-quoted one is an American business magnate, inventor, engineer, and investor in AI firms, named Elon Musk, who has made some ominous statements warning about the potentially "scary outcomes" of AI that would be detrimental to mankind. In fact, he has warned that AI is perhaps the greatest threat to the existence of humanity, and could be used to get rid of humans. When someone as credible as Musk, who is in the AI business himself, says such things, we should take heed. For more on this, see my article The Past Defeat and Present Threat of AI.

Merged Reality
Moreover, on August 16, 2016, Intel announced that it has produced a wireless, standalone, "merged reality" device, which blends images from the real world with those in virtual environments. This headset is ironically called "Alloy", which I have already mentioned is synonymous with a fusion, a meld, a blend, or a composite. Intel's new Alloy contains 3D cameras, sensors, on-board computer, and a graphics display screen all in one unit. The user wearing this device on their head is able to see a blended representation of video graphics combined with things that are really present, such as a handheld object or another person. They are able to fully interact with their surroundings in a way that transforms their natural surroundings into a surreal world of fantasy. Microsoft also has a similar technology called HoloLens, and Windows has come out with a Holographic platform, with which developers can produce and run mixed reality applications. 

The Virtual reality (VR) technologies available up to now have already done a lot of damage to users, enabling them to disconnect from reality physically and mentally. They become so immersed in video games that they lose touch with reality. This is extremely harmful and causes serious damage to a person's mind, soul, and spirit. For example, after extended use, they can cause these images to remain embedded in a person's mind, so that they can still see those images even when not using the device. In other words, the user's mind begins to meld with the virtual environment. These are definitely evil, demonic games, some of which have violence, murder, horror, magic, occult, and sexually immoral themes. They open up the user to demons that enter into their lives.

However, the "merged reality" (MR) technology has taken it to another level. As users wear these new "MR" headsets, this problem has the potential to reach new and even more dangerous levels. I don't think most people fully realize the actual negative effect these games have had on society, such as helping to inspire violent crimes. Only the Lord knows the full extent to which this has happened, and how much worse it is going to get before He returns.

The Stone Cut Out Of The Mountain
We currently stand poised on the brink of the end of the times of the Gentiles. The Lord is coming right away. When He does, then will be fulfilled the part of the dream, in which the stone cut out of the mountain without hands came and crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, and caused the whole statue to crumble.

Daniel prophesied, "In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. "Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy." (Dan 2:44-45).

The stone represents Christ and His kingdom that shall never end. The destruction of the statue by the stone represents the end of the age, the fulfillment of the times of the Gentiles, and the establishment of Christ's kingdom on earth. And He shall reign forever and ever. Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Graphic image of statue produced by Anderson Art Productions, LLC, copyright Blaire Foundation, used with permission. Fair Use Act allows the use of all images for educational and commentary purposes.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I recommend reading my articles, Times and Epochs the Father has DeterminedThe Past Defeat and Present Threat of AI, and these other related posts of mine listed below, especially the first two in the left column about signs and seals:

Sequence of Signs Preceding the Coming of Christ The End Time Plagues Are You Rapture Ready?
Synching Up the Seven Seals with the Gospels The Land Mourns in the Last Days Grieve and Lament for the Church
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster The End Has Come Mark of the Beast (666)
The 311 Moment Trumpet Sounds Heard Around the World America’s Destruction is at Hand

You may also visit our Signs of the Times Directory, and access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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