Many of our Premillennial Bible teachers seem to think that the very best way to convince Christians of a contrary mind concerning the imminent coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is to point to the doings of Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini and even Roosevelt. They try to persuade themselves and others that Russia, Germany, Britain, Japan and Italy are now fulfilling certain prophecies of the Old Testament Scriptures. Of recent months, of course, they must add Ethiopia to their list. Present-day political happenings, they declare, are the last political happenings that are to occur before the Lord Jesus comes for the two-fold purpose of removing His Church from the earth and establishing His Kingdom on the earth.
Rather than discourage any saint of God who believes that the Lord Jesus is coming soon, we would encourage them to look for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the Great God our Saviour Jesus Christ. But we would like to know that the expectation is on Scriptural grounds and to know whether or not the time of the call of the Church to be with the Lord is to be determined by certain happenings among the nations of Europe, Asia and Africa. Of course, this leads us to ask whether or not every political movement in Europe, Asia and Africa during the past eighteen hundred years has been in fulfillment of some definite Old Testament prophecy. In other words, if Cromwell, Bonaparte and Kaiser Wilhelm were not fulfilling Old Testament Scriptures, why are Hitler, Mussolini and Roosevelt? Perhaps you have been amused at the vain attempts of some Bible teachers to find the United States in prophecy. Hundreds of the Premillenarians have named Mussolini as the Beast, or antichrist, of the Scriptures. This, of course, would mean that the great tribulation of prophecy must be on earth during his lifetime. This, of course, would fix the date of the rapture of the Church and the end of this present age some time before Mr. Mussolini’s “lake-of-fire” judgment with his fellow-beast, in accordance with the closing verses of the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation, if he is either the man of sin or the other beast.
For some reason many Christians and non-Christians like to hear the present-day Premillennial prophets speculate as to the fulfillment of Bible prophecies in the political unrest among nations, which is almost universal today. Of course, this has been going on for some years and most of the hearers seem to forget when the prognostications fail and wait for a later prophet and another change in the political situation. God’s people are disturbed when preparations for war are going on and especially when war is declared. They wonder whether the particular war declared, and the nations involved, are mentioned in the Scriptures; and with some Bible teachers it seems to be no difficult task to fit all wars into prophecy.
Concerning probable war in Ethiopia, prophets are now on hand to show how this war is to be in fulfillment of some definite prophecy. You too can get the same concordance and look up the verses concerning Ethiopia. Just read the verses concerning Ethiopia which are found in the concordance and decide whether the impending conflict is foretold in the Bible. Psalms 68:13; Psalms 87:4; Isaiah 18:1; Isaiah 20:3 and 5; Isaiah 37:9; Isaiah 43:3; Isaiah 45:19; Ezekiel 29:10; Ezekiel 30:4 and 5 and 9; Ezekiel 38:5; Jeremiah 46:9, Daniel 11:43; Zephaniah 2:12.
Concerning Rome, nearly all real Bible students are agreed that there is to be a revival of the Roman Empire, according to the prophecy of Daniel. They find some facts concerning the ruler of revived Rome in the thirteenth chapter of Revelation. But Mussolini may rise and, with David, he may go the way of all the earth; and still this would not upset real students of prophecy or in any way invalidate, or disprove, that which is stated concerning the future of Rome in God’s sure word of prophecy.
God’s spiritual program, during this present age, is not mentioned in the messages of the prophets who wrote concerning the political conditions that are to prevail during the last days. God’s purpose today, concerning the Church which is Christ’s Body, is not to be found in the Old Testament Scriptures. There is no mention of it prophetically. Colossians 1:26 and Ephesians 3:9. Neither the first day of the Body of Christ on earth, nor the last day, is mentioned by Israel’s prophets. Therefore, the time when the Lord shall call the Church to glory is not to be determined by what Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini or the Emperor of Japan is doing, or is going to do. The “last days” of this dispensation of grace and the “last days” of the age or period to follow are not the same “last days”.
Both politically and spiritually we are living in “the times of the Gentiles”. “The times of the Gentiles” suggest that these are not “the times of Israel”. Governmental authority on the earth, by God’s covenants and oath, rightfully belongs to Israel. But temporarily it has been transferred to the Gentiles. “The times of the Gentiles” began with Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon, about 600 B.C. and continued until Christ came and offered to bring Gentile authority to an end. Luke 1:67 to 77; Matthew 4:17; Acts 3:19 to 21. But Israel chose Caesar in preference to their own King and Messiah, whom they slew and hanged on a tree. They made a great mistake and the wrong choice, as is proved by the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by Rome, about 70 A.D. Of course we can join with Paul and say: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out” (Romans 11:33). Because the God of all grace sent salvation to the Gentiles to provoke Israel to jealousy The Gentiles obtained mercy through Israel’s unbelief (Romans 11:30), and individual Israelites, since that time, have been given the opportunity to become members of the Body of Christ, as sinners saved by grace; and some, down through the Christian centuries, have taken advantage of this opportunity, have accepted the crucified and glorified Christ as Saviour and have been numbered with the Gentile believers, identified in the One New Man with the Lord Jesus, in death, burial and resurrection. This is still the day of pure and unadulterated grace. The door of salvation is still wide open for any kind of sinner.
But what happened to Jerusalem and Israel about 70 A.D. and the desolation of that city, and the scattered whereabouts of that people, has certainly fulfilled Luke 21:24, which we quote Luke 21:24:
“AND THEY SHALL FALL BY THE EDGE OF THE SWORD, AND SHALL BE LED AWAY CAPTIVE INTO ALL NATIONS; AND JERUSALEM SHALL BE TRODDEN DOWN OF THE GENTILES, UNTIL THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES BE FULFILLED.”
After God’s purpose for this age has been accomplished, then there shall be the fulfillment of Isaiah 62:2 and 4, concerning Jerusalem and Israel: “And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy gory; and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name.” “Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah; for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.”
World political conditions and movements will fulfill Scripture after this dispensation of the Body of Christ has come to an end. This period, dating from the setting aside of Israel, after the close of Acts and the destruction of Jerusalem to the calling on high of the Body of Christ, is designated “The Mystery”. This period, with its Divine administration, special hopes and calling, is parenthetical, temporary, and not in fulfillment of prophecy, but purposed in Christ before the foundation of the world. We quote:
Ephesians 3:1 to 3:
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God, which is given me to youward: How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words.”)
Ephesians 3:8 and 9:
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
Colossians 1:26 and 27:
“Even the mystery, which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints. To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
It will prove interesting and instructive to compare these last Scriptures quoted with the statement concerning the times of the Gentiles in Luke 21:24.
1. The dispensation of the grace of God for Gentiles.
2. The unsearchable riches of Christ among the Gentiles.
3. The dispensation of the mystery.
4. The mystery among the Gentiles.
What high and exalted privileges are extended toward the Gentiles while Israel and Jerusalem are fulfilling Luke 21:24.
Why should we carry our hearers back to Israel’s program and hope in a former dispensation or cover up God’s message of grace and the truth concerning the hope and calling of the Body of Christ, by over emphasizing God’s program in a coming dispensation? All Divine truth should be proclaimed but our emphasis should be on God’s present purpose. Read Ephesians 1:16 to 18; Ephesians 3:9 and II Timothy 2:2.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.