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The Times of the Gentiles

A Summary of History

During the Times of the Gentiles

 

The “Times of the Gentiles” began when the Babylonians captured Jerusalem and carded the Israelites to Babylon in 587 BC.  It will end when the Antichrist kingdom is destroyed by the return of Christ.  Jesus said And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations.  And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.  And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring” Luke 21:24-25).

 

The Babylonian Empire

 

The first kingdom of the “Times of the Gentiles”, Babylon, under the absolute authority of king Nebuchadnezzar 11 was a showcase of beauty.  Nebuchadnezzar rebuift the city into a magnificence city of great splendor and fame.  It has been said that the walls were so wide that chariot races were held on top of the walls.  The hanging gardens were known as one of the “seven wonders of the world”.  They made great progress in the science of astronomy and mathematics and were strongly influenced by the Greeks.  It was a heathen empire which worshiped the created things of the creator.

 

As the years passed, the kingdom was weaken from within and by the time of the reign of Nebuchadnezzars grandson, Belshazzar, the kingdom was a shadow of what it was under Nebuchadnezzar.  In 539 BC, the city was taken by Cyrus, king of Persia while Belshazzar was having a wild party.

 

The Media – Persia Empire

 

It is amazing that Isaiah the prophet foretold these events about Cyrus many years before he was born.  “Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, And he shall perform all My pleasure, Saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be buift,” And to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.  Thus says the LORD to His anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held; To subdue nations before him And loose the armor of kings, To open before him the double doors, So that the gates will not be shut” (Isa 44:28-45:1).

 

Cyrus came to power by uniting Medes and the Persian.  The Media-Persia Empire was not as great as Nebuchadnezzars kingdom but it probably covered more territory – from the cities of Asia Minor to the border of India.  Along with Babylon Cyrus acquired Palestine and he allowed the Jews to return from Babylonian exile and rebuild their temple in Jerusalem.

 

Darius seized the Persian crown in 522 BC and the empire flourished.  He created a system of government and began to delegate authority.  He was never the dictator that Nebuchadnezzar was.  Enormous wealth flowed into the royal treasure and the king minted and standardized gold coins. in order to encourage commerce, he also standardized weights, and measures, built imperial highways, and completed a canal from the Nile River to the Red Sea.  He demanded strict enforcement of the Medes and Persian Laws.  Commerce and trade increased and flourished throughout His Empire.

 

By 500 BC the Greek cities of Asia Minor aided by Athens began to rebel but Darius was able to suppress the rebellion.  Darius died in 486 BC and his son Xerxes came to power.  He was a weak leader and focused his attention upon the rebellion of the Greek cities.  The Greeks drove him back out of their territory and thus began a period of Persian wars that lasted for twenty years.  The Persians were able to withhold the Greeks but never really was able to suppress them.  Therefore, the Media-Persia Empire was never able to expand into Europe.

Greeks but never really was able to suppress them.  Therefore, the Media-Persia Empire was never able to expand into Europe.

 

During the next 125 years the Empire was plagued with conspiracies, assassinations, and revolts.  The kingdom was briefly united but it was short lived because about 333 BC Alexander the Great led his powerful army into Asia and captured the western half of the Persian Empire.  It was not long until Alexander the Great had conquered the then known world.

 

The Greek Empire

 

Although Alexander the Great died before the age of 33, he conquered almost all the then known world and he is credited for giving a new direction to history.  The three centuries after the death of Alexander are called the Hellenistic Age, derived from the Greek word, helienizein, which means, “to act like a Greek.” During this period, the great culture advances and Greek language spread throughout the eastern Mediterranean.  Mediterranean world.

 

However, shortly after the death of Alexander, the Kingdom was split up into four regions which were governed by his former generals.  The Antigonid dynasty maintained control of the Greek mainland and the dynasty of Lysimachus controlled Asia Minor.  The Seleucids governed Syria, and the Ptolemies ruled the land of ancient Egypt.  Palestine and Jerusalem originally came under the control of the Ptolemies but became a battle ground between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies.  Eventually it became under the tyrannical reign of the Seleucids.

 

The following is a quoted summary of the period.  “The Hellenistic period was an international, cosmopolitan age.  Commercial contacts were widespread and peoples of many ethnic and religious backgrounds merged in populous urban centers.  Advances were made in various fields of scientific inquiry, including engineering, physics, astronomy and mathematics.  Great libraries were founded in Alexandria, Athens and the independent kingdom of Pergamum.  The old beliefs in Olympian gods were infused with foreign elements, especially from the east; “Oriental” ecstatic cults, such as those of Cybele, Isis, and Mfthras, become popular in the Hellenized world” (The Ancient Greek World, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology).

 

As the years went by there were conflicts between the three dynasties.  Each dynasty tried to rule the world and many battles were fought over territory.  These wars weaken each kingdom and during the third century BC, ancient Rome began to gain power.  The former empire of Alexander was taken steadily and methodically into Roman hands and by 31 BC the Hellenistic Age came to an end.

 

The Roman Empire

 

“When the ancient Greeks were reaching the height of their glory, the power of Rome, to the west, was slowly rising.  The genius of the Greeks lay in art, literature, science, and philosophy.  The Romans were best in warfare, engineering, and government.  Rome rose to power gradually, with no set plan for world conquest.  The Romans fought many wars and enslaved many people.  By the time of Augustus, shortly before Christ, most of the known world was unified and at peace under Roman rule” (Compton Encyclopedia Online).

 

The Romans expanded their world empire all the way to Atlantic Ocean which includes the territory which we know as Europe.  By the first century AD, they had built modern roads thus providing easy travel throughout their empire.  In the beginning, they were very tolerant toward other religions and other languages.  Most of the East retained the Greek tongue, however to the west they spoke Latin, the Roman Language.  However, Rome ruled with an iron hand and swiftly suppressed any uprising against the Caesar many times using crucifixion as a means to control their subjects.

 

By the latter part of the first century AD, they began to suppress religious freedom because their Caesars declared themselves Gods.  Many Christians were persecuted because they would not bow down to an image of Caesar.  As morals began to decline, the kingdom was weakened.

 

The reign of Nero (54-68 AD) brought about great persecution.  Slave labor had degraded to the status of serfs or beggars.  The middle class, who was once the backbone of the nation, had almost disappeared.  The society had become a nation of the very rich and the very poor.

 

During the period leading up the reign of Diocletian, the government had begun to collapse.  During the period between 180 AD and 284 AD, the Senate recognized 27 men as emperors.  By the time of Diocletian, nearly all of the republican liberties were abolished and the Senate was only a council for the city of Rome.  He was a military man who took the first steps of restoring some order to the Government.  One of his first steps was to divide the Empire by turning the rule of the west over to an associate.  Under Diocletian, the empire took on the aspects of a theocracy.

 

After the reign of Diocletian (284-305 AD) the Empire was taken dominate by the absolute rule of Constantine The Great.  Two important events mark the reign of Constantine: (1) he made Christianity the lawful religion of the Roman Empire and (2) He moved the capital from Rome to the city of Constantinople.

 

After the people were forced to convert to Christianity the Church leaders became more powerful in the government.  With the passing of, years they eventually took control of the government as the state was merged with the church.

 

With the move of his seat of government from Rome to Constantinople, Constantine ushered in the Byzantine Empire that ruled the eastern block for the next 1000 years.  The western block slowly came under the control of the Roman Pope and a number of Germanic tribes who roamed the west.  The church in the west was under the control of the Roman Catholics and the east was under the control of the Eastern Orthodox Church.  As time passed these two branches of the Church grew further apart on doctrine.  All denominations today find their roots in one or the other early churches.  It is through these two branches that the churches began to brake away from the doctrine of the first century church.

 

Rome was not overthrown by a world power as the previous kingdoms were – it decayed internally.  Things got so bad that it ceased to become a nation but ft continues to exist in its culture, law and languages even until today.

 

The Middle Ages

 

The Middle Ages cover about 1,000 years from about 500 AD until 1500 AD.  The eastern block, known as the Byzantine Empire, was strongly influenced by the Church and retained the higher level of civilization known during the Roman Empire.  The western half soon crumbled into various feudal kingdoms.  The Byzantine Empire lasted until 1453 AD which is when it fell to the Ottoman Turks.  They ruled a large part of western Asia until they fell to the British in 1919 AD.

 

In the west, the rude forms of the Germanic tribe of barbarians overcame the highly developed systems of Roman civilization.  “The invaders lacked the knowledge and skill to carry on Roman achievements in art, literature, and engineering and “the whole world”, as St. Jerome wrote, “is sinking into ruin.” The early medieval period is known as the Dark Ages.

 

During the latter years of the fifth century, Christianity began to lift Europe out of the Dark Ages.  Clovis, the Frankish King, became a Christian in 496 AD and led his people, later to become France, into the Roman Catholic Church.  When Clovis became a Roman Catholic, his people began to receive the support of the bishop of Rome (the Pope).  This opened the door for the Franks to participate in the Roman culture which had been sustained by the church.  The monks, who were living in monasteries, had preserved the knowledge of the Roman arts and crafts.

 

In 786 AD, the leadership of the Franks passed to the great Charlemagne.  He brought the Lombards and heathen Saxons under his dominion.  By 800 AD Charlemagne was the undisputed ruler of Western Europe.  He ruled over what are now France,

Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands and included half of present-day Italy and Germany, part of Austria, and the Spanish border.  In 800 AD the Pope proclaimed him ruler of the Holy Roman Empire and he began to provide education for his people.  He founded schools for the poor as well’as for the nobility.  Under his reign, some of the Roman culture was expanded the west.

 

After the death of Charlemagne, barbaric Vikings and Hungarians invaded England and the West Coast of Europe.  Hungarians drove from the east into Germany, France, and Italy.  At the same time, Moors, who were from Africa and Spain, slashed into southern Europe.  The weaken kings of the broken Holy Roman Empire could not stand against the invaders and they turned to powerful lords for protection.

 

This brought about a feudal system in which powerful lords ruled over lesser lords and lesser lords ruled over servants.  During this time education was suppressed as ninety percent of the people were in various degrees of slavery.  Again they enter dark ages where the Lords and the church ruled the land.  Few could read and write thus many false teachings were imposed upon the people.  The peasants did homage for protection and gave up their independence.  The lord’s castles served as forts of refuge when there was an invasion.  During this period heavily armored Knights came upon the scene.

 

By the middle of the 10th century the Frankish kingdom was divided into the east and west kingdoms.  The West Kingdom was composed of today’s France and East Kingdom was Germanic.  The Germanic group controlled what is now England.  During this time, the Holy Roman Empire moved to the Germanic group.  Between 1 000 AD and 1200 AD the church, which was ruled by the Pope, made a political comeback.

 

Another major group of people, which had an impact during the Middle Ages, was the Moslem nations.  Followers of Mohammed began Holy Wars and gained control of the Middle East during the sixth and seventh century.  Forging across Western Asia and the southern Europe they reached as far as Spain by 711 AD.  The Moslem Arabs invaded Spain from North African and controlled the nation until 1492 AD.

 

In 1096 AD Pope Urban 11 sent the first Christian Crusaders eastward to fight against the Moslems.  The Pope was motivated by the fact that all of Europe would be lost to the Moslems if they were not stopped.  He also received a request for help from the Byzantine Empire leaders who were fighting for their life in eastern Europe and western Asia.  Also, the Moslems were preventing Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Jerusalem.

 

A total of five military expeditions, known as Holy Wars, were launched between 1096 AD and 1221 AD.  The first expedition reached the Holy Land and controlled it for several years but after a period of time Crusaders lost control again to the Moslems.  Therefore, the Popes continued to send military expeditions to reclaim it.  Pope Urban 11 originally launched the military campaign with the idea that if the Kings and Lords of Europe had a common military goal, they would consolidate their efforts and stop fighting among themselves.  His strategy worked, however, after many years, the expeditions became more commercial than military.

 

The crusades opened the door for commercial trade beyond Europe and increased the control of the church over the people.  Late in the thirteenth century AD, Marco Polo began exploring the Far East and opened the door to trade with China, Japan and the East Indies.  His writings later led to other efforts of exploration such as those done by Columbus and others that followed him.

 

By the 13th century the church was the strongest influence in Europe.  Most everyone except Jews, Arabs and the people in the Byzantine Empire belonged to the Roman Catholic Church and fell under its authority.  The Pope had more authority and wealth than the combined wealth of lords and nobles.  The Pope’s subordinate officials, the archbishops, bishops and others, were usually great feudal lords with rich possessions and military strength.  The church also administered many of the legal affairs of the people and sometimes used Rs authority in excommunication.  Once excommunicated, a person was expelled from the church and all Christians, even members of his family, were forbidden to associate with him.

 

The church mainly provided education to the barons and clergy leaving the masses largely uneducated.  The universal language, Latin, was maintained as the common language of learning.  The Monks’ service was to produce manuscripts of classical learning thus providing us with much history.

 

By this time France, Germany, England, Spain and Italy had become sovereign nations and had become major powers in Europe.

 

The Modern Ages

 

Modern Times began with the Renaissance, age people began to pull out of the bondage the Kings, Lords and the Church.  It is considered one of the rare periods of genius in world history.  It began in the 14th Century in Italy and reached its height in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries as it spread across Europe.  The word Renaissance means “rebirth” and refers to the rediscovery of writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans.  It was a period of discovery of the arts and literature, mathematics, new scientific laws and new religious ideas.  The Monks had carefully preserved the old documents as they copied old manuscripts down through the ages.

 

The transition from the middle ages to the modern ages brought about an increase in the number of new towns.  The Roman Empire had encouraged the building of towns but the German barbarians refused to live in confinement.  The new cities aided the establishment of trade, commerce and manufacturing.

 

Between 1337 AD and 1453 AD history recorded the longest war in ever to be record.  The war was fought between France and England.  The war started as a dispute over the legitimate succession to the French crown.  The English claimed rights by way of marriage.  Over the years the reason for the fighting changed several times, as the two nations had become bitter enemies.  By the end of the war, England had lost all of its territory on the main continent of Europe.  The war lasted through the reign of five English kings and brought an end to feudalism.

 

Christopher Columbus opened the way to world exploration when he sailed westward from Spain in search of a route by sea to the East Indies.  On the morning of October 12, 1492, he stepped ashore on an island that is today known as the Americas thus discovering a new continent.  His discoveries opened the door for fierce competition among the European countries as they explored and colonized the new territories.

 

Another major change took place in new religious ideas as the reform movement broke the bond of the medieval Roman Catholic Church.  Martin Luther broke the yoke of the Roman Catholic Church in 1517 AD when he disagreed with the church over doctrine.  This led to a permanent division of the church and brought on the great Protestant Reformation in Germany and later throughout Europe.  Religious freedom played a big role in the colonization of America during the 18th century.

 

A major force in Europe during the later part of the 18th century and the early part of 19’h century was the administration of Napoleon Bonaparte of France.  He was a great reformer and want to restore the Western Empire of Charlemagne.  For sixteen years, he was master of most of Europe as he defeated one country after another.  He can be compared to Adolph Hitler who would try the same thing over two centuries later.  Napoleon met his end in defeat with the battle of Waterloo, which was fought on June 18, 1815.

 

With the turn of the 20th century, Europe began to enter in world wars.  During World War I most of Europe fought against the Germans and the Turks of Asia.  After the defeat of the Germans, colonization by the European countries increased around the world.  At one time it was said that the “sun never sets on the British Empire”.  Peace was short lived, about twenty years later the world had to fight the Germans again under the dictatorship of Adolph Hitler.  Since World War 11, the independence gained by many countries has practically brought an end to European colonization.

 

The world has experienced very little peace during the 20th century as the United Nations and the United States have tried to police the world.  Many are saying that we need a one-wodd government under one leader to bring peace to the World.

 

Late in the 20th century, the countries of Europe united under a Europe common market.  In 1999, they adopted a common currency for trade among themselves and are calling themselves the United States of Europe.  Have they at last revived the old Roman Empire?

 

The Bible tells us that the “Times of the Gentile” will come to an end when the Antichrist, who will control the entire world, is defeated when Christ returns to the earth to reign as Kings of kings and Lord of lords.