The Kingdom that was nigh at one time (viz.: at the First Advent) to the Jewish nation, is now removed to the close of its tribulation, and of "the times of the Gentiles."
PROPOSITION 66. The Kingdom that was nigh at one time (viz.: at the First Advent) to the Jewish nation, is now removed to the close of its tribulation, and of “the times of the Gentiles.”
This can be distinctly inferred from what preceded (as e.g. Props. 58, 59, 65), especially since that Kingdom is now linked in the New Test. with the Sec. Advent of Christ.
Obs. 1. Let us again refer to Luke 21:31, in which it is stated “when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand.” Now among “these things” which are first to happen are the Jewish tribulation and “the times of the Gentiles” (v. 24), and when these come to pass, and Jerusalem is no longer under Gentile dominion, and the Advent (v. 27) of the Saviour is witnessed, then the Kingdom will be established. So long as “the city of the great King,” and so long as His land, His by inheritance (Prop. 116), as David’s Son, is under Gentile dominion, it is simply impossible for the Kingdom to exist; and it is folly to argue, with the light of the Davidic covenant and prophetic announcements relating to it, that the Messianic Kingdom has been set up. This Jewish tribulation, these times of the Gentiles, this gathering out of an elect, the nonfulfilment of “these things,”—these, and a multitude (in following Propositions), of considerations, show that it is thus postponed.[*]
Note. Efforts are made to break the force of our reasoning by interpreting Luke in a manner inconsistent both with the context and the facts of history. Thus e.g. Barnes (Com. loci), while reluctantly admitting an ulterior reference to the Sec. Advent in Luke’s discourse, endeavors to make “the redemption” (v. 28), in order to agree with his Church-Kingdom theory, to consist in a deliverance from Jewish persecution, forgetting that the Church was soon after given over to far more severe series of persecutions under the Roman emperors. If this was all that the Saviour meant, how could they rejoice in such a deliverance when greater trials were impending? It is an utter perversion of the passage. But they involve themselves in still greater absurdities, for they tell us that the Kingdom of v. 31 is the Church, although it is spoken of as not established, but only “nigh at hand,” when they know full well that the Ch. Church was founded before the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the nation, and that the Gospel was proclaimed throughout the Roman Empire. The inconsistency of many of this class is the more glaring, since, when we turn to their comments on Matt. 24:33, on the same parable, they allow that it has a decided reference to the period of the Sec. Advent. Some give it a double meaning, making it to refer to deliverance at the destruction of Jerusalem and also to deliverance at the coming again of the Son of man. This only indicates weakness. Again, Prof. E. W. Hengstenberg (The Jews and the Ch. Church, p. 66), weakens the force of Christ’s own prediction by asserting: “The treading down of Jerusalem by the heathen has already twice ceased—once under Constantine, and once in the time of the Crusades, when a Christian (?) Kingdom existed at Jerusalem.” This (1) invalidates the continuous treading down of Jerusalem until certain “times of the Gentiles” are fulfilled; (2) it makes the “times of the Gentiles” to be an exact equivalent of “the times of the heathen,” which it is not, for in its broader meaning it denotes all nations who are not of the Jewish race or of the observances of the Jewish religion. It has reference to nations other than the Jewish; (3) it makes the phrase expressive of nations who do not profess Christianity, which was not its meaning when uttered by Jesus; (4) it does not preserve the relationship of the Jews to the city, which the overthrow and subsequent restoration makes necessary; (5) it substitutes a nation, the Roman under Constantine, and in its divided form at the Crusades, as if it were an exact equivalent of the Jewish nation; (6) it forgets that under Constantine and the Crusades the Jews were badly treated, and had no power in and over the city; (7) it overlooks the fact that the very power which held the city at the times designated is delineated as “a beast” even down to the end, as e.g. the fourth beast power in Dan. 2 and 7; (8) to make out such a cessation, linked as it is with the dispersion and restoration of the Jewish nation, is to pervert a standing proof of inspiration.
Obs. 2. The proof on this point is abundant. Thus e.g. the Kingdom is associated with the period of “restitution” (Prop. 144), “regeneration” (Prop. 145), “revelation of Jesus Christ” (Props. 138, 139), “the Judgeship” of Jesus (Props. 132, 133), “the new heavens and new earth” (Props. 148, 151), the reign of the saints (Prop. 154), the overthrow of Antichrist (Prop. 160), the Pre-Millennial personal Advent (Prop. 120), etc., etc.
Obs. 3. “The house is left desolate” until He comes again, when its fallen, desolate condition will be removed. One of the most decided and expressive passages is that of Matt. 24:29, where, after delineating the Jewish tribulation running down through an allotted “times of the Gentiles” we come to the language “immediately after the tribulation” (not before, but after it) certain events such as the open Advent of the Son of Man and the gathering of the elect, will take place, which in many places (as e.g. Matt. 25, Dan. 7, 2 Thess. 1:5, etc.) are associated with the setting up of the Kingdom. Such a portraiture of the course of events is in harmony with the general and uniform testimony of the Prophets, who almost invariably contrast this Kingdom with a previously endured tribulation by the Jewish nation which has finally ended through special Divine interposition (as e.g. Zech. 14, etc.), and the nation enjoys the blessedness of covenants fully and gloriously realized.1 With this Prop. must be united such Props. as 58, 88, etc.