Greetings, Fellow Eschatologists! This is the third installment of our continuing series on the Mystery of the Full Circle. Now that you have been made aware about full circles in the Bible, have you begun to see them for yourself? When your eyes are open to something new, you begin to wonder how you could have not seen something so obvious! We’ve only just begun! Keep reading, cuz we’re getting to the really good stuff!
THE MYSTERY OF THE FULL CIRCLE
By Karen Thompson
Third in a Five-Part Series
In the last post of our series on the mystery of the full circle, we looked at several different full circles involving Jesus. And we looked at full circles in the times of man that were not in the Bible. If you recall, we looked at the beginning and end of Rome… the beginning and end of the Russian Romanov Empire… the beginning and end of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein regime. We learned that when a full circle is completed, it will be followed by something that is different. Now we have come to the time when we learn how the mystery of the full circle applies to end times! This is what I find truly amazing about the full circle!
Daniel Chapter 11
How does this knowledge of the full circle tie in with Daniel chapter 11? It has to do with the reason why Antiochus Epiphanes and Antichrist are placed back to back in the historical narrative of the Seleucid kings. It’s because these two rulers complete a circle in a series of full circles that have to do with the beginning and ending of the Times of the Gentiles. The Times of the Gentiles, as you know, began when the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem and took it captive. From that point on, Gentile powers ruled over the Jewish people and the nation of Israel.
The period of time that is called the Times of the Gentiles is a spectacular illustration of how the times of man run in full circles. Like all full circles, the beginning and the end of the Times of the Gentiles begin and end in the same place. The Times of the Gentiles is divided into two sections: there is the beginning section of the Times of the Gentiles, and there is the ending section of the Times of the Gentiles. Essentially, both sections of the Times of the Gentiles are duplicates of each other.
For instance, the beginning of the Times of the Gentiles began with the invasion of a foreign Gentile power (Babylon), and it ended with the First Coming of Jesus, the Messiah. The ending of the Times of the Gentiles began with the invasion of a foreign Gentile power (Rome), and it will end with the Second Coming of Jesus, the King of Kings. That in itself is amazing, but that’s only the beginning. So far in my research, I have found 15 events the Jewish people experienced during the beginning section of the Times of the Gentiles. They will experience those same 15 events during the ending section of the Times of the Gentiles, thus bringing the Times of the Gentiles to a complete circle. As we look at these events, you will see why Antiochus Epiphanes and the end time Antichrist complete a full circle.
THE BEGINNING ELEMENTS OF THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES
First Element: Enemy Invasion and Exiled
The first element in the series of events that happened to the Jewish people was that their nation was invaded by a foreign power. The Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar moved his forces against Jerusalem, destroying it and the temple, resulting in the exiling of thousands of Jewish people to Babylon. For the first time since King David, Jerusalem lost its autonomy and became a vassal state to a foreign power. The Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem officially marked the beginning of the Times of the Gentiles. This event was the first in a series of 15 that the Jewish people would experience before these 15 elements would be repeated again.
Second Element: Temple Destroyed
The second element in the series of events that happened to the Jewish people was that during the Babylonian invasion, the temple was burned down on the 9th of the month of Av (July/August).
Third Element: 70-Year Judgment
The third element in the series of events that happened to the Jewish people was that their exile was prophesied to come to an end after a period involving the number 70. The prophet Jeremiah prophesied, “For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place” (Jer. 29:10). The Lord said He would cause them to return to Jerusalem after 70 years of exile.
Fourth Element: Attempt to Annihilate Jewish Race
The fourth element in the series of events that happened to the Jewish people is the attempt of Haman (the evil prime minister of the Persian King Ahasuerus) to annihilate the entire population of the Jewish race living in the Persian Empire. Recorded in the book of Esther, Haman’s plot to exterminate all the Jews in the 120 provinces of the Persian Empire was foiled by Queen Esther and her cousin, Mordecai. Haman’s plot was turned around on him so that he received the hanging he had planned for Mordecai, and not only that, his ten sons were killed and then hung on the gallows.
Fifth Element: Decree for a Return to Jerusalem
The fifth element in the series of events that happened to the Jewish people was a decree that allowed the exiled Jews to return to Jerusalem. Two hundred years before it happened, the prophet Isaiah prophesied that a king named Cyrus would make a decree allowing the Jews to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple: “That saith of Cyrus, he is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, thou shalt be built; and to the temple, thy foundation shall be laid” (Isa. 44:28).
After the Medo/Persian Empire conquered Babylon, a king named Cyrus would ascend to the Persian throne and decree that the Jews in Babylon could return to Jerusalem and rebuild it (Ezra 1:1–4). This decree wasn’t simply an act of mercy for the Jewish people. God Himself spoke to Cyrus and commissioned him to build the temple in Jerusalem. Cyrus recruited the Jewish exiles to help him fulfill the commission to build the Lord a temple in Jerusalem.
Sixth Element: Trouble With the Neighbors
The sixth element in the series of events that happened to the Jewish people is when they experienced trouble with their neighboring nations when they returned to Jerusalem. As soon as the Jewish exiles moved back and began to rebuild the temple, their neighbors became very unhappy. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah describe the events of what happened when they returned to Jerusalem. Though the Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem, they were still vassals to the Persian king, so Jerusalem’s neighbors wrote a letter to the Persian king (not Cyrus) falsely accusing them of evil intentions. They told the king the Jews were building that “rebellious and evil city” and warned the king that if the Jews finished rebuilding the city, they would not pay tax, tribute, or custom, resulting in the king’s treasury being diminished. They said that if he looked in his book of records he would see “that this city is a rebellious city, harmful to kings and provinces, and that they have incited sedition within the city in former times, for which cause this city was destroyed” (Ezra 4:15).
They claimed their motive for writing the letter was because they didn’t want the king to be dishonored. They warned him that if he allowed the Jews to continue building the city that “thou shalt have no portion on this side the river” (Ezra 4:16). But their real motive in writing the letter was because they were afraid they might lose their power in the area if Jerusalem gained any of its former prominence.
Seventh Element: The Decree Is Reversed
The seventh element in the series of events that happened to the Jewish people was a reversal of the original decree. Sadly, when the king received the letter, he ordered the Jews to stop rebuilding the temple (Ezra 4:17–23). Verse 24 says, “Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.” The work of rebuilding the temple was abandoned for a number of years. After a while, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai exhorting them to complete the building of the temple, so they began the work again. Immediately, their neighbors demanded to know who gave them permission to “rebuild this house and finish the wall?” (Ezra 5:3–4). They replied that “in the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon the same king Cyrus made a decree to build this house of God” (v. 13). So the neighbors wrote another letter to this new king asking him to search the records to see whether any decree was made by King Cyrus giving them permission to rebuild Jerusalem. The king wrote back and told them to leave the Jews alone and to quit interfering with the work to rebuild the temple. Not only that, but the king ordered them to assist them by giving them money to help them with supplies! (Ezra 6:7–8)
Eighth Element: Cultural War Among Jews
The eighth element in the series of events that happened to the Jewish people was the cultural war that occurred among them, splitting them into two groups diametrically opposed to each other’s vision for Israel. One group was secular and no longer wanted to be identified with their religious heritage. They no longer wanted to live under the restrictive rules of the Talmud and wanted to adopt Greek culture for Israel. The other group wanted to remain faithful to God and to keep their religious heritage and culture. They didn’t want Israel to be polluted with Greek culture.
Ninth Element: Caught in the Middle Between the Wars of the King of the North and the King of the South
The ninth element in the series of events that happened to the Jewish people is that they were caught in the middle between two warring empires—the kings of the north and the kings of the south. For over a century, the Jewish people were under the rule of the Ptolemaic Empire, the kings of the south. After a successful campaign against the Ptolemaic Empire by Antiochus the Great (father of Antiochus Epiphanes), the Jewish people came under the rule of the Seleucid Empire, the kings of the north.
Tenth Element: Jerusalem Invaded by Antiochus Epiphanes
The tenth element in the series of events that happened to the Jewish people is when the Seleucid King Antiochus Epiphanes, king of the north, was able to gain entrance into the city of Jerusalem and to wreak havoc and destruction by deceiving the citizens into believing that he came in peace. The book of 1st Maccabees records the king’s deceit: “And after two years fully expired the king sent his chief collector of tribute unto the cities of Judah, who came unto Jerusalem with a great multitude, and spake peaceable words unto them, but all was deceit: for when they had given him credence, he fell suddenly upon the city, and smote it very sore, and destroyed much people of Israel. And when he had taken the spoils of the city, he set it on fire, and pulled down the houses and walls thereof on every side” (1 Macc. 1:29–31). By the deception of peace, Antiochus gained entrance into Jerusalem to destroy it. Jerusalem no longer belonged to the Jews and became a Greek city, a Gentile city.
Eleventh Element: Antiochus Claims to Be God and Forces All to Worship Him and Desecrates the Temple
The 11th element in the series of events that happened to the Jewish people is when Antiochus Epiphanies set up a statue of Zeus with his likeness in the temple and demanded the Jews to worship him as god. Those who refused to comply were threatened with death. The pious God-fearing Jews had no other choice but to flee the city and to hide in the wilderness. Antiochus forced the Jewish people to worship Greek gods and adopt Greek culture. A garrison was built right next to the temple so the Greek soldiers could see the Jewish people that tried to enter the temple and then kill them.
Twelfth Element: Tattoo, Mark Dedicated to a Pagan God
The 12th element in the series of events that happened to the Jewish people is the marking of oneself with a tattoo. It might surprise you to learn that many of the Jews had themselves branded with an ivy leaf in recognition of their Dionysian worship. Tattooing emblems on the forehead in recognition of devotion to pagan gods had long been a common practice. Many of the apostate Jews adopted this practice. One wonders, could this tattoo have served to differentiate between the secular and the pious Jews? When Antiochus’s men came to Jerusalem to destroy it, these tattoos could have been used by the apostate Jews to indicate which side they were on, thus saving them from death.
Thirteenth Element: Maccabean Revolt, Jewish People Fight Like Mighty Men
The 13th element in the series of events that happened to the Jewish people is when they revolted against the oppressive rule of Antiochus Epiphanes. The first book of Maccabees tells of the tremendous courage and might with which the Jewish people fought against the armies of Antiochus. They fought armies many times their size and won. The Maccabeans had neither military training nor the latest in weaponry, yet they soundly defeated the armies of Antiochus. God anointed them and they fought like David’s mighty men!
Fourteenth Element: Save the Small Towns First and Jerusalem Last
The 14th element in the series of events that happened to the Jewish people is the strategy in which Judah Maccabee used to set the Jewish people free. The Maccabees first went throughout the land to the smaller cities in Judah and ousted the Greek forces, then dealt with the apostate Jews that went along with Antiochus’ plan to force Grecian culture and religion on them. Then after liberating the smaller communities, they turned their attention on Jerusalem. Jewish historian Josephus wrote in his book, “The Wars of the Jews” that the sanctuary remained desolate for three and one-half years. The Maccabees went to Jerusalem, fought the Greek soldiers in the garrison and won. They reclaimed the city and immediately went to work restoring and cleansing the temple.
Fifteenth Element: Messiah Comes
The 15th and last element in the series of events that happened to the Jewish people was the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies when Jesus Christ was born to a virgin named Mary. Jesus came to fulfill His calling as the coming Messiah, yet the nation as a whole did not receive Him as its Savior. Thousands of Jews, however, did recognize Him as King Messiah and received Him as such, and that core group of Jews formed the beginning of Christianity. After His death and resurrection, Jesus fulfilled His calling as our high priest by entering into the heavenly holy of holies and poured out His own blood on the altar for the remission of our sins.
There you have it, 15 elements that took place in the first section of the beginning of the Times of the Gentiles. In the next post, we’ll look at the second section of the Times of the Gentiles. You’ll see these same exact 15 elements replicated in the ending of the Times of the Gentiles. It’s truly astonishing to see how the times of man run in circles.
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