Tony Garland and the Times of the Gentiles
Tony Garland is the author of a four-part series on Daniel and the Times of the Gentiles at the Bible Prophecy blog [part-1 part-2 part-3 part-4]. In part 1 he discussed the sayings of Jesus about the times of the Gentiles, in Luke 21:24, Matt. 24:15-16, and Mark 13:14. Garland asks why Jesus did not elaborate on what he meant. He suggests the reason is that Jesus expected believers to discover his meaning by studying the revelations previously given in the Old Testament. He wrote:
Where Jesus is teaching concepts which find their origin in the Old Testament, He expects His listeners to be familiar with the basis of His teachings (Mt. 21:24; 22:29; Mark 12:24; Luke 24:27; John 5:39). And so it is with this passage and its parallel passages in Matthew and Mark. In fact, both Matthew and Mark make mention of additional information provided by Jesus in the context of this same teaching which establish part of the Old Testament context for understanding all three passages in the synoptics:
“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” (Mt. 24:15-16 cf. Mark 13:14)
This is a reasonable approach. Garland continued by discussing the history of the throne of David, which ceased when the Jews were taken into exile in Babylonian. In part 2 he discussed the prophecy of Ezekiel 21 about the throne of David, where Ezekiel says, ‘thus says the Lord GOD: “Remove the turban, and take off the crown; Nothing shall remain the same. Exalt the humble, and humble the exalted. Overthrown, overthrown, I will make it overthrown! It shall be no longer, Until He comes whose right it is, And I will give it to Him.”’ (Ezekiel 21:25-27)
Garland pointed out that the phrase, “Until He comes whose right it is” is a reference to Genesis 49:10: “The scepter (šebet) shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.”
Several New Testament scriptures are logically connected to these prophecies, but Garland failed to notice them. When the angel appeared to Mary, to inform her that she would be the mother of the saviour, he said Jesus would possess the throne of David.
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Jesus was born a king. When he entered Jerusalem near the end of his earthly ministry, the people who were with him cried, “Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.” [Mark 11:10]
In his speech to the Jews on the day of Pentecost, Peter spoke of the throne of David, and said, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36) The Jews knew that if Jesus was “made Christ,” this identified him as the promised king who will reign upon David’s throne forever. All the prophecies about the Messiah were fulfilled in Him. Jerusalem was established “in the top of the mountains,” when Jesus ascended to his Father’s throne in heaven, as foretold in Isaiah 2:2. From that date, Jerusalem was the heavenly Jerusalem. [Hebrews 12:22]
In part 2 Garland wrote:
The “Times of the Gentiles” do not come to an end whenever Israel enjoys a period of relative autonomy and self-rule. The key factor which determines the period of this time is that the throne of David remains unoccupied by a legitimate ruler in the line of David.
In part 3 he added:
The continuation of the Times of the Gentiles provides additional proof that Jesus does not presently occupy the throne of David.
Garland, and other dispensationalists, miss the implications of Peter’s statement in Acts 2:36. To deny that Jesus is the Christ, is the mistake of unbelieving Jews. John wrote, “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” [1 John 2:22] John’s powerful statement implies that it is a very serious offence, to deny that Jesus is the Christ. Denying that he presently occupies the throne of David comes very close to it. My advice is, be wary of those who teach such things. Eschew any teaching that brings into question the truth that Jesus is Lord of all, and reigns in the present age upon the throne of David his father, as the angel told Mary.
When Peter acknowledged Jesus is the Christ, Jesus said that this truth, which God had revealed, is the rock upon which he will build his church. [Matthew 16:18] It is the foundation stone of Christianity. Garland wrote:
Lacking an understanding of the difference between the Davidic throne based in Jerusalem ruling over Israel and the throne of the Father in heaven, we cannot make full sense of the Gospel record where Jesus arranges His fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 by riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey (Luke 19:30-31), presenting Himself as the promised Davidic king.
Garland admits that Jesus presented Himself as the promised Davidic king when he rode into Jerusalem, but he does not see how that relates to the heavenly throne that Jesus inherited. This is made clear by Isaiah’s prophecy about the mountain of the Lord’s house, in Isaiah 2:2. When Jesus ascended to heaven, to the throne of his Father, Jerusalem and mount Zion were also exulted above the hills, to heaven. Jesus reigns over the twelve tribes of Israel, who are those who believe in him, who are called out from all nations. Peter’s statements in Acts 2 confirm it. Garland wrote:
Zechariah indicates that the coming of this Ruler to His throne will usher in a time of worldwide peace due to His righteous global rule. But, as prophesied by many passages in the OT (including Dan. 9:26), instead of being crowned with a royal crown, Messiah was given a crown of thorns and “cut off.” In the context of Jesus’ presentation to Israel as the promised Davidic king, the response of the chief priests to Pilate are of particular significance: We have no king but Caesar! (John 19:15)
Jesus also bore the label “the king of the Jews” as he was dying on the cross. Peter said that Jews who did not believe in Christ were “destroyed from among the people.”
And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.
This is a scripture that few dispensationalists agree with. Unbelieving Jews were cut off from Israel, and were no longer “Jews,” or Israel. This must refer to their spiritual status. The circumcision of the flesh counted for nothing. The saints are the true circumcision. [Philippians 3:3]
Garland refers to the statement of Jews who rejected Christ, “We have no king but Caesar!” and stated,
With these very words, the religious leaders chose a Gentile king over their promised Davidic king and ensured the continuation of the Times of the Gentiles. Thus our age is not characterized by global peace and the throne of David remains unoccupied until Jesus returns to take up His throne and rule from Jerusalem (Isa. 9:7; Luke 1:32-33; Mt. 25:31-32).
Jesus reigns as king, and He is Lord over all things, in heaven and in earth. In Zechariah 12, those who come against Jerusalem are blinded. Since Jerusalem was raised up, when Jesus ascended to heaven, this prophecy applies to the heavenly city. “In that day, saith the Lord, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness.” [Zechariah 12:4] Horses are symbolic of people with no understanding. [Psalm 32:9] To say the throne of David is “unoccupied” is blindness. Jesus Christ is King, and he reigns on David’s throne forever.