Chapter IV, Further Instances Of The Hidden Interval

It is not alone in one or two outstanding passages that we find the evidence of the hidden interval between the rejection of Christ and His Second advent, but when once we have recognized the break between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks in the time prophecy of Daniel 9, we discern the same thing in passage after passage. In this present chapter it is not my intention to go into any great detail in regard to these, but to point out a number of instances which we shall see, I believe, harmonize perfectly with what has already come before us.

Let us look again at the book of Daniel itself. Throughout that book a period is brought before us called “the time of the end,” or “the latter times.” When we once get the key to the meaning of this in chapter 9, then everything dovetails perfectly with what is there brought before us. In chapters 2 and 7 we have marvelous visions giving us outlines of the entire period which our Lord designated as “the times of the Gentiles.” This expression covers all the years during which Israel and Palestine are under Gentile domination. The Lord said: “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” The expression “trodden down” does not necessarily imply rigorous rule or persecution, but simply that the Gentiles will be in the place of authority. This began with Nebuchad- nezzar, and will continue until our Lord returns in triumph and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and His Christ.

In Daniel 2 we have “the times of the Gentiles” represented by a great, heroic, human figure composed of gold, silver, brass, iron and clay. The four great world empires, three of which had passed away before Christ came, and the last of which was then in existence, are clearly Babylon, the head of gold; Media-Persia, the breast and arms of silver; Graeco-Macedonia, the body and thighs of brass; and Rome, the legs of iron. The last condition, however, of “the times of the Gentiles,” is symbolized by the feet with ten toes, part of iron and part of miry clay or brittle pottery. It is very evident that this last condition has not yet been fully developed. It, therefore, belongs to the time of the end, and will not come into actual existence until the Church of the present age has been caught away to be with the Lord. Then there shall arise ten kingdoms on the basis of the old Roman Empire, which will form an alliance, offensive and defensive; and the prophecy says: “In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed.”

This is seen even more clearly in the seventh chapter. There, when a man of God has a vision of “the times of the Gentiles,” he sees the nations as four great, ravenous beasts, so terrible that there is nothing on earth exactly like them. The last of these beasts represents, like the iron in the image, the Roman Empire, but the final condition of that empire is pictured by ten horns which, of course, correspond to the ten toes on the image.

A careful consideration of verses 23 to 27 will make this clear:

“Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:23-27).

Notice that the Great Parenthesis occurs between verse 23, which pictures to us the Roman Empire as it was in the past, and verse 24, in which we have its final condition. The ten horns we are told are ten kings that shall arise. I will not go into detail here as to the conflict among the kings, resulting in the subjugation of three and the coming to the front of one who will have international authority and think to change times and laws, but I would simply emphasize the fact that this is in full accord with what we find elsewhere in Scripture, as to the manifestation of the last great Gentile ruler who will defy God Himself and seek to destroy everything that is of God in the earth, but when the judgment falls, his dominion will be taken away and then the long promised kingdom of righteousness will be set up under the whole heaven and shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High. This is a remarkable expression. It does not say it shall be given to the saints of the most High. The saints of the most High would be those in the heavens, but the people of the saints of the most High will be Israel here on earth. They shall enter into and enjoy the kingdom, for all dominions shall serve and obey Christ. Notice that the prophecy does not give us any inkling of what will take place between the rise of the fourth beast and the appearance of the ten horns. All that is included in the present age, and was unseen by prophetic eyes in Old Testament times.

This is corroborated again in chapter 8, which is largely occupied with the conflicts between Persia and Greece, but down to verse 22 we have fulfilled prophecy. Beginning with verse 23 we are carried on to the latter time of the Grecian kingdom when the transgressors are come to the full and “a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.” This is the last king of the north, who will be the bitter enemy of the people of Israel in the last days, and will vie with the Roman leader in attempting to dominate the land of Palestine. We are told of his activities in verses 24 and 25:

“And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand” (Daniel 8:24-25).

I have gone into this prophecy in my book, Lectures on the Book of Daniel, but what I want my readers to see now is that the Great Parenthesis occurs in between verses 22 and 23. All the long period between the last state of the Grecian Empire and the latter times is passed over in silence; yet what momentous events have taken place in those centuries which have already gone!

In chapter 11 we again see the same remarkable prophetic structure. Down to verse 35 we have a marvelous outline of that which has long since been fulfilled in history—the wars between the Seleucidae and Ptolemies, culminating in the resistance and victory of the Maccabees with the assistance of the ships of Chittim, bringing the Roman legions to support the Jewish nationalists. The moral conditions prevailing for a century or more afterwards are given to us in verses 32 to 35, the last verse reading as follows:

“And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed” (Daniel 11:35).

That is, Israel will suffer under Gentile domination until their miseries will be brought to a head and to a conclusion in the time of the end.

The entire present dispensation comes in between verses 35 and 36, the thirty-sixth verse introducing immediately the willful king, the Antichrist of the last days, who will do according to his own will, and exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and speak marvelous things against the God of gods, and prosper until the indignation be accomplished, that is, until the vials of the wrath of God have all been poured out upon the earth. The remainder of the chapter has to do with events which will be fulfilled in the last half of the seventieth week of chapter 9, and when we pass into chapter 12, we have the Great Tribulation in all its intensity, followed by Israel’s awakening and reward in the Kingdom Age.

The book of Hosea contains moral instruction for the people of Israel designed to awaken them to a recognition of their sad departure from God, so that in the main it does not deal with future events. But there are some remarkable passages in this little book in which we find the same structure that we have been considering. In the earlier verses of chapter 3 we have Jehovah’s love for Israel and her unfaithfulness. Then verse 4 is really a description of her condition throughout the entire present parenthetic age. We read:

“For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim” (Hosea 3:4).

We have no details here as to the great historical events that would take place during the long period of Israel’s rejection by God following their rejection of Messiah, but in a few graphic sentences we note the things of which they would be deprived.

Verse 5 carries us into the last days:

“Afterward” (that is, after the long parenthetic period during which they are wandering among the nations) “shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days” (Hosea 3:5).

The parenthetic interval is found again between the last verse of chapter 5 and the first verse of chapter 6. In verse 15 of chapter 5 we hear Messiah Himself speaking, after His own people have refused to recognize Him. He says:

“I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offense, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early” (Hosea 5:15).

The first part of this verse was fulfilled literally when the Lord Jesus ascended to heaven. There He has taken His place at the Father’s right hand, and He waits until Israel will be brought to recognize their sins and to call upon Him in repentance. But nearly two thousand years have passed since our Lord returned to the Father’s house. Meantime Israel remains an unbelieving generation, as the Lord Himself predicted they would, but as soon as the present interval has passed and the Church of God has been caught up to be with the Lord, they themselves will begin to fulfill the opening verses of chapter 6:

“Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth” (Hosea 6:1-3).

This will be the day of Israel’s repentance. If we remember Peter’s words that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day, there may be something more significant in the expressions used in verse 2 than some of us have realized. I do not for a moment favor any date-setting system, and yet one may well raise the question as to whether the two days of that verse might not have reference to the two thousand years of Israel’s rejection, and the third day speak of the thousand years of Christ’s reign in righteousness.

When we turn to the book of Psalms, we find many similar passages setting forth in juxtaposition the sufferings of Christ and the glories that shall follow. To attempt to point them all out would mean to write a book on the Messianic Psalms, but I would draw attention here to several of them, and the thoughtful reader who searches the Scriptures in dependence upon the Spirit of God will have no difficulty in finding many more.

Psalm 22 has well been called “the Psalm of the Cross” or “the Psalm of the Sin Offering.” It begins with our Lord’s cry of abandonment: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It ends, if the last words are literally translated, in a cry of triumph: “It is finished.” In verses 1 to 21 we have our Lord’s sufferings on the cross. Verse 22 tells of His resurrection and His appearance among His own. The Great Parenthesis occurs between verses 22 and 23, for throughout the remainder of the Psalm we have set forth the coming of the kingdom and the deliverance of Israel, based upon that which our Lord endured in His hours of anguish on the tree.

Psalm 110 is frequently referred to in the New Testament, and is recognized by all instructed readers as being definitely Messianic. In the first verse we see our risen, glorified Lord taking His place at the right hand of God. Then comes the prophetic interval for which we have been looking, and following that from verse 2 to the end of the Psalm we have the return of the Lord in power and the establishment of His kingdom on Mount Zion.

I take time to refer to only one other Psalm, and that because of the striking way in which it is used by the Apostle Peter in the New Testament. In I Peter 3:10-12, the Apostle quotes from Psalm 34:12-16:

“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (I Peter 3:10-12).

Now observe how Peter ends his quotation. He says: “The face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” Just as Christ Himself stopped reading from Isaiah 61 at a comma, so does the Apostle here, for when we turn back to Psalm 34 we find the complete statement reads: “The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth” (Psalm 34:16). Why did Peter stop in the middle of the sentence? Because, guided by the Holy Spirit, he recognized that the time had not yet come for God to cut off the wicked in judgment from the earth. In other words, he left room for the present age of the times of the Gentiles to come in between the two parts of the last half of this verse.

To these instances might be added, as I have already intimated, many others; but I trust that these are sufficient to prove the point I am trying to make, namely, that the prophetic Scriptures cannot be understood properly unless this parenthetic period is taken into account, but when once it is seen and recognized as the divine order in God’s revelation to mankind, all becomes luminously clear.