Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
“Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.”
Jeremiah 30: 7
MAY 14TH of this year (2018) is the seventy-year anniversary of Israel’s rebirth as a nation, on May 14, 1948. Interestingly, it was exactly seventy years prior to the spring of 1948 (in the spring of 1878) that God’s favor was due to begin to return to fleshly Israel. The only place that the term “Jacob’s trouble” is given in the Bible is in our text. It refers to special trouble upon fleshly Israel during the transition time between the Gospel and Millennial Ages. Whenever the term “that day” is spoken of in the Bible, it refers to the Millennial Day, which began in 1874. Thus Jacob’s Trouble takes place during the Millennial Age, sometime after 1874.
First Phase of Jacob’s Trouble
Jacob’s Trouble consists of two phases. The first phase may be called the regathering phase, and the second phase, the fighting phase. The first phase began in 1878. The Jewish people had been in exile in the various nations of the earth since their dispersion in 70 A.D. We recall that fleshly Israel had received 1,845 years of favor from the death of Jacob until their rejection of Jesus in 33 A.D. They then received a “double” time of disfavor for 1,845 years, which ended in the spring of 1878. As mentioned above, God’s favor then began to return to fleshly Israel (Isaiah 40: 1, 2). Note also, from the time of the overthrow of Judah’s last king, Zedekiah, in 607 B.C. until 1914, was a period of 2,520 years, Scripturally referred to as “the times of the Gentiles.” Therefore, in 1914, more favor was due to return to fleshly Israel, in fact, from God’s standpoint, there was no more hindrance to Israel to return to their land (Luke 21: 24).
God, who is a perfect timekeeper, began to show signs of His returning favor, for in 1878, Franz Delitzch began circulation of the Hebrew New Testament. That same year, Benjamin Disraeli, the Jewish Prime Minister of England, influenced the Berlin Congress of Nations to grant England a general protectorate over the Asiatic provinces of Turkey, which included Palestine. The Turkish government amended its laws relating to aliens which improved the condition of the Jews, and opened the door for them to relocate there. God caused His people to begin to be comforted in both religious and secular respects.
But more was needed to induce the Jews to return to their homeland, so the Lord brought forth “fishers and hunters” (Jeremiah 16: 14-16). The “fishers” are those who use the attractive bait of Zionism to attract the Jews to their homeland. In 1882 Leo Pinsker, the forerunner of Dr. Theodor Herzl, and many statesmen, both Jews and Christians, have sought to encourage the Jews to return to their homeland. Pastor Charles Taze Russell, a prominent religious Zionist, performed a great work in these respects. The “hunters” are those who pursue with the intent to destroy, and they have caused many Jews to return to their homeland. In 1878 fierce persecutions against the Jews arose in Rumania, Galicia and especially in Russia in 1881. World War I and especially World War II, in particular Adolf Hitler, continued the work of the “hunters.” Though the “hunting” still continues, it is less than in the past.
Second Phase of Jacob’s Trouble
The Prophet Elijah saw the vision of the wind, earthquake, fire and a still small voice (1 Kings 19: 11, 12). These four things represent World War, World Revolution, World Anarchy and the Kingdom of God respectively. Whereas during the first phase of Jacob’s Trouble God gradually broke Europe’s yoke off Israel’s neck (Jeremiah 30: 8), the second phase will come at the end of World Anarchy. This phase is described in detail in Ezekiel 38, 39. Israel has increased in wealth and prosperity, which will undoubtedly continue. This has and will arouse the covetousness of other nations. In these chapters Gog represents the leaders of nations, and Magog the led of nations as enemies of God’s fleshly people. These anarchistic plunderers will attack Israel and afflict her sorely, as we read in the following passages:
Ezekiel 38: 11, 12: “And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, to take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.”
Zechariah 14: 2: “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.”
This final chastisement upon Israel is because of their unbelief, but the miraculous defeat of their enemies will open their eyes (second part of our text). Zechariah 14: 3: “Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.” Zechariah 12: 10, translated by the Jewish Publication Society of America, reads, “and they shall look unto Me [God] because they have thrust him [Jesus] through; and they shall mourn for him, as one that mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” Then Israel, converted as a nation, will recognize their Messiah.
Romans 11: 26, 27 reads, “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” This passage does not refer to universal salvation unto eternal life, but deliverance from their Gospel Age blindness and from their punishment for their sins against the Law and Christ, as well as from the condemnation of their Adamic and Judaic sins.
The Lord’s Reign of Righteousness
The Lord’s reign of righteousness on earth will be established first in Israel, with Jerusalem as the capital. With joy fleshly Israel will hail their resurrected patriarchs and the rest of the Worthies and be blessed by their rule. Shortly thereafter the Gentile nations will learn of Israel’s blessings and will desire similar blessings:
Isaiah 2: 2, 3: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” Please see also the following: (Zechariah 8: 20-22; 14: 17-19).
The Kingdom and its arrangements will be established in one nation after another until it becomes a universal empire (Daniel 2: 44; 7: 27). Fleshly Israel, under the Ancient and Youthful Worthies, will cooperate with the spiritual phase of the Kingdom (the Little Flock and the Great Company), and as missionaries will convert and bless the Gentile world. This will be accomplished under Israel’s New Covenant, described in Jeremiah 31, for the blessing of “all the families of the earth.” The Lord says, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36: 26).
The Time of Trouble is preparing the world for the new day and its great work of restitution, and Jacob’s Trouble is preparing Israel for its portion, to be the leading nation of the earth. There will then be “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3: 13). The following passages apply to the Lord’s people at the present time:
Luke 21: 31: “When ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.”
Isaiah 40: 1, 2: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.”
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