What is the Day of Jacob’s Trouble?

I wrote about Isaiah’s prophecy in Isa 17 where Isaiah foresaw the destruction of Israel’s enemies. At the time under consideration in Isaiah 17, the nation of Israel also would be severely injured. Only little pieces of Israel would remain, comparable to a couple of berries in the top of an olive tree and four or five berries at the end of a fruitful bough such as remain after the harvest (Isa 17:6). However, Israel’s enemies will be destroyed and Israel will occupy the land previously held by their enemies (Isa 17:3), because the kingdom of Syria will cease, and those Syrians that remain will serve as glory or riches for Israel. God will fight for Israel, and the invasion of the nations around Israel that begins like the rushing of many waters (Isa 17:13), will end with these nations being chased like a tumbleweed before a windstorm or like chaff of the mountains before the gale (Isa 17:14).

There is a parallel prophecy in Jer 30 that speaks of a day of Jacob’s trouble. Like the prophecy in Isaiah 17 shows us that the prophecy is for our day because present day Damascus has never in 4000 years been a heap, but the prophet says it will become one (Isa 17:1), even so we can tell Jer 30 is for our day because it speaks of a day when God will restore the captivity of Judah AND Israel while they still are surrounded by enemies (Jer 30:3). Jeremiah 30 therefore cannot be fulfilled until after at least some of the northern tribes return. However, in the past few months we have seen the incredible fulfillment of the restoration of part of the northern tribes of Israel (http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=57374). Jews in India that trace their history back to the lost tribe of Manasseh have returned to Israel. So now parts of both Judah and Israel have been restored and the prerequisite for Jer 30 has been satisfied. Jer 30:4 says that after the restoration of Judah and Israel there will be a time of Jacob’s trouble like none before it (Jer 30:7). The time following the restoration of Judah and Israel will be a time of panic and terror, not of peace (Jer 30:5), so the prophet is not referring to the new earth where we would expect to find no more curse and eternal peace (Rev 20:4, Isa 9:7). Also, later, after Jacob is restored from this trouble, God will punish those that oppress Jacob (Jer 30:20) such that they will go into servitude (Jer 30:16), and it will take place in “the latter days” (Jer 30:24), not in the world to come. Finally, nothing at all is said in Jer 30 regarding the idols. Modern Israel has been cured of its idolatry, so that is not a problem, but secularism remains. God is fixing to cure that also.

Another possibility for the time of Jacob’s trouble is the invasion of Gog and Magog under the leadership of the Man of Sin at the end of the world (Ezek 38:2, Rev 20:8). However, if the time of Jacob’s trouble was the Battle of Armageddon, why would brave men then stand with their hands on their loins like women in travail (Jer 30:6)? They would not. They would fight, just like a third of men had already died fighting the same army of the Devil (Rev 9:15). Also, the day of Jacob’s trouble will be a day of punishment for Israel as well as the nations, though God will not make an end of Jacob when He punishes them (Jer 30:11). This does not sound like the day of the Lord when God comes to avenge His elect, for that will be a day of gladness for the elect (II Thes 1:10, 2:19, I Pet 4:13). There is no punishment for the righteous when Christ comes again, but Jacob is punished for his transgression in the time of his trouble (Jer 30:11). Also, when Christ comes again, he burns the earth (II Pet 3:7) and makes a complete end of all life upon the earth until He restores it again (Acts 3:21). In the burning of the earth, He makes a full end of Israel just like He makes an end of all the nations around them, but Jer 30 says He does not make a full end of Israel in the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer 30:11).

Many have thought the time of Jacob’s trouble referred to the Holocaust, but Jacob’s trouble occurs after the restoration of both Judah and Israel to the land (Jer 30:4), and that did not happen until after the Holocaust.. The day of Jacob’s trouble will be like none other (Jer 30:7), and it will therefore be worse than the Holocaust. What could be worse than the massacre of 6 million Jews? How about a nuclear war that destroys 95 percent of Israel’s population? Israel’s population today is about 11 million. If 95 percent of these perish in a nuclear war, that would result in about 10 million casualties. That is almost twice as many as perished in the Holocaust.

What is the day of Jacob’s trouble? As we studied in our remarks on Isa 17, it appears to be a nuclear war between Israel and the Arab nations that surround her including Syria, Jordon and Lebanon. One indication that it is a nuclear war is the strange remark in Jer 30 regarding men holding their loins in obvious pain. As a result of the day of Jacob’s trouble, men will be in pain in their gut and privates like a woman in travail (Jer 30:6). Such symptoms remind one of radiation sickness that causes symptoms in the abdomen like bloody urine, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Other indications that it is a nuclear war include: the destruction of the nations in a single day (Isa 17:4, 14), the day reduces the population of Israel like the harvest of an olive tree reduces the fruit left on the tree (Isa 17:6), the day causes people to be in pain in the abdomen like a woman in travail (Jer 30:6), the day makes the major cities uninhabitable (Isa 17:9), and the day destroys all the enemy nations around Israel (Isa 17:1-3, Jer 30:11).

There is a lot that indicates that these events will happen soon. The chief driver is Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He is a Shia Muslim (a Twelver) who believes in the imminent return of the Twelfth Imam. The short version is that this imam is supposed to return when there is a great apocalypse, and Ahmadinejad is trying to create an apocalypse by fomenting a nuclear war with Israel. He believes that by causing a nuclear war the 12th Imam (the Mahdi) will be forced to return (http://www.thefinalmovebeyondiraq.com/2007/08/second-coming-of-mahdi.html). After Mahdi returns, Muslim Twelvers believe the world will end in seven years, so essentially Ahmadinejad is trying to bring about the end of the world. Ahmadinejad has promised the Palestinians that by next summer (the summer of 2008) they will be “free”. What that means is that Ahmadinejad believes that by next summer Israel will cease to exist. It also means that Ahmadinejad is very close to having the nuclear weapons he needs to bring about his holocaust.

Besides the fact that Israel survives this horrible day and their enemies don’t (Isa 17:1-3, Jer 30:11), the amazing thing is what happens after the war. One of the problems in Israel now is that it is very much a secular state. Estimates place the percentage of secularists in Israel at 96%. God is not pleased with such faithlessness, and because of the faithless condition of Jacob before the day of his trouble, God condemns Jacob for “the multitude of thy iniquity” (Jer 30:15, 11-14). However, after the war is over, Israel’s enemies are destroyed, Israel is cured of its secularism, and “they shall serve the LORD their God [the temple rebuilt?], and David their king” (Jer 30:9). The amazing thing is that “David their king” is the same Jesus that their forefathers would not accept to rule over them (Jn 19:14-15, Mk 15:9-14). It appears that when the war is over, the time of Jacob’s blindness to the Messiah is over with it (Rom 11:26). Just as the holy city was to be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until their time was fulfilled (Rev 11:2, Lk 21:4), even so Jacob was to suffer from blindness regarding the Messiah until the fullness of the Gentiles is come in. Just as the holy city is not to suffer from the trampling of the Gentiles any more, perhaps the time is right for God to finally grant Jacob his sight regarding the Messiah.

About James Johnson

Bible student for 60 years. Preacher of the gospel for over 40 years. Author of commentary on Revelation, All Power to the Lamb. Married with children. Worked in aerospace and computer engineering for over 40 years.
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