Jacob's Trouble

by Joseph Hunting

There are some aspects concerning Israel's role in the fulfilment of prophecy which make interesting and stimulating reading. Few people who regard the Bible as the Word of God would not be stirred by the rebirth of the State of Israel and the transformation that has taken place in the land itself in such a short time -- how they drained the swamps that covered the valleys in Galilee, how vast areas were afforestated and how the desert has already begun to blossom as the rose is only part of the story.

Such an event as the liberation of Jerusalem from the Gentile yoke which spanned 2,500 years is also not without tremendous significance when viewed in the light of Messiah's prophecy that "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." (Luke 21:24)

Yet there is another role which Israel is to fulfil in prophecy which does not make such stimulating reading. Indeed, it is a role which is rarely, if ever, either written or spoken about. I refer to the Time of Jacob's Trouble, or The Great Tribulation.


Whilst Israel has undergone periods of persecution, pogroms and outbursts of anti-Semitism resulting from outbreaks of Jew-hate down the centuries culminating in the frightful Nazi holocaust that engulfed European Jewry and the untold suffering caused by it, the Bible speaks of a special time in history referred to as the Time of Jacob's Trouble, or the Great Tribulation.

Moses provides the first prophecy of this period that is set apart from all others, and he pinpoints the time of its occurrence as "the latter days". "When thou art in tribulation and all these things are come upon thee, EVEN IN THE LATTER DAYS, if thou turn unto the Lord thy God and shalt be obedient unto His voice (for the Lord thy God is a merciful God) He will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forsake the covenant of thy fathers which He swore unto them." (Deuteronomy 4:30-31)

Persecution on a grand scale is not new to the Jewish race. The Pharaoh in Egypt tried to exterminate them, but succeeded in wiping out his own army instead. Haman tried to wipe out the Jews in Babylon, but brought about his own destruction on the very gallows he had erected for the execution of Mordechai, the Jew he hated.

Hitler's ghastly plan to exterminate world Jewry also failed, and so have four Arab attempts to wipe out the State of Israel in the brief space of twenty-nine years. Surely this strange pattern of Israel's survival against the most overwhelming odds set against the certain failure of her enemies is due to Divine deliverance and the faithfulness of God to honour His promises, "I will curse him that curseth thee" (Genesis 12:3) and "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper ..." (Isaiah 54:17).

I am convinced that Israel's rebirth is a modern miracle of tremendous magnitude. Indeed, the regathering of exiles from more than 100 countries after an absence from their homeland of nearly nineteen centuries has no parallel in the annals of human history. Furthermore, the resurrection of Hebrew from being a dead language to being a living language in this century is also without parallel.

It is in just such circumstances when Israel is regathered that Jeremiah prophesied: "For lo, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the Lord: AND I WILL CAUSE THEM TO RETURN TO THE LAND THAT I GAVE TO THEIR FATHERS AND THEY SHALL POSSESS IT. And these are the words which the Lord spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah.

"For thus saith the Lord; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear and not of peace. Ask ye now and see whether a man doth travail with child? Wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness?

"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 30:3-7) In order to fully grasp the magnitude of Jeremiah's prophecy chapters 30 and 31 should be read. Some have suggested that the prophecy is related to the regathering of the remnant under Ezra, Zerubbabel and Nehemiah following the Babylonian captivity. However Jeremiah designates the fulfilment of the prophecy for "the latter days". "The fierce anger of the Lord shall not return, until he has done it, and until he has performed the intents of his heart: in the latter days he shall consider it." (Jeremiah 30:24)


One of the most stimulating prophetical books in the Tenach (Old Testament) is that of Daniel. Not only does he give an amazingly accurate survey of the four major world empires that dominated the civilized world from Babylon to Rome, he also predicted the events that would come to pass "at the time of the end". He then concluded his prophecy with a reference to the Anti Christ standing in the Holy Place on Mt Moriah ( "the glorious holy mountain" ) and a time of trouble that would surpass anything the world would know to that time. "And he shall plant the tabernacle of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.

"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time, and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." (Daniel 11:45; 12:1)

There may be those who would consider these prophecies doomsday pronouncements. Rather than deny such a charge, I would agree. Even the man in the street, as well as scientists, agree that the world could be facing some awful calamity. I have before me the Science page of NEWSWEEK dated September 16th, 1974 headed THE DOOMSDAY EFFECT. The article points out that in 1982 "all of the nine planets of the solar system will be aligned on the same side of the sun like a rank of heavenly guardsmen on parade". The article warns that this rare planetary line-up could lead to major earthquakes in various 'quake-prone areas as well as create huge storms on the sun's surface known as sun-spots. These may severely affect the earth's atmosphere by the disruption of weather patterns causing either disastrous droughts or floods by altering wind directions in the upper atmosphere. Even if mankind can produce a formula for living in harmony, our ability to control freak weather patterns is no further advanced than it was when man first walked this planet.

There is a prophecy if the New Testament that should be widely read, discussed and understood. Whether we believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah is not the issue. On the other hand, those who are wise will heed the following warning which was part of His reply to a question by His disciples concerning the end time. They asked: " ... what shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the Age?"

In His reply He referred to the prophecy made by Daniel concerning the Anti Christ's presence on the holy mount. "When ye shall therefore see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth let him understand) then let them which be in Judaea flee to the mountains: let him which is on the house top not come down to take anything out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.

"And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." (Matthew 24:15-22)

The prophetic warnings quoted above are only some of the many contained in the Word of God which point to a total collapse of democratic government which will result in a madman assuming world dictatorship. He will be recognized as the Beast or Anti Christ when he stands in the Holy Place in Jerusalem. This means that in all probability there will be a Temple replacing the Dome of the Rock on Mt Moriah at that time. This will be the catalyst that triggers off the Time of Jacob's Trouble or the Great Tribulation. The Scriptures limit this awful period to 3 ½ years which will culminate with the battle of Armageddon. There will be "no holds barred" in this last terrible conflict. All the horrors of germ warfare plus atom, hydrogen and man's latest weapon, the neutron bomb will be unleashed. How revealing are the words of Jesus Christ: "except those days be shortened, no flesh should be saved."

One's reaction to a doomsday warning such as the one outlined above could well be one of hopelessness and despair. I feel this will be so among our readers who have survived the Holocaust. Perhaps the majority prefer to take the evasive action used by the ostrich by putting their heads in the sand rather than face reality. But there may be some who would heed the warnings of the approaching storm. To them the Messiah has this advice: "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." (Luke 21:36)