It bothers me that most Christians say that “the time of Jacob’s trouble” lies entirely in the future. That is because as a small girl and teen in the 50’s and 60’s, talk about and images of the Holocaust were everywhere. If you feel my thinking is wrong, please let me know in a comment or use my Contact the author page.
Here are the opening verses of the passage that contains the prophecy of “the time of Jacob’s trouble.”
King James Version
30 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,
2 Thus speaketh the Lord God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book.
3 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.
4 And these are the words that the Lord spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah.
5 For thus saith the Lord; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace.
6 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?
7 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.
What is the time of Jacob’s trouble?
I was taught that the time of Jacob’s trouble was a seven-year Tribulation at the End of the Age – the Seventieth Week of Daniel. With study, I came to realize that the Seventieth Week of Daniel had been fulfilled at the first coming of Jesus Christ, and therefore could not be a final seven years. The Seventy Weeks were a consecutive period of 490 years. The Seventieth Week was not postponed – there was no so-called gap.
All that I have been taught has to be sorted out and tested by the Word of God. Understanding the time of Jacob’s trouble is part of this process.
The prophecy of the time of Jacob’s trouble
Here are the major themes of Jeremiah 30, the chapter in which this time is foretold (this is the only place in Scripture where it is mentioned):
judgment and restoration,
vengeance upon the nations who despoiled Israel,
rule by David their King, whom God shall raise up for them (Messiah),
the latter days.
The consequences of failure
We are told that the Jewish people failed to know the time of their visitation, that is, the coming of Messiah the first time. He Himself spoke of this when He wept over Jerusalem,
41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,
44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.
After this failure of the Jewish people, and during the years of their Great Revolt against Rome (66-70 A.D.), the Romans, “the people of the prince that shall come” (Daniel 9:26), destroyed the Jewish nation, the Temple was razed, more than a million Jews died (Josephus) and the rest were scattered and led into captivity.
Most American Christians believe that the time of Jacob’s trouble lies in the future. Some Christians believe that it began with Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Judah and the captivity. Did it begin with this invasion, or with the Roman fury against the Jews and their dispersion?
Whichever it is, it is most likely an extensive period. I believe that “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7) is the centuries that include the pogroms, the Spanish Inquisition, the unremitting enmity against the Jews, the Holocaust, and the current constant warring against and slandering of Israel.
Think, what could be worse for Jacob than what has already befallen him?
Here are the statistics of Germany’s “Final Solution” from Jewish Virtual Library:
The Estimated number of Jews killed
Pre-Final Solution Jewish Population = 8,861,800
Jewish Population Killed in Final Solution = 5,933,900
(Poland, Baltic Countries, Germany/Austria, Protectorate, Slovakia, Greece, the Netherlands, Hungary, White Russia, Ukraine, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Romania, Norway, France, Bulgaria, Italy, Luxembourg, Russia, Denmark, and Finland.)
While in our day the Jews are being attacked and maligned, and antisemitism is still very much alive, and though those Jews who live in the Land live in daily peril, are the Jews destined to suffer yet again to the same or to a greater degree, in some final horrible seven years of trouble? Or are they still in the midst of this time of trouble?
If it is so that they are in the midst of this time, but are now back in the Land and continuing to return to it, are they close to and awaiting the fulfillment of the rest of Jeremiah’s prophecy, their restoration in “the latter days,” at the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ – the Son of David?
8 For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him:
9 But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.
10 Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the Lord; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.
11 For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet I will not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.
12 For thus saith the Lord, Thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound is grievous.
13 There is none to plead thy cause, that thou mayest be bound up: thou hast no healing medicines.
14 All thy lovers have forgotten thee; they seek thee not; for I have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the multitude of thine iniquity; because thy sins were increased.
15 Why criest thou for thine affliction? thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity: because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto thee.
16 Therefore all they that devour thee shall be devoured; and all thine adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; and they that spoil thee shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon thee will I give for a prey.
17 For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after.
18 Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof.
19 And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.
20 Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all that oppress them.
21 And their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them; and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me: for who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto me? saith the Lord.
22 And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
23 Behold, the whirlwind of the Lord goeth forth with fury, a continuing whirlwind: it shall fall with pain upon the head of the wicked.
24 The fierce anger of the Lord shall not return, until he hath done it, and until he have performed the intents of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it.