As we are studying Jeremiah’s Covenant Revelation, one of the first major phrases we come to is the phrase “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble”. Being that the phrase The Time of Jacob’s Trouble is only used one time in the entire scriptures, we should pay special attention to the fact that it is here, opening the section of Jeremiah 30-33 which is a special revelation concerning the covenants. Many times I read commentators writing concerning a passage of scripture and they will correlate and say that the passage is speaking of The Time of Jacob’s Trouble. My question is, “how do they know?” Since the phrase is used only one time in scripture, we should study this passage in its entirety (Jeremiah 30-33), build a solid foundation, and then see where other passages relate to our study based on the covenants.
The amazing thing is that the first section is Jeremiah 30-31 with the phrase The Time of Jacob’s Trouble located toward the beginning, and the phrase “the new covenant” located almost at the end. There is a definite correlation between the two. It seems that God was forecasting terrible times for the nation of Israel, out of which Israel would one day be rescued at which time Israel would enter into a New Covenant relationship with the LORD. Preliminarily, I will say that the New Covenant is a time of blessing for the nation of Israel as a whole whereby she dwells safely with the Messiah personally ruling over her. This time could not have been fulfilled immediately after the 70 year exile, during the ministry of Jesus, nor in 70 A.D. I will explore these ideas later, but now, I want to concretely materialize the enigmatic phrase, The Time of Jacob’s Trouble. Let’s go exploring.
Chapter 30 begins with the LORD instructing Jeremiah to begin writing down everything he has been speaking to the nation of Israel. The reason is that a special blessing is coming to Israel in spite of the sinfulness which Jeremiah has been preaching against which will result in the coming 70 year captivity. Before this blessing can come, there will be a time of trouble. Now here is the passage in ESV preserving the poetic break in the lines.
5 "Thus says the LORD:
We have heard a cry of panic,
of terror, and no peace.
6 Ask now, and see,
Why then do I see every man
Why has every face turned pale?
there is none like it;
it is a time of distress for Jacob;
yet he shall be saved out of it.
8 "And it shall come to pass in that day, declares the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and foreigners shall no more make a servant of him. 9 But they shall serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.
In essence, the passage is predicting a time which is compared to labor pains for the nation of Israel. What does this pain and distress consist of? Here the passage alludes to service to foreign nations. Also, there will be a lack of serving the LORD during this time since the emancipation from this bondage results in serving the LORD in accordance with the reign of the Messiah. Passages which speak of the labor pains of Israel can rightly be examined to see if they match up with The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, Isaiah 26:16-19. Israel is divinely rescued out of this time of distress leading directly into a new relationship with the LORD.
declares the LORD,
nor be dismayed, O Israel;
Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease,
and none shall make him afraid.
I will make a full end of all the nations
among whom I scattered you,
and I will by no means leave you unpunished.
Here God declares His intent to finish what He started. God does not intend for the nation of Israel to come to an end. Any other nation could come to an end and this would not affect His covenant plan. But the nation of Israel will not be extinguished. God’s design in The Time of Jacob’s Trouble is to discipline her, yes even punish her, in order to correct her. Passages which refer to the correction of the nation of Israel can safely be examined to see if they match up with The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, Zephaniah 3:1-2.
and your wound is grievous.
13 There is none to uphold your cause,
no healing for you.
they care nothing for you;
because your sins are flagrant.
Your pain is incurable.
because your sins are flagrant,
I have done these things to you.
and all who prey on you I will make a prey.
declares the LORD,
‘It is Zion, for whom no one cares!’
This bruise, or wound, spoken of here is inflicted by the LORD. Yet in verse 16 we see that God uses other nations to inflict the wound upon the nation of Israel. They lead Israel into captivity, they plunder Israel, and they prey upon her as well. So The Time of Jacob’s Trouble is a time of other nations afflicting Israel because of her flagrant sins against the LORD. Yet God will heal Israel of these very wounds that He inflicted upon her. At that time, the nations which God used to inflict the wounds upon Israel will be punished by God.
There are many other little hints scattered throughout this passage which reveal to us what The Time of Jacob’s Trouble will be like. It will be a time of God’s fierce anger to be revealed in the latter days, 30:24. It will be a time when Israel is scattered, 31:10. There is one important verse which is misunderstood that I want to bring to the forefront.
31:15 Thus says the LORD:
"A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more."
Throughout this poetic prophecy, it is presented again and again the idea of sorrow and trouble for Israel followed by a time of covenant blessing. This verse should be taken no differently. At every point in God’s plan, Israel (Rachel’s children) will suffer. Only when The Time of Jacob’s Trouble is over will Israel be delivered out of it. (This is how the whole section of 31:15-20 is laid out.) Until that time, there will be mourning by Rachel (the mother of Israel) because her children are being slaughtered. At the birth of the Messiah, it is quoted because of the suffering of babes executed at Herod’s command, Matthew 2:16-18. This verse could be quoted as fulfilled in other places, and very well may be in the future when the great tribulation unfolds.
Let’s back up. Jeremiah is prophesying at a pivotal point in Israel’s history. Israel is about to lose her national sovereignty. Jeremiah has prophesied that the captivity will last for 70 years. But what then? This is where the book of Daniel carries the torch to the next level. Daniel really could not be understood completely without Jeremiah. In fact, Daniel did not receive some of his revelations until after he read Jeremiah’s prophecy, Daniel 9:2. In conjunction with Jeremiah’s prophecies, God revealed through Daniel that Gentile empires would dominate the world until the end of the age, Daniel 2. So we can expect at the end of the empire with ten kings [out of which springs the little horn] that the nation of Israel will be delivered once and for all out of The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, see Daniel 7.
What is The Time of Jacob’s Trouble? It began with the 70 year exile. It continued throughout the rebuilding of Jerusalem during troubled times. It continued with the suffering during the time Messiah walked the earth. It lasted through the destruction of the temple in 70AD and the Diaspora. It even continues today. It will reach an apex at some point in the future during the great tribulation which will result in a new covenant between the LORD and Israel which was already initiated in Messiah’s blood at His first coming. At that time, all nations which God used against Israel will be punished by Him.
The Time of Jacob’s Trouble>>>Deliverance>>>Israel enters New Covenant Arrangement
The reason why I can say for certain that The Time of Jacob’s Trouble is not complete and has not reached its apex, is because the blessings of Jeremiah 30-31 have not yet been apprehended by the nation of Israel. These new covenant blessings will be discussed in future posts.
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