Jacob's Trouble and the Great Tribulation

The Differentiator Magazine
Volume 27, New Series February, 1966 Number 1

The question has been raised, as to whether these two events, predicted in the Scriptures, are one and the same or do they occur at different times and in different places, albeit to the same people?

These two expressions are commonly considered to be synonymous and referring to the conditions brought about when the covenant of seven years, made between Israel and the world leader, the man of sin, is broken after three and a half years by his entry into Jerusalem and the Temple and setting up therein the image of the beast in the sanctuary, commanding that all should worship it. Such desecration and flagrant idolatry is met with head on opposition from even apostate Israel (as they had by then become) and the greatest anti-Semitic persecution of all times commences and is to last for three and a half years.

"For then shall be GREAT TRIBULATION, such as was notsince the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shallbe." (Matt. 24:21).The Greek word here for TRIBULATION is THLIPSIS, which is translated thus 21 times, affliction 17 times, trouble three times, burdened, anguish, persecution and to be afflicted once each, 45 times in all. An examination of the concordance shows that, in addition to Matt. 24:21 the following passages are relevant to the subject :—Matt. 24:29; Mark 13:24; Mark 13:19; Rev. 2:9, 10, 22 and Rev. 7:14.

"Immediately after the tribulation of those days."Matt. 24:29."But in those days, after that tribulation." Mark 13:24.These two passages refer back to Matt. 24:21, quoted above, and to Mark 13:19:

"For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from beforethe beginning of creation which God created unto this time,neither shall be." Mark 13:19.These are obviously parallel passages, but neither Luke nor John touch upon the subject. Although, as has already been seen, THLIPSIS is of frequent occurrence throughout the New Testament it is not used in this connection until the Apocalypse:

"These are they which came out of great tribulation." Rev.7:14.(Although the A.V. omits the definite article, according to Lachman, yet it is inserted in the Greek text and accepted, without comment, by the remainder of textual critics).The remaining three occurrences of the word in Rev. 2:9, 10 and 22 refer to tribulation, contemporary, but not necessarily the same.

"Behold , I will cast her into a bed , and them that commitadultery with her into great tribulation , except they repent oftheir deeds." Rev. 2:22."I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty , ( but thou artrich ) . . . Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer :behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye maybe tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days; be thou faithfulunto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." Rev. 2:9, 10.These words were addressed to the church of Thyatira and Smyrna respectively, who are evidently to be assemblies of believers in Christ through the preaching of the gospel of the circumcision, during the latter days. As the word THLIPSIS may be used of any kind of affliction, restriction, anguish, trouble, distress, straitness, trial, pressure or persecution, and is so used in the Scriptures, one cannot be definite in identifying any of these specifically with the passages in Matthew, Mark or Revelation, chapter 7.

Except for the possibility of the text in Jeremiah 30:7, the only O.T. Prophet that one can refer to is Daniel that is .analogous to those that have been quoted from the gospels.

"And at that time shall Michael, stand up, the great prince whichstandeth for the children of thy People: and there shall be a timeof trouble ( Hebrew—TSARAH ) such as never was since therewas a Nation even to that same time: and at that time thy Peopleshall be delivered, everyone that shall be found written in thebook." Dan. 12:1.The verse following is of particular interest and with it will be given a translation by Tregelles:

" And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shallawake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlastingcontempt." Dan. 12:2." And many from among the sleepers of the dust of the earthshall awake ; these shall be unto life of the age ( or eon ) ; butthose ( the rest of the sleepers, those who do not awake at thistime ) shall be unto shame and contempt of the age ( or eon ). "Dan. 12:2 (Tregelles).

In Matthew's gospel, chapter 24 and in Mark's gospel chapter 13 the disciples approach the Lord Jesus when upon the Mount of Olives after leaving the Temple, privately, saying,
"Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the signof Thy coming, and of the end of the age?" Matt. 24:3.Here are three questions, which the Lord answers with considerable detail. Verses 3-14 in Matt. and 5-13 in Mark are in reply to the last question, then in both gospels He speaks of

"When ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of byDaniel the Prophet standing in the holy place (Mk. where it oughtnot ), whoso readeth, let him understand: Then let them whichbe in Judaea flee to the mountains. . . ." Matt. 24:15, 16; Mark 13:14.'When' is followed by three 'thens,' the second of which is,

"Then shall be great tribulation."The next 'then' is two verses later, giving warning of false Christs and false Prophets, followed by a mention of the form of His coming (PAROUSIA—personal presence). This is followed, in verse 29 of Matthew's gospel with:

"Immediately after the tribulation of those days."The definite article here obviously refers back to verse 21, showing the continuity.

" Shall the sun be darkened , and the moon shall not give herlight , and the stars shall fall from heaven , and the powers of theheaven shall be shaken : and THEN shall appear ( becomeevident ) the sign of the Son of Man in heaven : and THENshall all the tribes of the earth (or land) mourn, and they shall seethe Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power andgreat glory." Matt. 24:29, 30; Mark 13:24-26.Both gospels continue with similar words:

"And He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet,(Matt. marg:—with a trumpet and a great voice. Mark omitsany trumpet reference) and they shall gather His elect from thefour winds , from one end of the heaven to the other." Matt.24:31.This ends the answer to the question, "what shall be the sign of Thy coming?" Evidently these last three verses anticipate His descent upon the Mount of Olives in fulfilment of Acts 1:11 and Zech. 14:4.

When all this, that has so far been reviewed, is taking place Israel has, for come considerable time been in full possession of the land, the Temple has been rebuilt in all its glory. Further, sacrifices have been taking place regularly upon the altar therein under the direction of the Levitical Priesthood, in accordance with the Word of the Lord and the worship of JEHOVAH. It is at the 'end of the age' (SUNTELEIA TOU AIONON). This is better understood by 'the conclusion of the age,' like the drawing together of all the fibres that go to the make up of a twisted thread. It is not the finish of the thread, but the conclusion of a condition.

This 'age' has extended over a considerable period of time and is referred to much in the Scriptures, both Hebrew and Greek. It is the yet future period of God's dealing with Israel as a whole—all twelve tribes and Levi, after the church which is the body of Christ has entered into the fulfilment of their hope, having been transformed and translated. This age, or period of time, is expressed in both Old and New Testaments as 'in the last days' and 'in the latter days.' These are two of the various translations of the Greek EN TAIS ESKA TAIS HEMERAIS and, in the Hebrew ACHARITH.

The careful reading of a number of passages where the word ACHARITH is used in this connection would pay good dividend. This word is used mainly of Israel's restoration, but is also used concerning individuals and Nations. The equivalent Greek expression, apart from 2. Timothy 3:1, is used exclusively of Israel.

The first occurrence is in Genesis 49:1 and the second Deut. 4:25-30. This latter passage should be carefully read, as having special bearing on our thesis. Other passages are Deut. 31:29; Deut. 32:20, 29; Isaiah 2:2; Jeremiah 23:20; Jeremiah 30:24; Jeremiah 31:17; Ezekiel 38:8, 16; Daniel 8:19, 23; Daniel 10:14; Daniel 2:28; Daniel 12:8; and Hosea 3:5.

In the Greek Scriptures the following passages refer to the same period of time or some part of it and should also be read with the former: John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; John 7:37; John 11:24; John 12:48; Acts 2:17; Hebrews 1:2; James 5:3; 1. Peter 1:5, 20; 2. Peter 3:3; 1. John 2:18; Jude 18. Some of these passages say 'the last time' instead of the 'last or latter days,' but for this reason they should not be set aside.

It may be helpful to look at a few of the passages where these words are used in connection with God's restoration and redemption of Israel, for apart from one passage 2. Tim. 3:1, they are used EXCLUSIVELY of Israel in the N.T.; although the word ACHARITH is sometimes used otherwise, of Individuals and Nations.

"And Jacob called his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together,that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days(ACHARITH)." Gen. 49:1." When thou shalt beget children , and ye shall have remainedlong in the Land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a gravenimage , or the likeness of anything , and shall do evil in the sightof the Lord thy God , to provoke Him to anger : I call heavenand earth to witness against you this day , that ye shall soonutterly perish from off the Land whereunto ye go over Jordan topossess it ; ye shall not prolong your days upon it , but shallutterly be destroyed. And the Lord shall scatter you among theNations , and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen( Nations ) , whither the Lord shall lead you. And there ye shallserve gods , the work of men's hands , wood and stone , whichneither see nor hear , nor eat , nor smell. But if from thence thoushalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find Him , if thou seek Himwith all thy heart and with all thy soul. When thou art in tribula-tion (TSAR), and all these things are come upon thee , even in thelatter days ( ACHARITH ) , if thou turn to the Lord thy God , andshalt be obedient unto His voice ; ( For the Lord is a mercifulGod ; ) He will not forsake thee , neither destroy thee , nor forgetthe covenant of thy fathers which He sware unto them . "Deut. 4:25-30." For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt your-selves , and turn aside from the way which I have commandedyou; and evil will befall you in the latter days ( ACHARITH ). "Deut. 31:29." And He said , I will hide My face from them , I will see whattheir end (ACHARITH) shall be." Deut. 32:20." O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they wouldconsider their latter end (ACHARITH)." Deut. 32:29." And it shall come to pass in the last days ( ACHARITH ) themountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of themountains, and shall be exalted above the hills." Isaiah 2:2." The anger of the Lord shall not return , until He have executed,and till He have performed the thoughts of His heart : in thelatter days ( ACHARITH ) ye shall consider it perfectly . " Jer.23:20." The fierce anger of the Lord shall not return , until He havedone it , and until He have performed the intents of His heart: inthe latter days (ACHARITH) ye shall consider it." Jer. 30:24." And there is hope in thine end ( ACHARITH—expectation inthe last days ) , saith the Lord, that thy children shall come againto their own border." Jer. 31:17.Concerning Gog and his allies it is written:

" After many days thou shalt be visited : in the latter years(ACHARITH) thou shalt come into the Land. . . .And thou shalt come up against my people Israel, as a cloud tocover the Land; it shall be in the latter days (ACHARITH), andI will bring thee against My Land , that the heathen ( Nations )may know Me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, beforetheir eyes." Ezek. 38:8 and 16."But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and makethknown to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latterdays (ACHARITH)." Dan. 2:28." And He said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be inthe last end (ACHARITH) of the indignation. . . .And in the latter time (ACHARITH) of their kingdom, when thetransgressors are come to the full." Dan. 8:19 and 23." Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thyPeople in the latter days (ACHARITH)." Dan.10:14."And I heard, but I understood not: then said I , O my Lord,what shall be the end (ACHARITH) of these things." Dan. 12:8." Afterward shall the children of Israel return , and seek theLord their God , and David their king ; and shall fear the Lordand His goodness in the latter days ( ACHARITH )." Hosea 3:5.From these Scriptures it may be seen that "in the latter days" covers an extended period of time. Events at the commencement, during its course and at its end, come under the heading, "in the latter days." Deut. 4:25-30, taken in conjunction with Deut. 30:1-10; Jer. 23:20 and 30:24; and Hosea 3:5 all indicate the beginning, with restoration of the whole of Israel to the Land in view. With this Ezek. 38:8 and 16 fall into line. Isaiah 2:2 and Micah 4:1 and 2 cover the middle, and the passages in Daniel the end of the period.

Bearing all these facts in mind the position of Jeremiah 30:7 can be considered. It will be noticed that the word ACHARITH occurs in verse 11 of chapter 29 in verse 24 of chapter 30 and verse 17 of chapter 31 The greater part of these chapters deals with the restoration of Israel to the Land and its sequel and the immediate context, Jer. 30:3 is:

" For lo , the days come , saith the Lord , that I will bring againthe captivity of my People Israel and Judah , saith the Lord: andI will cause them to return to the Land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it. And these are the words thatthe Lord spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah ( not yetunited ). For thus saith the Lord : We have heard a voice oftrembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now, and see whethera man doth travail with child? Wherefore do I see every manwith his hands on his loins , as a woman in travail , and all facesare turned into paleness?Alas , for that day is great , so that none is like it: it is even thetime of Jacob's trouble , but he shall be saved out of it. For itshall come to pass in that day , saith the Lord of hosts, that Iwill break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, andstrangers shall no more serve themselves of him : But theyshall serve the Lord their God , and David their king , whom Iwill raise up unto them. Therefore fear thou not , O My servantJacob , saith the Lord; neither be dismayed, O Israel, for, lo, Iwill save thee from afar , and thy seed from the land of theircaptivity ; and Jacob shall return , and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid." Jer. 30:3-10.Obviously, with the quotation of this passage in its context, it places itself before the restoration of Israel to the Land.

When, in due course, they get there Israel will find the Land in desolation. Scorched earth aptly describes what they will find, for Gog has been led to come up against the Land and has devastated it, destroying the cities and villages that have been so laboriously built and the crops that have been raised are no more. It will be this invasion that will bring about their condition just described. Fear, with the memory of Hitler's massacres still on their mind and the expectation of worse to come, world-wide Jewry will throw themselves upon the mercy of their Lord God, as it were in sackcloth and ashes, and in response GOD will, by His power alone, destroy Gog and his allies in the land before separating Israel from the Nations and leading them back as described in Ezek. 20:33-38.

Need anything more be said to emphasise that Jacob's trouble and (the) great tribulation of Matt. 24 and other passages are not the same.

The church, the body—


Jacob's trouble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .the great tribulation_________________. . . . . . . . . . .__________________ the age—AION, ACHARITH the latter days. Israel—in dispersion—in restoration in the apostasy

—Christ's return to earth. Zech. 12:10.

J.G.H. Steedman


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