THE THREE-FOLD PURPOSE OF THE TIME OF JACOB'S TROUBLE
God is directing the course of history toward a goala perfect world. During the Tribulation, a short period of seven years, He will clean up this world and set things in order for the perfect world that is to come.
When that perfect world becomes a reality, the Eternal God will reign in His sovereign strength as King over the whole earth. Justice and righteousness will be the scepter of His throne. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory [majesty and power] of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. Men will know and see the majesty and power of the Lord, because they will see everyone receiving justice, men caring for one another in love, and the whole creation running smoothly. During the Golden Era the will of the sovereign God will be done upon earth even as it is in Heaven.
Now, men in general cannot see or comprehend the majesty and power of the Lord because their minds are perverted. They do not want to do the will of God. Instead, they are disobedient toward Him, selfish, unjust, wicked, war-loving; and they are an easy prey to the Devil, who works upon their perverted minds to deceive them. Besides this, they cannot see the majesty and power of the Lord because the world is in such a chaotic state. Only God can transform men's minds and bring this world out of chaos.
What God Will Do in the Tribulation
During the Tribulation God will step in and show men how vain their selfish interests are. He will overrule the injustices of men, destroy the wicked, stop all wars, imprison the Devil and create new heavens and new earth.
God will pour out His wrath upon the world during the Tribulation. He will also extend abundant mercy to all who call upon His name in sincerity and truth in that day; they will experience His goodness and lovingkindness. The prophet Nahum made the following statement to that effect:
2 Jehovah is a jealous God and avengeth; Jehovah avengeth and is full of wrath; Jehovah taketh vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies. 3 Jehovah is slow to anger, and great in power, and will by no means clear the guilty: Jehovah hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet ... 6 Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken asunder by him. 7 Jehovah is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that take refuge in him (Nahum 1:2,3,6,7).
God has a threefold purpose in sending the Tribulation judgments upon the world and its inhabitants. In order to better understand His threefold purpose in sending the Tribulation, it is important to consider carefully five basic Bible teachings given below.
Five Basic Bible Teachings
The Bible teaches the plurality of divine personalities in the Godhead.
Moses commanded his people saying: "Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah" (Deuteronomy 6:4). The literal translation of this passage reveals that Moses said, Jehovah [the Eternal], our Gods, is Jehovah a unity. In other words, Moses taught the plurality of divine personalities in the Godhead.
God has established His throne in the heavens and His kingdom rules over all. He performs His will in the world, not by power, nor by might, but by His Spirit. God Himself will enter the world at the end of the Tribulation in human form to smite the earth and slay the wicked.
To understand how God can rule in heaven, perform His will in the world by His Spirit, and enter the world in human form, we must honestly consider the plurality of divine personalities in the Godhead.
God revealed His character in a sevenfold statement to Moses. This is found in Exodus 34:6,7:
The Second Basic Bible Teaching
6 And Jehovah passed by before him, and proclaimed, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth; 7 keeping lovingkindness for thousands forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation.
The Third Basic Teaching
God is sovereign.
God will not give His glory to another. He has established His throne in the heavens and His kingdom rules over all. Angels, mighty in strength, fulfill His Word. All the nations are as nothing before Him; they are counted by Him as less than nothing. He rules by His might forever; His eyes observe the nations; let not the rebellious exalt themselves. The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nought; He makes the thoughts of the peoples to be of no effect.
The Fourth Basic Bible Teaching
God gives to all His creaturesintelligent, rational beings both in heaven and on earththe power of free choice and the exercise of the will for good or evil. But He must, because of His dominant characteristicsholiness, punish those who willfully choose evil instead of good.
God does not force the will of anyone. He allows each one to make up his own mind and act according to his preferences and choices. When an individual persists in choosing to live a godless, wicked life, however, God ultimately will have to send down His wrath upon him.
God pours out His wrath from heaven upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who in their wickedness choose to hinder the truth. ("The sum of thy word is truth"- Psalm 119:160.) This is stated in Romans 1:18,19: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifested in them; For God manifested it unto them."
The Fifth Basic Teaching
God is love, and He is holy. Since God is love, He loves man in spite of his sinful condition; since He is holy, He cannot look upon nor overlook sin. It was, therefore, necessary for Him to provide a means by which He could save sinful man from eternal death which would satisfy both His love and His holiness. The following Bible verses show how God accomplished this:
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son (Hebrews 1:1,2, New ASB ).
Christ [Messiah, God's only begotten Son] died for our sins [the sins of the world] according to the Scriptures ... He was buried , and ... He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (I Corinthians 15:3,4, New ASB).
When He [Jesus Christ] had made purification of sins, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high ... having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him (Hebrews 1:3; I Peter 3:22, New ASB).
The gospel [good news that Christ died for our sins] ... is the power of God for salvation to every one who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16, New ASB).
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed (Romans 10:9,10, New ASB).
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16, New ASB).
God's Son Jesus Christ, Who is Israel's Messiah and the Savior of the world, accomplished redemption for us on the cross of Calvary by shedding His life's blood in our behalf.
The First Purpose Of The Tribulation
To Cause the Inhabitants of the World to Learn Righteousness
Though God is merciful, gracious and abundant in lovingkindness and truth, Exodus 34:7 declares that "he will by no means clear the guilty." He cannot pass lightly over sin and forget about it. Because wickedness will be great in the earth in the end days, God will have to pour out His tribulation judgments upon the world and its inhabitants. As we mentioned before, God has a threefold purpose in sending the TribulationThe Time of Jacob's Trouble.
In this day and time, as the world travels toward the Great Tribulation, men in general are seeking satisfaction in the possession of material goods and the enjoyment of worldly pleasures. More and more men feel their independence of God, and the number will increase as this age draws to a close.
Because God loves all men in spite of their sin, He will not cast all of His wayward creatures in one lot and destroy all of them during the Tribulation. He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. God knows everyone's heart. He knows that some wayward souls can be turned to their maker during the Tribulation. He knows that as He sends the terrible tribulation judgments, they will cause a host of men to turn from their selfish desires and worldly pleasures to Him, the living God.
Myriads will enter the Kingdom of God during the Tribulation. They will come to the Savior and will be "born again." The Scriptures declare: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born anew [from above], he cannot see the kingdom of God ... That which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:3,6).
Multitudes of the earth's inhabitants will be touched and influenced by the judgments of the Tribulation to seek the Lord. This is shown in Isaiah 26:9 "With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee earnestly: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness."
Isaiah 26:9 teaches that God's judgments poured out upon the world will cause the inhabitants of the earth to learn righteousness. This is the first purpose of the Tribulation.
How will the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness?
In order for us to learn righteousness, men must hear the message of righteousness and accept it. From whom will men hear the message of righteousness during the Tribulation?
Revelation chapter 7, reveals that near the beginning of the Tribulation 144,000 Jewish servants of God will be sealed12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel.
These 144,000 Jewish men will have a head knowledge of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ before the Tribulation judgments begin. After the Tribulation begins, they will believe God's Word, repent of their sins, believe in Jesus as their Messiah, Saviour and Lord, and experience the new birth. God will call them and send them forth as His bond servants. Since they will already have a head knowledge of the Bible, God will flood their minds and souls with light and truth, and will empower them with His Holy spirit. As mighty teachers, like the apostle Paul, they will go throughout the world calling men to repent of their sins and have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
God allowed the writer of the book of Revelation, the apostle John, to see in vision the 144,000 Jews and the results of their teaching:
9 after these things I saw, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, arrayed in white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 and they cry with a great voice, saying, Salvation unto our God who sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 and all the angels were standing round about the throne, and about the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 saying, Amen: Blessing and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. 13 and one of the elders answered, saying unto me, These that are arrayed in the white robes, who are they, and whence came they? 14 And I say unto him, My Lord, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they that come out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:9-14).
John was amazed when he saw this great multitude standing before the throne of God. It is clear that this innumerable host of people will be brought to God during the great Tribulation, the period of God's wrath, as a result of the teaching of the 144,000 Jewish servants of God. They will wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. In other words, they will have their sins washed away by the precious blood of Christ during the Tribulation because they will put their trust in Him. People are saved, or cleansed from their sins, in exactly the same way today.
The statement "... when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness," studied in the light of related Bible passages, surely teaches that the major portion of the inhabitants of the world will hear the good news that Christ died to save sinners. The greater number of them will come to know the righteousness of God. They will experience regeneration.
The almighty God knows what He is doing in sending His tribulation judgments upon the world. The Great Tribulation will not be simply an expression of His wrath and indignation against sin. Rather it will be the showing of His overwhelming, yearning, passionate love for the souls of men
The Second Purpose of the Tribulation
To Rid the World of Wickedness and Wicked Ones
Although a great host will turn to God during the Tribulation, the time of Jacob's trouble, some will have hearts so callused by sin that the terrible judgments of that day will only harden them more. Instead of repenting of their sin, they will grow increasingly wicked. They will hate God, curse Him, and openly defy Him.
These wicked ones will come up under a certain wicked and godless leader, during the Tribulation. He will claim to be God and will demand that all the peoples of the world worship him. The Bible calls this wicked one antichrist.
God will destroy all the wicked ones of the world and will rid the world of wickedness during the seven years of the Time of Jacobs Trouble. This is the second purpose of the Tribulation.
God told King David of the time He will destroy all the wicked. David sang as if this had already taken place, because he knew that with God it was already accomplished. He sang, "Thou hast rebuked the nations, thou hast destroyed the wicked; thou hast blotted out their name for ever and ever" (Psalm 9:5)
God told Isaiah of the time He will rid the world of wicked ones and wickedness. Isaiah spoke about that time in these words: "The earth shall stagger like a drunken man, and shall sway to and fro like a hammock; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it, and it shall fall, and not rise again" (Isaiah 24:20).
God revealed to the apostle John that at the end of the seven years of tribulation Satan will be taken out of the world and locked up. John's vision is recorded in Revelation 20:1,2: "And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 and he laid hold on the dragon, the old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years."
So when the seven years of God's judgments are ended, the second purpose of the Tribulation will have been accomplishedthe world will be free of wickedness and wicked ones.
The Third Purpose of the Tribulation
To Break the Power of the Holy People
God has yet another purpose in pouring out upon the world one judgment after another during the Time of Jacob's Trouble. A messenger from heaven informed Daniel that the tribulation judgments will continue till they break the power (will) of the holy people. The messenger said, "and when they have made an end of breaking in pieces the power [will] of the holy people, all these things [tribulation judgments] shall be finished" (Daniel 12:7). This is the third purpose of the Tribulation.
Who are the "holy people"? The term the holy people means a particular people set apart for God's service. In the Tenach, the Old Testament, it refers to the Jewish people. The one in whom we live and move and have our being defined His purpose in creating the Jewish people with these words: "... My people, my chosen, the people which I formed for myself, that they might set forth thy praise" (Isaiah 43:20,21) .
God began the Hebrew race with the miraculous birth of Isaac. Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah after their bodies were as good as dead (Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90).
God promised Abraham that He would bless all nations through him and his seed, "the holy people." He confirmed His promise to Abraham's son, Isaac, and to his grandson, Jacob. (Read Genesis 12:1-3; 18:18; 22:17,18; 26:4 and 28:14.) God selected Abraham andhis literal seed, the Jewish people, and his supreme seed, the Messiahthrough whom to channel His favors and benefits to the rest of the world. He loves all men equally, but He chose the Hebrew race to be the channel through which love might flow out to all people. In other words, He created the Jewish people expressly to minister the things of God to the Gentile nations.
Jehovah told Moses that the children of Israel will be ministers of God:
19 In the third month after the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 and when they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the wilderness of Sinai, they encamped in the wilderness; and there Israel encamped before the mount. 3 And Moses went up unto God, and Jehovah called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. 5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be mine own possession from among all peoples: for all the earth is mine: 6 and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and, a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel (Exodus 19:1-6).
Note carefully, the children of Israel shall be unto God a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. Not only one of the 12 tribes will be priests of the Lord, but the whole nation shall be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.
Immediately after Moses delivered the above message to his brethren, "all the people answered together, and said, All that Jehovah hath spoken we will do" (Exodus 19:8).
Through Moses, God commanded His people, saying:
2 I am Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them ... (Exodus 20:2-5).
"The Holy People" Disobey God
Within a very short time the Jewish people went back on their solemn promise to obey God's Word and disobeyed the above commandments.
The Lord had called Moses to the top of Mount Sinai. When he did not return to the people for a time, they began to get restless. After gathering together, they went to Aaron and asked him to make them an image to worship:
32 ... Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we know not is become of him 2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden rings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. 3 And all the peoples brake off the golden rings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. 4 And he received it at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it a molten calf; and they said, These are thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 5 and when Aaron saw this, he built an alter before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow shall be a feast to Jehovah. 6 and they rose up early in the Morrow, and offered burnt-offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 7 and Jehovah spake unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, that thou broughtest up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: 8 they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed unto it, and said, These are thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 9 And Jehovah said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff-necked people: 10 now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. 11 And Moses besought Jehovah, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, that thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, saying, For evil did he bring them forth, to slay them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. 14 and Jehovah repented of the evil which he said he would do unto his people (Exodus 32:1-14).
"The Holy People" Went Repeatedly Against God's Will
Beginning with the book of Exodus through the rest of the Old Testament, one record after another shows that the children of Israel, as a nation, have set their hand against their Creator and have gone against His will.
As a nation they have served God only intermittently down through history. Their history has followed a pattern. First, they forsook God. Next, He turned them over to a foreign power. Then while under oppression they repented of their sin and rebellion and cried for deliverance. Finally, the Lord heard them, delivered them from their enemies and brought them back into fellowship with Himself.
Examples of five such cycles are found in the Book of Judges.
First Cycle - Judges 3:1-11
Second Cycle 3:12-30
Third Cycle 3:31-5:31
Fourth cycle 6:1-8:35
Fifth cycle -10:3-12:6
God exercised much patience toward the Jewish people through many cycles. He tenderly cared for them through each one in the hope that they would turn to Him and serve Him. When they persisted in their stubborn refusal to turn to Him, however, His wrath finally arose against them, till there was no remedy.