THE ACT THAT PRECIPITATES THE TIME OF JACOB'S TROUBLE
Time here on earth is fixed. You can't speed it up or slow it down. Every minute is bringing us closer to something. A new home; A new job; New acquaintances; Joy; Sorrow; Health; Sickness; Old age; Retirement; Death. And every minute is bringing us closer to the Time of Jacob's Trouble.
The signs that announce the approach of the Time of Jacob's Trouble have already been enumerated. Also, we have seen that these signs are accumulating today at such an alarming rate that we can be sure that the Great Tribulation is drawing near.
But these are just signs that the time is approaching. Will there be a sign that will mark the beginning of the Time of Jacob's Trouble?
Yes, God told Daniel, the prophet, the sign that will mark the beginning of that day. For "Surely the Lord [Jehovah] will do nothing except he reveal his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). Every prophet beginning with Moses, wrote about the day of the Lord, the Time of Jacob's Trouble. But it was to Daniel that God chose to make known the event that will set in motion that time.
Through the prophet Daniel, God gave a comprehensive, yet concise, account of the things that will happen during that time. In addition, He made it plain when that time will begin. This secret recorded in Daniel 9:24-27, was given to Daniel while he and his people, the Jews, were in captivity in Babylon.
Daniel, an Orthodox Jew
Daniel was a strict orthodox Jew in his outlook. He had a firm belief that God would send the promised Messiah to his people. He believed that when Messiah came He would defeat all of their enemies, give them all the land of promise, and lead them into the glorious Golden Era of peace and prosperity.
Being an orthodox Jew, he longed for the day when he and his people would be back in their land. Being a man of God, he searched the writings of the Hebrew prophets carefully to see how God was dealing with them.
Daniel Read a Prophecy of Jeremiah and Rejoiced
One day while he was reading God's Word, he was arrested by two passages in the writings of the prophet Jeremiah:
11 And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith Jehovah, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it desolate for ever (Jeremiah 25:11,12).
10 For thus saith Jehovah, After seventy years are accomplished for Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith Jehovah, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end. 12 and ye shall call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13 and ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. 14 And I will be found of you saith Jehovah, and I will turn again your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith Jehovah; and I will bring you again unto the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive (Jeremiah 29:10-14).
Daniel received new light on God's Word as he read these passages: "and it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished for Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place [the land of Israel]." Daniel saw the Babylonian captivity was almost over; for at the time he read these words the Jewish people had been in captivity 68 years.
Surely joy flooded Daniel's soul when he realized that in two years he and his people would be free to return to their beloved land. So unbounded was his joy that he evidently incorrectly interpreted Jeremiah's words to mean that in two years the Golden Era would dawn.
Daniel Did Not Fully Understand Jeremiah's Prophecy
Daniel did not understand exactly what Jeremiah had written. Perhaps he did not consider that the Lord often gave a message in which He told of two similar but widely separated events.
There are two widely separated events recorded in Jeremiah 29:10-14. In the first part of that message, Jehovah told Jeremiah that after the 70 years of captivity under the Babylonians He would cause the Jews to return to their land. He said, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you ... thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end."
In the last part of Jeremiah's message, the Lord let it be known that a time will come when the Jewish people will be scattered among the nations. There they will search for Him with all their heart, and He will be found of them. He will gather them from all the nations where He had driven them and bring them again into their land.
It is very clear that in the first part of God's message to Jeremiah, He spoke about the return of the Jews to their land after the Babylonian captivity.
In the last part of His message, God spoke about the return of the Jews to their land after they have searched for Him with all their heart. At that time, He will turn again their captivity and will gather them from all the nations and from all the places where He has driven them.
All during this present age the Jews have been scattered throughout the nations. Without doubt, Jeremiah prophesied concerning the end of our present age in the latter part of his prophecy.
But Daniel evidently concluded these two eventsthe Babylonian captivity and the scattering among the nationswere the one and the same thing.
Jeremiah prophesied that in the end days, "the latter end," the Jewish people will seek the Lord with all their heart, and He will hear their prayers and will regather them from among the nations. "And ye shall seek me, and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you ... and I will turn again your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith Jehovah" (Jeremiah 29:13,14).
Daniel surely interpreted these words to mean that when he and his people sought the Lord with all their heart, He would bring them out of the Babylonian captivity; for he began to pray fervently to the Lord on behalf of himself and his people.
God Sent Gabriel to Give Daniel Understanding
While Daniel was praying, confessing his sin, and the sin of his people Israel, God dispatched the angel Gabriel from heaven to speak with Daniel. He came and instructed Daniel, saying, "O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee wisdom and understanding."
What wisdom and what understanding did the angel give Daniel?
Remember Daniel was an orthodox Jew in the strictest sense. He believed the Word of God. The Word of God assured him that the Babylonian captivity was drawing to a close. It also assured him that Messiah was going to come and usher in an era of righteousness, peace and prosperitythe Golden Era.
Because Daniel was mistaken in expecting the Golden Era to come at the end of the Babylonian captivity, the angel was sent to show him his error and to teach him God's order of events.
70 Sevens490 YearsDecreed Upon the Jewish People
Gabriel came to Daniel and instructed him that the seventy year period Jeremiah prophesied was not decreed to bring about events leading up to the glorious reign of King Messiah. He disclosed that there were "seventy sevens" decreed upon the Jewish people before that glorious time would come to pass.
Seventy sevens of what? Seventy sevens of years. Since Daniel was thinking in terms of one period of 70 years of the Babylonian captivity, it is logical to believe he understood that the angel spoke of 70 periods of seven years (490 years).
The angel gave Daniel this message:
24 Seventy weeks (The word translated weeks in Daniel 9:24ff, literally means sevens in the original language) are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. 25 Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the anointed one, the prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troublous times. 26 And after the threescore and two weeks shall the anointed one be cut off, and shall have nothing: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined. 27 And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate; and even unto the full end, and that determined, shall wrath be poured out upon the desolate (Daniel 9:24-27).
The angel told Daniel that "seventy sevens" were decreed upon his people and upon the holy city of Jerusalem so that six things might be accomplished:
1. To finish transgression,
2. To make an end of sins,
3. To make reconciliation for iniquity,
4. To bring in everlasting righteousness,
5. To seal up vision and prophecy,
6. To anoint the most holy.
When these things have been accomplished the kingdom of God will have been established upon earth, and God's love and benefits will flow out to all the families of the earth.
The Three Divisions of the 490 Years¹
The message the angel Gabriel gave was explicit. He told Daniel that the 70 periods of seven years, or 490 years, would be divided into three separate periods: seven sevens, or 49 years; 62 sevens, or 434 years; and one seven, or seven years. Each of these periods would represent a particular period of Israel's future history. Now let's see what period each one of these divisions represents.
The First Division of Seven Sevens, or 49 Years
The Jews would restore and rebuild Jerusalem during the first 49 years after they returned from the Babylonian captivity. This has been literally fulfilled.
The Second Division62 Sevens, or 434 Years
The city of Jerusalem which the Jews rebuilt during the 49 troublesome years would stand for 434 years until the anointed one, Messiah, came and was cut off (killed). This also has been literally fulfilled.
The Gap of 1900 + Years
Let us restate the information Daniel received. During the 49 plus 434 years, or 483 years, following the Babylonian captivity the Jews would rebuild Jerusalem and reoccupy their city. At the end of that period the anointed one, the prince, would make his appearance and be killed.
Who is this "anointed one," or Messiah, the prince, of whom the angel Gabriel spoke?
What prominent figure claiming to be the Messiah of Israel came to the Jewish people and was killed about 483 years after the decree was issued ending the Babylonian captivity? Only one answer can be given: Jesus of Nazareth.
It has been centuries since Jesus, the Messiah, was cut off. Yet not one of the six purposes mentioned in Daniel 9:24 has been accomplished. Therefore the 70th week, or the last seven years of the 490 years, could not have immediately followed Christ Jesus' crucifixion. At the end of the 483 years the Lord's special clock stopped ticking off the time of the decree, for the 490th year is to be followed by the Golden Era.
The prophet Micah predicted that God would give Israel up "until the time that she who travaileth hath brought forth" (Micah 5:3). This prediction is nothing short of God's stating that His clock, which measures the time of the decree, the 70 weeks, would stop when the people of Israel rejected their Messiah. It would not start again until Israel entered a period of travailthe Time of Jacob's Trouble.
Thus there is a gap of over 1900 years between the 69 periods of seven years and the last period of seven years.
The Third DivisionOne Seven, or Seven Years
The Beginning of this "week," or seven-year period, marks the beginning of the Time of Jacob's Trouble, the Tribulation.
Since the first and second divisions of Daniel's prophecy have been completely and literally fulfilled, we can be sure the things that are predicted to happen during the third divisionseven yearswill come to pass.
Note that the angel told Daniel that a specific act will mark the beginning of the last seven years of the 490 years.
The angel said: And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week (Daniel 9:27).
According to this statement, a certain individual will make a strong contract with "many" for "one week"seven years. Who will that individual be? Who are the many with whom he will make a contract? what will the contract be?
Immediately preceding the statement, "And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week," the angel said:
And after the threescore and two weeks shall the anointed one be cut off, and shall have nothing: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary (Daniel 9:26).
Therefore the antecedent to "he" in Daniel 9:27 is the prince that shall come in 9:26. prince that shall come is of the people who destroy the city and sanctuary. Surely the angel predicted the destruction of Jerusalem (the city) and the Jewish Temple (the sanctuary) by the Gentiles under the imperialistic power of the Romans in 70 A.D. Thus "the prince that shall come," the one who will make the covenant with "many", will be a Gentile at the head of the last great imperialistic world power of this age. Rome was the first great imperialistic power of the present age. (In connection with this, read Daniel's prophecy in chapter 7 of his book, noting especially verses 7,17,19 and 23.)
The "many" with whom "the prince that shall come" makes the contract for seven years are of the Jews who will be living in the end days. We can be sure of this, for Daniel's peoplethe Jewsare the people under the 490 year decree.
In the last days, many developments will rapidly take place that will bring about the rise of the powerful world dictator, "the prince that shall come." Out of these developments a crisis will arise in Israel that will cause the Jews to seek that mighty dictator's favor and help.
Some time in the near future the Jews will acquire the ancient site of their Temple on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem. After they gain this site, they will rebuild their Temple and restore the Mosaic ceremonies of Temple worshipdaily worship services and the offerings of animal sacrifices. During this time anti-Semitism and other racial problems will grow increasingly severe. Jews who believe what the prophets of old taught know that their people will find life more and more difficult. "The day is coming," some of them say, "when the living will envy the dead."
The Act That Will Start the Time of Jacob's Trouble
Since anti-Semitism will grow rampant, and the Jews will regain the old Temple site, rebuild their Temple and reinstitute Temple worship according to the Mosaic Law, an acute international problem will arise. After they become organized in their Temple worship, they will be harassed while they try to worship, and their enemies will become so fierce that they will need strong protection in order to carry on their religious services. Instead of seeking the help of God, they will turn to the powerful dictator for help. The Jews will make a contract with him under which he will agree to give them military protection from their enemies.
The signing of that contract will mark the beginning of the Time of Jacob's Trouble.
¹ The 490-year decree began the date Cyrus, king of Persia, issued a proclamation that Jews exiled in Babylonia were to return to their land and rebuild the Temple. See Chapter XIV, Messiah: His First Coming Scheduled, by David L. Cooper.