Chapter 6

CALAMITY BEFALLS THE JEWS DURING TIME OF JACOB'S TROUBLE


"And these are the words that Jehovah spake concerning Judah. For thus saith Jehovah: We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now, and see whether a man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:4-7).

All nations will suffer when God's judgments are poured out upon the earth; however, the period is called the Time of Jacob's Trouble because the Jewish people will suffer far more than any other nation during that time.

"But is that fair?" you may ask. "I can see why God would punish the Jewish people for their sins just as He will punish the others; but why should He punish them more severely?"

It is true that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. It is true that all deserve punishment—everlasting punishment and shame for their rebellion against the Holy One of Israel.

The Jews to Receive Double for Their Sins

It is also true that God has declared in His Word that His people will receive double for all their sins:

17 For mine eyes are upon all their ways (the children of Israel's ways); they are not hid from mine eyes. 18 And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double, because they have polluted my land with the carcasses of their detestable things, and have filled mine inheritance with their abominations (Jeremiah 16:17,18).

Speaking as though a future event had already taken place, as the prophets frequently did, Isaiah cried: "Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God. Speak ye Comfortably to Jerusalem: and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she hath received of Jehovah's hand double for all her sins" (Isaiah 40:1,2).

Who has a right to challenge the justice and righteousness of God? "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25.)

The Reason Jews Will Suffer More Than Others

God gave the Jewish people increased light, opportunities and benefits which He gave to no other race. These brought with them added responsibilities. The reason they will suffer more than others during the Tribulation is because they failed to live up to their privileges and responsibilities.

When God performed a biological miracle upon the bodies of Abraham and Sarah that made possible the birth of Isaac, He injected into the blood stream of the Jewish race potentialities and powers no other race possesses. He revealed to them His Holy and righteous laws. He lavished His goodness upon them more than any other nation.

19 He showeth his word unto Jacob,
His statutes and his ordinances unto Israel.
20 He hath not dealt so with any nation;
And as for his ordinances, they have not known them (Psalm 147:19,20).

God gave the Jewish race increased light, opportunities and benefits so that they might be a unique people among all nations of the world.

Unique in their worship of the one true God: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Deuteronomy 5:7).

Unique because their land was to be free from idols or any material representation of God, Who must be worshipped in spirit and in truth: "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: thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them" (Deuteronomy 5:8,9).

Unique because they were to observe the laws, commandments and precepts given by God. From the heart of God came these words to Moses: "Oh that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!" (Deuteronomy 5:29.)

Unique in their anticipation of a coming Messiah Who would be a blessing to Jew and Gentile alike, thus fulfilling God's promise to Abraham: "I will make of thee a great nation ... and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:2,3).

Unique because they were to be the channel through which the Messiah would come into the world: "Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called: Jehovah our righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:5,6).

This unique people, with increased light, opportunity and benefits were to glorify God in their personal, national and social life. They were also to be a light to the heathen nations around them, leading them to the one true and living God.

Up to the present time, however, the people of Israel, as a nation, have failed to bring God the glory that is due Him, and have failed to lead the godless nations of the world to a knowledge of Him.

Their Past and Present Sins and Past and Present Suffering

After they were established in their land, the majority of the Jewish people turned from God, worshipped gods of the Gentiles, and set up idols in their land. Moses prophesied they would do this and told them of the sufferings they would have to endure as a consequence:

25 When thou shalt beget children, and children's children, and ye shall have been long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image in the form of any thing, and shall do that which is evil in the sight of Jehovah thy God, to provoke him to anger; 26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over the Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed. 27 And Jehovah will scatter you among the peoples, and ye shall be left few in number among the nations, wither Jehovah shall lead you away (Deuteronomy 4:25-27).

Throughout most of their history, all but a small remnant of Israel turned away their ears from hearing the Word of the Lord and refused to obey His commandments:

15 And Jehovah, the God of their fathers, sent to them by his messengers, rising up early and sending, because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling-place: 16 but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and scoffed at his prophets, until the wrath of Jehovah arose against his people, till there was no remedy" (Chronicles 36:15,16).

Following the Babylonian captivity a subtle change began to take place in the attitude of many of the Jewish people toward the Word of God. They began to substitute the traditions and teachings of their spiritual leaders for God's written Word.

In early post-exilic days the high priest together with a number of the chief of the priests and certain ruling elders were set apart to judge legal matters for the Jews. Their assembly became the highest court of the land. It was designated Gerusia (council of the elders). This Gerusia was the ruling body that was later called the Sanhedrin. Although this Great Assembly was primarily organized to decide civil matters, it also acted as the guiding spiritual body of the Jewish community in Jerusalem.

The Sanhedrin studied and interpreted the Torah (five books of Moses). They added new laws, illustrations, and examples thinking they were making the Torah clearer to the people. Besides interpreting the Torah, making new laws, etc., that body designated certain holidays for the Jews to celebrate, and laid great emphasis upon the celebration of age-old holidays and customs. As a result, multitudes of them have been lulled into believing that if they celebrate the Jewish holidays and keep up the tradition of their fathers, they will be brought closer to God.

Isaiah prophesied concerning some of his brethren who have substituted the traditions and teachings of men for the Word of God, saying:

13 And the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw nigh unto me, and with their mouth and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men which hath been taught them (Isaiah 29:13).

The Jewish people were steeped in the traditions and teachings of men by the time Jesus of Nazareth came and presented Himself to them as their Messiah. Only a very small remnant knew and believed the Word of God as it is written. These recognized that Jesus came in fulfillment of the promises of God through Moses and the prophets. The rest were blinded by their spiritual leaders, who resented Jesus' teachings and were unwilling to accept Him, so that they could not recognize Him. Under the leadership of the Sanhedrin the Jewish people, turned against Jesus. This led to their great national sin—the rejection of Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah, Savior and King.

For over 1900 years the Jewish people as a nation, under the guidance of their spiritual leaders, have spurned God's love which was manifested in the giving of His only begotten Son, Jesus, to die for their sins and the sins of the World.

Jewish history records three great sins that God's Chosen People committed against Him: they worshipped idols; despised His Word; and rejected Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah. Because of these three great sins God brought upon the nation of Israel three great times of affliction; the Assyrian captivity; and the dispersion under the Romans in 70 A.D., followed by persecution and suffering during the past 1900 years.

Their Future Sin and Future Suffering

Since the Jews have had to endure great affliction and suffering for their past sins, what will they have to endure for all their past sins plus their future sin? Calamity!

What is the future sin the Jewish people will commit?

It will be the signing of the contract with Antichrist in which he will agree to protect them from their enemies. In addition to relying upon that evil one instead of God in the end days, many Jews will turn again to the worship of idols. When the Jewish people play harlot with Antichrist and the idolatrous system of that day, they will stir God's wrath to a point it has never reached before against them. The God of Israel will become a consuming fire! Figuratively speaking, He will allow the nations of the world to become a furnace of affliction for His people, the Jews.

Beginning with the afflictions under the Assyrians and the Babylonians, God's wrath has arisen against His people from time to time. During the pogroms under the Roman Empire, France, Spain, Czarist Russia, and ending with the diabolical massacres in Germany, God has allowed the individual nations to become furnaces of affliction for the Jewish people.

Horrible as these pogroms were, they were the work of individual nations at various times in history. But the day is fast approaching when the leaders of many powerful nations are going to meet together to devise a plan to annihilate every Jew on the face of the earth. They will organize a pogrom on a world-wide scale, the like of which the world has ever known. This diabolical pogrom will take place during the day when many living will envy the dead, the Time of Jacob's Trouble.

Surely the prophet Zechariah prophesied concerning the great pogrom in that day when he spoke saying, "and it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith Jehovah, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part into the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. They shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, Jehovah is our God" (Zechariah 13:8,9).

Ezekiel prophesied that half of the two parts will die by pestilence and famine, the other half by the sword (Ezekiel 5:12).

Jesus Prophecy Concerning Anti-Semitism During the End Days

The lord Jesus Christ confirmed the prophets' warning about the pogroms and Jew-hate of the last days, saying, "Then [during the travail of the last days] shall they deliver you up unto tribulation, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated for my name's sake" (Matthew 24:9).

The anti-Semitic spirit of which Jesus prophesied will burst into flame when antichrist sets up his image in the Jews' Most Sacred Temple in Jerusalem, and requires the inhabitants of the world to bow down and worship it. Jesus warned His people about this, saying:

15 When therefore ye see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let him that readeth understand), 16 then let them that are in Judea flee unto the mountains: 17 let him that is in the housetop not go down to take out the things that are in his house: 18 and let him that is in the field not return back to take his cloak. 19 But woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days! 20 and pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on a sabbath: 21 for then shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened (Matthew 24:15-22).

Jesus also prophesied that many Jews will stumble and turn against their own during those terrible days. He said, "And then shall many stumble, and shall deliver up one another, and shall hate one another" (Matthew 24:10). In other words, many Jews will turn against their own during the Tribulation. For further light on this point read Isaiah 3:5, and Micah 7:5.

Jesus' Prophecy Concerning False Prophets

In addition to His prophecies about the rise in anti-Semitism, the horror of the Tribulation, and the unfaithfulness that will develop among His people, Jesus warned that many false prophets shall arise, and shall lead many astray" (Matthew 24:11).

Having sounded this warning, Jesus warned His brethren, the Jews, not to believe the messages of the false prophets, saying:

23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ, or, Here; believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 Behold, I have told you beforehand. 26 If therefore they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the wilderness; go not forth: Behold, he is in the inner chambers; believe it not. 27 For as the lightning cometh forth from the east, and is seen even unto the west; so shall be the coming of the Son of man. 28 Wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together (Matthew 24:23-28).

You will notice that these false prophets and false messiahs will do much more than simply make false claims. They will back up their claims by performing great signs and wonders. So convincing will these signs be that, if possible, those deceivers would lead astray even the people who will be sincerely trying to remain faithful to God through those terrible days.

How will they perform these wonders? according to some they will perform sleight-of-hand tricks. This, however, is a hasty conclusion. These will be very unusual and powerful signs. No doubt they will be supernatural wonders—genuine miracles of Satan. Satan always opposes God, and he will be particularly busy during the Time of Jacob's Trouble.

In order for you to better understand what Jesus predicted, let me give you an example of the activities of some false prophets who operated centuries ago. When Moses appeared to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage, the Spirit of God gave him power to perform miracles. Moses went before Pharaoh and performed certain wonders. Immediately the magicians of Egypt appeared on the scene and duplicated the first two miracles Moses had performed.

How did they do it? There can be only one answer—through the power of Satan. Their signs were just as supernatural and convincing as those performed by Moses. The only difference was the source of their power. The power that energized Moses was that of the holy, eternal God; that which worked through the magicians was from the adversary of the soul—Satan.

These false prophets who will arise in the midst of the Time of Jacob's Trouble will declare that the Messiah has made His appearance. Some will claim that He is in the city, others will declare that He is in some secret place in the rural districts.

Knowing that the false prophets will try to deceive the people, the Lord Jesus Christ warned His followers against the impostors. In order that they might not be deceived, Christ declared that His coming will be like the flashing of the lightning across the heavens as it passes from the east to the west.

At this point in His prophecy concerning the Tribulation, Jesus made this unusual prediction: "Wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles (the Greek word means vultures) be gathered together" (Matthew 24:28).

What did He mean by this statement?

In order to understand it, we must remember that vultures are attracted by the odors from a decaying carcass. Whenever they scent the presence of something dead, they immediately fly to the scene and soar in the air above the spot where the carcass lies and finally light and feast upon it. This well known fact proved to be a suitable illustration of the point which the Lord Jesus Christ had in mind.

What then in this prediction corresponds to the carcass in the illustration? The answer probably is found in Deuteronomy 28:26: "and thy dead body shall be food unto all birds of the heavens, and unto the beasts of the earth; and there shall be none to frighten them away." When we read the passage in its context, we see that the body here referred to can be nothing except the political body of the Jewish nation.

Since we understand that the carcass indicates the Jewish nation, to whom do the vultures refer? The false prophets are no doubt compared to the vultures against whom Christ has given warning. Just as the vultures devour the carcass which they find these false prophets will prey upon the Jews who will not be holding to the truth in the end time and will take advantage of their willingness to believe wild rumors.

Jesus revealed that in addition to the ones who will be led astray by false prophets, there will be others who will grow cold and hard in their attitude toward their fellow Jews. He said, "Because iniquity shall be multiplied, the love of many shall wax [grow] cold" (Matthew 24:12).

Jesus Prophecy Concerning the Faithful Remnant of Israel

But Jesus knew that there will be other Jews who will not yield their lives to the diabolical teachings of the false prophets and the wickedness around them during that time. He spoke of them when He said: "But he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved [delivered]" (Matthew 24:13).

Who is the one that endures to the end (the end of the Tribulation)?

Among the Jews living during the Tribulation there will be some that follow after truth and righteousness. These will be members of the "remnant of Israel." They will not rely upon Antichrist and his world system, but will lean upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. This faithful remnant will return unto the mighty God.

Isaiah prophesied concerning these saying:

20 and it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and they that are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more lean upon him that smote them, but shall lean upon Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. 21 A remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. 22 For though thy people, Israel, be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them shall return: a destruction is determined, overflowing with righteousness. 23 For a full end, and that determined, will the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, make in the midst of all the earth (Isaiah 10:20-23).

The faithful "remnant of Israel" that will trust in the Holy One of Israel and return to Him will be made up of Jews who will "endure to the end" of the Tribulation. When Jesus said, "He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved," He was speaking of spiritual endurance, not physical.

What conditions will exist then that will press upon an individual and require spiritual endurance for him to live righteously? Jesus made it clear why spiritual endurance would be required in that day. He prophesied that during the Tribulation anti-Semitism will be rampant, hate will flare among Jews, wickedness will hold high carnival, and false prophets will busily spread their wild rumors.

The Proper Attitude for a Jew to Have During the Time of Jacob's Trouble

A Jew who sincerely wants to live a righteous life and remain faithful to God's Word during the Tribulation, therefore, will not harbor malice against anyone; he will not hate or despise his fellow Jews; he will not have any part in the wickedness of that day; and he will not heed the teaching of the false prophets.

Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Habakkuk and other prophets prophesied that some of their people (the faithful remnant) will return to God's Word and will be obedient to it in that day.

King David sang about the remnant of his people who will live according to truth in God's word, and who will remain faithful to the Holy One Of Israel throughout the time of Jacob's trouble. His words are as follows:

3 Who shall ascend into the hill of Jehovah? And who shall stand in his holy place [during the Golden Era]? 4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; Who hath not lifted up his soul unto falsehood, And hath not sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive a blessing from Jehovah, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is the generation of them that seek after him, That seek thy face, even Jacob (Psalm 24:3-6).

The Effect of the Time of Jacob's Trouble upon Three Groups of Jews

The Time of Jacob's Trouble will indeed be a time of unprecedented suffering and testing for the Jewish people. Some will be so godless and wicked that they will harden their hearts against God in that day and refuse to repent; for them that day will be the entrance into eternal darkness and endless suffering. Others will repent and turn to God with their whole heart while His judgments are being poured out upon the earth; these will be "born again" and will enter into eternal life in the presence of God, their Savior. Still others, the "faithful remnant" among the Jews, will be seeking after God, and striving to obey His word during the Time of Jacob's Trouble; these will be miraculously protected throughout the Tribulation; they will repent of their sins and wholeheartedly turn to God at the very end of that time, and will enter into the glorious Golden Era.