Sunday, 10 July 2016

When was Jacob's Trouble?

7 Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the TIME OF JACOB'S TROUBLE; but he shall be saved out of it.

Some assert that this event called "the time of Jacob's trouble" is still to come in future, and they therefore conclude that the salvation of Israel, and the Judaism implied in the passage, are also on the cards for the future. But I tend to think much of Jeremiah 30 has already been fulfilled. The chapter began by announcing the topic: it was about the captivity of Judah and Israel and their subsequent return from it (verses 1-3). That captivity occurred in Jeremiah's own lifetime, hundreds of years before Christ. Having at the outset promised their return, the passage then proceeded to describe their imminent troubles/captivity (verses 4-7). But again it was promised that they would be saved out of it (verse 7). When the Lord would save them out of their captivity, their Gentile captors' hold over them would be broken (verse 8). This was seen at the return from captivity. Once back in their land, they would resume serving the Lord (verse 9). This also was seen at the return from captivity. Then, once back in their land, God would raise up David (Messiah, Christ) to them (verse 9). God indeed raised up Messiah to them in that historical context: Jesus of Nazareth. God said He would deal with the nations that oppressed them (verse 11). And He did - none of those nations which oppressed Israel in those days still exist today! Through the rest of the chapter, and all the way up to verse 14 of the next chapter, it continued to describe:
  • the certainty of captivity,
  • the certainty or restoration,
  • and the certainty that God would deal with their captors
It even mentioned priests being fed again, which dates the fulfilment to Old Covenant times when the priesthood still existed (30:12-31:13). Then comes verse 15, Rachel weeping for her children, which Matthew says was fulfilled in Christ's generation. That would be impossible, if everything previously mentioned in the passage is still future. Then in verse 31 it mentioned the new covenant being made with Israel - which Jesus and Paul said was fulfilled by the cross, by the Gospel.
So, the things being mentioned up to this point, rather than all being still in the future, instead set the stage for Messiah and the New Covenant to come - which came in the first century AD. The time of Jacob's trouble wasn't to begin afterwards! Of course Israel's problems didn't end at the return from captivity. They were to subsequently suffer "the day of vengeance" (Isaiah 61) - which Jesus applied to the destruction of the Temple and city (which occurred around AD70). But that was a separate prophecy.

Neither has the final judgment of the nations of course taken place. But with regard to Jeremiah 30 & 31, we do know:
  • Israel and Judah experienced trouble and went into captivity.
  • They were afterwards restored to their land.
  • They did resume Levitical worship.
  • Enemy nations were judged, at that time.
  • Gentile proselytes did begin making pilgrimages to Jerusalem to keep the Feast.
  • Rachel did weep for her children, whom Herod slew.
  • God did raise up Messiah to them, a Saviour.
  • He did make the New Covenant with them.
So, whatever the future holds, Jeremiah 30 & 31 doesn't establish a case for Judaism to be required again in our future. Much of the passage has already come to pass on location, and on time, just as the Prophets foresaw.

Jesus the Saviour has come. We won't need to return to the shadow!

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