What does the above phrase mean? It is mentioned frequently in discussions on the subject of prophecy; especially in relation to “latter days”, or as some call them “end times”.
Jacob was one of the sons of Isaac, who was the son of Abraham and Sarah; and Isaac was a son of “promise” to them, as they were very old (approx.100 years old) when he was born; Gen. 17.
Jacob was a very hard working, diligent, and also a cunning man; who was tricked by his uncle Laban into working for much longer than he need have done for the hand in marriage of his daughter Rachel. Jacob, having already worked 7 years, was then tricked into accepting Leah as his wife! He agreed to work 7 more years for Rachel; Gen. 29.
Although this may seem hard in modern eyes, Jacob, with the leadership and collusion of his mother, had “stolen” the “birth- right” of the older son from his father Isaac; Gen. 27. In that context, the extra 7 years of servitude seem quite light.
However, Jacob had shown by his own free will, that he revered God, and had paid Him homage on his journey to Laban’s household; Gen. 28.
A very important event happened to Jacob just prior to his departure from Laben after 21 years of service. He had already gathered from Laben a very large number of his flocks; Gen. 30, which made him a wealthy man. He encountered God in a physical event; his name was changed from Jacob to Israel (Prince with God), and the Promises made to Abraham and Isaac were endowed for continuation in him; and his offspring; Gen. 32:28 & 35:10. This whole event was to bring Jacob into submission to God/Jehovah; and to make him realise his need to rely on God for all things!
Out of these early beginnings, Jacob had 12 sons, who became the first of the 12 tribes of Israel. After Jacob/Israel had been drawn to Egypt by Joseph during the famine of that time, the Israelites grew in numbers over the following 400 years; and because of the jealousy of the later generations of Egyptians, they became slaves to them; until the actions of God through Moses.
In the following years after the Exodus from Egypt, they eventually entered the “Promised Land”, and eventually had their own Kings. They were however repeatedly unfaithful to their Jehovah (God in Covenant relationship with Israel); and because of that infidelity they were taken in captivity to Babylon and Assyria.
Under Nehemiah and Ezra they were re-established in Jerusalem and environs, and continued for the next few hundred years to exist under various rulers. By the time of the Romans they were looking strongly for their Messiah to relieve them of the Roman yoke!
In this environment of anticipation the Jews were very restless, and tried to adopt a number of men who were active and resistant against the Roman occupation as “Messiah's”, to no avail, ending in the deaths of those men.
During this period and prior to the 1st Advent of Jesus, the dominant Jewish group (the Pharisees), had been searching their Scriptures for evidence of the Messiah’s credentials, which they determined would be of human origin, not Divine! This was because for hundreds of years, the original Scriptures given to Moses had been altered to eliminate Divine origin! Also; the Pharisees had formulated their own rules and Scriptures, which gave them royal powers, which previously had been the prerogative of kingship! These powers were the final arbiter between the Pharisees and all ordinary Jews; and there was no appeal, which meant banishment from all but the lowest levels of society for men and women who fell foul of Pharisaic law! These people were known as “sinners and publicans”, and were at a desperate level of life and society!
Into this environment came Jesus, who mixed with “publicans and sinners”, and by doing so enraged the ruling Pharisees!
Jesus said repeatedly that He came only to the lost sheep of Israel (at that time), and the Gospels show that many “ordinary” people were drawn to Him.
He eventually proclaimed His Messiah- ship; but because the ruling Pharisees expected a warrior human Messiah, to release them from the Romans, they and the people eventually rejected Him, despite the evidential miracles He had performed.
Jesus the Christ (Anointed of God) was, as the world knows, crucified outside the city walls of Jerusalem 2000 years ago.
The Apostle Paul was selected by God as a “chosen vessel” to explain to the Jews (first); the meaning of the crucifixion of Jesus, but 30 years later at his last Synagogue visit in Rome, the Jews finally rejected Jesus as their Messiah; and in the poignant statement by Paul in Acts 28:25-28, the Gospel was focused on the Gentiles as first priority “and they will hear”, as Paul declared! At the same time the Jews became “Lo-Ammi” not My people (as first priority); but can become Christians in the same way as Gentiles.
Since that time, approx. AD 61; the Jews have been put to one side by God, dispersed throughout the world, suffered greatly at the hands of Gentiles (pogroms); but recently (1948) have been declared a Nation again; but very few Jews live in Israel, compared with their worldwide population! The present land borders could not in any case accommodate their numbers, but their future borders will (Gen. 15:18).
We now approach the core of this subject. Why would Israel (Jacob) have to experience what is called “Jacob’s Trouble”, or persecution?
It has been shown that the Jewish Nation is called Israel, because Jacob’s name was changed to Isra-el in Gen. 32 and reiterated in Gen. 35. That was because Gen. 32:28 states; (AV & KJV) “God said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob (contender, used of the natural Jacob), but Israel (God commands, orders or rules): for as a prince (commander, orderer) hast thou power with God and with men. And hast prevailed”.
This change of name meant that Jacob/Israel was to lean on/rely on God in the future for all its needs, and was to be commissioned by God to evangelise the world as to His Deity, and to show/witness to Him only; allowing no pagan activity of any sort, including remaining free of interaction by marriage with any of the pagan tribes that would be their neighbours when they entered the “Land of Promise”! They were to be called by Jehovah “My Firstborn son”, Ex. 4:22, the Oracles of God were theirs to proclaim to all the world! See: "Israel; My Firstborn son"
Their blessings were conditional on them keeping to their word which they gave on numerous occasions, after being rescued from distress by God. During times of trouble or rebellion against God, He sent to them messengers in the form of Prophets, who showed them the error of their ways, usually to no avail, except for short periods; usually when a God revering man or king influenced them!
The result of their rebellions over centuries, was that they lost favour with their Jehovah God; and the consequence was the loss of their status as “Ammi” (My people), and the Oracles were passed over to the Gentiles to evangelise the world’s peoples and Nations. This happened in approx. AD. 61-2, and the Jews were dispersed world-wide; because of the final rejection of Christ Jesus as their Messiah when Paul visited the final important Synagogue in Rome!
The outcome is that Israel must experience a period of time in the yet future, called “Jacob’s Trouble” (Jer. 30:7). This co-relates with Matt. 24, and in particular to the death-bed statements of Jacob, Gen. 49:1, and concerns the “latter days”, which again correlates to Dan. 2:44, “the days of those kings” (yet future). The fact of the “stone cut without human hands” Dan. 2:34; this correlates with Jacob’s statement in Gen. 49:24 “from whence is the Shepherd the Stone of Israel”; showing that the two statements are the same time; i.e. “the latter days”, yet future of today’s date (2014)!
A full reading of Jer. 30 and connected verses throughout Scripture, shows Israel is to be rescued by Jehovah/Christ Jesus, and eventually installed as “a Kingdom of Priests unto God”, Rev. 1:6, 5:10, 20:6 and Ex.19:6.
However, that is after the 3.5 years of Jacob’s Trouble Dan. 9:27; and God’s wrath on the Gentile Nations, which will see a massive population reduction on Earth!
The end result will be the quote in Zech. 12:10, “they shall look unto Me Whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and they shall be in bitterness for Him, as one is in bitterness for his firstborn” (KJV).
They will mourn because they will realise for the first time their treachery towards their Jehovah, His Prophets, and most of all His Son; Himself Incarnate; given for them!