What is the "Time of Jacob's Trouble"?
The Time of Jacob's (Israel's) Trouble
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Understanding Bible Prophecy
The Great Tribulation and The 70 'Sevens' of Daniel Chapter 9
January 29, 2009
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it was given to him to give breath to the image of the Beast,
so that the image of the Beast would even speak
and cause as many as do not worship the image of the Beast to be killed."
(Revelation 13:15 NASB)
Armageddon, 666, the Day of the Lord, the Tribulation Period, the Great Tribulation; these terms have long been the topic of lively discussion and heated debate. But what does the Scripture really say about these things? Careful examination is called for as these issues have been much maligned down through the ages.
The most important and yet most difficult concept surrounding Bible prophecy is that Almighty God dwells outside the boundaries of time. Therefore, He looks at world events, determines how they play out, then relays this information to His prophets hundreds and thousands of years *before* the events take place. Certainly His plans are fulfilled and He intervenes as necessary to accomplish His purpose. But the fact that He has given an accurate rendering of the future yet to be experienced assures that His prophecies will be fulfilled to 100% accuracy. This perfect level of accuracy testifies that God is in fact Who He says He is.
Thus, the Christian and the Jew can have complete confidence in the prophecies of God. However, it is most important to understand the prophecies in their correct context. God has purposely scrambled and divided the prophetic message to thwart mankind's manipulative tendencies. He brings the information out, little by little, until the general picture is painted. When the prophecies are to be fulfilled, the meaning becomes quite clear to the wise, i.e. those who would know the Truth and are prepared to receive it.
Jeremiah's 'Great Day' 30:7 (KJV)
Here God speaks through His prophet Jeremiah, telling of the 'Great Day', concerning the brief but intense period of testing which shall come upon the Nation of Israel:
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.
The 70 'Sevens' of Daniel 9:20-27 (KJV)
During the Babylonian captivity of Israel, starting from about 606 B.C. to 536 B.C., a pious Jew named Daniel is approached by an Angel of God with startling information: God is revealing His prophetic clock to Daniel so that Israel can know their future. Daniel is in prayer when the Angel Gabriel arrives:
Now while I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my
people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God in behalf
of the holy mountain of my God,
21 while I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering.
God has specifically sent Gabriel to Daniel who in known for his faithfulness. Class is in session:
He gave me instruction and talked with me and said, "O
Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding."
23 "At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision."
Though rendered in the KJV as 'weeks' the word here is 'heptad' meaning 'seven.' It is 70 'sevens' that have been determined for Daniel's people (the Jews) and Daniel's Holy City (Jerusalem). Israel had relentlessly farmed their land for 70 years, not allowing the land to rest every 7th year as decreed by God. Therefore, God is punishing Israel 7 years for every one of the 70 years they didn't allow the land to rest:
24 "Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your Holy City, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most Holy Place."
First a 483-year period must pass according the Gabriel. From the issuance of King Artaxerxes to rebuild the city and Temple of Jerusalem, until Jesus rides into Jerusalem proclaiming Himself as Messiah and King of Israel will be 483 years. Though periods of trouble will still plague Israel, God's Second Temple will be built:
25 "So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress."
Though Daniel is receiving tremendous insight, he is not told of the Church Age. The Church Age is a perpetual mystery to Israel and will remain so until the middle of the 70th week. Gabriel states that after the 62nd week, which all occurred after the first 7 weeks (verse 25), the Messiah Jesus will be sacrificed not receiving His kingdom here on Earth (yet!). This is because National Israel is going away for a period of time.
Verse 26 is more easily understood if a couple of commas are inserted (ancient Hebrew didn't have punctuation as we know it) to make the meaning clearer. The better reading is "the people, of the prince who is to come, will destroy the city and the sanctuary." The people that destroyed the city and the sanctuary (God's Second Temple) were the Romans under Titus Vespasian in 70 A.D. The end of the city came with a flood, metaphorically, as the Romans killed 500,000 Jews. The " ... prince who is to come ... " is none other than the Antichrist, who arises during the 70th week. And until the End of the Age, there will be much war and desolation upon the Earth.
26 "Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined."
Verse 27 brings detailed information on the Antichrist, the prince who is to come, who obviously is of Roman origin (Nebuchadnezzar's Dream confirms this truth). His covenant is with Israel, reborn as a nation near the End of the Age, for 7 years. The Antichrist first appears to be Israel's "messiah", allowing the construction of God's Third Temple and the reinstatement of animal and grain sacrifices as outlined in Leviticus. But in the middle of the 7 years, after 1,260 days, the Antichrist double-crosses Israel, puts an end to the sacrifices to God, and puts up an idol to himself, demanding God-like worship. This "abomination" causes National Israel to rebel and a foretold complete destruction of the Antichrist is forthcoming.
27 "And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate."
This rebellion against the Antichrist and his abomination of the Third Temple of the God of Israel initiates the Great Tribulation; the last 3.5 years (or 1,260 days or 42 lunar months) of the Tribulation. The Antichrist unites the nations of the world into attacking Israel in a 'final solution'. In their fury to destroy Israel and the Jew, the God of Israel comes to Israel's defense, in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
"Alas! for that Day is Great, so that none is like it: it is even the Time of Jacob's Trouble ... "
Art image © 1999 Duncan Long - Used by Permission
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