The Time of Jacob's Trouble
by Elizabeth Frisby
In all history there has never been such a time of terror. It will be a time of trouble for my people Israel. Yet in the end they will be saved (Jeremiah 30:7).
The nation of Israel is well acquainted with suffering. For thousands of years they have faced the threat of annihilation. The most recent attempt at wiping out an entire people group, through the hands of an evil German dictator, is a dark spot in modern history. Six million Jews were murdered in death camps while most of world knew nothing of the horrors taking place inside Nazi Germany. As we enter a new year, the threat to Israel’s well-being is very real. Yet, this is still not the aforementioned time of Jacob’s Trouble. Ancient prophecy records a seven year period of time that will come upon earth in the very last days. Most prophecy teachers unequivocally declare we are living in those days. However, this seven year time period has not yet begun. Don’t be deceived by those who now claim we are living in the early years of the Tribulation. Bible prophecy is very clear about when the Tribulation begins and even when it ends.
What did Jesus Say About the Tribulation?
Jesus had a lot to say about tribulations. Let’s look at His words so that we will have a proper Biblical understanding of the time period known as the tribulation (a.k.a- the Time of Jacob's Trouble).
1. General tribulations are promised for every believer:
Jesus didn’t hide the fact that His followers would experience tribulations in this world while walking out their faith. He told His disciples that they would face troubles, but there is peace in the midst of the storm. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
2. A unique time of tribulation will come upon Earth: Jesus also warned His followers about a time of tribulation.
This would be a unique time in history, separate from the general tribulations that all believers face. The history of the world has no record of a time of distress like the coming tribulation. For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will (Mark 13:19).
3. There is a Great Tribulation:
Within the seven year time period of the tribulation, there is an “hour” of distress that Jesus called the Great Tribulation. Once again, nothing in history could ever compare to the Great Tribulation. These days will even be cut short because Jesus declared if they weren’t no one would survive (Matthew 24:22). For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will (Matthew 24:21).
4. Unique signs will happen after the Great Tribulation:
The sun, moon, and stars will cease to shine. The faithful witness of these heavenly bodies will be no more. But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken (Matthew 24:29).
5. Messiah will appear at the end of the Great Tribulation:
This is called the Second Coming of Christ and is a separate event from the rapture of the church. This event was also promised through the mouth of an ancient Jewish prophet who echoed similar words of Jesus (Zechariah 12:10). And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory (Matthew 24:30).
Now that you know what Jesus taught about tribulation, let’s look at the words of the prophet Daniel.
The Prophecy of Daniel
Biblical history records a time that Israel was taken into captivity by the King of Babylon. While in Babylonian captivity, a Jewish noble named Daniel received many visions and angelic visitations that foretold future rulers and events that would affect his people. One prophetic visitation reveals a time of great distress for the nation of Israel at the hands of a diabolic ruler affectionately known as the Antichrist.
The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven, but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. And as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him (Daniel 9:27).
The ruler that Daniel foretold will successfully broker a peace treaty with Israel and her enemies that no other politician has or ever will accomplish. A seven year peace treaty will mark the beginning of the time period called the Tribulation or the time of Jacob’s Trouble. However, this peace treaty will only last 3 ½ years. Antichrist will sever the much loved treaty and commit a terrible abomination. His acts will be eerily similar to another evil ruler named Antiochus Epiphanes.
The Division of the Tribulation
The Tribulation is divided into two time periods. Each period is 1,260 days long. The first part of Jacob’s Trouble is called the Tribulation. The second part is called the Great Tribulation. Even though both time periods include terrible judgment, the final 3 ½ years is reserved for God’s wrath on Antichrist and his followers.
I. The First 1,260 Days
And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth (Revelation 11:3).
The seven year countdown of the Tribulation begins when the ruler signs the epic seven year peace treaty with Israel. During the first half of the Tribulation, two sets of judgments will be unveiled: Seven Seal Judgments and Seven Trumpet Judgments. Death, disease, famine, pestilence, and war will ravage the earth. Yet, this is not the worst of times.
II. The Second 1,260 Days
There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him (Revelation 13:5).
The second half of the Tribulation, also called the Great Tribulation, begins when Antichrist severs the peace treaty and reclaims the Temple Mount. This demonic ruler will demand that he be worshipped as god. During this last half, the earth will suffer violently. Seven judgments, called Bowl Judgments, will be poured out on the Antichrist and his followers. The grand finale of the Great Tribulation will reveal Jesus as Messiah to the Jewish nation.
Are We in the Tribulation?
Recently, I was watching a program with some Bible prophecy teachers who were actually telling their listeners what year of the Tribulation they thought we were in. I was rather surprised. One thing I noticed was their uncertainty over exact times we may be in. They threw around several possibilities and hemmed and hawed over world events. With such uncertainty, it made me wonder why anyone would concern themselves with the Tribulation at all. However, Jesus said that grown men will actually faint from the anticipation of what will happen in this terrible time (Luke 21:26). It's not business as usual once the seven year count down begins. And the Bible reveals the event that starts the Tribulation (the signing of a 7 year peace treaty with Israel). Since this peace treaty hasn’t happened yet, the Tribulation has not begun. Anyone with understanding of ancient prophecy will be able to count the days of the first half of the tribulation and the days of the Great Tribulation. There will not be any doubt once the tribulation actually begins.
BibleHistory.com. (n.d.). Ancient Babylonia: History of Babylonia. Retrieved from BibleHistory.com:
Bouhuys, Elizabeth (2014). The Survival Guide to Apocalypse. Port St. Lucie, Fl. Rebuilding the Waste Places.
Cockerham, L. (n.d.). Antiochus Ephianes IV: The AntiChrist of the Old Testament. Retrieved from Prophecyforum.com: http://www.prophecyforum.com/antiochus.html
When Will the Tribulation Begin? (n.d.). Retrieved from Rapture Ready: http://www.raptureready.com/faq/faq80.html
Young, D. G. (2001). The Time of "Jacob's Trouble". Retrieved from Focus on Jerusalem: http://www.focusonjerusalem.com/timeofjacobstrouble.html http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/the-holocaust