Jacob's Trouble

by Ted Kyle

Deep sorrow and solemn joy jostle for dominance in my heart as I write these wordsfor I am thinking about the fate of the Jewish people in Israel.

As Elwood McQuaid, editor-in-chief of Friends of Israel, has noted, there are approximately as many Jews living in Israel today as there were who died in Nazi extermination camps.

This tiny nation was from long ago both beloved of God, as His Chosen People, and bereft from Him for the same reason (because though nestled in His bosom, they tore His breast savagely by their unbelief, hardness of heart, and worship of false gods).

Today, many who name the name of Jesus do not know what to make of Israel. Some regard her as set aside by God, replaced in His favor by the Church-a footnote of history, if you will. She had her day, her opportunity (they say), but blew it big time, and as a nation has no further future as a nation as the Apple of God's eye-though this teaching does allow room in God's great Tabernacle for Jews as individual converts.

Yet this is not the way a great Jew of yesteryear saw it, and we have his words indelibly inscribed in our very Jewish book, the Bible. Paul wrote, for example, in Romans 11:24: "For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?" Paul goes on to state very clearly that "And so all Israel shall be saved" (v. 26), after "the fullness of the Gentiles be come in" (v. 25).

However, the prophet Zechariah makes clear that this great intaking will come at a tragic cost to the Jewish nation, for only a remnant will be saved (Zech. 13:8-9). This remnant will be the survivors of Jacob's Trouble: "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" (Jer. 30:7). There is "none like" Jacob's Trouble. Think of all the severe trials down the chain of centuries-including the twentieth century-through which the Jewish nation has already come-and realize that worse is still to come. That, humanly speaking, is the horrible side of the prophetic coin.

The glorious obverse side is that this surviving remnant will be believers in Christ Jesus-every one of them. The entire nation will rejoice in their Savior, who is our Savior also. "I will pour upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and of supplications: And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son..." (Zech. 12:10; see also Jer. 30:9 ). 

And so, finally, all the prophecies about the restoration of Israel will be fulfilled, and our world will be truly one world, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And the world will be at peace at last.

Something else that Elwood McQuaid wrote arouses an echo in my heart: "I have been asked repeatedly over my decades of association with Jewish people in and outside of Israel why, as a Gentile, I've chosen to invest my life in this fashion. My answer is not unique but rather, what you will hear, in one way or another, by virtually every Christian with a serious commitment to the mandates of God's Word: One day I met a Jew who changed my life, assured my eternal destiny, and set my life's course in another direction. That Jew is Jesus Christ, and I owe Him everything'" (from "The Christian Thing to Do," Israel My Glory, Sept./Oct., 2006).

Is not this Jew our Lord also? Is He not the Christ, the Son of God, to whom every true Christian owes allegiance? Have we so "Gentilized" Him over the centuries that we can claim to be the Bride of Christ, but stand aloof from His earthly family? McQuaid has it right: We Christians should-we must-love the Jewish people and yearn for their redemption. The Holy Spirit within us does.

Ted Kyle is managing editor of Pulpit Helps magazine.

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
Disciple Banner Ad