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I believe the time of Jacob's trouble is the 42 months the beast of Rev. 13:1-9 continues in power after the abomination of desolation takes place according to Matt. 24:15. The word Jacob is used here rather than Israel because Israel pertains to both Jews and Christians. Jacob refers to the physical descendants of Jacob, or the religion of the Jews. There is an interesting prefigurement or parallel with the Nazi annihilation (the final solution) of the Jews which was formally pronounced at the Wannsee Conference of Jan. 20, 1942 and continued up to the German surrender in May 7, 1945, or about 3 years, 3 and a half months.
Understanding the nature of Jacob’s Trouble, and when it occurs, is critical to a proper understanding of when the Rapture occurs with respect to the Tribulation. The Tribulation and Jacob’s Trouble are not the same event. They are separated by the appearance of the Sign of the Son of Man at the Rapture (Matthew 24:29-31). From Matthew 24:29 we see that immediately AFTER the Tribulation, the Sun will be darkened, the Moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky. This is a description of the Sixth Seal (Rev. 6:12-13) where there is a great earthquake; “and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth.” What do we know from the singular mention of Jacob’s Trouble in the OT? We know that it is related to a time when the Lord will restore the fortunes of Israel and Judah, and bring them back to the promised land (Jer. 30:3). This speaks of the Millennium when the Lord will recompense His people for the suffering they have endured (Joel 2:18-19 and Joel 2:25-26) and dwell in their midst (Joel 2:27). Before that can happen, though, Jeremiah tells us that the time of Jacob’s Trouble (NKJV) is a ‘day’, or period of time, that is so great, there is none like it (Jer. 30:7). In fact, Jeremiah relates it to a time of terror with no peace, and every man’s face turning pale (Jer. 30:5-6). Similar language is found in the description of the Sixth Seal (Rev. 6:15-16). It is the great day of the Father’s and the Son’s Wrath (Rev. 6:17). But note, in Jeremiah 30:7, that Jacob (the people of Israel) are to be saved out of the time of their distress/trouble. In Rev. 7:3-4 we see an angels calling for the 144,000 from the tribes of the sons of Israel to be sealed with the Holy Spirit to protect them from (saved out of) the coming Day of the Lord’s Wrath. This occurs after the Sixth Seal in Rev. 6:12-17 and before the opening of the Seventh Seal in Rev. 8:1-2, marked by one half hour of silence. It is marked as such because it signifies the beginning of Jacob’s Trouble – the beginning of the great and awesome Day of the Lord. The relationship of the great and awesome Day of the Lord, to the Tribulation, is discerned in Joel 2:30-31. It occurs AFTER the Sixth Seal, which we have previously shown to occur AFTER the Tribulation (Matthew 24:29). And in Joel 2:32, after the Sixth Seal described in verse 31, it refers to those who will survive Jacob’s Trouble (the Day of the Lord), a reference to the 144,000. Jacob’s Trouble is otherwise referred to as the Day of the Lord in the NT. It is found in 1 Thess. 5:2-3, just after the description of the Rapture in 1 Thess. 4:16-17; and it is found in Paul’s second reference to the Rapture, 2 Thess. 2:1-2. In this second reference, Paul refers to the Rapture as “our gathering together to Him” in verse 1. Then in verse 2, he tells the Thessalonians not to worry that they might have missed the Rapture. He then gives them two events that they can observe to know that they have not missed the Rapture (2 Thess. 2:3). Thus, the Rapture happens after the Tribulation (Matthew 24:29-31), but before the Day of the Lord – before Jacob’s Trouble. It turns out that the Day of the Lord/Jacob’s Trouble is approximately 2.3 years in duration. I derive this from the 2300 days in Daniel, Chapter 8. The 2300 days involves the Antichrist (the little horn in Daniel 8:9) and the length of time the regular sacrifice is abandoned until the Temple is restored for the Millennium (Dan. 8:13-14). The trampling of the Temple grounds goes on for 42 months (Rev. 11:1-2), but it is not until the start of Armageddon, roughly two years later, that the Antichrist is thrown into the Lake of Fire, and the False Prophet with him (Rev. 19:19-20). Then the rest of the 2300 days run their course for the remainder of the war (Rev. 19:21).
It is a description of the Day of the Lord. "Jacob" means Israel. Compare Jeremiah 30:7 with Jeremiah 30:10.
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