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The Last Years Of This Earth: The Time of Jacob's Trouble - A Brief Study Of Prophecy
Some articles are written because they are subjects that God lays on my heart. Some are written because other people ask questions and I find the answer is too long and the information too important to just toss away. This article was originally written in response to a question of one of my friends here on Hubpages.
Years ago I studied under the Zola Levitt ministries for a while and I really found it helpful to understand God's relationship to His people the Jews. I remember in one telecast, Zola Levitt mentioned that he was surprised at how "Jewish" the New Testament was and that he saw immediately that it was "a Jewish Book." When you realize this fact you won't fall into the trap of teaching the New Testament only. There is a gap that forms when churches teach from the perspective of Gentile history and Greek New Testament only. Much history is pushed to the side or just considered irrelevant to the church today. I believe that studying the Jewish history and including the "grafting in" of the church is essential in understanding how we, the church, came to be and how we fit in with God's people. Jews, Jewishness, and Israel is in our Christian history, and I learned as a student of prophecy, Israel is the center of most of the book of the Revelation. Revelation explains how God redeems the nation of Israel and sets up His kingdom and how we begin our eternity with Him. The "raptured" or "caught away" church that returns with Him at His second coming will share in some very special promises God has made to Israel. God is faithful to the Jewish people, as prophecy indicates, for He will redeem all that nation at the end of days.
In so many instances in the gospel accounts, Jesus made it clear that He had come to His own people Israel, to give to them the sayings of life. "He came to His own and His own did not receive Him." (John1:11) He made it perfectly clear to a Gentile woman that came to Him whose daughter was possessed of a demon. She begged Him to heal her daughter and remove the evil spirit.
"But He answered and said, 'I was not sent, except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.' Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, 'Lord, help me!' But He answered and said, 'It is not good to take bread and throw it to the little dogs.'" (Matt. 15:24-26)
The term dogs was the popular term used by Jewish people referring to any Gentile that wished to have close dealings with Jews. The law was specific that Jews were to remain separate from all other nations. The term little was saying that the woman's request was not as important as what He needed to do for Israel first and that she was going to have to wait until a more suitable time to receive a blessing from the King of the Jews. The woman knowing what He meant, that His ministry was to the Jewish people and through them the world, replied, "Yes Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from the master's table." This statement said volumes to Jesus. It said, she recognized the Jews standing in God's view. It said she understood that God was merciful and loved the Gentiles as well. It said that she would be happy with any mercy that could be shown her daughter. And it shows that she knew Jesus was the Messiah of the whole world, not just Israel. Jesus, seeing that she had faith in Him to recognize His deity to worship Him and that she was ready to receive it in any way the Master (Jesus) so chose to give it, noted her faith. "Then Jesus answered and said to her, 'O woman, great is your faith. Let it be to you as you desire.' And her daughter was healed from that very hour."
The Jewish disciples were to go into all he world and preach the gospel to all nations. The Jews were to be the distributors of the word to the whole world. They were go to "the Jews first and also to the Greeks [Gentiles]." Indeed for years the church was made up of mainly Jewish converts, giving rise to many arguments with the "Judahizers." These were folks that were sure that one had to adopt the law and covenant agreements of the Jewish people to be Christian. They advocated circumcision for all Christian males because the Law stated it was a sign showing sanctification or the separation of Jews from Gentiles so should be employed to show the same between believer and unbeliever. Paul argued with the Judahizers all the time and said that Christians need not adopt the Law to be saved.
Paul made it his custom, though, to start with the synagogues when he arrived in an area to preach, and then he would go to the Gentiles. He did that so the original model that Christ intended could still be in place. However, he found that he was not going to be able to reach them himself, for he was not called to do so. Peter received that call to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
The Judahizers even convinced Peter for a time to separate himself from gentiles and to adopt their faulty thinking. Paul "withstood him to his face." (Galatians 2:11-17) He had bought into the separation of Jews and Gentiles and began advocating going back to be under the Law. Paul did not want to see him along with his ministry to the Jewish folks be harmed, and simply had had enough of the Judahizer's damaging doctrine. Paul was not completely successful in convincing Peter that this doctrine was evil. It took God sending Peter a vision to finally reach Peter's heart. He dreamed he was on his bed and a sheet was let down from heaven having all sorts of animals which the Law had been specifically clear were animals never to be eaten. Peter being a quick-tongued man said, "Not so Lord" and proceded to argue with God that he was not about to eat anything "uncommon" or "unclean" as defined in the Law. Only after the vision appeared to him three times and finally a voice that said to "not call unclean" what God had said was clean, did Peter finally understand. Perhaps then Peter remembered the three times that Jesus said, "Peter do you love me? Feed my sheep." This vision changed Peter so that he began to treat Gentiles as they should be treated, as souls lost, in need of a Savior, and once saved as brothers equal in the eyes of God. (Acts chapter 11)
The world today has many Jewish folks that are still showing forth the light of God's Word to the world, as Jesus had commanded them. Sadly, the nation of Israel does not receive it well and there is persecution of the church in Israel. But there will be a day when that changes. Until that time individuals (like Zola Levitt), see their mandate the same as it originally was, as distributors of the light of God to the world.
Jesus foretold a time when He would redeem the nation of Israel to Himself. This will happen during the time of Jacob's trouble that God will divide the world into two camps. The anti-christ and the World on one side and His people Israel and their converts to the returning Messiah on the other. This is the "time of Jacob's trouble" but it is also a time to remove the "tares" from the real wheat, a metaphor for the people and religions that look real but inside are empty in their teachings, faulty in their doctrines. It will be a time for salvation of other souls and to set up the end times so that the battle-lines will be drawn, the ultimate good against the ultimate evil.
There will be 144,000 Jews from all tribes of Israel to lead in the witness to the nations. Jesus then says that He will return and will touch the mountain with His foot and the mountain will split in two pieces.
"And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one is in bitterness for his firstborn." (Zechariah 12:10)
"And every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him." The whole world will see Him at this time for duel purposes. The one purpose- to present Himself to the world as conquering King and Judge and the other purpose is to redeem His people, the nation of Israel. (Revelation 1:7)
Eventually the battle ends and Israel is redeemed but many Jews will side with the anti-Christ. Even the one that causes all to worship the anti-Christ (the false prophet) is of Jewish descent. But all that do not side with the anti-Christ will God convince to come to Him to be saved. He will not lose one of those. The Lord brings His people through the ordeal and sets up the Millennial Kingdom. Jesus sits on the throne in the temple judging the nations.
Today we look and see history behaving as it never has with specific indicators the the end is near. We look to what Scripture says is the first thing to happen to usher in this "time of the end" is the rapture of the church. This event is not the second coming of Christ. The rapture is the "catching away" of all believers that have received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The Bible says that they will be caught up together to meet the Lord Jesus in the air. This begins their afterlife with the Messiah. Can you imagine what it will be like? If you do not know Jesus, all of a sudden, at a day and an hour you think not, millions of people will simply disappear! Imagine the stories created to explain why some people vanish and others do not. People will be confused because they will see "religious" people who never asked Jesus into their hearts left and others who had done so who seemed on the outside to be non-religious simply gone in an instant. And they will wonder why all children under a certain age are gone. It will be a nightmare where no one will be able to wake up.
Are you one who will be left behind? Are you one of those people who has everyone convinced that you're religious and live a life that seems good enough to all but inwardly have never come on bended knee to Jesus? So many people are like this, going to church to earn some sort of brownie points with God, but never repenting of their sin or asking Jesus to be washed clean of them.
If you reflect honestly on yourself and know you are this kind of person, it is easy enough to fix your situation. First, consider that Jesus came all those years ago to die once for all sin. He came in human flesh and allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross so that His blood could be spilled for you and me. He loved you that much!
"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
"All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved."
If you believe that you're a sinner and have listened as Christ has knocked on the door of your heart you can open that door and let Him in. Just be willing to change that which God asks you to change, to reject living as if you are lord of your life and turn over that lordship to Jesus. Be willing to empty yourself before God, asking Him to be your Lord and Savior and Master of your life, placing trust in Him. Life is so uncertain. Pray this:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner and I believe in You, Jesus. I believe that You are God who came in human flesh to die for me. You came, died, were buried, and rose again from the dead. Lord, I repent of my sins and ask that You come into my life and save me. I can't pay for my sins myself by being good, I need You, Lord. I turn from my sin and turn to You as the only way of salvation. Thank You for hearing me and saving me. I pray this in Jesus' mighty name. Amen.