We are a Christian Fellowship meeting in North London with a strong interest in teaching
the Bible and understanding our time in
the light of Bible prophecy
Messiah, Israel and the Great Tribulation
When Yeshua (Jesus) was asked by his disciples, What will be the sign of your coming
and of the end of the age? he answered by speaking of a time of great tribulation
on the earth :
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning
of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. Matthew 24:21-22
This time of trouble would be different from the general troubles which Jesus told
his disciples they would experience :
In the world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, I have overcome the
world. John 16:33
A number of passages in the Hebrew prophets speak about this time of trouble also
Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacobs
trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. Jeremiah 30:7
For the day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand : A day of darkness and gloominess,
a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains.
A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there
ever be any such after them... Joel 2:1-2
At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons
of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there
was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered,
every one who is found written in the book. Daniel 12:1
This raises two significant questions from the point of view of Jewish interpretation
of prophecies of the Messiah.
How can Jesus be the Messiah if his coming is followed by a time of trouble?
What is unique about this time of trouble spoken of by Jesus and the Hebrew prophets?
What differentiates it from other times of trouble that the world and the Jewish
people have experienced?
Let us look at these two questions.
A time of trouble AFTER the Messiah?
1) According to Talmudic writings there will be days of trouble before the coming
Tragedy will come upon you at the end of all the days. (Targum Yonathan)
During the Ikveta dMeshicha (the heels of the Messiah, the last days of this age)
insolence will abound. The young will make the faces of the elderly grow ashen with
shame; the elderly will have to rise up before the young; sons will disgrace fathers;
daughters will rise up against their mothers; the members of ones family will become
his enemies. ... The government will turn atheist and there will be no protest. Truth
will vanish. (Sanhedrin 97a, Sotah 49b)
But after the coming of the Messiah there will be days of peace and safety. In the
usual Rabbinic interpretation the three main tasks of the Messiah are :
1. To re-gather the Jewish people to Israel.
2. To rebuild the Temple.
3. To create world peace.
The main prophetic passages dealing with this subject are Isaiah 2:1-4, and Isaiah
11-12. Since Jesus came the Jewish people went into exile, the Temple was destroyed
and there have been wars and rumours of wars ever since. Therefore according to Rabbinic
writings Jesus is not the Messiah. There is however one prophecy which speaks of
an opposite sequence of events following the coming of Messiah. It is Daniel 9:26.
And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself; and
the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are
determined. Daniel 9:26
This prophecy speaks of Messiah being cut off (dying a violent death) but not for
himself (not for his own sins but for others). After this the city (Jerusalem) and
the sanctuary (the Temple) would be destroyed, as they were 40 years after the crucifixion
of Jesus. The flood often speaks in prophetic writings of an enemy invasion with
the intention of overwhelming and destroying Israel. After this there would be a
period of war and desolation.
In the Gospel Jesus prophesied that the events spoken here by Daniel would follow
his crucifixion (Luke 19:41-44, 21:20-24). He promised his followers personal peace
and eternal life, but made no promise that the world would know peace in this age.
The reason for this is that in this age we have free will to accept or reject the
Gospel message of peace with God through repentance and faith in Jesus as Saviour
and Lord. As the vast majority reject it, the world does not know peace.
According to prophetic scriptures this age will end with a great outpouring of the
spirit of anti-christ as the nations reject the Lord and his Messiah. This is prophesied
in Psalm 2, 2 Thessalonians 2 and 2 Timothy 3 amongst other passages. This will result
in the period of the Great Tribulation.
A unique time of trouble?
So what will be different about this age from other times of tribulation? One clue
is given in Jesus words If God did not cut short those days no flesh would be saved!
If you were sitting underneath a nuclear bomb when it exploded there would not be
much left of your flesh. If however you had a living faith in Jesus as Messiah your
soul would be saved and you would receive a new body in which you would dwell for
eternity. By referring specifically to flesh in this prophecy Jesus is indicating
that without divine intervention the time of crisis known as the Great Tribulation
would bring all life on earth to an end. We know that our generation is unique in
the history of this planet in that we alone of all generations have the means to
destroy the earth. That of course is no credit to our generation.
The prophecies in the Old Testament also indicate that without God intervening this
crisis would bring total destruction. The prophecy quoted from Jeremiah 30 indicates
that this time of trouble will be worse than any other time of trouble Israel has
ever known, including the Nazi holocaust, which implies that without divine intervention
it would end with the total destruction of the Jewish people. However God promises
that this will not in fact happen :
For I am with you, says the Lord, to save you; though I make a full end of all nations
where I have scattered you, yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will
correct you in justice, and will not let you go altogether unpunished. Jeremiah 30:11
From this we learn that the Great Tribulation will be a time when God will save Israel
from destruction and will correct something which Israel has got wrong. What is this?
Undoubtedly it is the rejection of Yeshua as the Messiah. Zechariah 12 is another
passage speaking of this time of Great Tribulation. This prophecy tells us of a time
when the Gentile nations will come against Jerusalem to battle with the intention
of destroying the Jewish people. At that time there will be spiritual as well as
physical deliverance for Israel:
And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit
of grace and supplication; then they will look on me whom they have pierced; they
will mourn for him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for him as one grieves
for a first-born. Zechariah 12:10
The one who has been pierced is Yeshua, Jesus the Jewish Messiah, who will appear
a second time at the close of this age to judge all mankind, and to save the world
from destruction and will reign for 1,000 years from Jerusalem. Now that we are seeing
the prophecies of his return being fulfilled, we should make sure that we are ready
for that day by committing our lives to Jesus now and sharing the good news with
those who do not know him. We should also pray for the peace of Jerusalem and resist
those who seek to destroy the Jewish people.