This chapter describes Israel and Judah being saved out of a time of great trouble for Jacob. Was this the Holocaust, or is it the Great Tribulation? God promises to heal and restore Israel, with Jesus as their Davidic king ruling over them.
This chapter describes Israel and Judah being saved out of a time of great trouble for Jacob, a time so terrible there has never been any like it (v7). This time of trouble is graphically described in verses 5-7 and 12-17. God promises that when the time comes for him to rescue them, they will be delivered from foreign subjugation and captivity (v8), and become subject to their Davidic king whom God will raise up over them (v9). The Jews will return to their land and enjoy peace and security (v10). God will completely destroy the nations to which Israel had been scattered. He will not destroy Israel, but will only discipline them in due measure (v11).

The Great Tribulation
In Matthew 24:21-22, Jesus said, "For then there will be great suffering (translated 'great tribulation' in the KJV) unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen. And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short". In light of the Holocaust of World War II, the big question is whether we should equate the 'time of Jacob's trouble' here in Jeremiah 30:7 with the Great Tribulation of Matthew 24:21, or whether we should understand them to describe separate events. In Matthew 24, the Great Tribulation begins with the invasion of Jerusalem by the Antichrist and his setting up the abomination of desolation (24:15). According to various scriptures (Daniel 7:25, 12:7; Revelation 11:2-3, 12:6, 12:14, 13:5), it lasts for three and a half years. It is immediately followed by the sun and moon being darkened, the sign of the Son of Man appearing in the sky, and Jesus visibly descending upon the clouds with power and great glory (24:29-30). Given various other passages describing the Great Tribulation, for example Jeremiah 25, it is clear that the Great Tribulation affects all nations on the face of the earth. It is a global tribulation, and corresponds with the day of God's vengeance (Isaiah 61:2). The time of Jacob's trouble, on the other hand, is specifically Israel-focussed. Given that Israel so recently went through a time of great trouble like never before (the Holocaust), it is hard to imagine that God would allow them to go through something even worse just a few short generations later. It is also difficult to discard the Holocaust as a fulfilment of Jeremiah 30:7, especially given that it led, within about 3 short years, to the restoration of Israel as a nation after nearly 2,000 long years of exile. Surely this is a fulfilment of Israel being saved out of it as in Jeremiah 30:7. They have also been rescued from foreign subjugation and captivity (v8). But their Messiah is yet to arise as king over them, as promised in verse 9. So if we do equate the time of Jacob's trouble with the Holocaust, Israel's promised salvation is still not yet complete. Is it possible that we should understand the Great Tribulation of Matthew 24:21 as a tribulation for the world, but merely a time of discipline in due measure for Israel, as promised here in verse 11. In chapter 25, I noted that Jeremiah's promised 70 year exile was not considered to be over until the temple had been rebuilt and rededicated. The first exiles returned from Babylon after about 47 years, so there was a period of about 23 years when they were back in the land, but the exile was still not considered to have finished. Is it possible that we should consider Israel's current status to be similar to that of the first returnees from Babylon? Israel's 2,000 year exile will not be truly over until they repent and confess Jesus as their Messiah (as promised in Isaiah 53 and Zechariah 12). When the Great Tribulation comes, although it will certainly affect Israel, and Israel will be largely ruined by it, I am coming to see it more as a time of discipline for Israel, out of which they will see God's magnificent deliverance. When Israel was delivered from Egypt in antiquity, it was a time of great tribulation for Egypt, and although Israel was present through it, for them it was a time of great deliverance and salvation. Consequently, in Isaiah 43, God speaks to today's generation of Jews, encouraging them not to be afraid but to return to Israel. For when they pass through the waters and the fire (of the Great Tribulation) they will not be drowned or burned. Here in verse 10, we see God giving similar reassurance to Israel's returning exiles. They should not be terrified, because God will rescue them. Verses 10 to 11 are repeated in chapter 46:27-28. Daniel 12:1-2 also describes the time of great tribulation, but the Archangel Michael arises to watch over Israel, and all those of the people of Israel whose names are written in the book will escape. Another very significant statement is made in Nahum 1:9, in relation to Judah's end-time deliverance by God from the Assyrian Antichrist, "Distress (or trouble) will not arise a second time".

The Time of Jacob's Trouble
Jeremiah's description of the time of Jacob's trouble sounds truly awful. There will be cries of panic and terror, with no peace in sight (v5). Strong men will grab their stomachs in pain and their faces turn deathly pale (v6). Perhaps this is a description of people starving to death in the concentration camps. Their wounds will be so severe that they will seem incurable (v12-13). Their allies will have abandoned them (v14). 'The Abandonment of the Jews' by David Wyman, 1984, documents the abandonment of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany. One of the starkest examples was the United States' turning away of the SS St Louis in May 1939 (see BBC video), also documented in the following video, 'The Doomed Voyage of the St Louis'.
Other countries then used America's example as an excuse for not taking in more Jews. Britain even refused entry to Jews trying to immigrate to Palestine, which it had controlled since the end of World War I. Returning to Jeremiah 30, God asks Israel why they complain about their incurable pain? God says he has done it to them because their wickedness was so great (v15). If this is truly describing the Holocaust, it is astonishing that God says he has done it to them. Was it not Hitler? The implication is that God used Hitler as an agent of his judgment, just as he used Nebuchadnezzar in antiquity (Jeremiah 25:9). So what was this terrible wickedness that Israel committed, for which they had to be so terribly punished? Surely it is the same sin for which they were exiled by the Romans in the first place. In Luke 19:42-44, Jesus wept over Jerusalem, saying, “If you had only known on this day, even you, the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and surround you and close in on you from every side. They will demolish you – you and your children within your walls – and they will not leave within you one stone on top of another, because you did not recognise the time of your visitation from God.” Until Israel recognises Jesus as her Messiah, God's discipline of Israel remains incomplete. Hence the need for a final phase of God's discipline as in Jeremiah 30:11. In verses 16 to 17, God promises that those who plundered Israel will in turn be plundered, but God will heal Israel's wounds. For Zion has been called an outcast whom no one cares for. The Holocaust certainly seems to fulfil this description of Jacob's trouble. Verse 16 leaves one wondering what God's end-time punishment will look like upon Germany and other nations that participated in the Holocaust.

The Lord Restores Jacob
In verses 18 to 24, God promises to restore the descendants of Jacob. The name Jacob is inclusive of both the northern tribes of Israel and the southern tribes of Judah. This is affirmed in verse 1 of the next chapter. If we equate the time of Jacob's trouble with the Holocaust, it is reasonable to understand this restoration as being fulfilled, at least partially, since the restoration of Israel as a nation in 1948 up to the present day. However, it we understand that Israel will receive further discipline (as in verse 11) during the Great Tribulation, then its ultimate fulfilment will occur during the Millennium. At the end of the Great Tribulation, Israel and most of the world is likely to be left in a state of ruin. Verse 18 promises that the ruins will be rebuilt. God will restore Israel's happiness, increase their numbers, and cause them to be honoured instead of despised (v19). The descendants of Jacob will be reestablished in God's favour and enjoy their former privileges (v20). In other words, they will be restored as God's chosen nation. This is what the Apostle Paul talks about in Romans 11:17-24. He likens disobedient Israel to branches of an olive tree that have been broken off from their root. We Gentiles are like branches of a wild olive that have been grafted in to Israel's root, and God's purpose is that our salvation would make Israel jealous. In the Great Tribulation, God is going to graft Israel back into its own root again. Once again, the people of Israel will be at the centre of God's plan for the world. Returning to Jeremiah, verse 21 tells us that God will give Israel a ruler who is one of their own people. This is the same Davidic ruler already mentioned in verse 9, and is clearly Jesus. God will invite him to approach him, and he will do so (v21). Daniel 7:13-14 describes this scene at Jesus' coronation, when he approaches the Ancient of Days and receives authority, honour and sovereignty. God affirms that Israel will be his people once again (v22). He invites Israel to watch while his wrath rages like a storm and falls upon the heads of the wicked (v23). This verse reminds me of Genesis 19:27-28 where Abraham looks out towards Sodom and Gomorrah and sees smoke rising from the land like from a furnace. In a similar manner, at Armageddon Israel will witness God's judgment falling upon the wicked. God will fully carry out his purposes, and Israel will come to understand (v24).
Places: Israel, Judah, Jacob, Germany
Tags: Time of trouble for Jacob, Great Tribulation, Holocaust, Israel saved through the Great Tribulation, Restoration of Israel and Judah, Jesus as king of Israel, Jesus as Davidic ruler, Israel disciplined during Great Tribulation, Wrath of God against all nations, Healing for Israel
Introduction to the Book of Consolation
1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah.
2 “The Lord God of Israel says, ‘Write everything that I am about to tell you in a scroll.
3 For I, the Lord, affirm that the time will come when I will reverse the plight of my people, Israel and Judah,’ says the Lord. ‘I will bring them back to the land I gave their ancestors and they will take possession of it once again.’”

Israel and Judah Will Be Delivered after a Time of Deep Distress
4 So here is what the Lord has to say about Israel and Judah.
5 Yes, here is what he says: “You hear cries of panic and of terror; there is no peace in sight.
6 Ask yourselves this and consider it carefully: Have you ever seen a man give birth to a baby? Why then do I see all these strong men grabbing their stomachs in pain like a woman giving birth? And why do their faces turn so deathly pale?
7 Alas, what a terrible time of trouble it is! There has never been any like it. It is a time of trouble for the descendants of Jacob, but some of them will be rescued out of it.
8 When the time for them to be rescued comes,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will rescue you from foreign subjugation. I will deliver you from captivity. Foreigners will then no longer subjugate them.
9 But they will be subject to the Lord their God and to the Davidic ruler whom I will raise up as king over them.
10 So I, the Lord, tell you not to be afraid, you descendants of Jacob, my servants. Do not be terrified, people of Israel. For I will rescue you and your descendants from a faraway land where you are captives. The descendants of Jacob will return to their land and enjoy peace. They will be secure and no one will terrify them.
11 For I, the Lord, affirm that I will be with you and will rescue you. I will completely destroy all the nations where I scattered you. But I will not completely destroy you. I will indeed discipline you, but only in due measure. I will not allow you to go entirely unpunished.”

The Lord Will Heal the Wounds of Judah
12 Moreover, the Lord says to the people of Zion, “Your injuries are incurable; your wounds are severe.
13 There is no one to plead your cause. There are no remedies for your wounds. There is no healing for you.
14 All your allies have abandoned you. They no longer have any concern for you. For I have attacked you like an enemy would. I have chastened you cruelly. For your wickedness is so great and your sin is so much.
15 Why do you complain about your injuries, that your pain is incurable? I have done all this to you because your wickedness is so great and your sin is so much.
16 But all who destroyed you will be destroyed. All your enemies will go into exile. Those who plundered you will be plundered. I will cause those who pillaged you to be pillaged.
17 Yes, I will restore you to health. I will heal your wounds. I, the Lord, affirm it! For you have been called an outcast, Zion, whom no one cares for.”

The Lord Will Restore Israel and Judah
18 The Lord says, “I will restore the ruined houses of the descendants of Jacob. I will show compassion on their ruined homes. Every city will be rebuilt on its former ruins. Every fortified dwelling will occupy its traditional site.
19 Out of those places you will hear songs of thanksgiving and the sounds of laughter and merriment. I will increase their number and they will not dwindle away. I will bring them honor and they will no longer be despised.
20 The descendants of Jacob will enjoy their former privileges. Their community will be reestablished in my favor and I will punish all who try to oppress them.
21 One of their own people will be their leader. Their ruler will come from their own number. I will invite him to approach me, and he will do so. For no one would dare approach me on his own. I, the Lord, affirm it!
22 Then you will again be my people, and I will be your God.
23 Just watch! The wrath of the Lord will come like a storm. Like a raging storm it will rage down on the heads of those who are wicked.
24 The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he has fully carried out his intended purposes. In days to come you will come to understand this.