We want to study about Jacob’s trouble, but first let us look at Christ’s experience, for it helps clarify the true meaning of Jacob’s trouble.
When Jesus became a man He laid aside what He was made of and was made in the likeness of men. Paul wrote of Christ, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation [emptied Himself (RSV)], and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:6, 7) At Christ’s birth on earth, He did not retain the memory He had when He was with His Father. Throughout Christ’s childhood His Father was revealing more and more to Him until He exclaimed to His earthly parents, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?”
Jesus had learned, from the Scriptures and what His Father revealed to Him, that He was the Son of God. As the years went on, through studying and His Father revealing more to Him, He was able to remember when He had been with His Father. He said, “For the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. His disciples said unto Him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb.” (John 16:27-29) Jesus was telling His disciples of the time when He was with His Father.
Of Christ, Luke wrote, “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him.” (Luke 2:40) “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:52) His wisdom increased as He put more of God’s Word in His mind, and as His Father gave Him back His memory a little at a time. Let us take a look at how Christ’s learning experiences have an impact upon us and our experiences.
Choose the Good
When we choose evil over the good, we are developing a habit, and it becomes harder and harder for us to choose the good over the evil. The result of this is that our moral strength is weakened and we do not have as much strength to face our next temptation. However, when we choose the good over the evil, we will have more strength to face the next temptation. We should take every opportunity to strengthen our moral faculties by choosing the good over the evil.
Jesus never chose the evil over the good, which means that with each right decision He made, He had more moral strength to face His next temptation. This resulted in a man that had an incredible amount of moral power, because none of His moral strength was lost and the moral power He had was continually getting stronger. What does this tell us? Did Jesus have it much easier than us, because He had a much greater amount of moral strength? No! Remember the verse in 1 Corinthians 10:13. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” God promises us that He will not allow us to be tempted above that we are able.
Jesus, with His great moral strength, was able to endure much more severe trials and temptations than you and I are able. With each passing temptation, we have the opportunity to become closer to God. If we take this opportunity our characters will more closely resemble that of the Divine character. The reason we are tempted, is so that it will refine our characters.“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” (James 1:3) “Wherein ye greatly rejoice though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6, 7) “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
Jesus was allowed to suffer temptations which strengthened Him to endure His final trial. The trial He was to face was much more severe than the trials any of us will face, yet He was ready for the struggle because He had a greater amount of moral strength. All of Christ’s life on earth, God was preparing Him for this final struggle. Christ would not have been ready to endure the trial twenty-five years earlier, but was in need of yet more refining. He was made “perfect through sufferings.” (Hebrews 2:10) God is also preparing us for something. We are allowed to go through temptation and tribulation so that we can become more and more ready to endure the final trial of our faith.
When the time was come for Jesus to bear the sins of us all, He had an incredible amount of moral strength that was able to endure the immense weight of our sins. At this time of great distress, Satan came at Jesus with everything he had. With the almost unbearable feeling of guilt that our sins brought to the Saviour, He was tempted to believe that it would forever shut Him out of heaven. He was tempted to believe that He would never see His Father’s face again. With bitter anguish these words were wrung from His lips, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
Every outward evidence was telling Jesus that He was forsaken. It was by faith alone that He clung to the promises of His Father’s love and acceptance. This, my friends, is a feeble portrayal of Christ’s final struggle. His temptations were much greater than we will ever have to endure.
Ye shall drink of the cup
One day a woman came to Christ desiring a certain thing. Matthew wrote, “Then came to Him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping Him, and desiring a certain thing of Him. And He said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto Him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto Him, We are able. And He saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.” (Matthew 20:20-23)
What was Jesus talking about when He said that His disciples were going to drink of the cup that He was going to drink of? Where in the Bible does it talk about a cup that Jesus drank of? Mark wrote, “And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and He saith to His disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. And He taketh with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. And He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” (Mark 14:32-36)
This cup that Jesus was talking about was not a literal cup, but represented an experience He went through. He tells us we will take part in the same experience He encountered. As we learned before, Christ was able to endure much more temptation than we are able to because of His greater moral power. Christ had much moral strength and His temptation was in proportion to His strength. Our moral strength is less, and our temptations are in proportion to our strength because God does not allow us to be tempted above what we are able. The struggle Christ went through is very similar to the struggle we will go through. We will drink of the cup, but Christ drank all of the cup, even to the dregs.
The Cup of Trembling
The cup that Christ was referring to represented the experience of guilt and the separation that sin makes between God and man.
“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2) At the garden of Gethsemane, when the sins of us all were placed upon Him, Christ fully realized the separation that sin makes between God and man. This separation caused Him to cry out in anguish, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me.” (Matthew 27:46)
This is the cup that Jesus told us we will drink of. We will experience that same separation, and feel forsaken of God. Our only hope will be to cling to the promises of God by faith alone. It was by faith that Christ overcame the world, and it is only by faith that we will overcome the world. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4)
Clearly, we can see that the cup we will drink of is referring to the experience Christ had just prior to His death. The Bible calls this experience “the time of Jacob’s trouble.”
“For thus saith the L (Jeremiah 30:5-7) Praise the Lord for His mercy. He not only has warned us of the struggle we will have to face, but He has promised that we will be “saved out of it.” Not saved from experiencing it, but saved through it. Remember that blessed promise.
We shall drink of the cup of the Lord, but He will not allow us to drink it to the dregs. We shall drink of the cup that Christ drank of, but Christ drank the cup completely. We will only taste of the cup, yet this taste will be so severe that the Bible calls it “the time of Jacob’s trouble.”
Notice what the Bible tells us about this cup: “Thus saith thy Lord the L (Isaiah 51:22, 23)
We see from these verses that God will take the dregs of the cup out of our hands and give it to the wicked. The experience of guilt, separation and being forsaken will finally be given to the wicked, and they will realize that their case is closed and that they are forever lost. This will be a terrible feeling and will outrage them.
“For thus saith the LORD (Jeremiah 25:15-18, 26) The wicked will drink of the cup, which is the experience of feeling forsaken and separated from God forever. May God keep us from such an experience.
God’s servants will be a cup of trembling to the wicked. “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” (Zechariah 12:2, 3)
Those who have thought they were doing the will of God, and now realize that they are lost, will be ashamed when they behold “the remnant of Israel [who] shall not do iniquity.”(Zephaniah 3:13) God’s people will then be a cup of trembling to all those round about them. For the Scripture says, “he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.”(Proverbs 29:27)
Reaction of Professed Leaders
“Howl, ye shepherds, and cry; and wallow yourselves in the ashes, ye principal of the flock: for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished; and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel. And the shepherds shall have no way to flee, nor the principal of the flock to escape. A voice of the cry of the shepherds, and an howling of the principal of the flock, shall be heard: for the L (Jeremiah 25:34-36)
Here is a picture of the reaction of those who have neglected to take the opportunity of advancing with increased light and turning from every cherished sin. They have appeased their flocks with cries of peace and safety. They have fed their flocks lies of a secret rapture, giving them a false hope. [For more information concerning the erroneous doctrine of the secret rapture, please request the October 1999 issue of Present Truth containing the study entitled “The Millennium”] They have refused to enter the kingdom and hindered those who were seeking entrance. These have held on to their sins too long, and now comes the stark realization that they are forever separated from the God whom they have professed to love. Probation has closed for them, and the cup they are drinking is a horrible one.
“For in the hand of the L (Psalm 75:8) All of the wicked will drink of the same cup that Christ drank of and that His people will drink of.
Of the wicked Job said, “His eyes shall see his destruction, and he shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty.” (Job 21:20) The cup they are drinking is seeing their own destruction, and the knowledge that they are forever shut out from the presence of the Lord. “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou shalt drink of thy sister’s cup deep and large: thou shalt be laughed to scorn and had in derision; it containeth much. Thou shalt be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, with the cup of astonishment and desolation, with the cup of thy sister Samaria.” (Ezekiel 23:32, 33)
The wicked that drink of this cup will be filled with sorrow, astonishment and desolation. “Waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.” (Psalm 73:10)
“Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.” (Psalm 11:6) The worst part of the destruction of the wicked is their realization that they are going to die and never come back again; knowing that they had a chance for life everlasting.
“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture [undiluted] into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Revelation 14:9-11)
Those who drink of the wine of the wrath of God that is poured out undiluted will experience the weight of their sins, and will feel completely forsaken and hopeless. They will have no rest day or night while they reflect on their miserable life.
Final Separation from God
The feeling of being separated from God is the most miserable and terrifying feeling that anyone can experience. This is the cup Christ drank of, and this is the cup that His people will drink of just prior to their deliverance from this world. This is also the cup that those who have neglected to submit their lives wholly to Christ, so that He could subdue all their iniquities (Micah 7:19), will have to drink of. The wicked also, who never acknowledged God in their thoughts, will drink of this cup.
“The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” (Psalm 10:4) This verse does not say that God is not in any of his thoughts, but that God is not in all his thoughts. Is God in all your thoughts, or just in some of them? God wants all our thoughts to be focused on Him, and everything we do to be done for Him. God’s remnant people will have God in all of their thoughts.
We must strive with every part of our being to be part of the “remnant of Israel [who] shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth.” (Zephaniah 3:13)
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) What mind, or type of thinking, did Christ have in Him? His Father spoke to Him, describing His thinking, saying, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” (Hebrews 1:9)
Christ hates sin, and He longs to impart to us that same hatred for sin. May God give us that same hatred for sin that we will not tolerate sin of any kind to taint our garments. “Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.” (Psalm 119:133)
There is a final struggle that we will go through before the Lord returns for us, and it will be such as we have never experienced before, neither have any before us experienced it in the same way we will. If we want to know what we will soon face, we need to look at the experience Christ went through just prior to His death. Oh, dear friends, truly “It is time to seek the L (Hosea 10:12) “Seek ye the L (Isaiah 55:6)
My friend, you have a choice now, whether to give your life to God and be saved even through Jacob’s trouble, or to forsake God and suffer the bitter consequences of your choice. God is pleading with you now to give your life to Him in complete surrender, for He has “no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” (Ezekiel 33:11)