When He sees that their power is gone. (A “witnessing” question)

Dear Reggie,

Would one evangelistic approach perhaps be to use scripture to predict what is coming? Or do observant Jews already look for a “time of Jacob’s trouble” and an “abomination that causes desolation” and a “covenant of death” and so on?

Excellent question, Lindsay. It give me welcome occasion to express and reiterate some important points that may benefit others as well.

I think the best approach is indeed to witness first concerning “WHAT” is coming in order to prepare the way for “WHO” is coming, and to show that the one who is coming is returning from an earlier visitation (Mic 5:1, 3-4; Hos 5:15; Zech 12:10; Mt 23:39).

There is an implicit divine strategy implicit in the words, “The law came by Moses, but grace and truth by Jesus Christ.” Just as God sent John ahead of Jesus to prepare the way, even so He sends a prophetic company ahead with the prophetic Word of judgment, since grace is always revealed where judgment has been justified as just and necessary.

Paul’s statement, “Christ is revealed at the end of the law,” is more than a statement concerning a change of dispensation. It is a divine principle. Christ is revealed at the end of the law, precisely because He is revealed at the end of human strength.

That is to say, human self sufficiency hinders the light of revelation that transforms and imparts a new nature. In other words, there must first be a humbling and an emptying as the Spirit uses the Word to make us sensible of our condition and need. The purpose of the law is to remove the lie that anything in man can accommodate the exceedingly high requirement of the law, because the law requires nothing less than Christ. In this way, the awakened sinner is “shut up” or crowded to Christ.

Just as God’s standard of righteousness is intended to create the crisis that makes men cry out for mercy, in the same way the judgments of the law (which culminate in Jacob’s trouble) call the Jewish people back to the “the bond of the covenant”, as the Christian makes the case that the law’s demands are too high to be satisfied and fulfilled by anything short of “the righteousness of God” provided in Jesus, as “the Lord our righteousness.”

The goal of Jacob’s trouble is to bring the Jew to an end of His own power. It is significant that this is precisely the place where Jesus is revealed to the Jewish heart, namely, at the end of power (“when He sees that their power is gone …” compare Deut 32:36 with Dan 12:7). This is because the strength of the veil that is over the Jewish heart, and indeed over every natural heart, stands in what scripture calls, “the pride of your power” (Lev 26:19). It is what Paul calls, “confidence in the flesh” (2Cor 1:9; Phil 3:3-4). When this is taken away, so is the veil in the revelation of the face of Jesus Christ (2Cor 3:18; 4:6).

I believe the suffering of the Jews during the time of Jacob’s trouble will be different from all other times of covenant curse and judgment, because this time, their suffering will be in the full light of a powerfully declared and fully vindicated display of prophetic fulfillment. (Prophecy as mercy! Rev 19:10).

The presence of a prophetic people that have the key of interpretation (Dan 11:33) and who, because of the liberating power of the gospel, love not their lives unto the death (Rev 12:11), will be the difference between Jacob’s trouble and the Holocaust. One ends with the ultimately humanistic declaration, “never again!” While the other ends by the acceptance of Israel’s history of tribulation as all together just and not unequal to the nation’s corporate guilt (Lev 26:41-43; Hos 5:15; Zech 12:10). Such a corporate acknowledgment will indeed be a miracle of revelation and grace.

So we are to bring into Israel’s consciousness something much more than the case for the supernatural fulfillment of prophecy. We are to study how to press upon Jewish consideration the ancient covenant contention that has burned throughout the long age of exile and that must continue to burn to the end of Jacob’s trouble, when the face of God will be no longer hidden from a then fully regenerate (Isa 54:13; 59:21; 60:21; 66:8; Jer 31:34; Ezek 39:21, 29) and restored nation.

The judgments of the covenant will not rest, because God will not long rest with anything short of His full covenant intention. But the church is for the large part woefully ignorant and or complacent concerning that intention and the severity of the means that God must employ to obtain it.

Jacob’s trouble is simply the intensive and ultimate outcome of what the scripture calls the “the quarrel of my covenant” (some translations say wrath or vengeance; Lev 26:25; Isa 10:6 w/ Lk 21:22-23). And no, Lindsay, very few among the observing Jewish community have even a clue about any of this. That”s our job.

When the Jews will be apprised of many of the particular details that distinguish and define Jacob’s trouble, it will have an unprecedented impact to begin to break up and weaken the strength of two millennial of cumulative and compounded Jewish unbelief, much that has been occasioned in the name of Christ. We are on the edge of something big.

Never, since the first century, has the church been in the presence of such a prolific and manifest fulfillment of prophecy. Here is real leverage for the Jew and the nations. No wonder John sees, “a multitude which no man can number coming out of ‘the tribulation, the great one’ (Rev 7:9, 14 w/ Dan 11:32-33; 12:3; Mt 24:14).

The particular details of OT prophecy, so perfectly corroborated by Jesus in His Olivet prophecy (e.g., Mt 24, esp. Mt 24:15-21 w/ Jer 30:6-7; Dan 9:27; 11:21 – 12:13) will one day create the perfect context of divine pleading for the church’s final witness to Israel. And the better the believer understands this context of covenant and prophecy concerning the imminent future, and the present trends that portend that future, the better the seed of the Word can be planted now concerning Jesus as the end (goal and fulfillment) of the Law for righteousness.

Just as the Law is used to crowd us to Christ, so the definite and detailed events of predictive prophecy that are based on God’s covenant is a key part of the leverage that God will use to plead with Israel. It was the apostolic approach to evangelism (Ro 16:25-26), and we have come full circle. We stand now on the threshold of the transition of the age. Jerusalem is once more becoming that burdensome stone to all nations and a cup of trembling (Isa 34:8; Zech 12:2-3).

When will the church wake up? When will believers shake off the world and band together to work as one and support each other in travail, in giving, and in serious prayer till this vision of the end times is made plain upon tables, so that when the hour strikes, it will not find us unprepared to make the most of the opportunity to instruct many? To borrow a phrase from Winston Churchill, it will be the church’s “finest hour.”

Many of the old Jewish sages would remark how they prayed to be sleeping in the dust in that day. Why, we should much more the rather pray to attain to that day, because it will be transformative for the church for all eternity (see Dan 11:35 and 12:10). Satan will be cast out and the church will be ‘demonstrably’ triumphant over the threats and accusations of Satan, and all the lesser principalities and powers of this age (Rev 12:10).

This age that some call the “Laodicean” age will not close in an anti-climactic whimper by a secret pre-trib rapture, but rather in a glorious church that openly demonstrates before men and angels the power and life of the Spirit to the end that Israel is made jealous. In analogy with Stephen’s martyr witness before Saul, the church of that hour will demonstrate something that the Jew cannot lightly dismiss, and this will work in the elect remnant until the day of their change at the end of Jacob’s trouble (Isa 59:21; 66:8; Ezek 39:22; Zech 3:9; 12:10; Mt 23:39; Acts 3:21; Ro 11:26; Rev 1:7).

In His precious service, Reggie

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