What is Jacob’s Trouble from a Hebraic perspective?

I hear many Christian Bible prophecy teachers talk about Jacob’s Trouble and tie it into their eschatological speculations about the pre-trib rapture, Daniel’s 70th week and on and on. Most of them seem to simply be regurgitating what others before them, who are ignorant of the Torah and who really don’t know much about the Tanakh have said. They don’t even know who the descendants of Jacob are in end times Bible prophecy. So how can they even hope to come to an understanding of this subject? It’s the blind leading the blind!

A few years ago, I did an in depth study on the subject of Jacob’s Trouble. I went into the study with no preconceived ideas except only to let the Bible speak for itself. The following is what was revealed to me. — Natan

Genesis 32:1–32, Jacob’s trouble explained.

Jacob’s Trouble, His Dark Night of the Soul and End Times Prophecy

Genesis 32 is the story of Jacob’s return to Canaan after having been exiled from his homeland for 20 years. His exile occurred after he obtained his divinely promised birthright through shrewd if not unscrupulous means from his brother Esau resulting in his having to flee Canaan for fear of his life due to Esau’s vengeance. Jacob found refuge in the region of Babylonia at his Uncle Laban’s home where he married Laban’s two daughters, Leah and Rachel. Eventually, Jacob had to flee Babylon with Laban in angry pursuit. As Jacob and his family are returning to Canann, they encounter Jacob’s brother Esau who, along with his small army, physically stood in Jacob’s way from entering the land of his promised inheritance and wanted to kill Jacob. 

This account is not only the story of Jacob’s personal, spiritual struggles, but it also has end times prophetic implications relating to the regathering out of exile of the twelve tribes of Israel (the Jews and the Christians) and their return to their Promised Land in Israel under Yeshua their Messiah at his second coming. The Scriptures refer to this as Jacob’s Trouble (see Jer 30:7).

The Jewish sages believe that the encounter between Jacob and Esau (no doubt informed by Jeremiah’s prophecy) is prophetic in nature and will happen again in the end times, but this time on a much larger scale and this time involving the numerous descendants of Israel and Esau. The end-times Israelites will be attempting to return to their ancestral homeland, while the descendants of Esau will be blocking their way. As we proceed in this study, we will see whether this prophecy is beginning to come to pass in these last days.

Not only this, the Jewish sages speak of two major redemptions in Israel’s long history. The first redemption occurred when YHVH delivered the oppressed and enslaved children of Israel out of Egypt at the exodus. The second or final redemption will occur at the end of this present era when the Messiah will regather and lead his exiled and scattered Israelite people back to the Promised Land in fulfillment of numerous biblical prophecies. 

Rolling the film backwards a little in the present story of Jacob, Laban had chased Jacob out of the area of Babylon, and yet Jacob was being blocked from entering Canaan by his murderous brother Esau (or Edom meaning “red”). This is reminiscent of Pharaoh chasing the Israelites out of Egypt only to find themselves blocked by the Red Sea, which is a prophetic picture of Edom. In both instances, YHVH’s people were forced to rely totally on him for deliverance from their enemies who were in front of and behind them.

Initially, Jacob deals with the crisis in a typically human way—by scheming and conniving instead of having faith in YHVH to work things out. He figured that by bribing angry and bloodthirsty Esau with wave after wave of gifts, he might appease Esau and assuage his brother’s desire for revenge (Gen 32:13–20).

Yet Jacob’s dual response to his present danger by resorting to both appeasement and prayer was not acceptable to YHVH who wanted Jacob to be a man of unmitigated faith—to solely trust in him. To bring Jacob to this point, a part of Jacob had to die. His prideful self-reliance to extricate himself from difficult situations had to die. This tendency was based on fear of death, and not on faith in YHVH. For Jacob to mature spiritually, YHVH wanted Jacob to leave his aspect of his human nature on the east side of the Jordan where Babylon (a spiritual metaphor for the old spiritual man and the ungodly ways of this world) was located. In its place, a spiritually-oriented man who would totally trust YHVH in all things had to rise up; Jacob could no longer trust in his soul man (i.e. his mind, will and emotions) to dictate his actions; he had to rely on the Spirit of Elohim to lead him through his personal spirit. Only a man of faith who was might in the Spirit would be worthy to enter the Promised Land. As Jacob had to discover, the old soul-reliant man, however, would not die without a fight as we are about to see.

Continue reading