What is the time of Jacob’s trouble?                                                 By Jack Kettler


“Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” (Jeremiah 30:7)


How does the believer understand this text? Is the time of Jacob’s trouble referring to a past or future fulfillment? Many prophetic speculators place the time of “Jacob’s trouble” into the future. However, what did “Jacob’s trouble” mean to Jeremiah’s contemporaries?


Typical of the futuristic prophetic speculators, one can find the following, “This prophecy of unprecedented difficulty for Jacob’s descendants will be fulfilled just before the second coming of Jesus Christ.” (Life, Hope & Truth website - Church of God, a Worldwide Association, Inc.)


The three following commentary entries will answer how the people of Jeremiah’s day understood what he was saying.


Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary:


“30:1-11 Jeremiah is to write what God had spoken to him. The very words are such as the Holy Ghost teaches. These are the words God ordered to be written; and promises written by his order, are truly his word. He must write a description of the trouble the people were now in, and were likely to be in. A happy end should be put to these calamities. Though the afflictions of the church may last long, they shall not last always. The Jews shall be restored again. They shall obey, or hearken to the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of David, their King. The deliverance of the Jews from Babylon, is pointed out in the prophecy, but the restoration and happy state of Israel and Judah, when converted to Christ their King, are foretold; also, the miseries of the nations before the coming of Christ. All men must honour the Son as they honour the Father, and come into the service and worship of God by him. Our gracious Lord pardons the sins of the believer, and breaks off the yoke of sin and Satan, that he may serve God without fear, in righteousness and true holiness before him all the remainder of his days, as the redeemed subject of Christ our King.” (1)


Clarke's Commentary:


“Verse Jeremiah 30:7. Alas! for that day is great — When the Medes and Persians with all their forces shall come on the Chaldeans, it will be the day of Jacob's trouble-trial, dismay, and uncertainty; but he shall be delivered out of it-the Chaldean empire shall fall, but the Jews shall be delivered by Cyrus. Jerusalem shall be destroyed by the Romans, but the Israel of God shall be delivered from its ruin. Not one that had embraced Christianity perished in the sackage of that city.” (2)


Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary:


“7. great—marked by great calamities (Joe 2:11, 31; Am 5:18; Zep 1:14).


none like it … but he shall be saved — (Da 12:1). The partial deliverance at Babylon's downfall prefigures the final, complete deliverance of Israel, literal and spiritual, at the downfall of the mystical Babylon (Re 18:1-19:21).” (3)


After consulting commentary entries, the following can be said:


Though some scholars suggest a future fulfillment of Jeremiah 30:7, from a conservative theological viewpoint, there is a solid argument to be made that the passage points to fulfillment in the past. For example, Jeremiah 30:7 says, “Alas! For that day is so great there is none like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.” Theologians have noted the urgency in the passage, highlighting the current and inescapable nature of the “trouble” facing Jacob. Furthermore, many believe the passage is inherently prophetic in nature, with completion that has already come. Therefore, from a conservative theological standpoint, Jeremiah 30:7 points to fulfillment in the past rather than at some future point in time.


In closing:


A devotional from J. C. Philpot's Daily Portions:


“Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it--it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” Jeremiah 30:7

“This “day of trouble” is when sin is laid as a heavy burden upon a man’s conscience; when guilt presses him down into the dust of death, when his iniquities stare him in the face, and seem more in number than the hairs of his head; when he fears he shall be cast forever into the bottomless pit of hell, and have his portion with the hypocrites.”

 “This “day of trouble” is not literally a day, a portion of time meted out by the rising or setting sun, a space of twenty-four hours. The hands of a clock, or the shadow of a dial, cannot regulate spiritual troubles. A day here means a season, be it long or short; be it a day, week, month, or year. And as the season cannot be measured in length, so the trouble cannot be measured in depth.”

 “The only wise God deals out various measures of affliction to his people. All do not sink to the same depth, as all do not rise to the same height. All do not drink equally deep of the cup; yet all, each in their measure, pass through this day of trouble, wherein their fleshly religion is pulled to pieces, their self-righteousness marred, their presumptuous hopes crushed, and they brought into the state of the leper, to cry, “Unclean, unclean.” Until a man has passed through this day of trouble, until he has experienced more or less of these exercises of soul, and known guilt and condemnation in his conscience; until he has struggled in this narrow pass, and had his rags of creature righteousness torn away from him, he can know nothing experimentally of the efficacy of Jesus’ atoning blood, nor feel the power of Christ’s resurrection.”


Fulfilled prophecy has long been seen as a sign of strength in one’s faith and a way of conveying the power of God's plan. It is also more likely to be seen as uplifting and empowering than unfulfilled future speculative prophecy, as fulfilled prophecy proves the reliability of religious teachings. Furthermore, fulfilled prophecy can create a sense of hope and understanding that the world is directed by divinely inspired commands, thereby assuring the believer in trying times.


“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)




1.      Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary, Jerimiah, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 1250.

2.      Clarke, Adam, Commentary on Jeremiah 30, The Adam Clarke Commentary, https: // www .studylight.org/commentaries/eng/acc/jeremiah-30 .html. 1832.

3.      Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 632.


Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife, Marea, attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of 15 books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at Amazon.