The  phrase “the time of Jacob’s trouble” is a quote from Jeremiah 30:7 which says,  “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” (KJV).

In the previous  verses of Jeremiah 30, we find that the Lord is speaking to Jeremiah the prophet  about Judah and Israel (30:3-4). In verse 3, the Lord promises that one day in  the future, He will bring both Judah and Israel back to the land that He had  promised their forefathers. Verse 5 describes a time of great fear and  trembling. Verse 6 describes this time in a way that pictures men going through  the pains of childbirth, again indicating a time of agony. But there is hope for  Judah and Israel, for though this is called “the time of Jacob’s distress”  (NASB), the Lord promises He will save Jacob (referring to Judah and Israel) out  of this time of great trouble (verse 7).

In Jeremiah  30:10-11 the Lord says, “‘I will surely save you out of a distant place,  your descendants from the land of their exile. Jacob will again have peace and  security, and no one will make him afraid. I am with you and will save you,’  declares the LORD.”

Also, the Lord says He will destroy the nations who  held Judah and Israel in captivity, and He will never allow Jacob to be  completely destroyed. However, it should be noted that the Lord describes this  as a time of discipline for His people. He says of Jacob, “Though I completely  destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy  you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely  unpunished.”

Jeremiah  30:7 says, “That day is great, so that none is like it.” The only time  period that fits this description is the period of the Tribulation. This time is  unparalleled in history.

Jesus described the Tribulation using some of  the same imagery as Jeremiah. In Matthew  24:6-8, He stated that the appearance of false christs, wars and rumors of  wars, famines, and earthquakes are “the beginning of birth pains.”

Paul, too, described the Tribulation as birth pains. First Thessalonians  5:3 says, “While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will  come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not  escape.” This event follows the Rapture and the removal of the Church, in  4:13-18. In 5:9, Paul reemphasizes the absence of the Church from this time  period by saying, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining  salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The wrath spoken of here is God’s  judgment on the unbelieving world and His discipline of Israel during the  Tribulation.

These “birth pains” are described in detail in Revelation  6-12 Part of the purpose of the Tribulation is to bring Israel back to the  Lord.

For those who have received Christ as Savior from sin, the time of  Jacob’s trouble is something for which we should praise the Lord, for it  demonstrates that God keeps His promises. He has promised us eternal life  through Christ our Lord, and He has promised land, seed, and blessing to Abraham  and his physical descendants. However, before He fulfills those promises, He  will lovingly but firmly discipline the nation of Israel so that they return to  Him.