"Matthew 24 - The Rapture Dilemma" (Part Five)

When and What is the Day of Jacob's Trouble?

In attempting to link Matthew 24 only with the SECOND coming, Dispensationalists claim that Jesus was prophesying only of the far future, and speaking only of Israel in "The day of Jacob's Trouble" that Jeremiah spoke about: 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

Now, if Jesus himself in Matt 24 had used the quote in Jeremiah this could be forgiven, but he did not. To link the two is an opinion, not a fact. Nevertheless, let's see if there really is any connection between the two.

The Jeremiah passage has a time marker that is very clear. As the commentators state, it fixes events to the birthpangs of the Woman in Revelation! (The same word as is used for the "beginning of sorrows" by Jesus in Matthew 24. And then he added, THIS IS NOT THE END.)

"See that ye be not troubled: for ALL these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.... ALL these are the beginning of sorrows." (Matthew 24:6, 8)

The references in Jeremiah 30 to ISRAEL being the Woman of Revelation "in tribulation" crying out in the pain of her birthpangs (Rev 12) are valid, but do not at the same time fix her trouble to the END of the age, but the BEGINNING of sorrows, while the satanic Dragon-Beast is still in the heavenlies and the War of Michael the Archangel has not yet taken place!

Jeremiah 30:4-11 "And these are the words that the LORD spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah. For thus says the LORD; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask you now, and see whether a man does travail with child? why do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? 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...(11) For I am with you, says the LORD, to save you: though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, yet will I not make a full end of you: but I will correct you in just measure, and will not leave you altogether unpunished"..

It also provides what Dispensationalists and other pre-trib believers constantly ask for, a description of the RAPTURE within the context of the book of Revelation! For here we have godly Israel (The star-crowned Woman) under intense pressure to conform to a satanic agenda with the result that a small number from within Israel (her manchild) are both saved and CAUGHT UP TO HEAVEN. (Rev 12:5).

The words there "caught up" are EXACTLY the same as the references to the Rapture of believers elsewhere in scripture, "then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up..."

What is that word? It is HARPAZO, snatched away! Strongs 726. harpazó : catch up, seize by force; snatch up, suddenly and decisively – like someone seizing bounty (spoil, a prize); to take by an open display of force (i.e. not covertly or secretly).

It takes an almost wilful blindness NOT to see the Rapture in those verses!

One Taken, Another Left Behind

In addition, Jesus speaks in Matthew 24 of a selective "taking" of certain people:

Matthew 24:40-44 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord does come. But know this, that if the owner of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes.

Is this not speaking of the same "thief in the night" as in the Rapture verses we are so familiar with?

It would be inconsistent to use one for the Second Coming and the other for the Rapture. They are both describing the same event. Look at the language and the references to "sudden destruction" and "travail as a woman with child" and the warning to "be ready" - Surely Paul was repeating what he knew of the Matthew 24 prophecy of Jesus about the Rapture?

1 Thess 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write unto you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that are drunk are drunk in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

Where Are They Taken, Lord?

In Luke's version of this same prophecy, he follows the narrative of one taken and one left (in 17:34-35) with a question from the disciples in verse 37. They ask, "Where, Lord?" That is, where are they taken?

Some teach that the passage relating to some being taken and some left behind is about the JUDGEMENT, but that doesn't hold water, since at the End of the age ALL appear before the Throne in judgement, and furthermore, there is no selective taking or leaving at that time, in such a sudden moment of panic (we could say, as quick as the blink of an eye) where there is no time or opportunity to pick up belongings or even think about the situation before it happens!

And, since the disciples already understood the concept of the Final Judgement (even though they might not yet have understood the Rapture) they would not need to ask "Where are they taken, Lord?"

However, they did ask. And the answer is equally mysterious: "And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together." (Luke 17:37, KJV)

The Hovering Eagles

Later bible translations used the word "vultures" instead of "eagles" but the Greek word is aetos: an EAGLE. And that comes from the root word AER (from its wind-like flight) for AER means breath, air, the air that we breathe.

So in fact this Greek word is suggesting something coming in the AIR and gathering around the BODY (not "corpse" - the Greek word is SOMA, used everywhere in scripture to refer to the BODY either dead or alive).

Here Jesus tells us there will be a BODY of people, either believing Israel in the last days or the Church worldwide, who will be taken into the AIR by beings that hover like huge birds. And left behind in the city and nation will be a dead body of fallen Israel decimated by her sudden destruction!

FURTHER READING: Is It Eagles or Vultures?

Now turn to Isaiah 31:4-5 " shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof. As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it."

Not only do the believers of all nations go UP to the Lord in the AIR on that day of salvation and deliverance from sore troubles, but also the believers of ISRAEL who have come to accept Jesus Christ as their true Messiah and saviour.

The Eagles of Rome

But now we can see how Jesus, in his foreknowledge and wisdom ALSO managed to refer to the AD70 attack on Jerusalem, because the astonishing fact is that the Roman ensign being the EAGLE, the disciples did at that time see Jerusalem "surrounded by armies" and they did experience an abomination set in the Temple where it ought not to be, and they did see the eagles.

In A.D.66 the Romans surrounded the city of Jerusalem. Luke 21:20 "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near."

Chrysostom wrote:

"For this it seems to me that the abomination of desolation means the army by which the holy city of Jerusalem was made desolate." (The Ante-Nicene Fathers)

C.H. Spurgeon wrote: (1888)

"As soon as Christ's disciples saw "the abomination of desolation," that is, the Roman ensigns, with their idolatries, "stand in the holy place," they knew that the time for their escape had arrived; and they did flee to the mountains." (Matthew: The Gospel of the Kingdom. . p. 215).

Albert Barnes wrote: (1949)

"The Roman army is further called the abomination on account of the images of the emperor, and the eagles, carried in front of the legions, and regarded by the Romans with divine honours" (Matthew p. 254)

Phillip Schaff, in his History of the Christian Church, gives us a vivid picture of the destruction of Jerusalem.

"It was burned on the tenth of August, A.D. 70, the same day of the year on which, according to tradition, the first temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar." "No one," says Josephus, "can conceive a louder, more terrible shriek, than arose from all sides during the burning of the temple. ...The hill on which the temple stood was seething hot, and seemed enveloped to its base in one sheet of flame. The blood was larger in quantity than the fire, and those that were slain were more in number than those that slew them. The ground was nowhere visible. All was covered with corpses ; over these heaps the soldiers pursued the fugitives." The Romans planted their eagles on the shapeless ruins, over against the eastern gate, offered their sacrifices to them, and proclaimed Titus Imperator with the greatest acclamations of joy. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy concerning the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place." (Philip Schaff, vol. 1 pp. 397-398).

Here we see a double prophecy, for not only did armies surround Jerusalem, an abomination entered the Temple, and eagles gathered over the corpses in AD70 but ALSO at the Rapture and deliverance of the faithful, armies will again surround Jerusalem, the eagles will hover in the air, the abomination of a false messiah will enter the new Temple (whatsoever that might be at the time) and God's people will flee the city again just as foretold (for the Woman of Revelation having seen her "baby" CAUGHT UP will be given the wings of an EAGLE to flee to her safe place for the three and a half years of the Beasts' demonic reign. (See Revelation 12:14))

Jacob's Trouble is the Woman's Travail

In providing his prophetic timeline, Jesus placed the day of Jacob's trouble (the woman's tribulation) immediately previous to the birth of her child (the Rapture).

This makes perfect sense, as "birthpangs" and the travail of childbirth DO result in the birth of the child. Jesus then confirms it by saying his coming for his chosen ones will be "immediately after the tribulation of that time."

SEE: Tribulation is never used in scripture for other than Christians and the Church!

 And notice that all this takes place BEFORE the three and a half year reign of the Beasts and the Dragon. The Woman herself is carried away and protected in the wilderness for the remaining three and a half years. (Rev 12:14)

Matthew 24 is not just about the Second Coming

This important passage is therefore not about the Second Coming, as many suggest, but the RAPTURE. In other words, Revelation fixes the "day of Jacob's trouble" (that is, her Tribulation), to the very same verses that NTEB admits are the six seals, leading up to the sight of the Son of Man IN THE SKY coming to gather his Elect from one end of heaven to the other, ie. In the AIR.

Because the scripture says, "it is the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be SAVED out of it".

  1. Introduction
  2. Did the Church Exist in the Day of Jesus?
  3. Can Prophecies Refer to More than One Event?
  4. The Rapture or the Second Coming - or both?
  5. When and What is the Day of Jacob's Trouble? (this page)
  6. Are the Elect Exclusively Israel?
  7. Is the Tribulation a seven-year Wrath of God?
  8. Do we Need to Endure, as Christians?
  9. Are there Distinct and Absolute Dispensations of History?
  10. Replacement Theology
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© 2016 Tricia Tillin-Booth. All rights reserved. Birthpangs Website:  This document is the property of its author and is not to be displayed on other websites, redistributed, sold, reprinted, or reproduced in printed in any other format without permission. Websites may link to this article, if they provide proper title and author information.   One copy may be downloaded, stored and/or printed for personal research. All spelling and phraseology is UK English.