A Taste of the “Cup of Trembling”

See, I have taken out of your hand the cup of trembling, the dregs of the cup of My fury; You shall no longer drink it. But I will put it into the hand of those who afflict you. (Isaiah 51:22–23) 

For months now, the plight of the hostages and the loss of so many loved ones have been like a heavy cloud hanging over Israel. The sight of tens of thousands marching in the streets of Western cities in brazen displays of antisemitic fervor has only compounded the somber mood. Leftist agitators who insist “Zionists do not deserve to live” have overrun university campuses. Radical Muslims protesting outside the recent Eurovision contest in Sweden openly supported the rapists and murderers of Hamas, vowing: “Sinwar, we will not let you die!” 

Equally troubling, the international community voted overwhelmingly for a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly calling for immediate recognition of a Palestinian state, even though the Palestinians do not meet any of the qualifications for statehood. Palestinian society is bitterly divided between two rival armed political factions, neither of which truly controls the territories they claim. Yet world leaders somehow think that conferring official statehood on this miserable mess will bring peace. It is rather a reward for terrorism and will only bring ruin for everyone—Palestinians included. 

For all this to happen in the wake of the mass atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7 is truly disturbing. It is like a madness or mass delusion has come upon many in the world, including those we entrusted as leaders. 

A Cup of Trembling

Whether it is driven by the odious impulses of religious bigotry, racial animosity, or outlandish conspiracy theories, Jews are still being blamed for all the woes in society, and Israel alone is singled out for condemnation among all the nations of the earth. The people who suffered the worst atrocity in human history during the Holocaust are now maliciously accused of committing genocide in Gaza, even though the IDF is doing more than any other army has ever done to avoid civilian casualties among their enemies. 

Yet these global waves of antisemitism have occurred before (every time Israel has come under attack in recent decades) though this time it is taking place with much more intensity—even to the point of insanity. And it is easy to see how it could one day lead to a final global showdown over the Jewish return to their ancestral homeland—and especially to Jerusalem. The Bible foretells about such a last days’ “controversy of Zion” (Isaiah 34:8), which will lead to the humbling and judging of the nations, and recent events are simply a foretaste of how it could play out. 

The prophetic passages on this end-time battle over a Jerusalem restored to Jewish hands are numerous and include Psalm 2; Isaiah 4 and 34; Joel 3:1–3; Micah 4; Zephaniah 3:8; and Zechariah 12:1–9 and 14:1–4. Yet the Bible also is clear that God wants to draw the nations up to Jerusalem for judgment over their obsessed maltreatment of Israel, and this alluring potion is often described as a “cup of trembling” that the Lord will cause the nations to drink. 

To Jerusalem for Judgment 

For instance, Psalm 75 speaks of an “appointed time” when God will judge the whole earth (v. 2). The psalmist adds: “God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another. For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is fully mixed, and He pours it out; surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth drain and drink down” (Psalm 75:7–8). 

Likewise, the prophet Isaiah says that the inhabitants of Jerusalem once drank from this cup of God’s wrath when He destroyed the city and scattered its people (Isaiah 51:17–20), but now that same cup will pass to the hand of Israel’s tormentors: 

Thus says your Lord, the Lord and your God, who pleads the cause of His people:

See, I have taken out of your hand the cup of trembling, the dregs of the cup of My fury; you shall no longer drink it. But I will put it into the hand of those who afflict you, who have said to you, ‘Lie down, that we may walk over you.’ And you have laid your body like the ground, and as the street, for those who walk over. (Isaiah 51:22–23) 

Jeremiah also foretold of a divine judgment to come upon all nations over Jerusalem, and even those who refuse to take the cup and drink will do so nonetheless, saying:

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “You shall certainly drink!” (Jeremiah 25:15–31)

Elsewhere, the Hebrew prophet Zechariah was straightforward in warning of this coming day and the ultimate fate of the nations:

Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. … It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. (Zechariah 12:2, 9)

Finally, the book of Revelation affirms that the nations are destined to drink of the “cup of His indignation” and of the “fierceness of His wrath” (Revelation 14:10; 16:19). 

Watching the disgraceful marches of antisemites worldwide and the United Nations’ appalling decisions concerning Israel over recent months, I am more and more convinced that the nations will indeed be drawn up to Jerusalem one day soon by a totally pervasive wave of Jew-hatred. Hitler drank daily from this same poisonous elixir, and many are doing the same today—to their own shame. This is not about the flaws in Israel’s leader or its policies. It is the pure evil of blaming the Jews for every ill in our world—and God wants the world to get its fill so that He might judge the nations in righteousness and vindicate the people He uniquely called to bring salvation to the world. 

In the meantime, let us please keep praying for the safe return of the remaining Israeli hostages and for the Lord to comfort the families and friends of those who have lost their lives for the sake of the restoration of Zion over the past year. 

—By David R. Parsons, ICEJ Vice President & Senior Spokesman