As you know, this past Monday was Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets) which means that we are currently in what is known as the “Days of Awe.”
The Days of Awe are a continuation of the season of Teshuvah (“repentance”) that began just over a month ago at the start of the Hebrew month, Elul. In the initial days of the month Tishri, we are continuing to search our hearts for any unclean thing in anticipation of Yom Kippur, which begins on Tuesday night at dusk.
In the last couple of days I have really been struck with just how awesome these days have been and I do not mean that in the good sense. There is so much turmoil in the world, the nation and, to some degree, all of our lives that I’m overwhelmed with the notion that something is getting ready to happen. This sense was fueled a bit more by something the Father said in this week’s Torah portion. God told His people that, because they turned away from Him and broke His covenant:
My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’” (Deuteronomy 31:17)
The statement that troubles me the most is that God would “hide His face” from those who have forsaken Him. By that He meant, He would remove His Presence from their midst, which would then allow for another presence — one that doesn’t have their best interests in mind — to come in and fill the vacuum. An example of this concept is found in 1 Samuel 2:32 when an unnamed prophet warns the High Priest, Eli, that because he had forsaken his duties, God would allow “an enemy” — in Hebrew צר tzar — to reside in “My dwelling place.”
So if you’re tracking with me what I’m saying is this: the person or the nation that has been in covenant with God, but who breaks that covenant, risks waking up one day to discover that “God is not among us.” As a result, that person or nation will find that “many evils and troubles” — in Hebrew צרות tzarot — have come upon them.
Personally, I believe that is exactly where we find ourselves here in the US — our “one nation under God” has forsaken the God of our fathers and are now experiencing trouble upon trouble.
In the last several decades, this nation (and I would assume this could be true for other nations, as well) has been embroiled in a philosophical tug of war; a contest to determine which way we are to go. Are we to gravitate toward socialism, marxism and secularism or are we to remain a nation that upholds personal liberty and the free market? Of course, this philosophical war is, in reality, a spiritual war; the real struggle is whether we wish to abandon the biblical principles we were founded upon or return to the notion of “In God, We Trust”?
As far as I’m concerned, the last two plus years have been the most intense period in my lifetime and quite possibly the most intense since the American Civil War. While many argue that President Trump seems to be the reason for all of this turmoil — those who oppose him hate him for the very things that those who support him love him for — my belief is that it goes beyond that. While I certainly believe God has raised him up for this time, I tend to think that the greater purpose is to reveal the condition of our heart, as a nation. What has been revealed thus far is putrid and disgusting, to say the least. Unfortunately, I fear that there are more “evils and troubles” yet to befall us. That sobering thought leads me to this one: Moses said that God’s people in the last days would find themselves in the midst of distress but in that distress they would begin to turn back to Him.
“When you are in distress (“tribulation” in KJV, צר tzar), and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the LORD your God and obey His voice (for the LORD your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them.” (Deuteronomy 4:30-31)
In times such as what we are experiencing today, these words are of great comfort. Turn on the news and all you see is strife, animosity, impeachment, collusion, treason and predictions of doom. Behind all of this noise is the fact that we are a nation that has forsaken God and allowed our enemies to come in and rule over us, at least in the philosophical sense. In short, we are in distress in these latter days which means it is time for us to turn back to Him. Hope can only be found in our Heavenly Father and the Messiah of Israel and thus, Isaiah said on behalf of us all:
“And I will wait on the LORD, who hides His face from the house of Jacob; and I will hope in Him.” (Isaiah 8:17)
He may have hidden His face from us but if we turn back to Him, we have the hope of redemption and restoration. These are most certainly “days of Awe” and Yom Kippur is coming. Today is the day to turn to Him with all of our hearts.