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When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days. (Deuteronomy 4:30)

Moses prophesied to the people that they would, in time, be scattered through the nations and made to serve gods of wood and stone. However, in their exile and servitude, they would begin to turn back to the LORD with all their heart and soul. Not only did he prophesy about what would happen, he told them when — it will be when they were in distress in the acharit yamim — the end of days. In rabbinical literature this is understood to be synonymous with the time Daniel spoke of that he referred to as קץ ketz — the end. In both cases, this is understood to mean the days just before the coming of Messiah.

According to Moses, at the end of days, God’s people will be in great distress which, in turn, prompts them to turn back to Him. The Hebrew word translated as “distress” is צר tzar, a word that means “to press or squeeze.” It also related to the notion of being in a tight place or “a strait” and stems from a root that means to be “oppressed, besieged.” This same root is the word that gives birth to מצרים mitzrayim or “Egypt” — the “furnace of affliction” as far as Israel is concerned. But perhaps we can sum it up this way; the KJV renders the word tzar in the above verse as “tribulation.” Thus Moses said, “When you are in tribulation in the last days, you will begin to seek the LORD.”

The point is not to expound upon eschatology and determine what happens when. Rather let’s focus on the fact that God uses tribulation to provoke us to seek Him. Regardless of when the Great Tribulation begins, we should all take note of the fact that Messiah said, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33) — in other words, being pressed, squeezed and having to endure distress is a part of life. But we should also take note of the fact that God Himself has said, it is this distress that will provoke His people to seek Him, and if they do so with all of their heart, they will find Him.

No one likes the thought of experiencing tribulation, but when it comes we should focus on enduring the trial. Finally, let us remember the latter part of Messiah’s statement concerning the tribulation that will, indeed, come: “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Blessings and Shalom,  




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