Great distress (Lk 21:23-21:23)

“Woe to those

Who are pregnant!

Woe to those

Who are nursing infants!

In those days,

There will be

Great distress

On the earth.

There will be

Wrath against this people.”

 

οὐαὶ ταῖς ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσαις καὶ ταῖς θηλαζούσαις ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις· ἔσται γὰρ ἀνάγκη μεγάλη ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ ὀργὴ τῷ λαῷ τούτῳ,

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said woe to those who would be pregnant (οὐαὶ ταῖς ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσαις) or nursing infants (καὶ ταῖς θηλαζούσαις) in those days (ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις).  There would be a great distress (ἔσται γὰρ ἀνάγκη μεγάλη) on the earth (ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς), as there would be wrath or anger against this people (καὶ ὀργὴ τῷ λαῷ τούτῳ).  This is the same, almost word for word, in Mark, chapter 13:17, and Matthew, chapter 24:19.  All three synoptic gospels have the same wording for this curse.  According to Mark, the cursed ones (οὐαὶ δὲ) would be those women who were pregnant with a baby in their womb (ταῖς ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσαις) or those women nursing infants (καὶ ταῖς θηλαζούσαις) in those days (ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις), during the end times.  Matthew indicated that Jesus said that the cursed ones (οὐαὶ δὲ) would be those women who were pregnant with a baby in their womb (ταῖς ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσαις) or those women nursing infants (καὶ ταῖς θηλαζούσαις) during the end times, in those days (ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις).  There would be no earthly future for their infants.  However, Mark and Matthew did not mention anything about great distress or anger, but it might be assumed.  Luke, on the other hand, did not mention like Mark chapter 13:18, and Matthew, chapter 24:20, that it would be better if this was not in the winter time or on the Sabbath.  Is it a distressful time for women who are pregnant or nursing?

Eating other humans (Jer 19:9-19:9)

“I will make them eat

The flesh of their sons

As well as the flesh of their daughters.

All shall eat the flesh

Of their neighbors

In the siege,

In their distress.

Their enemies,

Those who seek their life,

Will afflict them.”

Things will be difficult during this siege of the city. They will eat the bodies of their sons and daughters as they become cannibals. They will also eat the flesh of their neighbors in this time of great distress. Their enemies, who were seeking their lives, would afflict them greatly.

The warning (Jer 10:17-10:18)

“‘Gather up your bundle

From the ground!

O you who live under siege!’

Thus says Yahweh.

‘I am going to sling out

The inhabitants of the land

At this time.

I will bring distress on them.

Thus they shall feel it.’”

Yahweh warns them to get ready to move. They were to gather up their bundles from the ground. They were going to be under siege in Jerusalem. Yahweh said that he was going to throw them out of their land. They would feel great distress over the things to come.

Strong drinks (Prov 31:4-31:7)

“It is not for kings.

O Lemuel!

It is not for kings to drink wine.

Rulers should not desire strong drink.

Otherwise if they drink,

They will forget what has been decreed.

They will pervert the rights of all the afflicted.

Give strong drink to him who is perishing!

Give wine to those in bitter distress!

Let them drink!

Let them forget their poverty!

Let them remember their misery no more!”

Now we have a warning against strong drink or alcohol, which was a common prohibition among the ancient and current Arabic countries. The king should not drink wine or strong drinks because he would forget what he had decreed. He might end up perverting the rights of all the afflicted. Even in this prohibition against strong drink, there was a sense of social justice in that the king might forget about his subjects and their afflictions. However, in a strange turn of events, it was okay to give strong drink to those who were dying. My father, who was dying of throat cancer, decided to drink alcohol rather than take drugs. Anyone in great distress could have a strong drink. They were allowed to drink because it would help them forget their poverty and misery. Strong drink was allowed for the dying, the poor, and the miserable, but not for a king.

Yahweh has been good to me (Ps 116:1-116:4)

“I love Yahweh

Because he has heard my voice.

He has heard my supplications.

Therefore I will call on him

As long as I live,

Because he inclined his ear to me.

The snares of death encompassed me.

The pangs of Sheol laid hold of me.

I suffered distress.

I suffered anguish.

Then I called on the name of Yahweh.

‘Yahweh!’

I pray!

Save my life!’”

Psalm 116 is a thanksgiving psalm without any titles. This psalm begins with the psalmist talking about how he loves Yahweh because Yahweh has heard his voice. Unlike the psalms that ask God to listen, this psalmist has already had his prayers answered. Yahweh heard his voice and supplications because he inclined his ear to him. The result is that he will always call upon Yahweh as long as he lives. He apparently was near his death in great distress and anguish almost near Sheol. Then he called out the name of Yahweh and he was saved. This is like a call to prayer for the others in the congregation.

Ezra explains the situation today (Neh 9:32-9:37)

“Now therefore, our God,

The great and mighty and awesome God,

You keep the covenant and steadfast love.

Do not treat lightly all the hardship that has come upon us,

Upon our kings, our officials, our priests, our prophets,

Our ancestors, and all your people,

Since the time of the kings of Assyria until today.

You have been just in all that has come upon us.

You have dealt faithfully.

We have acted wickedly.

Our kings, our officials, our priests, and our ancestors

Have not kept your law.

They have not heeded your commandments.

They have not heeded the warnings that you gave them.

Even in their kingdom,

In the great goodness that you bestowed upon them,

In the large and rich land that you set before them,

They did not serve you.

They did not turn from their wicked works.

Here we are slaves to this day.

Slaves in the land that you gave to our ancestors

To enjoy its fruit and its good gifts.

Its rich yield goes to the kings,

The kings you have over us because of our sins.

They have power also over our bodies

And over our livestock at their pleasure.

We are in great distress!”

Now Ezra’s prayer gets to the current situation. The wonderful mighty God has been good to us. However, we, our kings, officials, priests, prophets, and all our people have been in distress since the Assyrian kings took over our land. God was just and acted faithfully. However, we were the wicked sinners because we did not follow the commandments, all of us. Even when things were good with our own kingdom, we still kept our wicked ways. We did not follow all the commandments. Now we end up as slaves in our own country. We have to pay the king with our work. The kings have power over us. “We are in great distress!”