The Zohar reveals two potential ways in which the Messiah will appear in our world, one is the path of mercy, the other is the path of harsh judgment. When we facilitate this process through our own proactive initiative towards self-transformation, we can usher in the age of Messiah through the path of mercy. If, however, [Heaven forbid] man remains in his self-indulgent ways, it will be through a path of judgment that the Messiah will appear.
Kabbalistically, the Messiah is not a righteous individual who will emancipate the world, performing all the spiritual work on our behalf. Rather, the concept of Messiah refers to both a personal state of existence and a global happening. The toil of our own spiritual work will produce personal peace through a merciful path. Global turmoil will force change upon those who reject transformation. As people change, a critical mass will eventually be met and the global Messiah will appear to signify a new world. In this passage, a proactive desire for self-transformation is awakened within us so that our spiritual development occurs within a framework of mercy and positivity.