For a long time, we were focused on verse 7, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children…” and we comforted ourselves that rather than always expecting to be comfortable, God’s children might need to expect to be trained, disciplined.
And more recently, we’ve had our attention drawn to verses 1 and 2, paying attention to the “great cloud of witnesses” that are watching us, and “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Living our lives with heaven in view has been a great focus.
There’s a third part of the chapter that’s capturing my attention. Late in the chapter, the author writes, “now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.”
I find that my own attention is drawn to these statements from two directions.
First, many of my brothers and sisters are having their lives shaken pretty formidably right now.
I think of filling a container with something that is not liquid (perhaps cereal, or spices, or nuts and bolts). When I’m filling the container, I pour into the new contents into it, until it begins to over flow. And then I shake the container; I might bang it on the counter once or twice. Inevitably, after shaking, there’s more room in the container now, so that I can pour more in. Shaking makes more room in us, to hold more of God, to care more for others, to understand (and experience) more of his kingdom.
I also think of paint. When I buy paint, they add the colorant to make the paint match the architect’s plans. And then they shake it, so that the architect’s influence is permeated throughout the paint, so that everything it touches conforms to the architect’s plans. Shaking makes us more consistent throughout our lives.
And I think of quality control testing. When I build a cabinet, to hold my tools and such, I often pause during construction and shake the cabinet pretty aggressively: I’m testing to see how well it’s been built. If it is going to come apart, I’d rather it did it early in the process – and this is why buildings are earthquake-tested during the design phase – so that I can correct the defects, and have an effective cabinet to hold the tools that I use. Shaking reveals weaknesses, not to draw attention to the, but to correct them.
The second reason my attention is drawn to these verses about shaking is because a number of the prophets I am in relationship with are hearing God use this passage to explain the season we’re in. We’re in a shaking season.
Add 1 Peter 4:17 into the conversation (“For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household…”), another verse that prophetic people have been hearing for a while. We could make a number of inferences about our churches, our culture, and our nation, based on this combination, but that’s not my primary goal here.
The main focus I’m coming away with is this: if you’re following God, you’re either being shaken, or about to be shaken. It’s for your good, it’s to make you more like him. Don’t freak out when it happens. Celebrate your advancement in the Kingdom.