Now, the prophets have been saying we’re living in the latter part of the chapter:
If God is shaking both the earth and the heavens, then it is likely that many of His people are feeling shaken. But He declares that He’s shaking for a reason: He’s removing the things that can be shaken – the things that tempt us to trust them rather than Him – so that we will trust in the things which cannot be shaken, the only things left to us.
It is into this context that I ran across
Zechariah, chapter one:
The prophet has been writing the prophecies of comfort for God’s people that God is speaking to him. He looks up and what does he see: the horns that are coming against God’s people. He’s in the midst of prophesying blessing on them ("The LORD will again comfort Zion, And will again choose Jerusalem.") and he looks up from that and the first thing he sees is trouble; he sees horns scattering God’s people. The horns are a symbol of strength, in this case, specifically of peoples (“nations”) that exalt their own strength against the people of God.
But God corrects his vision: God shows him the rest of the picture, four craftsmen that the prophet had not yet seen. The enemy had indeed scattered God’s people, shaken their focus, divided them. But the craftsmen God pointed out had stopped them: first they terrified the horns (and presumably the powers that wielded them), then they cast them out of the land.
We’re like that sometimes, especially when things are getting shaken: we look around and see the things that are coming against us better than we see the provision of God. We quickly see the strength of the enemy and miss the greater work that God is doing.
Often we whine, “God, make it stop!” and the result would be enemies in our midst that are not as effective at what they’re doing: they’re still working, but their work is limited; we tolerate a degree of the enemy’s work, and we have the strength in ourselves to resist him.
God, however, is seldom satisfied with compromise in us, and does not appear to value our capacity to accomplish things – even good things – in our own strength. Therefore, He lets the enemies run rampant for a while, teaching us that our own strength is insufficient; then He terrifies them and boots them out. So instead of partially effective enemies among us, we have terrified enemies that have been completely removed from us. So tell me, which is the better condition?
In this season of shaking everything that can be shaken, it’s easy to see the shaking first and best. It’s easy to feel shaken, to feel our grip slipping from the things that we turn to for comfort, to feel the panic rising. Those things are in fact actually happening; in fact, they’re the goal of the process: that we would trust in nothing except God. These are actually answers to our prayers. And still we feel the panic as our grip on our habits and our crutches slips.
I’ve been praying, “Lord, show me the craftsmen. Let me see the things that You’re doing, not just the things that scare me, not just the things that the enemy is doing that shake me. But whether I see it or not, please complete Your work!” For when the enemy shakes us, he’s usually indirectly accomplishing the purposes of God, and in fact, it’s happening in this season.
Some of us are doing especially well at discerning the shaking, and we need to better see the provision of God, the results that He’s leading us into. Others among us are hardly noticing the shaking, whether because they have such a light hold on the temporal things being shaken, or because they have such a good grip on God; I admire them, and I aspire to be more like them: fixing my eyes on the things that God is doing, even when I have to push the horns out of the way to see Him.