A narrow gorge near SdeBoker in the Negev south of Beer Sheva. On Sunday Israel entered the 2nd week Bein haMetzarim—“Between the Straits.”
TREMBLINGS AND SHAKINGS
“The LORD reigns, let the peoples tremble; He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake! The LORD is great in Zion, and He is exalted above all the peoples. Let them praise Your great and awesome name; Holy is He…Exalt the LORD our God and worship towards His holy mountain, for holy is the LORD our God. ” (Psalm 99:1-3, 9 NASB)
“Awake, awake, Zion! Clothe yourself with strength…Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, Daughter Zion, now a captive.” (Isaiah 52:1-2 NIV)
The year was 2004; the Second Intifada was still raging, Ariel Sharon was Prime Minister…and in an upper room on Nachshon Street in Jerusalem a worship watch of Succat Hallel (Tabernacle of Praise) was in session. Rick Ridings had just felt strongly the Lord moving him to declare aloud Psalm 99 (above). As he came to the last word of the psalm, the earth began to shake as a 5.3 earthquake rumbled through Jerusalem (Norma was present at the watch, Martin was at home a block away, and got up and hurried into the street when I realized what was taking place!). It lasted less than 30 seconds, but everyone at the watch burst into wild praise, while our friend Nigel Lidiard, who was on the piano, recovered and launched immediately into a song he’d penned some time before:
Shake the heavens, shake the skies / Shake the whole earth and everything that lies /
Shake the heavens, shake the skies / Shake the whole earth and everything that lies /
Within the path of Your return!
Every work of man must be brought low / Every human plan and purpose has to go /
The glory of the temple yet to come / Will shine through living stones /
That emanate the radiance of God’s Son! / Shake the heavens…”
By Nigel Lidiard ©2002 Songs of the Tabernacle
The next day the Israeli news services reported that had the quake been one digit higher on the Richter scale, major damage would have occurred on buildings. As it was, the only damage which they initially reported was a crack which appeared over the place where the Prime Minister makes his exit from his seat in the Knesset.
This was on 11 February 2004. Three days later on 14 February, a portion of the outer layer of the wall adjacent to the Western Wall in the Old City, a section containing the western entrance to the Temple Mount, collapsed, part of the rubble falling into the women’s prayer area of the Wall. Most reports attributed the collapse to the earthquake three days earlier. It was not part of the huge stones making up the Kotel, or “Wailing Wall.” Rather, part of the walls put up by Ottoman Muslims around Jerusalem 500 years before.
Of course, the earthquake that day did succeed in getting everyone in Jerusalem’s attention. But was the Spirit of God seeking to say some things through its aftermath for those who were listening? Prime Minister Sharon was at that time beginning to make a shift away from the policies with which he had come into office. Eventually, his term would be cut short, and his seat in the government given to another. And the portion of the wall which fell? Originally constructed as part of a barrier encircling the Holy Mountain and City to keep Jews and Christians out—might its crumbling have signaled a breach in the religious system ensconced there, which itself is going to fall to make way for the coming of the rightful King of Glory who will someday again be worshipped there?
The Scriptures teach of earthquakes in which God is not present at all (I Kings 19:11-12); and of others in which He is very much present (Ezekiel 38:18-20). They speak of some coming as God’s righteous judgment for sin (Isaiah 29:5-6); some as messengers, harbingers of things to come (Haggai 2:6-7; Matthew 24:7-8). And they teach of a place of safety for those who are trusting God their Rock: a place where even when the upheavals come, they will not be shaken (Psalms 15:5; 16:8; 21:7; 62:5-8). Nor will the shakings remove Israel from the loving purposes of God covenant word to her, “ ‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you [Israel] will not be shaken nor my covenant of shalom be removed,’ says the LORD who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10).
Wednesday and Thursday of this past week, northern Israel again began feeling the shakings. There were three minor earthquakes in the north. Now, there are not many days in which some very low seismic movement doesn’t occur in the Land. A huge fault runs below the cleft reaching from above the Sea of Galilee to Eilat. The epicenter of most earthquakes felt in Israel originates near the north part of the Dead Sea or somewhere higher along that fault. The ones felt this week were stronger. On Wednesday the 4th, residents of Haifa and the Western Galilee region experienced two tremors, one registering 4.1 on the Richter scale, the next 4.5. The following day, a 3.2 earthquake shook Tiberius on the Sea of Galillee and Tzphat in the hills just to the northwest. All of these are considered minor, or course. But scientists are concerned that a much larger one may be on the way.
There have been catastrophic ones in the past in Israel; a 6.5 quake hit the Galilee in 1837, killing over 6,000 people. In 1927, a 6.2,extending from Jericho to Jerusalem to Nablus and Tiberius, killed over 500 people and damaged the Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Today there is a growing conviction in Israel that another large one may be on the horizon. A 2016 report by an Israeli home-front readiness committee estimated that were Israel to be stricken by a 7.5 earthquake, 7,000 would likely be killed, 8,600 injured and 377,000 left homeless. 1) Yesterday’s HaAretz published an article entitled, “Israeli Defense Ministry Readies for Major Earthquake,” with a subtitle which read, “One option the ministry is exploring is building of a number of residential compounds that could hold more than a million evacuated residents for up to three years.” And not only in the government is there a growing uneasiness. We know of situations in Jerusalem where landlords have begun requiring their tenants to purchase “fire and earthquake insurance” policies for their apartments.
In Matthew 4:7-8, Yeshua spoke of a future time when warfare would increase between nations and kingdoms, when in various places there would be famines and earthquakes. And these would be merely the beginning of birth pangs before His return. Is this “increase” coming soon in Israel? We don’t know; but since their frequency seems to be on the increase, we want to know and understand what the Spirit is saying to the Congregations.
* That God would sharpen the discernment of His Body in Israel…that we may have understanding and insight into what He is saying as the shakings increase.
* For grace to endure whatever shakings may be necessary to turn some men and women’s hearts to the Lord Almighty. That in mercy, Israel would be spared a devastating earthquake which would result in huge loss of life.
* That believing Jews and Arabs in Israel will be nourished in their relationship with God and knowledge of His word—that when these things begin to occur, they will be prepared to not be shaken, but to be a light and source of life to those who are.
“I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; indeed, my mind instructs me in the night. I have set the LORD continually before me: Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:7-8)
“For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the lovingkindness of the Most High he will not be shaken.” (Psalm 21:7) We pray for a Prime Minister and other leaders who will trust in the LORD in this way!
“You have made the land quake, You have split it open; Heal its breaches, for it totters…You have given a banner to those who fear You that it may be displayed because of the truth.” (Psalm 60:2-5).
“My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is our refuge!” (Psalm 62:5-8)
* Pray the song by Nigel Lidiard printed above…that those things which lie within the path of Messiah’s return would be shaken and removed!
1) “Three minor earthquakes hit Israel, serious one only a matter of time”: The Jerusalem Post, 6 July 2018, 8:11 IST.