Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath to do what they had promised. I also shook out the folds of my robe and said, “In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!”

Nehemiah 5:12-13

Nehemiah not only returned to Jerusalem and orchestrated the rebuilding of the walls, but he also protected the people–both physically and financially–in the midst of their work. The workers were afraid that their enemies would attack while they worked so Nehemiah organized a system whereby they would be physically guarded and protected. The workers were also financially burdened because of the taxes and interest that previous leaders had exacted from them. So, Nehemiah made the nobles of the region promise to stop collecting interest on their loans during this season of rebuilding.

After the nobles and priests made their promise, Nehemiah did a prophetic act signifying judgment against them if they didn’t stick to their promise. He shook out the folds of his robe and pronounced a shaking on anyone not keeping their word. Jesus’s disciples did a similar prophetic act of shaking when they left a town that rejected them and the message of the Kingdom.

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 

But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. 

Matthew 10:14 & Acts 13:50-51

Throughout the Bible, this idea of shaking was used as both judgment and refining. The idea is that God would allow a metaphorical earthquake to impact a person or the whole people of God. Things were shaken. Yet, those things with firm foundations were left standing, and things that were sinful or selfish fell to the ground.

This is why over and over again in the Psalms we read things like, “Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken“(Psalm 62:2). This is why Jesus told the parable of the person who build their house on the rock instead of the sand. When the storms came, only one was left standing (Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:46-49).

Shaking is also something the Lord uses to sift a person’s life.

“For I will give the command,
    and I will shake the people of Israel
    among all the nations
as grain is shaken in a sieve,
    and not a pebble will reach the ground.

Amos 9:9

The prophet Amos was prophesying of a time the Lord would shake the people of Israel so that the dead things would fall away and only the healthy things would remain. Jesus told Peter this same thing would happen to Peter and the disciples.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Luke 22:31-32

For those who have put their trust in the Lord, a season of shaking becomes a time of refinement. For those who have put their trust in other things, a season of shaking becomes a time that reveals the emptiness and powerlessness of the things they’ve put their trust in. It becomes a both a time of judgment against false gods and an invitation to repentance.

If you haven’t noticed, there is a shaking happening right now, both in society and in the church. As a society we are being sifted. As a church we are being refined. Our false gods are being exposed and judged for the empty and powerless things that they are. May we build our life on the rock and on nothing else. And may everything else fall to the ground.

Hand Spun Shakes

Cam and I got back from the hot dog place where we had eaten lunch, and our afternoon was spent receiving prophetic ministry from the prophetic teams at Bethel Church. Then we decided to attend their Sunday evening service. We experienced a powerful time of worship, but nothing could have prepared us for what came next. 

Cam sat at the end of the row, all the way to the right, and I sat in the seat to his left. There was an empty seat to my immediate left and a group of people sitting together filling out the rest of the row. When we sat down after singing, an Asian lady asked if she could sit in the empty seat next to me. I welcomed her, and we began to prepare to hear the sermon. 

Then, seemly unprovoked and unannounced, I began to shake. This sometimes happens to me in the Presence of God. My midsection will shimmy quickly side-to-side as the Holy Spirit’s Presence is felt in increasing measure. It sort of looks like some hybrid between a mild seizure and The Shimmy dance performed by Flappers in the Roaring Twenties. In my quiet times with the Lord, this usually happens anywhere from one to ten minutes. It just depends on what God’s Presence does. But I’ve never experienced anything like what was about to happen. 

I began to shake/shimmy in my seat as Bill Johnson began to preach. Seconds later, Cam started doing the same thing. Seconds after that, the sweet Asian lady started doing something similar. Then she started laughing because of the joy of the Holy Spirit that was being poured out on her. And I started laughing. And Cam started laughing. 

I assumed we were experiencing a surge of the Presence of God and that it would soon subside. It didn’t. It increased. It came in waves. Through the entire sermon. For an hour.

I looked around to see if this was happening to anyone else in the room. It wasn’t. The group to the left of the Asian lady left soon after worship. I’m not sure where they went. But sitting in the row was just us three. And out of an entire sanctuary full of people, we were the only ones shaking uncontrollably under the power of God. Just us three. For an hour. 

Midway through the sermon I asked the Asian lady her name and if I she needed prayer for healing. If God was moving, I wanted to take advantage of it. She said she didn’t need physical healing but that she felt a heaviness that was on her that wouldn’t leave. I told her I would pray for her at the end of the service.

About 10 minutes later the thought popped in my head, “Why wait?” So, I placed my hand on her back and commanded a spirit of heaviness to leave in Jesus’s name. At the time she was bent over in her seat, head close to her knees, shaking under the power of God. I was shaking too. When I commanded that spirit of heaviness to leave she shot back in her chair and sat straight up. I assumed something just happened, I just didn’t know what.

So there the three of us were, shaking, shimmying, random fits of laughing; at times the Asian lady slumped over; at times Cam slid off of his chair; there were momentary surges where all of us would shake violently and the Asian woman’s hands would flail in the air, all while we’re attempting to keep some semblance of composure as Bill Johnson preached on. I have been in worship services where the Spirit was moving in a physical way on most of the people in the room. I’ve never been in a service where the Spirit was rocking three people in the same row while the rest of the room was composed, silently listening to the sermon. It was wild!

The shaking eventually subsided as the service transitioned from the sermon to corporate words of knowledge and prayers for healing.

After the service was over, I officially introduced myself to the Asian lady. I asked her about the heaviness and she confirmed that it was gone. I found out that she was originally from Taiwan and now lived close by. She asked for more prayer, and so I prayed for her, her son, and her son’s friend who was there with her. She also recognized that we (she, Cam and I) were the only three in the whole place who were getting rocked by the Presence of God. I commented that I wasn’t sure what it all meant. She suggested that we were each getting marked, we just didn’t yet know for what. 

God was definitely doing something unusual. We’ll have to wait to discover what it was.