Shaken Off

He shakes us forward and shakes us free.

For I am poor (depressed, in mind or circumstances, wretched, afflicted, 
humble, lowly, needy, poor)

and needy (in want, a beggar, needy, poor),

and my heart (inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding, seat of courage)

is wounded (profaned, defiled, polluted, desecrated, violated, wounded, pierced)

within me (my inward part, seat of thought and emotion, my center).

I fade away like an evening shadow; I am shaken off like a locust. Psalm 109:22-23 

I can identify with all of this Psalm – the depression, the woundedness, the feeling like I am in darkness. But I can especially relate to that last line: “I fade away like an evening shadow; I am shaken off like a locust.”  

I can understand shaking off a locust or grasshopper in creepy disgust. The feel of their sticky little feet and they are ugly and they spit that brown goo. They are associated with curse and plague, eating everything in their path, destroying the green life. To me, this is like rejection, being viewed as creepy, disgusting, gross, and being shaken off. I feel like the real me was shaken off in my childhood, and I have been shaking myself off in self-hatred ever since. So, this is something that God is showing me that I have to work on for sure.  

On the other hand, locusts were considered a clean animal that you could eat, that could bring nourishment. According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, peoples in the Middle East were “accustomed to feed upon locusts, either raw or roasted and seasoned with salt (or prepared in other ways), and the Israelites also (according to Leviticus 11:22) were permitted to eat them.” John the Baptist ate them in the wilderness. 

John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. Matthew 3:4 

John’s food was locusts AND honey. And in that verse is an amazing hidden treasure. There was another time that God fed his people in the desert with honey – honey from the rock. Moses identified the Rock as the Lord God. 

He [the Lord] is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just … He nourished him [Israel] with honey from the rock … Deuteronomy 32:4, 13 

… with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” Psalm 81:16 

John was fed in the desert place with these creepy, disgusting insects AND the honey from the Rock. Isn’t that what God does? He makes us, creepy as we are, nourishment, food for a hungry world with Christ, as we abide in Christ? 

I have felt shaken off in disgust. Yet, as I looked at the meaning of the word translated “shaken” in Psalm 109, I found treasure there too. Cool thing about this word is that it is “a primitive root, probably identical with 05286 (means growl), through the idea of the rustling of mane, which usually accompanies the lion’s roar.”1 The Lion of Judah roars and I am shaken like a locust. 

But I don’t think He is roaring in disgust or rejection. He is roaring in anger at my sin and what the sins of others have done to me. He is roaring with the pain and groaning of a broken world. And like a lion shaking its mane, he will shake these things off and set me free. He will bring new life, resurrection. He will transform me by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2). 

Because, though I fade away like an evening shadow, or I am “like a late afternoon shadow made by the descending sun that will soon be swallowed up by complete darkness,”2 the Lord will bring me light.  

The word translated “shaken” in the Psalm, is the same word as used in Job 38:13 Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?” 

I love that verse, and I have blogged about it before, but now I see something else. Do you see it? The dawn arrives, the Light of the world comes and dispels the deepening darkness, and the earth is shaken, I am shaken. 

The Lion shakes his mane and roars. I am shaken off like a locust into a new day. Yet, not in disgust and rejection, but rather to “shake me forward and shake me free” as in the Rich Mullins song, Calling Out Your Name. 

From the place where morning gathers  
You can look sometimes forever ’til you see  
What time may never know  
What time may never know  
How the Lord takes by its corners this old world  
And shakes us forward and shakes us free  
To run wild with the hope  
To run wild with the hope   

Lion of Judah roar! I am depressed and wretched in my mind; my heart is wounded, pierced and violated. I have been shaken off and rejected as disappointing and disgusting. I am about to be swallowed up in the darkness. Bring your Light as the dawn and shake off my sticky little feet from clinging to this world, from wrong thinking and lies, from idolatries, from fear and doubt and despair. Sweep me up to run wild with you, wild with hope. 

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. Isaiah 40:22 

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe … Hebrews 12:28 

1Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance 

2NET Bible notes. 

Image by Michael https://flic.kr/p/8cP1vw  

This Long Dark Night

We must keep the light burning.

Command the Israelites to bring you clear (pure, clean, righteous) oil of pressed (beaten, pounded) olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. In the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain that is in front of the Testimony, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the LORD from evening till morning. Exodus 27:20-21 

These verses always strike me. The lamps were to be kept burning all night long. There should always be a light in the Temple of God. And we now know that we are that Temple.  

There were, actually, three things that were to be kept burning: 1.) the lamps (here and also Lev. 24:2), 2.) the incense, which was to be kept burning perpetually or continually (Exodus 30:8), and 3.) the fire on the altar (Leviticus 6:12).   

The importance of keeping our lamps burning is exemplified in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins: 

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming … Matthew 25:1-5 

What is the oil for our lamps that we must keep with us at all times? I believe it is the Holy Spirit in us. It is staying in the Presence, listening for his voice, always poised to obey.  

“The light in the sanctuary was to burn continually before the Lord, in the Holy Place, [Leviticus 24] verses 1-4. The “pure oil olive beaten” is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of grace.” The candlestick of “pure beaten gold” is the symbol of Christ “bruised” as an offering for sin, Isa. 53:10. The Spirit was given by reason of His being bruised. Cf. John 14:16-18, 16:7, 7:39. The lamps burned “from the evening till the morning,” perpetually before the Lord. Grace and truth are given unto us and kept by the priesthood of Christ. John 1:17.” — R. Nelson Colyar, Leviticus, The Book of Holiness, p. 47. 

So, the burning lamps symbolize the Light of Christ, the glory of God shining out from our lives.  

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 

The continually burning incense symbolizes the prayers of the saints according to Revelation 8:4. We are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17, Eph. 6:18).  

The continual fire on the altar was the burnt offering that was entirely consumed symbolizing the complete and perfect sacrifice of Christ on the cross. We are also to “offer [our] bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is [our] spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1).   

The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out. Lev. 6:12-13 

The fat symbolizes God’s portion, the best part, the “cream of the crop.” “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). That best love, that first love, must be kept burning. It all goes together this continual praying, self-sacrifice, and light.  

The passion of self-sacrifice – offering ourselves on the altar, daily taking up our cross for love of the One who took up the cross for us, the light of God’s Spirit shining out – because if He is in us and we are surrendering to crucifixion of self, the light can’t help but shine, and the incense of unceasing prayer – a continual looking up, offering thanks and praise, the worship of hope and faith and expectation of His goodness, but also just that “naked intent toward God,” the “practice of the presence of God.” 

We who are the Temple must keep the light burning through this long dark night. 

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14 

When night settles down on a church the Lord has his watchers and holy ones still guarding his truth, and these must not be discouraged, but must bless the Lord even when the darkest hours draw on. — Charles Spurgeon, Treasury of David 

The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:8 (NASB) 

The bridegroom was a long time in coming …  

Photo, detail of free download from Pixabay 

Light Has Dawned

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2 (NIV)

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” John 8:12 (NASB)

“My eyes are feeble, and the windows are not clean, but I will wait on the Lord. The light does shine, the light will shine in me, and make me full of light. And I shall learn to walk all day in the light and joy of God.” –Andrew Murray[i]

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. Proverbs 4:18 (NASB)

Jesus, Light of the world, be born in me again this Christmas time. I know my windows are not yet clean. I know I still walk in darkness, in the shadow. I know I am not fully in the light you have for me. I say again, Yes, Lord! Lead me on your Way. Brighter and brighter. Let your Light fully dawn on me!

 

Photo by Derek Bair, copyright 2019, all rights reserved

[i] Waiting on God, by Andrew Murray (emphasis mine)

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