During some storms there is a period of unusual tranquility that seems likely to presage difficult times. Sometimes God can be felt being quiet when we are most vulnerable or when we need Him the most. Jesus was no different while He was on the earth. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus had a great emotional battle. It was awful for Him to know the kind of death He had to face. His heart was overwhelmed with anguish and crushed with grief. An intense feeling of great horror plunged His soul into deep sorrow and agony. His own Father seemed unusually quiet when Jesus needed Him the most. He had none who would keep watch with Him in the garden, even His closest disciples during His lowest times. He repeatedly went back to see if His disciples could watch with Him in prayer. Mat 26:38.
All of us face different types of storm in our day to day lives. Don’t expect many, even your closest ones to join hands with you to watch and pray before the storm. Even worse, some discourage and even dissent.
Jesus was in agony. In His agony Jesus sweat blood. The Greek word agōnia, means to struggle for victory or to be precise it is the exercise that a person does in preparation before a contest. A contest or an exam is something all humans have to face one time or the other. It is time when our faith is put to proof. For kids it could be the finals, for a sports person it is a league game or a college championship. For a soldier there comes a moment when put to active duty or deployed in a warzone. Contest is not a choice. It is just a matter of time when it befalls us. It is part of our life on earth. It is not the most likable scenario. Contest or test is not optional.
The purpose of agōnia is to lead or take mastery before the actual contest itself. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus instructed His disciples to watch and pray to be prepared for the test ahead. Some watch carefully but skip prayer. Others pray but skip being vigilant. Both are needed in this exercise. It is not the amount of prayer. Jesus hoped his closest three would heed His call to watch and pray. They failed to pray and to watch. Instead, they slept. Jesus knew the storm that they were about to face. Jesus watched and prayed before the storm.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation… (Matt 26:41). The temptation comes before the actual contest. The temptation is about curbing our flesh or taking mastery in the Spirit Man. Jesus gave us a peek into the process when being tempted. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. Mark 14:38. The Spirit is ready means it’s assertively predisposed. On the contrary, human nature is strengthless. Here lies the exposure of victory or failure. Your Spirit Man alone is predisposed to the victory in your storm. It is beyond your flesh, will, mind and even emotions. There is a latency in humans when it comes to handling things of the Spirit Man. We are not just composed of the Spirit. We have a body and soul that needs to be dealt with on earth even as regenerate or born-again believers. The Greek for Spirit is ready is prothumos. It means Spirit is already set to produce fruit. When faced with a test or contest, our body and soul realm need to yield to the spirit realm to produce fruit.
Prayer is not a mere mental exercise
Prayer is an activity that is led by the spirit realm that our mental and bodily realm need to concede to. Just like an athlete has to curb his body and mental framework before a game, prayer can be agonizing when our body and soul fights the spirit realm. Agony is not a desirable place for our soul or body to be in. The desire of the spirit can be agonizing and a torture for the body, mind and emotional being. Prayer is a spiritual activity.
The Spirit is willing
The Spirit Man within is always ready, willing and available to face any situation because there is no situation too big or small for Him. “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Matt 19:26. The spirit realm has no restrictions. However, our body and soul has desires and expectancies as well which can be contrary to the Spirit Man that needs to be overcome. It is the watching and praying that enables us to yield to the Spirit Man which our flesh, will and emotions is impotent and strengthless to handle. Jesus knew it very well in His case. He handled the greatest storm or contest of His life by taking His own advice. His closest disciples chose to sleep away during heaviness, sorrow and grief (Luke 22:45) and therefore fled from Him later.
In another instance Jesus slept during a storm. He was in a boat with the disciples going to the other side. He was certain that they were going to the other side of the lake. Jesus did not struggle before or during the storm because He already knew the outcome as He yielded to the Spirit. But in the Garden of Gethsemane He had something unsettled. He was praying, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me…Luke 22:42. He knew the Father’s intent but His soul desired a different one. It takes time and effort to deal with our flesh and soul. The Spirit Man in a born-again person is always in harmony with the Spirit of God. Victory is inevitable for the Spirit. Just like Jesus, apostle Paul had to face a storm towards the end of his life as recorded in Acts 27. He received the word in the middle of the storm. The word was that none of the lives will be lost although the ship will be totaled (Acts 27:22-25). All he did was to yield to the word. Thus, the first thing in prayer is to discern the desire of the Spirit Man. Let us press in to hear clearly His intent and yield to the Spirit daily.
Is God really silent?
The Lord is never silent. God shall come manifestly: our God shall come, and shall not keep silence (Ps 50:3). Silence is something we encounter in our journey with Him. He has finished all His work since the foundation of the world (Heb 4:3). Moreover, He paid off all the debt in full that we owed on the cross. He cried, Testelestai which means “it is finished”. On our end, silence is felt when there is a delay in what we expect Him to do in our lives. Silence is felt on our part when we see God work differently from one season to another in our lives. When there is stillness in our lives we feel abandoned or rejected by God. Feelings come and go. Our activity bar can go up or down. None changes God or His ways. He is sovereign over every situation and Lord of all. Jesus did not consider the request of Martha and Mary in a timely manner when Lazarus became sick. God did not show up as Elijah expected when he was afraid for his life and was hiding in the cave. God showed up through a still small voice to Elijah.
Wait in Jerusalem
Jesus was not comfortable entering Jerusalem. He loved Jerusalem. But He was heart-broken foreseeing its imminent destruction. He mourned for Jerusalem when He entered on a donkey. Jerusalem also was the place where He was about to become the sacrifice for the sins of the whole humankind. Nevertheless, despite the imprisonment and suffering awaiting there, as the Spirit compelled apostle Paul he chose to go to Jerusalem Acts 20:22-23. We may not fully know what will happen to us and how things will pan out. We learn to wait in our uncomfortable place until the Lord works things out in our lives.
Remain silent as He is about to act
Silence can also mean calmness before the storm. Calmness before a storm seems mysterious. When the air seems still and calm before the storm, nature knows how to react. The birds stop singing and quickly return to their nests. During the calm before the storm, remember that the blessing is in being in the nest. It is time to get in our caves and wait on the Lord. It is a time to reconvene and press harder with the Lord. Jesus did exactly that in the Garden of Gethsemane. But His disciples did not. Jesus gave a subliminal message to that effect when He asked the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received power from on high. Jerusalem was not a comfortable place for most of Jesus’s disciples. They were Galileans and outcasts. Jerusalem was a place visited during high holy days by the Jews at that time.
Jerusalem is a position and state of mind when we are in awe of Him as it is the place of His holy temple. It is a place where we keep silence before Him and in double peace at the same time. Zec 2:13 “Be silent, every living thing, in the presence of the LORD, because he is emerging from his Holy Place.” When we remain in peace and rest in our Jerusalem is when we see Him rise from His place of abode which is Jerusalem. “The LORD is in his holy Temple. All the earth—be quiet in his presence.” Hab 2:20. His throne is established in Zion and Jerusalem. He has not chosen another abode until New Jerusalem comes down in Revelation. It is not so much about the geography because Jesus said it is not in this mountain or nor in Jerusalem people will worship the Father.
In the New Testament we are the living temples of God and they who worship Him worship Him in truth and Spirit. This condition of surrender and faith is our Jerusalem today. That is the place from which the Lord shows up from. There is only one place of rest and sabbath for believers in Messiah. We need to quickly convene to that place of fellowship with Him in the Spirit.
The First Response of Ekklessia
People of God expect the Lord to work on their behalf Everything the Lord does on earth He does on behalf of His Ekklesia. When the Lord is in His Holy Temple and is about to manifest, He expects a certain response from His people. . The Lord bids us to return to Him first. The remnant church needs to settle the account with the Lord. The Lord needs us to be the first responders. “If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways…” is the covenant He made with His people. We respond to Him first in repentance. “Thus says YHWH of Hosts: “Return to Me, A declaration of YHWH of Hosts, And I return to you, said YHWH of Hosts”” (Zec 1:3). “Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD.”(Zec 1:4). How do we do that? Repentance has three steps in this verse. 1)Repentance is doing a 180 degree return from our evil actions and our ways. Sometimes we repent just of our actions and still continue in our own ways. Ways are derek in Hebrew which are the means and purpose by which we undertake our actions. Sometimes it is just not easy to overcome our actions if we don’t repent of our ways. We choose to turn from our actions and ways. 2)Shama:-Shama in Hebrew means to listen with the intent to obey. To shama is the next step to repentance. To shama His pleasing will is better than sacrifice to the Lord. A keen heart to listen to comply and obey the Lord is a condition as we grow into in our walk with the Lord. 3) Thirdly Qashab-Qashab in Hebrew means pricking our heart condition. Qashab that is a work of the Holy Spirit in us. This is the process that brought the three thousand to respond to the first Pentecost sermon in Act 2:37. “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Qashab brings conviction in our heart by the Holy Spirit which leads to repentance. To shama and qashab is better than the fat of rams according to 1 Sam 15:22. Samuel said, “Does the LORD delight as much in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the LORD? Surely, to obey(shama) is better than sacrifice, to pay attention(qashab) is better than the fat of rams.
Thankfully, the Lord’s first response to our sins is not punishment. His hope is that we turn to Him in repentance. This is a privilege only available to humans. If we still chose not to follow the repentance route then the only option left is to bear the consequences of our sins. It is scary! But at this point His hands are tied.
The vision of red horseman is near
“I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the shade; and behind him were therered, speckled, and white horses” Zec 1:8. Prophet Zechariah sees this vision in the night. It represents a time of adversity, crisis and captivity. He sees the horseman among the myrtle trees. The myrtle tree represents the remnant church that has repented and is ready for God to move on their behalf. God does not do things in this world just because he created it. He chose to do things on earth in response to the remnant church. The three horses in the vision represent three roles of the Holy Spirit in this season. The red horse represents judgment. The red horse is also mentioned in Rev 6:4. The fiery red horse and its rider was given permission to take peace away from the earth and to make people slaughter one another. Red horse is a sign of judgement that is about to be unleashed upon the ungodly church and ungodly administrations on earth. It follows a period of shaking of the system of the world. Jesus gave us a clue in Joh 16:8 the three roles of the Holy Spirit. “When the Holy Spirit comes, he will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.” The red horse represents judgement that the Lord Himself will initiate by His Spirit.
White horse Zechariah saw is referred in Rev 19:11. “Then I saw heaven opened, and suddenly a white horse appeared. The name of the one riding it was Faithful and True, and with pure righteousness.” White horse reminds that all the acts of God are true and faithful. He is clothed in pure righteousness. His actions are always righteous irrespective of our feelings of fairness. He does all things well. The white horse is the aspect of the Holy Spirit that convicts the world of His righteousness. He is righteous and just in all His ways.
The third horse is a reddish-brown horse. The Hebrew word of reddish-brown comes from the root word that means “hissing” or “to whistle.” In Zec 10:8, the Lord says, “He will whistle for the remnant, gathering them together, because I have redeemed them, and they will multiply as they were before.” This represents the Lord gathering His remnant church as they repent in this season. They are coming out of all nations. The third role of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of sin in Jn 16:8. As we shama and qashab, He gathers us back from captivity. This threefold work of the Holy Spirit happens all throughout the earth. To natural eyes it looks like all the land is sitting still, and is quiet without much activity of the Spirit (Zec 1:10-11). But only the Lord can bring shaking , sifting and shifting all at the same time in this season.
The cry of the remnant
There is a cry from the remnant on the earth. Zechariah 1 and 2 provide us some answers. “LORD of the Heavenly Armies, how long will it be until you show mercy to Jerusalem and to the cities of Judah” Zec 1:12. It was hard to comprehend to some why the Lord is not dealing with the injustice on earth and yet the Lord seems to be silent. The remnant cannot understand why God is not showing mercy to His people and allowing the captivity to continue all these years. Despite what we feel, the Lord has good news for you. The Lord has words of tobe. Tobe in Hebrew means good pleasure and favor. Do not be frustrated or in panic mode as the Lord is about to roar. “And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words. So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. And I am very sore displeased with the heathen (ungodly nations) that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction” (Zec 1:13-15). Know that the Lord has not forgotten. He is always zealous for His remnant church even when we don’t always feel that way. We feel abandoned and that God does not care enough at times. He is great in anger with the wealthy nations because they helped forward evil. God is speaking and it is not what you thought it is. Remember when He is silent that He is frustrated just like the remnant that is crying out for favor and justice. He shares our pain and as intercessors we also share His pain in our hearts. That is part of what went through in the Garden of Gethsemane as well.
The plumbline is dropped
A plumbline is a measuring line. It is a cord weighted with lead that is used in building to check that vertical structures are true. It is used symbolically to refer to the divine standard against which God holds His people to. When the plumbline is dropped it is a season of rebuilding His temple. “Therefore, thus saith the LORD: I return to Jerusalem with compassions: My house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth over Jerusalem. Again, proclaim, saying: Thus saith the LORD of hosts, My cities shall again overflow with prosperity; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.” Zec 1:16-17.
Yhwh will return you to Jerusalem (place of double peace) with his compassion. The word racham used in Hebrew for compassion portrays the most delicate care like cherishing a fetus. “He will revive His work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years He will make it known; in wrath remember compassion(racham). Hab 3:2. He promises to remember us in compassion when we are in a state of restlessness and when there is commotion all around. Don’t assume God is done prospering the remnant. It has only begun. He says that the encampments shall repeatedly be spread abroad because of His favor. Yhwh shall repeatedly comfort Zion and repeatedly choose Jerusalem v.17.
The four horns that scatters
And he said unto me: ‘These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.’ Zec 1:19. The four horns here are the false horns and the forces of the world that have led the church into captivity. The one who scatters is Satan. Of course, he can only scatter with God’s permission. When a nation drifts away from the Lord the vessels of judgement infiltrate to scatter the church. The four horns first mentioned in the Bible are the four horns in the four corners of the altar in the tabernacle. While the horns of the altar is a place of refuge and salvation for His people the stubborn church neglects to take refuge in the God of salvation. As a result the horns of judgment are sent to scatter.
The new breed of builders rising
God always provides a counteracting force to overcome His enemy in every generation. Zec 1:20-21 refers to a set of craftsmen or artisans. Some versions use carpenters. They are the skillful workers that the Lord will raise. They are the builders that build the kingdom way in all sectors of society. They are the Bezalels and Oholiabs the Lord gave Moses to help with the building of the tabernacle. They were anointed with the wisdom from God and technical knowledge (Ex 31:3). They are the ones who build bridges between the nations and kingdom of God. They are the kingdom builders raised in the marketplace, educators, government sector and so on. It is an army of remnant builders. The artisans that stand against the powers of the four horns in this age are the builders of the house of the Lord in this season(2Ki 12:11). These builders are coming out of captivity of humanism ruling nations today just like the artisans mentioned that came out of the seventy-year captivity of Israel those days.
Today we are in a precipice of a crumbling economy worldwide that was rebuilt since the second world war. Many nations including the United Nations have passed the seventy-year anniversaries in the past couple of years. The recent one being China that just had its seventy-year anniversary since the communist takeover in 1949. But today we have a world economy left in greater debt and abuse than ever. Just in the past two decades the National Debt of America has grown over five times to 28 trillion from 5.6 trillion in 2000. Note that in 226 years since the founding of America the outstanding debt was only over 5 trillion and in the past 20 years it grew to 28 trillion? It is a sign of a failing system. The central banks and monetary funds have tried the same policies of debt and slavery again and again at the expense of crashing the economies and currencies of nations. And this is where we are today.
The current systems have disrupted the power of nations. It has torn nations and also scattered the church from their possessions. These craftsmen are the army of the Lion of Judah that will arise against the false structures and rebuild according to the kingdom plan in this season. The Enemy works through the horns of captive power structures that like to keep people in bondage like the Egyptians. But these builders and craftsmen will challenge the world systems and set many captives free by the Spirit of God and understanding from above. The captive powers thought no one would lift up their heads out of their captivity with which they enslaved the church and rest of the world. Then I asked, “What have they come to do?” He answered, “Those horns that dispersed Judah—so that no one could lift up his head—those artisans are coming to disrupt the power of nations, tearing them down now that they’ve come to power and dispersed the land of Judah Zec 1:21.
Building with angelic help
The whole chapter of Zechariah chapter 2 is about the kingdom work of rebuilding. It has to be done precisely according to God’s measurement referring to the plumbline in Zec 2:1. The work of God and the church is also the business of His angels. This season of rebuilding in Zec 2 is a season of angelic encounters, signs and miracles, and divine encounters. Though the kingdom army is small in number they are backed by the Spirit of God and heavenly hosts. The Lord will renew our strength to run like youth again. That other angel told him, “Run and tell that young man: ‘Jerusalem will be an inhabited city without walls due to the number of people and livestock within it ( Zec 2:4). Yhwh himself will be the wall of fire for protection for her and will be her supply of glory. The Spirit of God has no bounds the Ekklesia will be a building without walls and with walls of fire all around with the glory of God. This is the kingdom movement that is coming.
“Ho, Zion, escape, thou that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon”- Zec 2:7
Therefore, the Lord is urging us to come out of any limiting structures whether they are traditions of men or corporate structures. It is time for the Eklessia to separate themselves out of the captive structures of the land of the north (commercial structures) and from Babylon (world structures that are rooted in walking in confusion). The root meaning of Babylon is chaos or confusion). It is time for Zion, the remnant church to be consecrated and come out of Babylon structures Zec 2:6-7. The remnant church cannot be in the midst of the daughter of Babylon anymore. Zion and Babylon do not go together. Jesus made it clear that we cannot serve God and Mammon at the same time. No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and like the other; or he will honor one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (wealth). Mat 6:24. The remnant church is the apple of His eyes. “Surely, he that touches you touches the apple of his eye.” (Zec 2:8). After God gloriously delivers his remnant from the nations, He will then punish them for grievous calamities. The glory of God going before you will go into all nations- spread through you to all sectors and nations. The Lord will be zealous for His remnant church that is coming out of Babylon and unto Zion. The ones that are persecuted will serve the house of the Lord. All the haughty nations will come to your feet as you rise up as the remnant church. As the Lord brings shaking of Babylon structures, they will bring spoil to the remnant church or people of Zion.
The picture of the coming revival
“For, behold, I will shake My hand over them, and they shall be a spoil to those that served them’; and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me. ‘Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion; for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD. And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD in that day, and shall be My people, and I will dwell in the midst of thee’; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee. And the LORD shall inherit Judah as His portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again”. (Zec 2:9-12) We may not understand the full picture of God’s revival plan now but will see it then. This prophecy is also tied into Isa 2:2-3. “And it shall come to pass in the end of days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established as the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples shall go and say: ‘Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”
Valley of Jehoshaphat (Yah judges)
For the nations who chose not to partake in the coming revival the consequence is straightforward. According to Joel 3:12-14, either you come and repent before the Holy Spirit or be judged by the God of justice. “Let the nations be awakened and come to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; because I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, because the harvest is ripe. Come and go down, because the winepress is full. The wine vats are overflowing, because their evil is great! Multitudes, multitudes in the Valley of Judgment! For the Day of the LORD is near in the Valley of Judgment.”
In the time of the gathering the true harvest, the Lord also let the tares that He let grow for so long will also be gathered and separated. “He said, ‘No! If you pull out the tares, you might pull out the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the tares first and tie them in bundles for burning, but bring the wheat into my barn.”‘” (Mar 13:29-30). The harvest of the gospel of the kingdom is ripe. It is time for the remnant to engage in the coming revival and preach the gospel to bring in the harvest. When the remnant church engages in the work of the harvest the Lord will cause the tares also to be gathered to be burned. He did not let the tares to be pulled out before the harvest in the parable.
Post Passover judgment and breakthrough
“The LORD will roar from Zion, and shout from Jerusalem. The heavens and the earth will shake, but the LORD will be the refuge of his people, and the strength of the people of Israel.” Joe 3:16. When the shaking comes the only place of refuge will be in the place of Zion and Jerusalem which is represented the remnant church that has repented and is willing to serve the Lord wholeheartedly. Post Passover judgment is coming on ungodly administrations and ungodly churches. As the remnant church consecrates and passes over to a season of breakthrough in this Passover season, the rebellious ones also pass over to judgment.
Silence before the storm
Zechariah Chapter 2 concludes the picture of rebuilding, harvest and judgment with a silence before the Lord. It is the calmness that we present in our souls. “Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD; for He is aroused out of His holy habitation”. Zec 2:13 He never sleeps or slumbers. He is perfect in all His ways. It is we who need to be in silence and awe. When God does all this, the flesh and human nature in us need to remain in humility and awe before Him. The Lord is about to arise out of His holy abode-the Zion.
In the chaotic times we are in and when God seems to remain silent, it is time for us to be silent in humility and awe of His ways and His marvelous works. He is capable of and is willing to do. He has never changed His mind since Jesus cried, “it is finished” on the cross. When we cannot see a plan, He has a plan. We learn to be in silence in the place of His holy abode. This is the offering of our bodies as living sacrifices everyday (Rom 12:1-2). It is ironic that the place Jesus and disciples suffered the most was in Jerusalem. We are urged to follow our Master to Jerusalem just like He suffered fully trusting in the plan of the Father. Jesus felt totally lost and abandoned. He cried out with a loud voice, “ My God, my God why have you abandoned me.” It was all worth it. Otherwise we wouldn’t be loving and serving Him today. Maranatha!