Sifting the Saints: Shaking Israel’s Olive Tree

by Batya Wootten

A lady named Angie recently wrote to me about the things she feels are now coming upon us. Among other things, she mentioned David Wilkerson’s “Sifted Saints” message – which is based on Luke 22:31-32.

In these verses Yeshua said, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (NASB). (Some translations say Satan wants to “sift all of you.”)

In these verses let us note that Satan did not ask for permission to sift sinners, but saints. Also notice that, Simon was a Believer and the Father allowed the evil one to sift him.

Some form of sifting has probably already happened, and will probably happen at least once again, to each one of us.

In this vein of all Believers being sifted, Wilkerson pointed out that once we truly dedicate ourselves to follow the LORD, we set off all the alarm bells in Hell and Satan comes after us. He then asks permission to “sift us,” to see if we will be faithful in our commitment to YHVH. (http://www.worldchallenge.org/node/10967).

The evil one is after us. When he is thrown down from Heaven, he comes down with a fury. At the same time, a flood of lying words come out of his mouth – which words are meant to delude the ones he is specifically coming after: Those who keep the commandments and hold to the testimony of Messiah Yeshua (Rev 12:12-17). This describes Messianics! Satan especially wants to sift us in this last hour. Think on it: He probably doesn’t hang out at brothels and bars but instead goes where the Believers go, because they are the ones he wants to discredit. We are his focus and not those who are already given in to him.

The same is true about the end times. Many put their all of their time and attention on what might happen to the disobedient, but it needs to be on those whom YHVH is allowing HaSatan to sift. Our Accuser will not be after those who are doomed but will hunt down those who might possibly “make it,” and by it, prove him to be a failure. Satan wants to trip us up so that the Almighty will instead look like a failure in His “project with mankind.”

Why does our Heavenly Father allow us to be sifted in this way?

First of all, Abba allows us to be sorely tested because He believes in us, and because He wants us to be transformed into the image of His beloved Son, Messiah Yeshua. He wants us to have our minds renewed by His Holy Spirit, and to go from glory to glory in that transformation. The end result being that He wants us to have the “mind of Messiah” (Rom 8:5; 12:2; 1 Cor 2:16; 2 Cor 3:18; Phil 2:5).

Bakers sift flour so as to refine it, to get the lumps out and make it more pure, so it will make a finer loaf. But, to be sifted, flour has to first be shaken until it passes through a very small screen.

My friend, Angie, also shared with me that she felt that “a great shaking is coming to Believers,” and, “when we get through it, we will be empowered to walk in a way that we have not yet walked.”

I have felt the same thing for years and absolutely agree with her premise. Our shaking has begun, and we will continue to be shaken until we are personally and collectively transformed. Abba will allow us to be shaken until we wake up, wise up, and learn to be directed by His Ruach. He has sworn that in the last days, His children will be led by His Holy Spirit: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says YHVH Elohim” (Zec 4:6).

Our shaking also makes me think of an olive tree: In order for its fruit to be harvested, an olive tree is shaken, then the ripe fruit falls to the ground and – it is then put into a stone grinder wherein the applied pressure produces the much sought after oil. So, not only will we be shaken, we will also be put under excruciating pressure.

Why so?

Oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit. The Father is going to allow us to be shaken and finely sifted, and put under extreme pressure until we begin to produce the fruits of His Spirit. The decreed destiny for those who want to hold fast to the Commandments and keep the testimony of Messiah is this: We will have to exhibit, walk in, and bless others with the life-changing gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:1-11). Anything less will only call for more sifting, and for more excruciating pressure. Abba will have His way: the Sons of Israel will be like, even walk like, the Messiah of Israel!

We need a paradigm shift in our thinking. It is not about the heathen, friends. It is instead about the traces of heathen ways that are left in us. Even so, many think “shaking” is for those who will not leave behind their “pagan ways” and walk in the same way that we do. But this too, can be a problem. If we are arrogant or self-righteous in our judgments of others, we are part of the Father’s problem. We become the ones He needs to sift. And the truth is that some of us are acting like Pharisees who focus on tithing the tiny seeds of mint, dill and cumin, while neglecting the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy and faithfulness. Our Messiah said that such people “should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former” (Mat 23:23).

To be candid, in all of my years as a Believer, I have never seen a more merciless arrogant, and rude people than some who call themselves “Messianic.” We need to repent of these things immediately. We need to collectively speak out against such behavior. The more merciless we are with others, the more likely it is that the Father will decide that, for our own good, we need to be seriously sifted. Know for certain, Abba will work to remove the “lumps” in us that keep us from being a pure representation of Him and His encouraging ways. And if we will not submit to His purging, we might find ourselves sharing a fate like that of the heathen that we so diligently studied.

Our Father is serious about our transformation, yet many think they have already arrived at that point. Again, the goal is to have us be transformed into the image of our Messiah, and He constantly healed the sick, set the captives free, and raised the dead.

Again, to be candid, we are a people who see unlimited signs and meaning in every letter of the Hebrew alphabet, but we do not see nor care for our neighbors who are dying of disease. We know and read our Torah Portions but we do not minister to family members that are being ripped apart by divorce, or financial ruin or both. We condescendingly argue about Greek versus Hebrew mindsets while ignoring our call to have the mind of Christ. We preach a Gospel that is laden with “dos and don’ts” but are blind to the truth of Yeshua’s Gospel of the Kingdom – which overflowed with signs, wonders, and miracles that set people free, and happily delivered them into His glorious Kingdom (Mat 4:23).

Another problem we have is our inordinate focus on personal preservation when we are called to be a people who love not our lives even unto death (Rev 12:11). Trying to find some place that is “off the grid” will not really help our situation – because we are the ones whom the Father wants to sift – and there is no place for us to hide (Jer 23:24). We are called to be the salt of the earth. Salt preserves and brings healing, but we want to run away from the world to some safe haven – and we want to take our salt and beans and guns with us!

How can the Father use us if we think like that!

Wake up! The Deceiver is deceiving us with his deceptive thought patterns! We instead want to preserve our lives so that we might live to be servants to our brethren and to our GOD!

We are foolish if we think the end times are about what YHVH is going to do with those who do not want to follow Him. He is concerned about helping those who do want to follow Him. He wants us to be empowered to do that! He wants to empower us in ways that we have never known! We are the object of His affection, and the reason for His last days correction. He wants us to repent of our stiff-necked ways and stop “resisting” His Holy Spirit so we can move on to much greater things (Acts 7:51).

We do not want to try to run away from, but toward Yah’s sifting. If we are going to play a role in ministering to our brothers in these last days, if we are going to be used to help reunite Israel’s Kingdom, we will have to be sifted, shaken, and pressed down. But then, we will come forth overflowing with a unending measure of His goodness!

Finally, we again look to Messiah Yeshua’s prayer that our “faith might not fail.” We need to pray in the same way for all of our brethren who are being ensnared with wrong attitudes at this time. Yeshua also prayed, “When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

To “turn back” is to “return.” And, many of the above described problems especially have to do with Ephraim’s call to “return.” For YHVH speaks of a day when “watchmen on the hills of Ephraim will call out, ‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God.'” At that time, we are to sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, to proclaim, give praise and say, “O LORD, save Your people, the remnant of Israel.”

YHVH says He will gather us from the remote parts of the earth and among us will be the blind and the lame. As a great company we will return, and this is to be our attitude: “With weeping they will come, and by supplication [prayer, and pleas for mercy] I will lead them.”

We must return with cries for mercy and not with boastful claims about our holy walk. “Grieving” Ephraim is told to set up roadmarks and guideposts, and to, “Return, O virgin of Israel” (Jer 31:6-21).

Our God is a God of Truth and Love. If we are going to be pure virgin, when we speak truth in His name, we must do so with love and caring for the one to whom we speak. We must not leave them by the roadside or not care about their well-being. We instead must seek to humbly minister to the halt and the lame, even as did our Messiah. He showed mercy to those who called out for mercy, but He spoke scathing words of judgement to all who were self-righteous.

We do not want to have to hear words like that from our Master, so let us close with the following prayer of commitment:

   “Father, we ask You to please give us ears to hear Your Holy Spirit and a heart that will willingly obey You in all of Your ways. Help us to submit to Your sifting. Shake us until we produce the healing oil of Your Holy Spirit that is so desperately needed by the whole House of Israel!

“We love You, Father. Please use us to help restore Israel’s Kingdom in love, truth and righteousness.”