When we think of worship, Christians should realize our great need for biblical models in honoring God. This is why, whether or not we are physically able to kneel in the presence of God, our hearts ought always to be prostrate before him, especially in worship.
“Consider my affliction and deliver me,
For I do not forget Your law.
154 Plead my cause and redeem me;
Revive me according to Your Word.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked,
For they do not seek Your statutes.
156 Great are Your tender mercies, O Lord;
Revive me according to Your judgments.
157 Many are my persecutors and my enemies,
Yet I do not turn from Your testimonies.
158 I see the treacherous, and am disgusted,
Because they do not keep Your Word.
159 Consider how I love Your precepts;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness.
160 The entirety of Your Word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.” (Psalm 119:153-160)
God had already anointed David, the young shepherd boy now somewhat older, to be the next King of Israel after Saul. However, in spite of David’s successes and fame including and after Goliath, King Saul had become very jealous and paranoid concerning David. Saul wanted David dead, even to the point of pursuing David, causing him to find safety in caves.
1 Samuel 22 opens thusly, “David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam.” Biblical researchers judge David to have spent up to six months existing in the dark, mucky, loneliness of that cave.
For some, 2020 has felt as desperate as hiding in caves in these stretches of “stay at home” pandemic orders; alone, fearful, grief, cold dark difficult days in caves of our minds in familiar places! Many experience depression and anxiety nearly beyond the point of breaking; some are broken. We all know these feelings.
Huddled in the cave, David talks with the only true One Who understands and is trustworthy, God. David turns his thoughts from his problems and enemies to God.
David was not a stand-alone character in the Bible having these events of personal conflict. Circumstance and cause may be different in each, but similar in the cave of fear and loneliness.
Job had a “woe is me” cave experience. He was lonely in his sufferings in spite of being surrounded by friends and the “end-it-all” grieving, yet nagging wife.
Elijah was another man of great standing with God who went into hiding from an angry king; a few years later, he also ran into hiding from that king’s wife.
While I cannot list all in the Old Testament that would qualify for this discussion, I must add one whom I have learned much from in my nearly 40 years of ministry; Jonah. Jonah had multiple caves in a short span of time, and he was the cause of them all.
God gave the prophet Jonah orders to go to Nineveh to preach a coming judgment. His response was to run the other direction and hide in the cave of the bottom of a ship. His emotions were so out of control that he was willing to die by being tossed overboard to a potential cave called death. God would not allow him to die, so He prepared a special fish to swallow, hold, and preserve Jonah until he was desperate to talk with God.
In the New Testament, who could not bring Peter to mind? Apparently, Jesus freely gave Satan permission to “sift (Peter) as wheat” as a way of testing and challenging Peter’s commitment to the Master. Peter verbally bragged of his commitment, “I will die for You!” How many followers of Jesus think the same way before a testing comes? Three public denials of Jesus escorted Peter to the mouth of the cave of imprisonment; the crow of the rooster escorted him all the way in, but it was the knowing, yet compassionate, eyes of Jesus that caused Peter to close the door behind himself; Peter’s cave of shame and guilt.
What about Jesus? Was He not placed in a cave of His pre-choosing (tomb)? However, with great joy and appreciation I need to say, in reality, He placed Himself in His cave on purpose with purpose, and He also brought Himself out! Glory!!
After Jesus was resurrected, He appeared to His disciples and many more. As He ascended into heaven, He directed His disciples and other close followers, to place themselves within the cave of His choosing until the Gift brought them out.
David spoke to God came out of the cave to become a great warrior king, and in the linage of Jesus.
Job spoke to God and emerged from his cave of grief and suffering to receive more blessings than he had before.
Elijah spoke to God came from his cave of hiding to have pleased God so well that he was carried to heaven in a chariot of fire; never to see death.
Jonah spoke to God from within his cave which was swimming in the depths of the sea to fulfill God’s request, and in so doing Nineveh repented, was spared and revived for years.
Peter spoke to God as Jesus appeared to him alone in the resurrection, and he was forgiven and once again was included in the inner circle of Jesus’ close followers.
Those followers of Jesus who were self-sealed in the upper room cave, spoke to God for 10 days and the promised Holy Spirit came upon and within each one bringing them out of the cave in great power. God’s Church came out of the cave in great and eternal power! Each one began to speak what God’s Spirit was placing in their mouths to share with all that were in the streets. Every visitor of Jerusalem heard the Gospel spoken in their own dialects and languages by people who had never known or spoken these words before. Peter takes the stage at the moving of the Spirit to preach his first and most powerful sermon in all his life. Peter’s holy, Spirit-led, boldness has never been matched. The result was that thousands were added to the Church, both then, and daily.
Beloved, what is your cave made from? What does it look like to you? Did you cause your own cave to hold you as a prisoner? Someone else? Has God placed you in a sort of time out?
Whether it is made by financial, marriage, sickness, family, work, other relationships, or political sufferings, cry out to God. Speak to God. He is faithful. He is our great Provider and Healer. In a spirit of repentance, humility, and deep trust turn your eyes and heart to Him.
America is in a cave of judgment caused by rebellion. She needs to turn back to God in repentance for her many crimes against God’s Word and humanity. A revived and empowered Church needs to intercede for America, but she, the Church, is in a cave of correction for her disunity, in-fighting, lack of trust, and quiet demeanor in the face of the nation’s sinfulness. Basically, the Church today is hiding in the rubble and stockpile of literature and programs to better enhance the sleepy Church while she waits for the next potluck dinner or youth carwash, all the while the Church’s armor is locked away in the cave of the Church’s storage rooms filled with years of former glory.
The Church must come out of her self-made, comfortable cave of contentment in a sense of brokenness and repentance toward a holy God. The only way out of this cave is a resurrection. Only God can bring new life!
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Church, you are loved! Church, you are needed! Church, arise in fullness of Spirit! Pray On!