Have you ever visited a cavern? We have. Years ago we went to Linville Caverns in the NC mountains; we have also toured Luray Caverns in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Some say that Luray is the 3rd largest cavern system in the US. It features an organ whose pipes are stalactites, and the tour includes a short musical concert.
Caves are important in Scripture. First mention occurs in Gen. 19:30 where Lot and his two daughters fled to a cave for refuge after Sodom was destroyed. When Abraham’s wife Sarah died (Gen. 23), he bought the cave of Machpelah near Hebron as her burial place. Later his sons Isaac and Ishmael would lay him beside her. Isaac and Rebekah and Jacob and Leah were also laid in the family plot. Centuries later, Jesus was buried in a cave—until His resurrection!
David, a national hero after he killed Goliath, had to flee when Saul’s deranged, jealous rage targeted him for destruction. He hid in the cave of Adullam just west of Jerusalem. (I Sam. 22:1-2)
His brothers joined him there, along with many “in distress…in debt…and discontented,” and David became captain over about 400 men whom he trained to become his “mighty men.”
Adullam answered a spiritual need. Saul had the office of king, a great following, and the machinery of government. God recognized Saul, but God was not with Saul. David, Spirit anointed, made a wilderness cave his headquarters; to it came those weary of the status quo, desperate because their need was met nowhere else.
At Adullam, David becomes a type of Christ in His present
rejection. Multitudes today crave the reality found where God’s spirit rules. “Cave living” may be a lonely, hard existence, but it is far better than the pointless pomp of Saul’s palace.
That nucleus that gathered to David at Adullam during his rejection became exceedingly precious to him when he finally was crowned king; and they were richly rewarded. So shall it also be with those who honor Christ in a world that ignores and despises Him. As an old gospel song puts it: “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus; Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ; One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase; So bravely run the race ‘til we see Christ.” Come, Lord Jesus!
Another cave comes to mind during these pandemic days. Again, flight to a cave followed a tremendous victory on Mt. Carmel; Elijah had challenged and defeated the 450 prophets of Baal. The pagans had begun calling on Baal in the morning and kept up their incantations until mid afternoon, even cutting themselves to prove their devotion. Nothing happened.
Then Elijah doused his altar with 12 pitchers of water (where did they get the water after 3 years of drought?) and prayed a 20 second prayer. Fire fell and consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the dust, and licked up the water in the trench around the altar. The crowd fell on their faces, crying, “The Lord, He is God!” Then the false prophets were slain.
When Jezebel heard about it, she sent Elijah word that she would kill him the next day. He ran for his life! That first night he prayed to die. Strengthened by rest and divinely provided food, he traveled 40 days to Mt. Horeb and entered a cave. (Could it have been the same “cleft in the rock” where God covered Moses when His glory passed by? Exo. 33:17-23?)
God asked His prophet, “What are you doing here?” (As if He didn’t know!) Elijah told God how obedient he had been, how disobedient the people had been, that he was the only one left, and that enemies were trying to kill him. God told him to exit the cave and stand on the mountain.
A hurricane force wind, an earthquake, and then fire ravaged the mountain; but God was not in the spectacular phenomena. Next Elijah heard a “still small voice” and wrapped his face in his mantle, just as the seraphim covered their faces in the presence of God (Isa. 6:2)
Fear always leads us away from God’s will. At Horeb (Sinai), centuries before, Israel ran away from His voice and presence. Faith chooses to approach God despite the awe He creates; it plants us firmly in divine destiny and bids us reach out to touch a needy world.
God recommissioned His prophet. What came out of the cave was far superior to what went into the cave. Elijah was sent to anoint two kings, call Elisha to succeed him (I Kings 19:15-17), and call down fire yet again (II Kings 1). God took Elijah to heaven in a chariot of fire to await the conference with Jesus and Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Both David and Elijah were equipped and enlarged by their cave experiences. Let’s trust God to use our “cave days” to train and empower us for greater usefulness in His Kingdom than ever before. “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8) SELAH!