- Rick LoPresti
Cover the pit
Pits were either naturally occurring or man-made in the Bible. They were used for two main purposes - storage of supplies such as water or grain (Lev 11:36, Is 30:14), jails (Gen 37, Is 51:14, Jer 41), or graves (2Sam 18:17, 2Ki 10:14). The law of Moses said that if a man digged a pit, he should cover it so that people and animals did not fall into it (Ex 21:33-34). If he left it uncovered and one did fall in, he would be responsible for any damages. "The pit" was also a symbolic reference to death and/or hell (Num 16:30 & 33, Job 17:16, Job 33:18, Eze 31:14, Rev 9, Rev 20:1-3). The Bible warns those who would dig a pit as a trap for people to fall into would fall into it themselves (Ps 7:15, Ps 9:15, Ps 57:6, Prov 26:27, Prov 28:10, Ecc 10:8).
King Asa was a good king that led the nation of Israel to serve God (2Chr 14). When the Ethiopian army came against them, they were outnumbered almost 2 to 1. Asa relied on God and experienced great victory. Later, Baasha the king of the northern kingdom of Israel came against him, and he took stores out of the temple to hire the Syrians against him (2Chr 16). A prophet came to him and rebuked him for not relying on God like he did earlier.
Over 300 years later, the Babylonians came and destroyed the land of Israel. The king of Babylon put a man named Gedaliah in charge of those that remained in the land (Jer 40). Gedaliah told the people not to live in fear (Jer 40:9). Gedaliah was warned that a man named Ishmael was plotting against him, but he refused to believe it (Jer 40:13-16). Ishmael led a rebellion against Gedaliah, and killed some people who were heading to the temple to pray and sacrifice to God (Jer 41). He threw their bodies into a pit (Jer 41:7-9). The Bible says this pit was dug by Asa when he was in fear of Baasha. It appears Asa did like Hezekiah did when the Assyrians laid siege to Jerusalem (2Chr 32:2-4). Hezekiah redirected the water supply into Jerusalem so they could attempt to survive the siege. Asa apparently dug a pit in his time of fear to store supplies against Baasha's invasion. This pit became the grave of 70 people who were seeking God. Ishmael and his followers them fled Israel to head to Egypt for fear of the Babylonians (Jer 41:18). The prophet Jeremiah told them not to fear the Babylonians, and not to flee to Egypt (Jer 42:11). He warned them that their attempt to flee in fear would only result in that which they feared happening to them in Egypt instead (Jer 42:16-17). They rejected the counsel Jeremiah gave them from God (Jer 43). it is noteworthy that the Bible calls these men proud (Jer 43:2). This kind of pride is not the feeling we get over a job well done. This is the kind of pride that relies on self without God. This kind of pride is really just a cover up for fear, which is a lack of faith in God.
When God answered the prayers of Abraham for his nephew Lot, He sent two angels to get Lot and his family out of Sodom before it was destroyed (Gen 18-19). Lot was afraid to go into the mountain the angels told him to flee to (Gen 19-17-23). Instead, he went into a nearby city called Zoar. After Sodom was destroyed, Lot was afraid to live in Zoar, so he went into the mountain (Gen 19:30). This is how insane fear can make us. We can try to save ourselves from what we fear, only to find ourselves caught in the very thing we were afraid of. We can fall right into the very pit of fear we were trying to escape (Is 24:18, Jer 48:44). It is far better to trust in God than to trust ourselves. We all experience fear at times. Even the best of men in the Bible had fear. The question is not whether we experience fear. It is what we will do in response to it. The famous earthly teaching about fear is that we have two responses - fight or flight.
Sometimes it is not what is coming against us we need to fight. It is our fear of it. After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, President Roosevelt famously said, " The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." When animals are afraid, they try to turn their fear against what it is they fear. They make noises and try to make themselves look bigger than they are, so their perceived threat will become afraid of them. The enemy of our soul does the same thing. He tries to place us in fear, because he knows if we exercise faith in God he cannot trap or defeat us. It is how we respond when we are afraid that makes the difference. When David was facing one of the lowest and most fearful moments in his life, and there was no one around to inspire faith in God, he did it himself (1Sam 30). He encouraged himself in the Lord and chose to act by faith instead of by fear. Even the toughest and bravest soldiers will tell you that they feel fear in the heat of battle, but they make the choice to act instead of freezing. We need to make the same choice when circumstances would put us in fear.
Sometimes it is not a specific circumstance that causes fear in us. Sometimes it is an old pit that we have never addressed. We have left it uncovered too long, and we find ourselves falling into it now, even over and over. We cannot just ignore our fears, and expect to not be taken by them when something triggers them. God will arrange situations for us, so that we have to confront them. This is so we can finally place a cover over them, so we do not fall there any more. "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2Tim 1:7)." God wants to free us from living in fear, and cause us to live in faith.